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The health, beauty and ecosystem of our beaches is under threat

The driving cause for most of these problems is overdevelopment and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline, there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.

Coastal Care Introduction

“Beach sand: so common, so complex, so perfect for sandcastles; and now it is a precious and vanishing resource.”

—Orrin H. Pilkey

Beaches are the most visited natural attraction on the planet. The coast attracts millions of vacationing people each year. People love the sand, the surf, the sea breeze, and the vacation ambiance so much that many come to the beach to stay. There is a magical feeling living near the ocean, but human migration towards the coast comes with a high environmental price tag.

A majority of the world’s population lives within 50 km of the coast and the projections are 75% by the year 2025. This strip of land represents only 3% of the total land mass of the planet. In this context, it is easier to understand the environmental impact. Over 70% of the earth is covered by water and with so many people living on the coast, we are polluting a major source of food, the oceans.

A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.

A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.

The loss of life and economic impacts of major storms – cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes – and tsunamis would be reduced drastically if beaches were not developed. Unfortunately, recent examples of the problem are numerous: 1999 Indian cyclone Orissa (over 10,000 dead and $5 billion in damage), 2004 Indian Ocean tsumani (over 250,000 dead), 2005 Hurricane Katrina (over 1,800 killed and $80 billion in damage), and 2008 Hurricane Ike (over 30 killed and $30 billion in damage).

Today, the health, beauty, and ecosystem function of the world’s beaches are under threat and the driving causes for most of these problems are over-development and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.

It is important to distinguish between erosion and erosion problems. Erosion refers to the landward retreat of the shoreline. Most of the world’s shorelines are eroding, a very few are building out (accreting). There is no erosion problem, however, until someone builds something next to a shoreline. All over the world in remote areas, shorelines are slowly retreating and no one cares. In a global sense, our continents are slowly shrinking, and in a very real sense, erosion problems are man made. On a high-rise, condo-lined shoreline like those in Spain and the Florida coast, erosion is a huge problem and will only worsen in the future as sea level rise accelerates. Sea level rise will accelerate erosion of the shoreline and have a dramatic impact on our infrastructures, our economies, and our way of life.

Sea level rise is one of the most important causes of global shoreline erosion. If the coastline is developed, shoreline armoring is often used in an effort to save the buildings from the eroding shoreline. Once this begins, the beaches will degrade and eventually be lost. In the long-term, however, these armoring efforts are in vain. The ocean will continue to rise as the rate of sea level rise is expected to increase as the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continue to degrade. The situation is made worse now because beach houses and condominiums are being built closer to the ocean than they were 25 years ago. Many of us are familiar with images of large beach houses about to fall victim to the oceans simply from daily erosion accelerated by the ever rising sea.

The work of the Santa Aguila Foundation will emphasize the impacts of sand mining and shoreline armoring: the first because the effects of sand mining have been largely ignored on a global scale and the latter due to its overwhelming negative impacts on the world’s beaches.


Surfing in / Inform

Sea anemones are ingesting plastic microfibers

News, Pollution
Mar
30

Tiny fragments of plastic in the ocean are consumed by sea anemones along with their food, and bleached anemones retain these microfibers longer than healthy ones, according to new research.

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Why do Garfield phones keep washing up on this beach?

News, Pollution
Mar
29

For three decades it was a mystery that seemed to defy belief. Bright orange plastic novelty phones shaped like the grumpy cartoon cat Garfield kept washing up on the rocky Atlantic shoreline of Brittany, in western France.

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Hudson river shows signs of rebound after decades as New York’s sewer

News, Pollution
Mar
28

New York’s Hudson river, once known as America’s Rhine in a nod to the famous European waterway, played a pivotal role in bolstering American power at the cost of decades of foul pollution.

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Coastal Conservation Plan Sparks Fight Over Sand

Beach communities that rely on dredging to replenish protective dunes object to expanded federal protections. Environmental advocates are pushing back with warnings about the possible ecological damage from beach replenishment projects that they call sand mining.

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The Destruction of the Environment: An Unfolding Tragedy for Humanity

The 2019 Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum identified “Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse (terrestrial or marine)” as both one of the most likely and most serious global risks with “irreversible consequences for the environment, resulting in severely depleted resources for humankind as well as industries.”

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Thirty years after Exxon Valdez, the response to oil spills is still all wrong

Inform, Pollution
Mar
26

Chemicals used to clean up spills have harmed marine wildlife, response workers and coastal residents. The EPA must act

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Will large protected areas save the oceans or politicize them?

How can we save the oceans? They cover two-thirds of the planet, but none are safe from fishing fleets, minerals prospectors, or the insidious influences of global warming and ocean acidification. In the past decade, there has been a push to create giant new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). They now cover nearly 9.7 million square miles.

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The Rising Trend of Zero Waste Lifestyles

Inform, Pollution
Mar
23

A “zero-waste lifestyler” is someone who actively reduces their waste consumption, designing their life to avoid acquiring things that will end up as trash – especially disposable and non-recyclable products and packaging.

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9 of the 10 Worst Global Risks are Linked to Water

Of the 1,000 most severe disasters that have occurred since 1990, water-related disasters accounted for 90 per cent. With extreme water and weather events increasing in both frequency and severity in the wake of climate change, floods and droughts are set to strike harder and more often in the years to come.

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Recent / Inform

The Rising Trend of Zero Waste Lifestyles

March 23rd, 2019

A “zero-waste lifestyler” is someone who actively reduces their waste consumption, designing their life to avoid acquiring things that will end up as trash – especially disposable and non-recyclable products and packaging.

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9 of the 10 Worst Global Risks are Linked to Water

March 21st, 2019

Of the 1,000 most severe disasters that have occurred since 1990, water-related disasters accounted for 90 per cent. With extreme water and weather events increasing in both frequency and severity in the wake of climate change, floods and droughts are set to strike harder and more often in the years to come.

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New tsunami evidence along one of Earth’s largest faults, the Alaska-Aleutian megathrust

March 21st, 2019

Recent geological studies of a key section of the Aleutian Island chain of Alaska suggest Aleutian tsunamis may occur more frequently than previously understood.

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Plastic pollution: can the ocean really be cleaned up?

March 21st, 2019

The idea of attempting to “clean up” the ocean is a quixotic one. Can these projects really make a difference? The answer is yes, but not as expected.

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Dead whale found with 40 kilograms of plastic bags in its stomach

March 18th, 2019

A young whale whose carcass washed up in the Philippines died of “dehydration and starvation” after consuming 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of plastic bags, scientists have found.

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Our oceans broke heat records in 2018 and the consequences are catastrophic

March 17th, 2019

Last year was the hottest ever measured, continuing an upward trend that is a direct result of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. The key to the measurements is the oceans. Oceans absorb more than 90% of the heat that results from greenhouse gases.

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US official reveals Atlantic drilling plan while hailing Trump’s ability to distract public

March 16th, 2019

A top US official told a group of fossil fuel industry leaders that the Trump administration will soon issue a proposal making large portions of the Atlantic available for oil and gas development, and said he is ‘thrilled’ by Trump’s ‘knack for keeping the attention of the media and public focused somewhere else’.

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As High-Tide Flooding Worsens, More Pollution Is Washing to the Sea

March 16th, 2019

As sea levels rise, high-tide flooding is becoming a growing problem in many parts of the globe, including cities on the U.S. East Coast. Now, new research shows that as these waters recede, they carry toxic pollutants and excess nutrients into rivers, bays, and oceans.

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People Are Picking Up Trash in Parks and Beaches for the ‘Trashtag Challenge’

coastal-clean-up

March 15th, 2019

It may seem there is a new viral hashtag every day on social media, but the #trashtag challenge is a trend with a greener purpose — its users are cleaning up the planet. Tens of thousands of people have caught on to the trend over the years.

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Why don’t U.S. nuclear regulators acknowledge the dangers of climate change?

March 15th, 2019

When America’s fleet of nuclear reactors was designed some four-plus decades ago, few people had ever heard the phrase “climate change.” Today, the global threats of worsening weather patterns and natural disasters are well recognized, commanding concern and responses across the board. Except, apparently, at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
One Percent