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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

Tiny plastic pellets found on 73% of UK beaches

News, Pollution
Mar
13

A search of hundreds of beaches across the UK has found almost three-quarters of them are littered with tiny plastic pellets. The lentil-size pellets known as “nurdles” are used as a raw material by industry to make new plastic products.

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Residents, retailers decry proposal to reverse plastic bag ban

News, Pollution
Mar
13

Many residents on the Outer Banks say they oppose a bill in the N.C. General Assembly that would lift the ban on the use of thin plastic shopping bags by retailers.

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Sustainably attired: Disruptive Design Drives Sustainable Fashion Forward

News, Pollution
Mar
13

Though the concept of fast fashion stands in stark contrast to the notion of conscious consumerism and arguably sustainability itself, innovation and disruptive design play an important role in driving the industry towards a more circular, sustainable model. H&M has upped the ante on its Conscious Exclusive collection, utilizing BIONIC® — a revolutionary sustainable material manufactured from recycled polyester derived from plastic shoreline waste.

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Goleta Beach vs. Winter Swells, CA

This is the third winter in four years that Goleta Beach Park has taken a beating in the winter swells. Even behind the boulders- dropped along 950 feet of beach at a cost of $275,000 – the park bluff is retreating, unprotected by a ripped out $350,000 barrier of plastic mesh, that had been stacked against the bluffs last spring.

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Video captures moment plastic enters food chain

News, Pollution
Mar
11

A scientist has filmed the moment plastic microfibre is ingested by plankton, illustrating how the material is affecting life beneath the waves. The footage shows one way that plastic waste could be entering the marine and global food chain.

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Greenpeace images show Great Barrier Reef suffering coral bleaching for second year in a row

Greenpeace Australia Pacific today releases shocking photos and footage documenting the Great Barrier Reef’s first severe coral bleaching to happen two years in a row. The bleaching is the result of 12 months of above-average sea temperatures, which is “cooking the reef alive”.

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Land reclamation has harmed marine life: Survey

Survey shows that land reclamation has adverse effects on coral reefs and fish quantity has decreased in the last five years in the coastal areas of Doha, Quatar.

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Carbon Dioxide Is Warming the Planet: Here’s How

Here’s a primer explaining exactly why scientists know the climate is changing and that human activities are causing it.

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50 Reefs Initiative Is Good News For Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are in crisis. The facts are clear: without a different approach to conservation, coral reefs will continue to decline toward extinction. However, an announcement last week in Bali, Indonesia gave us some new reasons to be hopeful.

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Recent / Inform

50 Reefs Initiative Is Good News For Coral Reefs

March 9th, 2017

Coral reefs are in crisis. The facts are clear: without a different approach to conservation, coral reefs will continue to decline toward extinction. However, an announcement last week in Bali, Indonesia gave us some new reasons to be hopeful.

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How to Steal a River

March 9th, 2017

To feed an enormous building boom, India’s relentless sand miners have devastated the waterways that make life there possible.

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Study finds knowledge gaps on protecting cultural sites from climate change

March 7th, 2017

Many cultural sites vulnerable to climate-related changes such as rising sea levels, coastal erosion and flooding from stronger storms, warn researchers.

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Sand Is in Such High Demand, People Are Stealing Tons of It

March 6th, 2017

As strange as it may sound, sand is one of the world’s hottest commodities. The global construction boom has created an insatiable appetite for sand, the chief ingredient for making concrete. The problem is that sand isn’t as abundant as it used to be. And when high demand and high value meets scarcity, you open the doors to smuggling.

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Red Sea Mangroves Fight Back in the Face of Global Decline

March 6th, 2017

The Red Sea is one of the world’s saltiest and warmest seas. It is an extremely harsh environment surrounded by desert and subject to very high temperatures. However, there has been no decline in mangrove stands in the Red Sea, where the extreme conditions seem to mean that the mangroves of the Red Sea have been subjected to much lower levels of human activity than elsewhere.

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U.S. EPA Reverses Obama-Era Request for Methane Emission Data from Oil and Gas Companies

March 4th, 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it will no longer ask oil and gas well operators to submit information about their equipment or methane emissions. Methane is short-lived, but powerful greenhouse gas. Over the short term, it can trap heat at least 30 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide, and is thought to be responsible for about a quarter of modern global warming.

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He who controls the sand: the mining ‘mafias’ killing each other to build cities

March 4th, 2017

In Kenya, as in most of the developing world, cities are growing at a frenzied pace. Creating buildings to house all the people and the roads to knit them together requires prodigious quantities of sand. As the price of sand goes up, the ‘mafias’ get more involved.

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Ignoring state threats, firm keeps sucking sand from Monterey Bay

March 3rd, 2017

The Lapis Sand Plant, in operation since 1906, is the nation’s last coastal sand mine. The California Coastal Commission has threatened to close the plant, but the company refuses to relinquish its claim to the uniquely coarse amber-colored Monterey sand, which it calls “Lapis Lustre.” But Cemex is the world’s second largest building materials company, and any attempt to kick it out is likely to immerse the state in years of expensive litigation.

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Some Virginia barrier islands are shrinking by the day: “You can just feel it”

March 3rd, 2017

Dozen islands are shrinking in Virginia’s barrier chain, which stretches for about 75 miles along the Eastern Shore.

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Cost-effective solutions to sediment runoff and other land-based pollution affecting West Maui reefs

March 3rd, 2017

Land-based pollutants have been linked to the degradation of several Hawaiian reefs. Between 2000 and 2015, coral cover on West Maui’s northern reefs has dramatically declined from 30 percent to 10 percent.

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