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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

The best beach towns you’ve never heard of

Celebrate, Inform
Oct
22

Not every bucket-list beach has been Instagrammed and developed to death. These are the still-unspoiled stretches of sand to get to before everyone else does.

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Sand mining ravages African beaches

Sand is a natural resource that is more and more exploited. Worldwide, beaches are mined for sand. As many other countries in the world, African States have legislated to better protect their coastal environment, but this did not put an end to illegal beach sand mining and its detrimental effects on the ecosystems.

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A public company attempts to improve the sand market, Algeria

News, Sand Mining
Oct
21

Sand scarcity is one of the main cause of implementation deplays in the construction industry in Algeria. The severity of the sand depletion is such that prices have gone up tenfold during this latest construction boom.

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Prozac in ocean water a possible threat to sea life

Inform, Pollution
Oct
20

Oregon shore crabs exhibit risky behavior when they’re exposed to the antidepressant Prozac, making it easier for predators to catch them, according to a new study from Portland State University (PSU).

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There’s still time to save the Great Barrier Reef from dying

great-barrier-reef

Two major bleaching events have wracked the Great Barrier Reef over the last two years, leaving chunks of it dead.

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Even modest oil exposure can harm coastal and marine birds

Many birds and other wildlife die following an oil spill, but there are also other potential long-terms effects of oil exposure on animals.

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Sand becomes “increasingly scarce and expensive”

News, Sand Mining
Oct
16

A symposium taking place at Dutch Design Week later this month will discuss the rapid depletion of the world’s sand reserves, which could leave supplies of the high-quality sand used in the glass industry exhausted within 20 years.

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DON’T LET TRUMP AND PRUITT TURN ALASKAN WILDERNESS INTO WASTELAND: NRDC Petition

There’s a new front in President Trump’s war on our environment: Alaska’s spectacular Bristol Bay. And if we don’t stop them, the resulting pollution and environmental destruction would be a catastrophe for the wildlife and communities that call Bristol Bay home.

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How a worldwide sand shortage could impact the design world

News, Sand Mining
Oct
12

Later this month, Dutch Design Week will host a symposium entitled “The Abundance and Scarcity of Sand.” Notable speakers include geologist and author Michael Welland, as well as Denis Delestrac, whose 2013 documentary, Sand Wars, showcased the lengths that contractors and smugglers alike will go to hoard and sell a commodity second only to freshwater, in terms of consumption.

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Recent / Inform

How a worldwide sand shortage could impact the design world

October 12th, 2017

Later this month, Dutch Design Week will host a symposium entitled “The Abundance and Scarcity of Sand.” Notable speakers include geologist and author Michael Welland, as well as Denis Delestrac, whose 2013 documentary, Sand Wars, showcased the lengths that contractors and smugglers alike will go to hoard and sell a commodity second only to freshwater, in terms of consumption.

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French beaches’ sand for sale illegally on internet

October 11th, 2017

A french mayor discovered that sand from the town’s local beach, was for sale on the internet. Maybe rather inconspicuous at first glance, this occurence instead reveals far deeper tensions related to the exploitation of this finite ressources.

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As Trump Retreats, States Are Joining Forces on Climate Action

October 9th, 2017

Despite the Trump administration’s environmental rollback, U.S. states are forging ahead with initiatives to combat climate change. Now, a coalition of states – from California to Colorado to North Carolina – are banding together to slash emissions and boost renewable energy.

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Official fish trade ‘hugely underestimates’ global catches

October 9th, 2017

Conservation of dwindling fish stocks is being severely hampered by poor controls on global trade, according to new research.

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Largest Marine Protected Area in North America Created off Mexico

October 6th, 2017

The Mexican government has announced the creation of a new marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean Thursday, the largest protected area of its kind in North America.

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Scientists find new source of radioactivity from Fukushima disaster: in sand and groundwater

October 5th, 2017

Scientists have found a previously unsuspected place where radioactive material from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster has accumulated—in sands and brackish groundwater beneath beaches up to 60 miles away. The sands took up and retained radioactive cesium originating from the disaster in 2011 and have been slowly releasing it back to the ocean.

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An Unlikely Corner of New York

October 5th, 2017

Nestled under the crook of Brooklyn, Jamaica Bay is a place as different from New York City as you can find.

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Walker doubles down on opposing Pebble Mine, Alaska

October 4th, 2017

Governor Bill Walker is against the controversial mine and said the mine’s developers have not yet proven to him that the project can be done without harming the Bristol Bay region’s salmon fishery.

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The world hungers for sand

September 30th, 2017

The ravenous hunger for sand worldwide was spotlighted in the 2013 documentary “Sand Wars” by French filmmaker Denis Delestrac, which warned that illegal sand mining could make beaches a thing of the past by the end of the 21st century.

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Ecological roulette”: Sea creatures hitchhike across Pacific on tsunami debris

September 29th, 2017

Nearly 300 species of fish, mussels and other sea critters hitchhiked across the Pacific Ocean on debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, washing ashore alive in the United States. It is the largest and longest marine migration ever documented.

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