Inform

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

Laos: Chinese demand for sand and cement delivers wage for Laotian workers – but is destroying the Mekong

News, Sand Mining
Jul
27

China world’s top consumer of sand – devouring more than 60 per cent of the global output and using more in four years than the US did in the entire 20th century.

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On first International Day, UNESCO calls for protection of mangrove ecosystems

Mangroves are rare and vital ecosystems that help to protect coastlines and mitigate the effects of climate change, but their survival is being jeopardized, the United Nations cultural agency said July 26th,2016, on first World’s Mangrove Day, calling for greater preservation efforts as the international community marks the first ever International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.

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Nova Scotia’s remote Sable Island now on Google Street View

Celebrate, Inform
Jul
24

Parts of the crescent-shaped island, situated roughly 290 kilometres southeast of Halifax, can now be seen on Google Street View. The 42-kilometre long, 1.5-kilometre wide island isn’t the first Canadian national park to appear on Google Map, but its addition is especially unique and exciting because it is largely inaccessible to the general public.

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West Bengal: Green hopes run dry as rampant mining goes unchecked

News, Sand Mining
Jul
24

Rampant illegal sand mining and excavation of boulders from river beds are threatening the ecology of several rivers and all the three major river basins in West Bengal. Estimates suggest that there are at least 500 quarries in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts alone.

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A new power plant could devastate the world’s largest mangrove forest

The planet’s largest mangrove forest could be facing serious trouble in the form of two new coal-fired power plants, environmentalists say — and they’re urging the United Nations to draw greater attention to the issue.

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What It’s Like to Be a Professional Sand Sculptor

Celebrate, Inform
Jul
23

Despite the careful artistry and heavy manual labor, being a professional sand sculptor really is fun. “It’s living the dream.” “I’m making sandcastles for a living. Who the hell does that?”

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Projects selected for $9 million in community-based habitat restoration funding

NOAA is recommending $9 million in funding for 17 coastal and marine habitat restoration projects for its 2016 Community-based Restoration Program, as part of agency efforts to support healthy ecosystems and resilient coastal communities.

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EPA gives $91,000 to help educate about beach erosion

Battling the beach erosion in places like Greenbackville, Va is nothing short of team effort. The Chincoteague Bay Field Station (CBFS) has been working to fight erosion using living shorelines, and now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stepped in to help them out with a $91,000 grant.

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Castles made of sand

How big industries’ use of sand has compromised the health of California’s beaches and what recent action against the CEMEX plant means for the Monterey Bay.

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Recent / Inform

North Stradbroke Island sand mining to end by 2019

kangourous-australie

June 1st, 2016

Sand mining will come to an end on North Stradbroke Island by 2019, reversing a decision by the former Newman administration to extend Sibelco’s lease to 2035.

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Niger delta oil spill clean-up launched – but could take quarter of a century

June 1st, 2016

A $1bn clean-up of one of the world’s most oil-polluted regions will be officially launched on Thursday by the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari.

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Rio de Janeiro: A Changing City

June 1st, 2016

In 1960, 5 million people lived in Rio de Janeiro. By 2015, the population had swollen to 12.2 million, making it Brazil’s second largest city.

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Access eroding to embattled Kiawah spit, study says

May 31st, 2016

The narrow neck to Captain Sam’s Spit is disappearing, survey work has indicated. The dunes there aren’t tall enough to withstand a tropical cyclone of any real strength. The findings could put a big hole in Kiawah Partners’ contention before regulators that the beach there is growing, and a road to its proposed development should be permitted.

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Malaysia establishes a 1-million-hectare marine park

May 31st, 2016

Malaysia has just established the biggest marine protected area (MPA) in the country. The Tun Mustapha park (TMP) occupies 1m hectares (2.47m acres) of seascape off the northern tip of Sabah province in Borneo.

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11 Otherworldly Pictures of Abandoned WWII Bunkers

May 29th, 2016

During World War II, German Nazis built concrete bunkers up and down the west coasts of Norway and France. These fortifications were known collectively as the Atlantic Wall, and it was this barrier that the Allies breached during the invasion of Normandy. Seventy years later, much of the Atlantic Wall still stands. See a photos gallery by Jonathan Andrew.

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Scientists Improve Maps of Subsidence in New Orleans

May 29th, 2016

New Orleans and its surrounding areas continue to sink at highly variable rates due to a combination of natural geologic processes and human activity, according to a new study using NASA airborne radar.

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A Disaster-in-Waiting

ganges river orange

May 29th, 2016

In a recent interview with BBC, India’s minister of water resources unveiled the government’s massive plan to divert major rivers including the Ganges and Brahmaputra. This unilateral move by India is a clear violation of the basic tenet of all the international regulations regarding water bodies.

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New International Accord to Tackle Illegal Fishing

May 27th, 2016

A new international accord to tackle illegal and under-reported fishing will come into force on June 5. Under the Port States Measures Agreement (PSMA) governments will be required to inspect foreign fishing vessels that dock in their ports…

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The First Official Climate Refugees in the U.S. Race Against Time

May 27th, 2016

A Native American tribe struggles to hold on to their culture in a Louisiana bayou while their land slips into the Gulf of Mexico.

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