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.
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
North Carolina’s coast will see more frequent and more destructive floods at high tide over the next 30 years, several studies say – even on mild, sunny days – as rising sea levels shove the Atlantic Ocean higher onto our shores.
Comments Off on Flooding Could Become Daily Problem in N.C. by 2045
To mark the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention – an intergovernmental agreement seeking to protect wetlands of international importance – the 2nd of February each year is celebrated as “World Wetlands Day.”
Comments Off on The Future of Wetlands, the Future of Waterbirds – an Intercontinental Connection
Royal Dutch Shell PLC will move forward with drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast if it can obtain permits it needs and drill safely, its chief executive officer said…
Comments Off on Shell Wants To Drill Off Alaska Coast Again, If It Can Get The Permits
On 1 January, a new environmental protection law (EPL) took effect in China. It is the nation’s first attempt to harmonize economic and social development with environmental protection. Yet the law is not enough. For several reasons it will face many challenges.
Comments Off on Four Gaps in China’s New Environmental Law
Lagging behind the rest of the developed world, American brands continue to opt for the worst packaging materials, according to a report released Thursday.
Comments Off on What a Waste: Study Finds Big US Brands Stuck on Disposable Packaging
Tourism stakeholders in Kenya and local residents of Diani Beach south of Mombasa are up in arms over plans to extract some 5 million tons of sand from award-winning Diani tourist beach.
Comments Off on Kenya: Leave the sand on Diani Beach
The Obama administration on Tuesday will announce a proposal to open up coastal waters from Virginia to Georgia for oil and gas drilling.
Comments Off on White House to Propose Allowing Oil Drilling Off Atlantic Coast
The Madras High Court has directed the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to respond to a public interest litigation petition seeking a SIT probe into illegal beach sand mining in the State.
Comments Off on Coastal Sand Mining: Govts. Asked to Respond; India
NOAA once again has to rescale its ocean heat chart to capture 2014 ocean warming.
Comments Off on The Oceans Are Warming so Fast, They Keep Breaking Scientists’ Charts