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

Rising Temperature Difference Between Hemispheres Could Shift Rainfall Patterns


One often ignored consequence of global climate change is that the Northern Hemisphere is becoming warmer than the Southern Hemisphere, which could significantly alter tropical precipitation patterns.

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Outrage Over Proposed Beach Sand Mining in France


Be the Change: Petition: Let’s save the sand and the surfing beaches of Anglet, Côte Basque, France.

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Southern California Sagebrush Better Suited to Climate Change


California sagebrush, also known as “cowboy cologne,” is the fragrant gray-green shrub that once filled area ranch land. It’s found on coastal hillsides for more than 400 miles along California’s Pacific coast. Only about 10 percent of its original habitat remains.

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Southampton Beach Projects Violate Permits


State Department of Environmental Conservation officials say at least three seawalls constructed in the last two months along the Southampton Village oceanfront are in violation of state and local permits.

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Americans Back Preparation for Extreme Weather and Sea Level Rise


Images told the story: lower Manhattan in darkness, coastal communities washed away, cars floating in muck. Superstorm Sandy, a harbinger of future extreme weather intensified by climate change, caught the U.S. off guard. Going forward, Americans face a stark choice: prepare and invest now to minimize the impact of disasters such as Sandy, or deal with storms and rising sea levels when they occur.

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Rivers of blood: the dead pigs rotting in China’s water supply

News, Pollution

Standing on the quay, Mrs Wu jokes that there are more pigs than fish in Jiapingtang river. But she isn’t smiling…

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Community Exposure to Tsunami Hazards in California


Evidence of past events and modeling of potential events suggest that tsunamis are significant threats to low-lying communities on the California coast.

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Hope for Galapagos Wildlife


Increasing tourism and the spread of marine invasive non-native species is threatening the unique plant and marine life around the Galapagos Islands.

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More than half of U.S. rivers unsuitable for aquatic life, EPA


More than half of the country’s rivers and streams are in poor biological health, unable to support healthy populations of aquatic insects and other creatures, according to a new nationwide survey released Tuesday.

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Recent / Inform

Controversy Brews Over Coastal Adaptation Project


January 28th, 2013

Plans for adapting to climate change in Cartagena, Colombia, were first outlined back in 2004, and continue to advance in spite of the voices raised in protest. While the authorities applaud the plans, many local people have their doubts…

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California Fracking Lawsuit Charges State Has Done Insufficient Job Of Regulating Practice


January 28th, 2013

An environmental group has filed suit against the state of California for doing what it deemed an insufficient job of regulating the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

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How High Could the Tide Go?


January 26th, 2013

Researchers explored ancient rock formations on South Africa’s coast. They are looking for critical clues from records of past climate change to help predict sea level rise in a warming world.

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900 Dolphins Slaughtered in Conservation Dispute, Solomon Islands


January 24th, 2013

Villagers in the Solomon Islands have slaughtered up to 900 dolphins in the course of a dispute with a conservation group, Earth Island Institute.

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Waikiki Beach Eroding Less Than A Year After $2.2M Sand Restoration


January 24th, 2013

A section of Hawaii’s famed Waikiki Beach is starting to erode, less than a year after the completion of a $2.2 million project to replenish the sand on about 1,730 feet of shoreline that had been suffering from chronic erosion.

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Illegal Sand Mining a Challenge in Kavango, Namibia


January 24th, 2013

Illegal sand mining, veld fires and lack of human and financial resources are hampering efforts by the Kavango Region to use its biodiversity sustainably.

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Medupi Sand Mining Put To An End


January 23rd, 2013

Compliance notices have been issued against sand miners in Lephalale, South Africa. Their operations must now stop or they will face legal action.

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Health and Environment: A Closer Look at Plastics


January 23rd, 2013

Plastics have transformed modern society, providing attractive benefits but also befouling waterways and aquifers, depleting petroleum supplies and disrupting human health.

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Scientists Underestimated Potential for Tohoku Earthquake: Now What?


January 23rd, 2013

The massive Tohoku, Japan, earthquake in 2011 and Sumatra-Andaman superquake in 2004 stunned scientists because neither region was thought to be capable of producing a megathrust earthquake with a magnitude exceeding ̴ 8.4.

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No Control On Illegal Sand Mining, Goa


January 22nd, 2013

The entire Goan coastline comes within the CRZ and there is a sand mining ban in the state with the state not issuing sand mining license in the past two years, yet blatant sand mining abound…

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