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
China and Iceland announced a deal on the oil-rich Arctic region Friday after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao flew in to Reykjavik on the first stage of a four-nation European tour…
A Grenadian Newspaper editor, who has used his newspaper to expose what he sees as corruption in Grenada, has been arrested and charged for illegally extracting sand from the beaches…
Coral gardens that were among Asia’s most spectacular, teeming with colorful sea life just a few months ago, have been transformed into desolate gray moonscapes by illegal fishermen who use explosives or cyanide to kill or stun their prey.The site is among several to have been hit inside Komodo National Park.
In celebration of this year’s Earth Day on April 22, NASA’s Webby Award-winning Global Climate Change website, has unveiled a new version of its popular image gallery, “State of Flux. Each image pair in the continuously updated gallery highlights before-and-after impacts of change including the destruction wrought by extreme events, the retreat of glaciers caused by climate change, and the expanding footprint of urban areas due to population growth.
Plastic bottles washed on to the beach are as much a part of the coast as the sound of seagulls. What the eye does not see are the innumerable ultra-small plastic objects which float in the water, are washed on to the beach or settle on the sea bed. The majority of microplastic particles are smaller than a grain of sand or the tip of a needle. It is this property that also makes them so dangerous to the sea dwellers…
Under the shadows of Le Morne Brabant is Mauritius’ ultimate surfing spot: One Eye… so named because when a surfer finds the sweet spot in which to catch the perfect wave they will see a small hole, or “eye”, in Le Morne’s jagged rock face.
Clear scientific consensus on global climate change amongst scientists does exist. Every major scientific organization in the United States, Europe, and Asia has produced statements supporting the science behind the human contribution to global warming and indicating an expected acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise over the next century…
In the Arabian Sea, roughly 200 kilometers off the west coast of southern India, are the Lakshadweep Islands. The island chain consists of 27 islands along with coral atolls, and sand banks. Glistening white sand beaches ring the islands, and only 10 or 11 of the islands are inhabited.
NOAA has made sea floor maps and other data on the world’s coasts, continental shelves and deep ocean available for easy viewing online. These are critical data for modeling coastal flooding, from tsunami to hurricane storm surge.