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

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

waikiki-beach-renourishment

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

sable-afrique-enfants
News, Sand Mining
Jan
24

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

sand-road-botswana
News, Sand Mining
Jan
23

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

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News, Pollution
Jan
23

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?

alexandria-egypt
Inform
Jan
23

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

bricks-construction-india
Sand Mining
Jan
22

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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Illegal Oil Refineries In The Niger Delta, in Pictures

niger-delta-oil-pollution
Inform, Pollution
Jan
22

Photographer Akintunde Akinleye documents for Guardian UK, the dangerous practice of illegal oil refining in the Niger Delta, which damages the environment and the health of local people…

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Plastic Oceans

refuse-disposable-plastic
Inform, Pollution
Jan
20

Sir David Attenborough talks about plastic and tells us the hard truths about it’s use and the cost to the environment.

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Rare Shorebirds Threatened By Trapping in China

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Endangered spoon-billed sandpipers arriving at their wintering grounds in China are being threatened by nets designed to trap shorebirds.

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Recent / Inform

War’s Silent Victim

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November 6th, 2012

November 6th, marks the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. In the havoc and destruction spread by war, damage to the environment is almost always regarded as a necessary price to be paid. We must not allow the environment to remain a silent casualty.

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Philippines Black Sand Mining Operations, Gonzaga, Cagayan Province

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November 6th, 2012

A dossier and photo reportage by Juergen Lorenz.

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Storms, Floods, and Droughts

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November 4th, 2012

The cycle that transports water around the Earth is intensifying. The ocean contains 96 percent of the free water on Earth, and it acts like a massive water pump. Now, as global temperatures have been rising, there is strong evidence that the ocean water pump has been revving up.

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Why Seas Are Rising Ahead of Predictions

slr-india

November 2nd, 2012

Sea levels are rising faster than expected from global warming, and University of Colorado geologist Bill Hay has a good idea why.

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Small Organisms Have Large Impact on Seabed

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November 2nd, 2012

Not only physical forces such as tides and sand transport but also small organisms such as molluscs, tube worms and sea urchins have a large impact on seabed formation.

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An Oyster in the Storm, Op Ed by Paul Greenberg

oyster-reef-conservation

November 2nd, 2012

“I wish I had some oysters. I’m not talking about oysters to eat … I’m talking about the oysters that once protected New Yorkers from storm surges, a bivalve population that numbered in the trillions and that played a critical role in stabilizing the shoreline from Washington to Boston…” An Op Ed by Paul Greenberg, The New York Times.

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Deep Concern As Deal To Protect Antarctic Seas Fails

deception-island

November 1st, 2012

Governments meeting in Australia have failed to reach agreement on new marine protected areas for the Antarctic ocean.

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Greening Havana

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October 31st, 2012

According to international studies, a key action for mitigating the effects of global warming is to increase forest cover in each country. The Cuban government’s National Forestry Programme has set a target of increasing forest cover to over 29 percent by 2015.

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Chinese Factory Plan Ditched After Protests

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October 29th, 2012

The eastern Chinese city of Ningbo has cancelled plans to expand a petrochemical complex following a week of sometimes-violent protests sparked by concerns over the environmental impact

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Sir Attenborough: Force of Nature, 60 Years in the Wild

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October 29th, 2012

Sir David Attenborough may have lived the perfect life, travelling the world and seeing its wonders before tourism ravaged them. He talks to Robin McKie about his early regrets, battles with climate change deniers, and his favourite place on Earth…

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