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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

Montserrat residents and former premier outraged at public beach sand mining

News, Sand Mining
Jun
10

Montserrat residents are outraged and seeking answers as to why vast amounts of sand are being removed from Foxes Bay Beach in the south of the island. New photos taken on the beach show the sand being collected and put into trucks belonging to a local mining company.

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Mega Dams Remain Controversial Source of Energy

Erosion, Inform
Jun
9

Although mega dams can have devastating impacts on ecosystems and indigenous communities, many of the world’s poorest countries still see them as a way to fill gaping holes in their energy supplies.

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World Oceans Day – 2016

News, Pollution
Jun
8

World Oceans Day is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. This year’s theme is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet” and individuals and organizations across the planet are taking action for prevention of plastic pollution in our ocean.

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World Oceans Day 2016: Five studies showing effect of plastic pollution on world’s seas

News, Pollution
Jun
7

World Oceans Day 2016 is marked on 8 June and this year’s theme is Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet. The aim of the day is to promote the prevention of plastic pollution in the world’s seas and to encourage people to take more responsibility for the care of the ocean.

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Disappearing beaches: a line in the sand

The forces chewing away at the nation’s beaches are only getting worse as climate change fuels rising seas.

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The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare

Australia’s natural wonder is in mortal danger. Bleaching caused by climate change has killed almost a quarter of its coral this year and many scientists believe it could be too late for the rest. Using photographs and new data, a Guardian special report investigates how the reef has been devastated – and what can be done to save it.

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Study to deter Maui beach erosion finds offshore sand

300,000 cubic yards of sand have been discovered off Kahana Bay in April, and this offshore sand is intended to be dredged to re-nourish eroding beaches in west Maui.

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The European Union’s record on clean beaches and dirty air

European action has improved 9,000 miles of river, and the waters of 95% of British beaches are now safe enough to wade into…

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Climate change and the value of daring

The climate system is a unifying ethical field that extends from the physical to the metaphysical and connects your actions to my well-being, and vice-versa, no matter how remote your life is from mine. The collective actions of billions of human beings are threatening the most basic systems which provide life to us all on our little blue planet. We must dare to imagine, explore, and remake the limits of our experience, together.

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Recent / Inform

Climate Change Is Messing with Earth’s Axis

April 14th, 2016

Ice melting has caused a drift in polar motion. Around the year 2000, Earth’s spin axis took an abrupt turn, and scientists have suggested that the loss of mass from Greenland and Antarctica’s rapidly melting ice sheet could be causing the eastward shift of the spin axis.

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Website reveals which homes will be swamped by rising sea levels

April 14th, 2016

For the first time, Australians can see on a map how rising sea levels will affect their house just by typing their address into a website.

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Endangered mangroves found in Cairns, Queensland

April 13th, 2016

An endangered species of mangrove previously found only in Asia has been discovered in far north Queensland. Environmentalists hope the discovery of mangrove species in north Queensland will aid calls for greater protection of fragile wetlands.

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Sea level rise threatens U.S. historic sites

April 13th, 2016

Many of the most threatened sites in North America lie along the East Coast between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and southern Maine, where the rate of sea level rise is among the fastest in the world.

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Nigeria – Akwa Ibom: Illegal sand mining threatens Calabar-Itu, Mkpok bridges

April 12th, 2016

The unregulated activities of illegal sand miners in Akwa Ibom State is not only causing large damage to the environment, but also threatening the foundation of some critical assets in the state such as the Mkpok bridge in Onna Local Government Area and the strategic Calabar-Itu bridge in Itu Local Government Area of the state.

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Gulf of Mexico perinatal dolphin deaths likely result of oil exposure

April 12th, 2016

The increased number of stranded stillborn and juvenile dolphins found in the Gulf of Mexico from 2010 to 2013 was likely caused by chronic illnesses in mothers who were exposed to oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill, scientists said today.

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Green group questions beach renourishment costs, environmental effects

April 11th, 2016

A local environmental group is questioning the need to spend millions of taxpayer dollars for beach renourishment work.

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The surfers who invented a trashcan concept for the ocean

April 11th, 2016

Despite regular coastal cleanups around the world, the problem of ocean garbage continues. Now, two Australians say they’ve found the solution – the Seabin.

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New database gives scientists hope for helping coral reefs

April 9th, 2016

With the future of coral reefs threatened now more than ever, researchers have announced the release of a new global database that enables scientists and managers to more quickly and effectively help corals survive their many challenges.

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North Carolina Sea Level: No more head-in-the-sand?

April 9th, 2016

How science works: Research indicating faster rates of sea-level rise along North Carolina coast may influence state actions affecting coastal properties.

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