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

Higher Levels Of BPA in Children and Teens Significantly Associated With Obesity

plastic-pollution
Pollution
Sep
18

This is the first association of an environmental chemical in childhood obesity in a large, nationally representative sample…

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Limiting Global Warming To 2 °C Is Unlikely To Save Most Coral Reefs

coral-aj-2

Coral reefs face severe challenges even if global warming is restricted to the 2 degrees Celsius commonly perceived as safe for many natural and human-made systems.

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Shell’s Alaska Offshore Drilling Plans Abandoned Until Next Year

off
News, Pollution
Sep
17

Following a series of setbacks, Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced on Monday that it will be abandoning plans to drill for oil this year off Alaska’s coast.

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California Coastal Clean Up Day, 2012, Artwork

coastal-clean-up-day

Every piece of trash you remove reveals something beautiful… Be part of the solution to marine pollution!

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International Coastal Clean Up, 2012

beach-clean-up

Join thousands of your friends and neighbors today, for the 2012 International Coastal Clean Up. Local actions, global changes!

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Destroying Paradise To Make Concrete Blocks: Sand Mining In Sierra Leone

sierra-leone-sand-mining
Sand Mining
Sep
14

A new threat has emerged that risks destroying Sierra Leone’s eco-tourism untapped opportunities for sustainable development: Sand Mining. The free-sand-for-all bonanza just exploded. Without permits, hundreds of trucks attack the beaches on a daily basis, hiring local boys as daily laborers to destroy their own communities…

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San Francisco Plastic Bag Ban Gets Go-Ahead From Judge

plastic-bag-pollution
News, Pollution
Sep
14

Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson upheld a San Francisco ordinance that would ban most retail locations in the city from distributing plastic bags and begin charging customers a dime for each paper bag (or comparatively more expensive compostable plastic bag) they use.

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Epic Hermit Crab Migration Captured On Camera

bernard-l'ermite
Inform
Sep
13

It’s something you have to see to believe. A beach on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is overtaken by a millions of hermit crabs during the crustacean’s mass migration, turning the sandy shore into a sea of clattering shells and legs.

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How Waves Shapes Could Explain Deadly Tsunamis

kanagawa-the-wave
Inform
Sep
13

Ocean waves are complex and often turbulent. While most ocean-wave interactions are essentially linear, sometimes two or more waves interact in a nonlinear way. Thus, X- and Y-shaped ocean waves that are often seen at beaches may help explain why tsunamis can be so devastating, researchers say.

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Recent / Inform

Hawaiian Seabirds Vulnerable to Sea-Level Rise on Low-Lying Atoll

satellite-view-french-frigate-shoals

June 20th, 2012

The Hawaiian Islands’ largest atoll, French Frigate Shoals, is key to understanding how seabird nesting habitat will change with predicted rising sea levels, according to a team of U.S. Geological Survey biologists.

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Alan Gastelum, Photographer, Lobbies New York City To Address East River Garbage

east-river-nyc

June 20th, 2012

New York’s East River has had its share of environmental challenges over the years. And while progress has been made since the days when raw sewage and industrial runoff poured unchecked into its waters, portions of the tidal strait remain magnets for garbage and other pollutants.

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Fossil Fuel Subsidies; the Answer Lies in the Gulf

pump

June 20th, 2012

As the slow-burn of climate change spreads across the four corners of the globe, governments are fanning the global flames by dishing out a trillion dollars of fossil fuel subsidies each year, creating a perpetual pollution-pumping machine that’s poisoning the planet with ever-greater intensity. NRDC and other NGOs are demanding that world leaders focus instead on promoting rapidly developing clean energy technologies to protect our natural resources and maintain a sustainable planet. It’s not rocket science. But there are powerful special interests standing in the way…

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Seeping Arctic Methane Has Serious Implications for Florida Coastline

jupiter-island-florida

June 19th, 2012

The more the ice cap melts, the more methane is released into the atmosphere, and the more the climate warms. This phenomenon causes sea levels to rise, which is particularly problematic along the flat Florida coastline, where a 1-foot rise in sea level could cause anywhere from 10 to 100 feet of shoreline retreat..

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Indian Sadhus Protest Dam Projects on Holy Ganges

ganges-bank

June 19th, 2012

Hundreds of saffron-clad Indian sadhus, or holy men, protested in New Delhi against plans to construct more than 50 dams on the River Ganges, whose waters are sacred to millions of Hindus.

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Mexico Axes Baja Resort Over Environmental Fears

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June 18th, 2012

Mexican President Felipe Calderon says he is cancelling the construction of a huge tourist resort in Baja California over concerns it could damage the nearby marine reserve, Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, which is described as the world’s healthiest marine reserve…

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Vast coastal erosion threatens Bali shorelines

bali-candisasa

June 18th, 2012

Bali Regional administrations face the gigantic task of tackling the continuing erosion that threatens the island’s already damaged shorelines and coastal areas…

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Shoot the Messenger: Carolina’s Costly Mistake on Sea Level Rise

beach-erosion-carolina-ry-1

June 18th, 2012

The North Carolina Senate has approved legislation that would prohibit the state from considering projected sea level increases in its coastal management strategy. But a scientist involved in the debate argues that ignoring these projections will wind up costing North Carolina — and the rest of the U.S. —far more.

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The Roman Law of Nature: Protecting The Sea, Seashore and Sand

sand-sky

June 17th, 2012

A text excerpt from the Roman Empire’s Justinian Code, 535 AD contains provisions clearly protecting the sea, seashore, and sand.

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Be A Greener Beach Bum

beach-clean-up

June 17th, 2012

Are you one of millions who will enjoy some of the summer sun at the beach? Did you know that some of the choices we make at home and while on vacation can actually contaminate the very same waters we can’t wait to get in?

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