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

Why Illegal Sand Mining Is Profitable In UP, India

sand-mining-river-banks

The seemingly unceasing mining operation on the Yamuna and Hindon riverbeds in western Uttar Pradesh is encouraged by the increasing demand for sand for construction by realtors.

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Southern California Beaches Are Starving. Do We Nourish Them Enough?

venice-beach-erosion-ca

The natural processes that bring sand to most beaches in Southern California have been disrupted by development and other human activities.

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Back to the future: Scientists look into Earth’s “Deep Time” to predict future effects of climate change

swirl-abstract

Climate change alters the way in which species interact with one another, a reality that applies not just to today or to the future, but also to the past.

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Sediment Trapped Behind Dams Makes Them ‘Hot Spots’ for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

methane-emissions-dam-brazil

The large reservoirs of water behind the world’s 50,000 large dams are a known source of methane. Methane has a warming effect 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. That knowledge led to questions about hydroelectric power’s image as a green and nonpolluting energy source.

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La Réunion Island Bans Surfing And Plans Shark Kill

la-reunion

Reunion Island is known for its world-class waves, pristine swimming beaches and, in recent years, shark attacks. In response to the surge of attacks, government officials have banned surfing outside of the island’s lagoons until October 1 of this year, and plan to cull 90 sharks.

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Hurricane Tips From Cuba

la-havane
Inform
Jul
31

Cuba consistently weathers Category 4 and 5 hurricanes with relatively few casualties.

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Timeline: A Look At Extreme Weather And Climate Event In 2013

impasse

This timeline gives us a picture of what a warmer world can bring. The science linking extreme events to global warming continues to become stronger. If we want to reverse the trends that we are seeing, we must not only invest in disaster relief and prevention, but also significantly curb global greenhouse gases.

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Hawaii Ocean Debris Could Fill 18-Wheeler

noaa-marine-debris
News, Pollution
Jul
30

In an area of Hawaii, far removed from most human habitation, a recent cleanup effort yielded an 18-wheeler’s worth of human debris, consisted largely of derelict fishing gear and all sorts of plastic, during a 19-day anti-pollution campaign this year.

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Smaller-Than-Expected Gulf Dead Zone, Yet Still Massive

dead-zone-gulf-2013
News, Pollution
Jul
30

NOAA-supported scientists found a large Gulf of Mexico oxygen-free or hypoxic “dead” zone, but not as large as had been predicted.

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Recent / Inform

Swept Away: Beach Erosion Continues to be Huge Problem for Texas

coastal-erosion-texas

June 19th, 2013

Beach erosion in Texas, as in numerous other U.S. locations, is a huge problem. Studies show that about 64 percent of the Texas coast is eroding at an average rate of 6 feet per year, but some areas are losing more than 25 feet per year. On average, the Texas coast is losing about 2.3 feet a year to erosion.

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Climate Change-Poverty Link Highlighted In World Bank Report

child

June 19th, 2013

The World Bank says it will increasingly view its efforts to help developing countries fight poverty through a “climate lens.”

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Find The Cleanest, Safest Beaches With Updated Swim Guide app

clean-beach

June 19th, 2013

Beach season is upon us, but is the water at your local beach safe? You can find out with the click of a button through the newly updated Swim Guide app from the Waterkeeper Alliance.

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Gulf Oil Spill Cleanup Ends As BP Pulls Out, Leaves Unanswered Questions

tar-ball-sand

June 17th, 2013

Finding tar balls linked to the BP oil spill isn’t difficult on some Gulf Coast beaches, but the company and the government say it isn’t common enough to keep sending out the crews that patrolled the sand for three years in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.

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Floating Gardens

floating-gardens

June 16th, 2013

In Bangladesh, the ancient practice of floating gardens, beds of straw and water hyacinths on which crops are grown, is making a comeback in the face of increased floods.

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A Better Eye on Reefs, Australia

claremoont-isles

June 16th, 2013

Claremont Isles National Park, where coastal waters are protected as part of Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site, are important habitat and breeding grounds for seabirds, and they are off-limits to humans.

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Illegal Sand Mining Erodes River Banks, Vietnam

sand-dregders-vietnam

June 15th, 2013

Illegal sand mining has caused severe erosion along the two main tributaries of the Serepok River in the Tay Nguyen, affecting the lives of many people.

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NOAA Grant Aids Purchase of Critical Coastal Habitat in Puerto Rico

puerto-rico-corridor

June 15th, 2013

A NOAA grant of $1 million has helped the territory of Puerto Rico complete the acquisition of Dos Mares, an 87-acre parcel that includes wetlands, forested wetlands, and a coastal mangrove forest.

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Pacific Island Nation of Kiribati

kiribati-fanning-isl

June 14th, 2013

Reuters photographer David Gray spent time documenting life in the central Pacific island nation of Kiribati, a chain of 33 atolls and islands that stand just metres above sea level, spread over a huge expanse of otherwise empty ocean.

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China Leads The Waste Recycling League

china-pollution

June 14th, 2013

With the world’s population and consumption increasing, the waste heap is growing. More than 4bn tonnes of waste (municipal, industrial and hazardous) is generated annually worldwide. Where does it all go?

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