Poor Coastal Development

Dubai beach constructions View Dubai Gallery
Hurricane Katrina Destruction View Hurricane Katrina and Ike Gallery

Developed coasts change natural beach processes. Even a single building alters natural movement of wind which can disrupt sand transport, movement of rainwater runoff, and negatively impact plants and animals. Aesthetically, development reduces the quality of visits by tourists and once development begins, more follows. The long history of beach development in Europe and the northeastern United States has resulted in heavy modification of, and in some cases total destruction of, natural beaches.

Development on coasts is in grave danger in the coming decades from the combination of sea level rise and storms. When coastal development is built too close to the shore, the results can be devastating as evidenced by recent hurricanes Ike and Katrina in the United States. Two simple concepts must be followed:

  1. Do not build a house that will be underwater in the next 50 years and
  2. Do not build a house that will be knocked down by a storm.

These two basic principles are seldom followed today and when they are not, the costs can be human lives and billions of dollars.

After a large storm strikes, rebuilding is often financed with public money. Once a coastal community has been developed, rebuilding efforts often focus on putting things back the way they were rather than making objective decisions about changes that need to be made based on the rising sea. Developed coastlines need to retreat from the coast to allow the beach to move. Coastlines are dynamic, but buildings are not. More information on this topic can be found at the website of The Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, USA.

Australian Gold Coast Australian Gold Coast

Map of North and South America shows increasing populations in coastal areas, which will expose 2.75 billion people worldwide to the effects of sea level rise and other coastal threats posed by global warming.

Map of Africa, Europe, and Asia shows projected population change for 2025 Map of Africa, Europe, and Asia shows projected population change for 2025. This map was developed by the Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) of the Earth Institute at Columbia University shows the human migration to the coast. Credit: Stuart Gaffin, Lee Hachadoorian, and Robert Engelman.
Map of North and South America shows increasing populations in coastal areas This map was developed by the Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) of the Earth Institute at Columbia University shows the human migration to the coast. Credit: Stuart Gaffin, Lee Hachadoorian, and Robert Engelman.

Surfing in / Poor Coastal Development

Despite Rising Seas and Bigger Storms, Florida’s Land Rush Endures

Florida was built on the seductive delusion that a swamp is a fine place for paradise.

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Six square kilometers of Istanbul’s land reclaimed from the sea

Six square kilometers of land have been gained from Istanbul coasts and opened for urban use by filling up the sea. With the acceleration of such infrastructure work at the start of the millennium, professionals are warning about risks.

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India: Govt plans to ease coastal rules, allow land reclamation for commercial use

Bringing in some significant changes in the way it governs its coasts, the government is moving to remove the ban on reclamation of land in coastal areas for commercial or entertainment purposes while also allowing tourism activities even in ecologically sensitive areas along the shores.

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From forest to beach, North Carolina

The Outer Banks is moving. For at least 4,000 years it has been steadily creeping closer to the continental United States.

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From the mountains to the sea: Coastal geologist speaks his mind

Coastal geologist Rob Young explains how the ocean is flooding coastal property and threatening to consume more land at a time of increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather.

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Green delight as Trump’s Irish wall plans withdrawn

Under growing international pressure, Trump International Golf Links (TIGL) has rescinded their proposal for the 3km seawall at Doughmore Beach, Ireland.

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Lebanon: capital’s last public sand beach under threat?

Lebanese activists and residents of Beirut are concerned that a multi-million dollar resort near the coast is in breach of their rights to a free sand beach – which is the coastal capital’s last.

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Whose job is it to save North Topsail Beach ?

The Atlantic Ocean is eroding parts of North Topsail Beach by about five feet per year. The town of 800 residents is running out of cash and solutions in its efforts to protect its north shore. Whose job is to save this popular North Carolina tourist destination?

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Rising seas put brakes on developers’ march toward the ocean, SC

The South Carolina House just passed a bill that will close a loophole in state law that has allowed new construction closer to the ocean when renourishment projects temporarily widen the seashore. The lower chamber’s action is considered a significant, long-term step to prevent construction farther out on the beach at a time of rising sea levels.

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Recent / Poor Coastal Development

Despite Rising Seas and Bigger Storms, Florida’s Land Rush Endures

September 19th, 2017

Florida was built on the seductive delusion that a swamp is a fine place for paradise.

Read More

Six square kilometers of Istanbul’s land reclaimed from the sea

September 17th, 2017

Six square kilometers of land have been gained from Istanbul coasts and opened for urban use by filling up the sea. With the acceleration of such infrastructure work at the start of the millennium, professionals are warning about risks.

Read More

India: Govt plans to ease coastal rules, allow land reclamation for commercial use

March 24th, 2017

Bringing in some significant changes in the way it governs its coasts, the government is moving to remove the ban on reclamation of land in coastal areas for commercial or entertainment purposes while also allowing tourism activities even in ecologically sensitive areas along the shores.

Read More

From forest to beach, North Carolina

February 24th, 2017

The Outer Banks is moving. For at least 4,000 years it has been steadily creeping closer to the continental United States.

Read More

From the mountains to the sea: Coastal geologist speaks his mind

December 26th, 2016

Coastal geologist Rob Young explains how the ocean is flooding coastal property and threatening to consume more land at a time of increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather.

Read More

Green delight as Trump’s Irish wall plans withdrawn

December 6th, 2016

Under growing international pressure, Trump International Golf Links (TIGL) has rescinded their proposal for the 3km seawall at Doughmore Beach, Ireland.

Read More

Lebanon: capital’s last public sand beach under threat?

November 27th, 2016

Lebanese activists and residents of Beirut are concerned that a multi-million dollar resort near the coast is in breach of their rights to a free sand beach – which is the coastal capital’s last.

Read More

Whose job is it to save North Topsail Beach ?

September 29th, 2016

The Atlantic Ocean is eroding parts of North Topsail Beach by about five feet per year. The town of 800 residents is running out of cash and solutions in its efforts to protect its north shore. Whose job is to save this popular North Carolina tourist destination?

Read More

Rising seas put brakes on developers’ march toward the ocean, SC

June 2nd, 2016

The South Carolina House just passed a bill that will close a loophole in state law that has allowed new construction closer to the ocean when renourishment projects temporarily widen the seashore. The lower chamber’s action is considered a significant, long-term step to prevent construction farther out on the beach at a time of rising sea levels.

Read More

Access eroding to embattled Kiawah spit, study says

May 31st, 2016

The narrow neck to Captain Sam’s Spit is disappearing, survey work has indicated. The dunes there aren’t tall enough to withstand a tropical cyclone of any real strength. The findings could put a big hole in Kiawah Partners’ contention before regulators that the beach there is growing, and a road to its proposed development should be permitted.

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