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

First Artificial Island to Be Built In The Americas

Boskalis is sourcing the sand for the land reclamation process from its own borrow area…

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50 Houses on Kiawah Sand

A documentary about proposed development at south end of Kiawah Island, produced by Mary Edna Fraser and Celie Dailey. Includes interviews with Dr. Orrin Pilkey, Professor of Earth Scieces at Duke University, and Nancy Vinson, Coastal Conservation League’s Program Director for Air and Water Quality.

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Norfolk, Virginia, Tackles Rise in Sea

Like many other cities, Norfolk was built on filled-in marsh.

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The Last house of Sinking Chesapeake Bay Island

The story was strange enough to be a child’s fable: In an isolated section of the Chesapeake Bay, there was a two-story Victorian house that seemed to emerge directly from the water. And, scurrying around it, there was a retiree, trying to keep the house from falling in.

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From the East and West Coasts, a Game Plan on Sea Level Rise

New York State and California are creating blueprints for how governments should plan, and pay for, a wholesale retreat from the shoreline in anticipation of a possible rise in sea level of three or four feet or more by 2100.

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Potentially devastating impacts of major coastal developments, Australia

100 major coastal developments were proposed for the Queensland coast, with potentially devastating impacts.

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Battling Flood issues, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

The coastal city of Port of Spain, was built on mud flats and reclaimed lands from the sea. At high tide, with virtually a drizzle, the city is prone to major flooding.

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Shipwrecks and Vanishing Coastlines: a Nigerian Predicament

The ocean is advancing menacingly towards populated areas, surge that caused severe erosion, which occurred as a result of shipwrecks and uncontrolled development of the coastlines, involving poorly done sand filling.

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Exploring links between Ocean Warming, Stronger Hurricanes and low-lying coastal zones

Hurricane

In an interview with Yale Environment, MIT meteorologist discusses current thinking on how higher sea surface temperatures are likely to lead to stronger hurricanes, thus believing subsidies and bailouts encouraging people to live in vulnerable, low-lying coastal zones are folly.

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Recent / Poor Coastal Development

Kingscliff Battles Beach Erosion, Australia

August 24th, 2010

Coastal residents fear their idyllic seaside town may never be restored to its former glory after the besieged coastline just copped further battering.

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Jamaica’s Beaches in peril

July 31st, 2010

Several beaches on the western end of Jamaica could be totally wiped out in the next 5 to 10 years if local authorities and residents do not act now.

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The battle for the beaches of Cancun

July 29th, 2010

The science of why the beaches have eroded is not nearly as complex as the politics attached to their recovery.

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A 500 million euros Plan to strengthen levees in France

July 14th, 2010

Four and a half months after the disaster caused by storm Xynthia, the french “Plan Digues” is presented.

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THESEUS:Innovative technologies for safer European coasts in a changing climate

May 22nd, 2010

THESEUS is the largest Integrated Project funded by the European Commission (6,530,000 €) and consists of 31 partner institutes. The project will develop during the next four years a systematic approach to deliver both a low-risk coast for human use and healthy coastal habitats for evolving coastal zones subjected to multiple factors.

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La Faute-sur-Mer and l’Aiguillon-sur-Mer beaches, Vendée, France; By Claire Le Guern

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April 1st, 2010

The main attractions of the coastal towns besides the beaches are the Nature Reserve, and the off shore mussel farms. Not anymore.

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Chile Was Prepared for the Quake but Not the Tsunami

March 2nd, 2010

Jane Lubchenco says that precisely because the communities were so close to the epicenter, tsunami waves arrived “almost instantaneously.”

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European Bad Beach Management

Bad Beach Management

April 25th, 2009

A slide show of European Bad Beach Management by Andrew Cooper.

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Rebuilding Communities in Flood Prone Coastal Zones

Destruction from Hurricane Ike

February 24th, 2009

Hurricane Katrina destroyed communities in Louisiana. Ike leveled the Port Bolivar peninsula and parts of Galveston.

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