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

Access eroding to embattled Kiawah spit, study says

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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Captain Sams Spit, Kiawah Island; By Cecelia Dailey

Since 2008, concerned citizens and environmental organizations have opposed the development of Captain Sams Spit, Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

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Ex-Mayor 4-year-term jail sentence over storm deaths, overturned by French Court

Overturning the first degree of jurisdiction’s sentence of last December, the former mayor of a Vendée town has been handed by the Poitiers Court of Appeal, a two-year suspended sentence in connection with the deaths of 29 people during Storm Xynthia in 2010.

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Capt. Sam’s Spit road gets court go-ahead; conservation groups plan to appeal, SC

A wall to protect a road to a controversial development on Capt. Sam’s Spit can be built, a state Administrative Law Court judge has ruled, despite an earlier state Supreme Court ruling that stopped the road along a piece of the disappearing natural coast.

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Developers don’t get it: climate change means we need to retreat from the coast

It is preposterous to build in areas that are bound to flood. So why are real estate companies still doing it?

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Alabama has been destroying its natural coast

From its beginning Alabama has been endowed with some of the finest natural white sand beach and dune systems in the nation, but, over time, we have preserved less, and destroyed more of this asset than any other state. We have literally “paved paradise and put up a parking lot!

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How clam-diggers saved an estuary

How decisions almost a half-century ago continue to impact our natural resources. As a result of a stalled development in the 1960s, changes in the Necanicum River estuary, north of Seaside Oregon, remain evident today.

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Californians Fight Over Whether Coast Should Be Rugged or Refined

The California Coastal Commission, created 45 years ago, has been one of the most powerful governmental agencies in the nation, with sweeping powers to determine what gets built, or does not get built, on the 1,100 miles of cliffs, mountains and beaches along the Pacific Ocean. It has mediated the often clashing agendas of two of the most influential forces that help to define this state: environmentalism and the drive for growth.

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Beach erosion making St Clair too dangerous, New Zealand

Dunedin surfers and lifeguards are calling for urgent council action to save St Clair beach. The call comes as the city prepares to host the National Surf Championships next week. Beach erosion has been a problem at St Clair for more than a century, as waves hitting the sea wall bounce off with more energy than those washing back from a regular beach.

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Recent / Poor Coastal Development

Captain Sams Spit, Kiawah Island; By Cecelia Dailey

May 1st, 2016

Since 2008, concerned citizens and environmental organizations have opposed the development of Captain Sams Spit, Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Read More

Ex-Mayor 4-year-term jail sentence over storm deaths, overturned by French Court

April 5th, 2016

Overturning the first degree of jurisdiction’s sentence of last December, the former mayor of a Vendée town has been handed by the Poitiers Court of Appeal, a two-year suspended sentence in connection with the deaths of 29 people during Storm Xynthia in 2010.

Read More

Capt. Sam’s Spit road gets court go-ahead; conservation groups plan to appeal, SC

March 24th, 2016

A wall to protect a road to a controversial development on Capt. Sam’s Spit can be built, a state Administrative Law Court judge has ruled, despite an earlier state Supreme Court ruling that stopped the road along a piece of the disappearing natural coast.

Read More

Developers don’t get it: climate change means we need to retreat from the coast

March 15th, 2016

It is preposterous to build in areas that are bound to flood. So why are real estate companies still doing it?

Read More

Alabama has been destroying its natural coast

March 5th, 2016

From its beginning Alabama has been endowed with some of the finest natural white sand beach and dune systems in the nation, but, over time, we have preserved less, and destroyed more of this asset than any other state. We have literally “paved paradise and put up a parking lot!

Read More

How clam-diggers saved an estuary

February 19th, 2016

How decisions almost a half-century ago continue to impact our natural resources. As a result of a stalled development in the 1960s, changes in the Necanicum River estuary, north of Seaside Oregon, remain evident today.

Read More

Californians Fight Over Whether Coast Should Be Rugged or Refined

February 9th, 2016

The California Coastal Commission, created 45 years ago, has been one of the most powerful governmental agencies in the nation, with sweeping powers to determine what gets built, or does not get built, on the 1,100 miles of cliffs, mountains and beaches along the Pacific Ocean. It has mediated the often clashing agendas of two of the most influential forces that help to define this state: environmentalism and the drive for growth.

Read More

Beach erosion making St Clair too dangerous, New Zealand

January 10th, 2016

Dunedin surfers and lifeguards are calling for urgent council action to save St Clair beach. The call comes as the city prepares to host the National Surf Championships next week. Beach erosion has been a problem at St Clair for more than a century, as waves hitting the sea wall bounce off with more energy than those washing back from a regular beach.

Read More

White sand, black gold: when oil derricks loomed over California beaches

December 8th, 2015

As California population boomed in the decades following the gold rush of 1849, there was a rapidly growing demand for petroleum. By 1920, California was producing 77 million barrels of oil a year, and vast stretches of the state were occupied by derricks, and refineries. In coastal places such as Venice, oil derricks ran right up to the shore, mingling with residential neighborhoods and pristine beaches.

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Chennai floods are not a natural disaster, Tamil Nadu, India

December 3rd, 2015

As a city on the high-energy coast facing the Bay of Bengal, Chennai is no stranger to heavy rains and cyclonic storms. But with every invitation to “Make in Chennai”, the city is unmaking itself and eroding its resilience to perfectly normal monsoon weather events. The infrastructure of big commerce has replaced the infrastructure to withstand natural shocks.

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