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

Congressional Caucus Will Focus on Coastal Issues

A bipartisan caucus has been formed in the U.S. House of Representatives to address coastal community issues including storm protection, tourism and environmental issues.

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Robert Young: Seaward of Common Sense? SC Needs to Put an End to Building on the Beach

South Carolina’s beautiful beaches are a vital component of this state’s economy. Managing them wisely is critical to the health of the economy and to ensuring that state and local tax dollars are not wasted on futile efforts to protect homes needlessly placed in areas of obvious high hazard.

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For Vulnerable Barrier Islands, A Rush to Rebuild on U.S. Coast

Despite warnings from scientists, new construction continues on U.S. barrier islands that have been devastated by storms. The flood protection projects that accompany this development can have harmful consequences for coastal ecosystems being buffeted by climate change.

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World’s Beaches Being Washed Away Due to Coastal Development

From Florida to the Costa del Sol, costly sea defences are accelerating beach erosion and will ultimately fail to protect coastal towns and cities from rising tides, say experts Andrew Cooper and Orrin Pilkey in a new book “The Last Beach.”

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Gated Communities on the Water Aggravate Flooding in Argentina

The construction of gated communities on wetlands and floodplains in Greater Buenos Aires has modified fragile ecosystems and water cycles and has aggravated flooding.

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Reuters’ Water’s Edge Report – Part II

Despite laws intended to curb development where rising seas pose the greatest threat, Reuters finds that government is happy to help the nation indulge in its passion for beachfront living.

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Xynthia Deadly Storm: The Trial Opens

Four years after a deadly storm devastated part of France west coast, killing 29 people in La Faute sur Mer town, the trial opens. Four elected officials and a real estate agent are indicted for aggravated manslaughter.

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Caofeidian, The Chinese Eco-City That Became a Ghost Town – In Pictures

“As precious as gold … That was how then-president Hu Jintao described Caofeidian during his visit in 2006. It was pledged to be ‘the world’s first fully realised eco-city’ – yet 10 years and almost $100bn later, only a few thousand inhabitants have moved to this land reclaimed from the sea …”

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Sean Connery Joins Bahamas Campaign To Stop Developing Mansion

Activists claim fashion mogul proposed coastal development risks environmental damage to Bahamas’ beaches.

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Recent / Poor Coastal Development

World’s Beaches Being Washed Away Due to Coastal Development

December 15th, 2014

From Florida to the Costa del Sol, costly sea defences are accelerating beach erosion and will ultimately fail to protect coastal towns and cities from rising tides, say experts Andrew Cooper and Orrin Pilkey in a new book “The Last Beach.”

Read More

Gated Communities on the Water Aggravate Flooding in Argentina

November 25th, 2014

The construction of gated communities on wetlands and floodplains in Greater Buenos Aires has modified fragile ecosystems and water cycles and has aggravated flooding.

Read More

Reuters’ Water’s Edge Report – Part II

September 19th, 2014

Despite laws intended to curb development where rising seas pose the greatest threat, Reuters finds that government is happy to help the nation indulge in its passion for beachfront living.

Read More

Xynthia Deadly Storm: The Trial Opens

September 15th, 2014

Four years after a deadly storm devastated part of France west coast, killing 29 people in La Faute sur Mer town, the trial opens. Four elected officials and a real estate agent are indicted for aggravated manslaughter.

Read More

Caofeidian, The Chinese Eco-City That Became a Ghost Town – In Pictures

July 28th, 2014

“As precious as gold … That was how then-president Hu Jintao described Caofeidian during his visit in 2006. It was pledged to be ‘the world’s first fully realised eco-city’ – yet 10 years and almost $100bn later, only a few thousand inhabitants have moved to this land reclaimed from the sea …”

Read More

Sean Connery Joins Bahamas Campaign To Stop Developing Mansion

July 12th, 2014

Activists claim fashion mogul proposed coastal development risks environmental damage to Bahamas’ beaches.

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New Jersey’s Proposed Coastal Development Rules Miss The Mark, Critics Charge

June 26th, 2014

Environmentalists say New Jersey’s proposed new rules for coastal development would place more people and property at risk from future storms like Superstorm Sandy.

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Coastal Barrier Resources System: Testimony of Robert S. Young, PhD

April 7th, 2014

The Us Congress will hold a hearing tomorrow, April 8th, on 9 separate bills that would remove properties and lands from the Coastal Barrier Resources System, and Robert S. Young, PhD, PG, will be presenting his Testimony on the issue.

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Protect and Restore Goleta Beach, California

March 14th, 2014

Goleta Beach is one of Santa Barbara County’s most popular parks. But imagine going to Goleta Beach Park and finding no beach. Seawalls cause sandy beaches to disappear forever. The unpermitted seawall at the west end of Goleta Beach is no exception; it must be removed to preserve Goleta Beach…

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Rising Seas Threaten Coastal Lifestyle

November 19th, 2013

Facing the reality of rising seas: Western Carolina University’s Robert Young talks about the way buildings impact coastal erosion.

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