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

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

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

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

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

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

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Villagers Thwart Development Plan At Vulnerable Beach Habitat in Turkey

The Çıralı beach zone is a 18,297 m² site along the coast of Antalya Province, Turkey. Çıralı is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, helping draw tourists and foreign residents to the area…

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Environmentalists Alarmed at Tourism Plans for Small Islands

The Venezuelan government’s plans to develop tourism infrastructure on virtually uninhabited highly biodiverse small islands in the southern Caribbean have triggered warnings from environmentalists.

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Ala Wai Canal: Hawaii’s Biggest Mistake?

A mistake made nearly 100 years ago is putting the economic heart of Hawaii in jeopardy.

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Recent / Poor Coastal Development

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.

Read More

Villagers Thwart Development Plan At Vulnerable Beach Habitat in Turkey

September 12th, 2013

The Çıralı beach zone is a 18,297 m² site along the coast of Antalya Province, Turkey. Çıralı is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, helping draw tourists and foreign residents to the area…

Read More

Environmentalists Alarmed at Tourism Plans for Small Islands

August 7th, 2013

The Venezuelan government’s plans to develop tourism infrastructure on virtually uninhabited highly biodiverse small islands in the southern Caribbean have triggered warnings from environmentalists.

Read More

Ala Wai Canal: Hawaii’s Biggest Mistake?

May 28th, 2013

A mistake made nearly 100 years ago is putting the economic heart of Hawaii in jeopardy.

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Ruling Favors Rebuilding Septic Systems on Beach

May 18th, 2013

A line of decrepit cottages along what was once Seagull Drive in South Nags Head has stood for more than three years as testimony to long-running legal battles between the state, the town and property owners.

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Activists Fight Foreign Aid to Develop El Salvador’s Pacific Coastline

April 29th, 2013

Community leaders in El Salvador are opposed to the government’s plans to use foreign aid funds to develop the country’s Pacific coastline, on the grounds that it would threaten the environment in a vast area.

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Luxury Homes Block Up Delta Near Buenos Aires

April 16th, 2013

Gated residential communities on the Paraná Delta have sprawled out of control in recent years, and are plugging up the local ecosystem and preventing the natural runoff of water that cushions the impact of floods in a vast area near the Argentine capital.

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Aurora, The Philippines: Land Deals And Development At A Price, A Video

April 10th, 2013

Aurora’s governor says the development of a Pacific eco zone will bring benefits to this poor region of the Philippines. But locals wonder how long construction jobs will last, and what impact the development of a port, tourist haven and trading hub will have on livelihoods and the coastal environment.

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Southampton Beach Projects Violate Permits

April 1st, 2013

State Department of Environmental Conservation officials say at least three seawalls constructed in the last two months along the Southampton Village oceanfront are in violation of state and local permits.

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