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

Ruling Favors Rebuilding Septic Systems on Beach

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

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

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

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

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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Post Sandy Coastal Engineering Atrocity at Village of Southampton, In Pictures

An example of brute force coastal protection at its worst: on the beach, at the village of Southampton.

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It’s Move It or Lose It in Path of a Nor’easter

As a nor’easter pounded Plum Island, Mass., this month, moving trucks were being filled with belongings from damaged homes. Officials say some houses should be moved away from the coastline.

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Sustainable Management of Surfing Breaks, A Study

Despite their large numbers worldwide, surfers as a coastal interest group have largely been ignored during coastal management decision making. Surfers are, however, increasingly being considered in coastal management decisions as the social, economic, and environmental benefits of high-quality surfing breaks are realized.

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Unesco-Designated World Heritage Coast At Risk

A “major development” along Unesco-designated Dorset cove, could jeopardise the distinctive nature and feel of one of the gems of the British coastline, the residents and experts have warned.

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Recent / Poor Coastal Development

Post Sandy Coastal Engineering Atrocity at Village of Southampton, In Pictures

March 24th, 2013

An example of brute force coastal protection at its worst: on the beach, at the village of Southampton.

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It’s Move It or Lose It in Path of a Nor’easter

March 21st, 2013

As a nor’easter pounded Plum Island, Mass., this month, moving trucks were being filled with belongings from damaged homes. Officials say some houses should be moved away from the coastline.

Read More

Sustainable Management of Surfing Breaks, A Study

March 14th, 2013

Despite their large numbers worldwide, surfers as a coastal interest group have largely been ignored during coastal management decision making. Surfers are, however, increasingly being considered in coastal management decisions as the social, economic, and environmental benefits of high-quality surfing breaks are realized.

Read More

Unesco-Designated World Heritage Coast At Risk

January 13th, 2013

A “major development” along Unesco-designated Dorset cove, could jeopardise the distinctive nature and feel of one of the gems of the British coastline, the residents and experts have warned.

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History Has Lessons for Post-Sandy America, by John R. Gillis

December 12th, 2012

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Americans are finally beginning to ask themselves whether or not it might be advisable to build up to the edge of the sea. It is dawning on us that we are dealing with a human-made rather than natural disaster…

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Big Bill for Levee Upkeep Comes to New Orleans

November 28th, 2012

In the busy and under-staffed offices of New Orleans’ flood-control leaders, there’s an uneasy feeling about what lies ahead…

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Hurricane Sandy Challenges Short-Term Thinking On Nation’s Coasts

November 13th, 2012

America is an aggressively coastal nation. While accounting for just 13 percent of the nation’s total land mass, coastal counties, including those along the two oceans and the Great Lakes, are home to roughly half the U.S. population, the authors noted, and 60 percent of civilian income…

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Constructing On A Peau De Chagrin: Cox’s Bazar Proliferating Beachside Resorts

September 3rd, 2012

Bangladesh is probably one of the last places in Asia people would expect to see a thriving beachside resort with luxury hotels…

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Rhode Island’s Eroding Coast: A Serious Problem

August 24th, 2012

Rhode Island’s coastline is in a natural and constant state of flux. The coastline is altered most during big storms such as hurricanes and nor’easters. High waves wash away or damage dunes that protect land further inland.

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Seeping Arctic Methane Has Serious Implications for Florida Coastline

June 19th, 2012

The more the ice cap melts, the more methane is released into the atmosphere, and the more the climate warms. This phenomenon causes sea levels to rise, which is particularly problematic along the flat Florida coastline, where a 1-foot rise in sea level could cause anywhere from 10 to 100 feet of shoreline retreat..

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