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

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

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…

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

Big Bill for Levee Upkeep Comes to New Orleans

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

Comments Off on Big Bill for Levee Upkeep Comes to New Orleans

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

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…

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

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

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

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

Rhode Island’s Eroding Coast: A Serious Problem

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.

Comments Off on Rhode Island’s Eroding Coast: A Serious Problem

Seeping Arctic Methane Has Serious Implications for Florida Coastline

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..

Comments Off on Seeping Arctic Methane Has Serious Implications for Florida Coastline

Vast coastal erosion threatens Bali shorelines

Bali Regional administrations face the gigantic task of tackling the continuing erosion that threatens the island’s already damaged shorelines and coastal areas…

Comments Off on Vast coastal erosion threatens Bali shorelines

Jobs-short Spanish town to build on ‘paradise’ beach

A jobs-starved town in southern Spain has sparked uproar by agreeing on a scheme to build 350 homes and a batch of hotels with 1,400 rooms on unspoiled land along a “paradise” beach, by the Andalusian town of Tarifa. The indignation is also a symptom of the damage done to Spain’s coastline in decades of unrestrained construction.

Comments Off on Jobs-short Spanish town to build on ‘paradise’ beach

Pebble Beach Development Plan: Coastal Community Expected To Give Green Light

The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to allow Pebble Beach Co. to build 90 homes in coastal Monterey County’s Del Monte Forest…

Comments Off on Pebble Beach Development Plan: Coastal Community Expected To Give Green Light


Recent / Poor Coastal Development

Vast coastal erosion threatens Bali shorelines

June 18th, 2012

Bali Regional administrations face the gigantic task of tackling the continuing erosion that threatens the island’s already damaged shorelines and coastal areas…

Read More

Jobs-short Spanish town to build on ‘paradise’ beach

June 3rd, 2012

A jobs-starved town in southern Spain has sparked uproar by agreeing on a scheme to build 350 homes and a batch of hotels with 1,400 rooms on unspoiled land along a “paradise” beach, by the Andalusian town of Tarifa. The indignation is also a symptom of the damage done to Spain’s coastline in decades of unrestrained construction.

Read More

Pebble Beach Development Plan: Coastal Community Expected To Give Green Light

May 10th, 2012

The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to allow Pebble Beach Co. to build 90 homes in coastal Monterey County’s Del Monte Forest…

Read More

Belgium fears for its fragile coastline

January 27th, 2012

Storms and rising sea levels could wreak havoc as defences that protect beaches and dykes are overwhelmed. According to the regional authorities, about a third of the Belgian heavily populated coastline is inadequately protected against flooding.

Read More

Hawaii to Add Sand to Chronically Eroding Waikiki Beach

January 6th, 2012

A $2.3 million state project to widen a chronically eroding section of Waikiki beach with sand pumped in from offshore, will begin by the end of this month. Waikiki naturally has a narrow beach, and people have been adding sand to the shoreline to make it wider. The earliest beach replenishment projects are believed to date to the 1920s. The first well-documented case was in 1939…

Read More

Attempt To Protect Houston From The Next Big Hurricane

November 15th, 2011

To protect Houston and Galveston from future hurricanes, a Rice University-led team of experts recommends building a floodgate across the Houston Ship Channel adding new levees to protect densely populated areas on Galveston Island and the developed west side of Galveston Bay…

Read More

Beating land pressures

September 14th, 2011

High land prices, particularly in coastal areas, make reclamation a relatively ‘cheap’ option for many port expansion projects.

Read More

Growth of Cities Endangers Global Environment, Coastlines Being Most At Risk

August 22nd, 2011

The explosive growth of cities worldwide poses significant risks to people and the global environment, predominantly along the coastlines, where urbanization has increased the most rapidly, dramatically and dangerously, a Yale study reports.

Read More

Proposed Ports Gravely Threatens Coastal Beauty, India

August 20th, 2011

Galloping capital flow into coastal infrastructure development will see a port built every 32 km along India’s 480kms’ coast. India aims to pour $60 billion into ports by 2020 under a drive to spur the fastest growth in more than two decades. The most serious and direct implication is aggravated coastal erosion, which will deprive local communities of the beaches on which their lives and livelihoods depend.

Read More

Puerto Rico coast still ruled by 1886 law

July 8th, 2011

A Spanish law crafted in 1886 still governs development along Puerto Rico’s sprawling coastline, worrying activists and legislators who say the ancient mandate has allowed construction along ecologically sensitive beaches.

Read More