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

Attempt To Protect Houston From The Next Big Hurricane

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…

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Beating land pressures

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

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

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.

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Proposed Ports Gravely Threatens Coastal Beauty, India

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.

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Puerto Rico coast still ruled by 1886 law

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.

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Mass tourism threatening Venice lagoon

An Italian environmental group warned that mass tourism is slowly eroding the Venice lagoon, which it said is also threatened by major real estate development and an inadequate transport network.

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Sandbagged: The Undoing of a Quarter Century of North Carolina Coastal Conservation

Men cannot build houses upon sand and expect to see them stand now anymore than they could in the olden times… Many developers, homeowners, and local politicians refuse to believe the evidence that the ocean’s transformation of the shore is inevitable. By Gary Lazorick.

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The Mediterranean and Climate Change’s Impacts

One of the most serious threats to life in the Mediterranean region, and indeed every part of the global ocean, is climate change. Climate change is already having an impact on the marine environment and this is likely to escalate swiftly, increasing seawater temperatures and coastal erosion, altering salinity and currents and causing serious declines in biodiversity.

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Coastal Dunes in Spain Threatened by Poorly Designed Infrastructure

Although the dune ecosystem is unusual, fragile and is protected by the “habitats” directive of the network Natura 2000, its conservation is very vulnerable to the proliferation of car parks, nearby buildings and inadequate boardwalks.

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Recent / Poor Coastal Development

The Mediterranean and Climate Change’s Impacts

June 19th, 2011

One of the most serious threats to life in the Mediterranean region, and indeed every part of the global ocean, is climate change. Climate change is already having an impact on the marine environment and this is likely to escalate swiftly, increasing seawater temperatures and coastal erosion, altering salinity and currents and causing serious declines in biodiversity.

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Coastal Dunes in Spain Threatened by Poorly Designed Infrastructure

April 26th, 2011

Although the dune ecosystem is unusual, fragile and is protected by the “habitats” directive of the network Natura 2000, its conservation is very vulnerable to the proliferation of car parks, nearby buildings and inadequate boardwalks.

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Winthrop Beach’s Crumbling Sea wall and Acccelerated Erosion

April 4th, 2011

Once a playground for the elite, who traveled from as far as Chicago to spend time at the hotels that lined the Winthrop beach in the early 20th century, the beach has been eroding over the past century. The process was accelerated by the installation of walls that were put up, which removed the source of natural sediment that once helped create the beach. Visitors can find evidence of what waves can do to manmade structures.

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Beach Renourishment Projects in Doubt

March 28th, 2011

On a narrow stretch of Sand Key, Fl., the beach has eroded from months of rushing waves. Tides eat away at the coast, sweeping sand back into the gulf. Unstopped by the shore, water rolls to the seawall, 20 feet from condominiums. Bordered by 825 miles of sandy shoreline, Florida tops the nation in federally funded beach renourishment.

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Leave The Sea Alone!

March 22nd, 2011

Sea erosion is a natural phenomenon, it is an interplay between water, wind and sand, and this process helps keeping the intricate balance of coastal ecosystem. By erecting manmade structures in the sea, or on the beach, this process becomes crippled and the sea must find “other methods.”

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Facebook Group to Rally Against Barbados’ Scenic East Coast Tourism Development

March 17th, 2011

Concerned citizens in Barbados are rallying against proposals for tourism development at Cove Bay, St. Lucy.

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Collapse in Big Sur highway 1, California

March 17th, 2011

A stretch of Highway one, roughly a 40-foot section, near Big Sur, slid into the ocean.

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Storm Xynthia: A Year Later

March 6th, 2011

A year ago the hurricane winds of Storm Xynthia drove the sea over much of the Charente-Maritime and Vendée coastline to devastating effect. Many people lost their lives. France’s Government has set up a new coastal defence plan costing €500 million over six years.

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Jetties Blamed For Beach Erosion, Montauk NY

February 14th, 2011

The next winter storm is threatening to wash away beach-side homes in Montauk. Concerned residents, however, are not blaming Mother Nature, but rather jetties built by the Army Corps of Engineers about 20 years ago.

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First Artificial Island to Be Built In The Americas

January 31st, 2011

Boskalis is sourcing the sand for the land reclamation process from its own borrow area…

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