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

Winthrop Beach’s Crumbling Sea wall and Acccelerated Erosion

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.

Comments Off on Winthrop Beach’s Crumbling Sea wall and Acccelerated Erosion

Beach Renourishment Projects in Doubt

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.

Comments Off on Beach Renourishment Projects in Doubt

Leave The Sea Alone!

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.”

Comments Off on Leave The Sea Alone!

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

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

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

Collapse in Big Sur highway 1, California

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

Comments Off on Collapse in Big Sur highway 1, California

Storm Xynthia: A Year Later

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.

Comments Off on Storm Xynthia: A Year Later

Jetties Blamed For Beach Erosion, Montauk NY

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.

1 comment

First Artificial Island to Be Built In The Americas

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

Comments Off on First Artificial Island to Be Built In The Americas

50 Houses on Kiawah Sand

A documentary about proposed development at south end of Kiawah Island, produced by Mary Edna Fraser and Celie Dailey. Includes interviews with Dr. Orrin Pilkey, Professor of Earth Scieces at Duke University, and Nancy Vinson, Coastal Conservation League’s Program Director for Air and Water Quality.

Comments Off on 50 Houses on Kiawah Sand


Recent / Poor Coastal Development

50 Houses on Kiawah Sand

January 28th, 2011

A documentary about proposed development at south end of Kiawah Island, produced by Mary Edna Fraser and Celie Dailey. Includes interviews with Dr. Orrin Pilkey, Professor of Earth Scieces at Duke University, and Nancy Vinson, Coastal Conservation League’s Program Director for Air and Water Quality.

Read More

Norfolk, Virginia, Tackles Rise in Sea

November 27th, 2010

Like many other cities, Norfolk was built on filled-in marsh.

Read More

The Last house of Sinking Chesapeake Bay Island

November 27th, 2010

The story was strange enough to be a child’s fable: In an isolated section of the Chesapeake Bay, there was a two-story Victorian house that seemed to emerge directly from the water. And, scurrying around it, there was a retiree, trying to keep the house from falling in.

Read More

From the East and West Coasts, a Game Plan on Sea Level Rise

November 22nd, 2010

New York State and California are creating blueprints for how governments should plan, and pay for, a wholesale retreat from the shoreline in anticipation of a possible rise in sea level of three or four feet or more by 2100.

Read More

Potentially devastating impacts of major coastal developments, Australia

November 1st, 2010

100 major coastal developments were proposed for the Queensland coast, with potentially devastating impacts.

Read More

Battling Flood issues, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

October 25th, 2010

The coastal city of Port of Spain, was built on mud flats and reclaimed lands from the sea. At high tide, with virtually a drizzle, the city is prone to major flooding.

Read More

Shipwrecks and Vanishing Coastlines: a Nigerian Predicament

September 20th, 2010

The ocean is advancing menacingly towards populated areas, surge that caused severe erosion, which occurred as a result of shipwrecks and uncontrolled development of the coastlines, involving poorly done sand filling.

Read More

Exploring links between Ocean Warming, Stronger Hurricanes and low-lying coastal zones

Hurricane

September 15th, 2010

In an interview with Yale Environment, MIT meteorologist discusses current thinking on how higher sea surface temperatures are likely to lead to stronger hurricanes, thus believing subsidies and bailouts encouraging people to live in vulnerable, low-lying coastal zones are folly.

Read More

Kingscliff Battles Beach Erosion, Australia

August 24th, 2010

Coastal residents fear their idyllic seaside town may never be restored to its former glory after the besieged coastline just copped further battering.

Read More

Jamaica’s Beaches in peril

July 31st, 2010

Several beaches on the western end of Jamaica could be totally wiped out in the next 5 to 10 years if local authorities and residents do not act now.

Read More