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The health, beauty and ecosystem of our beaches is under threat

The driving cause for most of these problems is overdevelopment and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline, there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.

Coastal Care Introduction

“Beach sand: so common, so complex, so perfect for sandcastles; and now it is a precious and vanishing resource.”

—Orrin H. Pilkey

Beaches are the most visited natural attraction on the planet. The coast attracts millions of vacationing people each year. People love the sand, the surf, the sea breeze, and the vacation ambiance so much that many come to the beach to stay. There is a magical feeling living near the ocean, but human migration towards the coast comes with a high environmental price tag.

A majority of the world’s population lives within 50 km of the coast and the projections are 75% by the year 2025. This strip of land represents only 3% of the total land mass of the planet. In this context, it is easier to understand the environmental impact. Over 70% of the earth is covered by water and with so many people living on the coast, we are polluting a major source of food, the oceans.

A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.

A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.

The loss of life and economic impacts of major storms – cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes – and tsunamis would be reduced drastically if beaches were not developed. Unfortunately, recent examples of the problem are numerous: 1999 Indian cyclone Orissa (over 10,000 dead and $5 billion in damage), 2004 Indian Ocean tsumani (over 250,000 dead), 2005 Hurricane Katrina (over 1,800 killed and $80 billion in damage), and 2008 Hurricane Ike (over 30 killed and $30 billion in damage).

Today, the health, beauty, and ecosystem function of the world’s beaches are under threat and the driving causes for most of these problems are over-development and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.

It is important to distinguish between erosion and erosion problems. Erosion refers to the landward retreat of the shoreline. Most of the world’s shorelines are eroding, a very few are building out (accreting). There is no erosion problem, however, until someone builds something next to a shoreline. All over the world in remote areas, shorelines are slowly retreating and no one cares. In a global sense, our continents are slowly shrinking, and in a very real sense, erosion problems are man made. On a high-rise, condo-lined shoreline like those in Spain and the Florida coast, erosion is a huge problem and will only worsen in the future as sea level rise accelerates. Sea level rise will accelerate erosion of the shoreline and have a dramatic impact on our infrastructures, our economies, and our way of life.

Sea level rise is one of the most important causes of global shoreline erosion. If the coastline is developed, shoreline armoring is often used in an effort to save the buildings from the eroding shoreline. Once this begins, the beaches will degrade and eventually be lost. In the long-term, however, these armoring efforts are in vain. The ocean will continue to rise as the rate of sea level rise is expected to increase as the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continue to degrade. The situation is made worse now because beach houses and condominiums are being built closer to the ocean than they were 25 years ago. Many of us are familiar with images of large beach houses about to fall victim to the oceans simply from daily erosion accelerated by the ever rising sea.

The work of the Santa Aguila Foundation will emphasize the impacts of sand mining and shoreline armoring: the first because the effects of sand mining have been largely ignored on a global scale and the latter due to its overwhelming negative impacts on the world’s beaches.


Surfing in / Inform

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Rising seas could result in 2 billion refugees by 2100

In the year 2100, 2 billion people — about one-fifth of the world’s population — could become climate change refugees due to rising ocean levels. Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland, according to new research.

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Lessons on conservation from ‘the land of eternal mangroves’

Sri Lanka is working on mangrove forest protection measures that have been praised as the first of their kind in the world. And while recent heavy rains may have destroyed seedlings, they have only strengthened the determination of the government and its partners to continue their work on mangrove conservation and restoration.

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Council committee wrestles with sand-mining bill, Hawaii

News, Sand Mining
Jun
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A Maui County Council committee is considering ways to regulate sand extraction in the county in light of a recent Central Maui sand excavation and export case that came under fire from members of the community.

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Tracking the Hide-and-Seek Game Between Beaches and Tides

Celebrate, Inform
Jun
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It is one of the marvels of the shore: the daily rhythm of the beach growing and shrinking with the changing tide. That beguiling strip of land revealed by low tide and concealed by high tide is known as the intertidal zone. It is beguiling to scientists, too.

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Big beaches are back in Oceanside, CA

Workers have finished their two-month dredging of the Oceanside harbor, leaving a fresh coat of sand on beaches as the summer tourist season gets under way.

Comments Off on Big beaches are back in Oceanside, CA

Japanese slow earthquakes could shed light on tsunami generation

Inform
Jun
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Understanding slow-slip earthquakes in subduction zone areas may help researchers understand large earthquakes and the creation of tsunamis, according to researchers who used data from instruments placed on the seafloor and in boreholes east of the Japanese coast.

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Recent / Inform

Feeling the Heat: How Fish Are Migrating from Warming Waters

June 26th, 2017

Steadily rising ocean temperatures are forcing fish to abandon their historic territories and move to cooler waters. The result is that fishermen’s livelihoods are being disrupted…

Read More

Rising seas could result in 2 billion refugees by 2100

June 26th, 2017

In the year 2100, 2 billion people — about one-fifth of the world’s population — could become climate change refugees due to rising ocean levels. Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland, according to new research.

Read More

Paris agreement’s 1.5C target ‘only way’ to save coral reefs, Unesco says

June 23rd, 2017

First global assessment of climate change impact on world heritage-listed reefs says local efforts are ‘no longer sufficient’…

Read More

Ocean Circulation Plays an Important Role in Absorbing Carbon from the Atmosphere

June 22nd, 2017

The oceans play a significant role in absorbing greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, and heat from the atmosphere. This absorption can help mitigate the early effects of human-emissions of carbon dioxide.

Read More

Lessons on conservation from ‘the land of eternal mangroves’

June 21st, 2017

Sri Lanka is working on mangrove forest protection measures that have been praised as the first of their kind in the world. And while recent heavy rains may have destroyed seedlings, they have only strengthened the determination of the government and its partners to continue their work on mangrove conservation and restoration.

Read More

Council committee wrestles with sand-mining bill, Hawaii

June 21st, 2017

A Maui County Council committee is considering ways to regulate sand extraction in the county in light of a recent Central Maui sand excavation and export case that came under fire from members of the community.

Read More

Tracking the Hide-and-Seek Game Between Beaches and Tides

June 19th, 2017

It is one of the marvels of the shore: the daily rhythm of the beach growing and shrinking with the changing tide. That beguiling strip of land revealed by low tide and concealed by high tide is known as the intertidal zone. It is beguiling to scientists, too.

Read More

Big beaches are back in Oceanside, CA

June 17th, 2017

Workers have finished their two-month dredging of the Oceanside harbor, leaving a fresh coat of sand on beaches as the summer tourist season gets under way.

Read More

Japanese slow earthquakes could shed light on tsunami generation

June 16th, 2017

Understanding slow-slip earthquakes in subduction zone areas may help researchers understand large earthquakes and the creation of tsunamis, according to researchers who used data from instruments placed on the seafloor and in boreholes east of the Japanese coast.

Read More

The fight against climate change: four cities leading the way in the Trump era

June 13th, 2017

New York City, Houston, Miami and San Francisco have all taken steps to mitigate the risks associated with rising sea levels and global temperatures. Are their successes a blueprint for action at the state and local level?

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
One Percent