Inform

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

The IPCC’s Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere – What it means for Africa’s coastal cities

For African coastal cities, sea level rise and increasing storm frequency and intensity pose serious threat. West, Central, East and Mediterranean coastal zones in Africa are very low-lying. Within these low-lying coastal zones are many of Africa’s largest cities: Dakar, Abidjan, Accra, Lagos, Dar es Salaam, Alexandria, Tripoli, and Cape Town.

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Turning plastic trash into high-quality liquid products

News, Pollution
Oct
23

Researchers have developed a new catalyst that can cleave plastic’s strong carbon-carbon, converting it into higher value products.

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Brazilians rally to clean beaches amid outrage at Bolsonaro’s oil spill inaction

News, Pollution
Oct
22

Nobody knows where the oil is from or why it keeps washing up on Brazilian beaches. “People in the north-east are cleaning the oil from the coast with their own hands while the federal government is immobile…”

Comments Off on Brazilians rally to clean beaches amid outrage at Bolsonaro’s oil spill inaction

A rare Caribbean island where beaches aren’t the draw

Inform
Oct
22

Saba, a speck of a five-square-mile Caribbean island — a special municipality of the Netherlands — is left off many maps.

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Our Unequal Earth: how environmental injustice divides the world

Five luminaries explain the concept of ‘environmental justice’ and reveal why, alongside the climate crisis, it is one of the most pressing issues of our time…

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Paradise Beach, Eastern Cape, Southe Africa

Celebrate, Inform
Oct
20

Surfers all over the world know Jeffreys Bay, home to a legendary wave and a major international competition. A bit outside of town, across a causeway, is a quieter coast called Paradise Beach.

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Sri Lanka wields mangroves, its tsunami shield, against climate change

Fifteen years after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Sri Lanka’s government intends to keep expanding the island’s coastal green belt — the chain of mangrove swamps credited with limiting the damage and destruction of the deadly waves.

Comments Off on Sri Lanka wields mangroves, its tsunami shield, against climate change

Shocked scientists find 400km of dead and damaged mangroves in Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

A cascade of impacts including rising sea levels, heatwaves and back-to-back tropical cyclones has created 400km of dead and badly damaged mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria, a scientific monitoring trip has discovered.

Comments Off on Shocked scientists find 400km of dead and damaged mangroves in Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

Wahala: trouble in the Niger delta – photo essay

Inform, Pollution
Oct
18

Covering 70,000 sq km (27,000 sq miles) of wetlands, the Niger delta used to be an incredibly rich ecosystem that contained one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet before the oil industry moved to the area.

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Recent / Inform

The IPCC’s Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere – What it means for Africa’s coastal cities

October 23rd, 2019

For African coastal cities, sea level rise and increasing storm frequency and intensity pose serious threat. West, Central, East and Mediterranean coastal zones in Africa are very low-lying. Within these low-lying coastal zones are many of Africa’s largest cities: Dakar, Abidjan, Accra, Lagos, Dar es Salaam, Alexandria, Tripoli, and Cape Town.

Read More

Turning plastic trash into high-quality liquid products

October 23rd, 2019

Researchers have developed a new catalyst that can cleave plastic’s strong carbon-carbon, converting it into higher value products.

Read More

Brazilians rally to clean beaches amid outrage at Bolsonaro’s oil spill inaction

October 22nd, 2019

Nobody knows where the oil is from or why it keeps washing up on Brazilian beaches. “People in the north-east are cleaning the oil from the coast with their own hands while the federal government is immobile…”

Read More

A rare Caribbean island where beaches aren’t the draw

October 22nd, 2019

Saba, a speck of a five-square-mile Caribbean island — a special municipality of the Netherlands — is left off many maps.

Read More

Our Unequal Earth: how environmental injustice divides the world

October 21st, 2019

Five luminaries explain the concept of ‘environmental justice’ and reveal why, alongside the climate crisis, it is one of the most pressing issues of our time…

Read More

Paradise Beach, Eastern Cape, Southe Africa

October 20th, 2019

Surfers all over the world know Jeffreys Bay, home to a legendary wave and a major international competition. A bit outside of town, across a causeway, is a quieter coast called Paradise Beach.

Read More

Sri Lanka wields mangroves, its tsunami shield, against climate change

October 20th, 2019

Fifteen years after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Sri Lanka’s government intends to keep expanding the island’s coastal green belt — the chain of mangrove swamps credited with limiting the damage and destruction of the deadly waves.

Read More

Shocked scientists find 400km of dead and damaged mangroves in Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

October 19th, 2019

A cascade of impacts including rising sea levels, heatwaves and back-to-back tropical cyclones has created 400km of dead and badly damaged mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria, a scientific monitoring trip has discovered.

Read More

Wahala: trouble in the Niger delta – photo essay

October 18th, 2019

Covering 70,000 sq km (27,000 sq miles) of wetlands, the Niger delta used to be an incredibly rich ecosystem that contained one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet before the oil industry moved to the area.

Read More

South Atlantic humpback whales have rebounded from near extinction

October 17th, 2019

After being hunted nearly to extinction in the early 20th century, a population of humpback whales in the southern Atlantic Ocean has almost entirely recovered, according to a new study.

Read More


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