Category Archives: Oceans

New Zealand may kick start race to mine the ocean floor

By Sonali Paul and Gyles Beckford, June 15, 2014. Source: Reuters

 

Photo from http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/04fire/logs/hirez/champagne_vent_hirez.jpg

Photo from http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/04fire/logs/hirez/champagne_vent_hirez.jpg

New Zealand decides this week whether to approve an underwater iron-ore operation that would likely become the world’s first commercial metals mine at the bottom of the sea.

A green light to allow New Zealand’s Trans Tasman Resources Ltd to start iron-ore dredging off the country’s west coast will encourage others looking to mine copper, cobalt, manganese and other metals deeper on the ocean floor but worried about regulatory hurdles.

Along the Pacific Rim of Fire, as deep as 6,000 metres underwater, volcano crusts, “black smoker” chimneys and vast beds of manganese nodules hold promise for economic powers like China and Japan as well as many poor island states busy pegging stakes on the ocean floor.

“A lot of people are watching the Trans Tasman Resources outcome,” said Michael Johnston, chief executive of Nautilus Minerals, which is working on a deep-sea project off Papua New Guinea and is also in talks with New Zealand.

Other countries in the Pacific looking at underwater mining include Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, which have all issued exploration licenses. Cook Islands in the South Pacific plans to put seabed exploration licenses up for bids later this year. Continue reading

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Filed under Mining, Oceans, Water

Doubling of Antarctic ice loss revealed by European satellite

By Damian Carrington, May 19, 2014. Source: The Guardian

Adelie penguins in east Antarctica. Although most melting of the continent's ice is happening in the west, even the east is now shedding ice Photograph: STAFF/REUTERS

Adelie penguins in east Antarctica. Although most melting of the continent’s ice is happening in the west, even the east is now shedding ice Photograph: STAFF/REUTERS

Antarctica is shedding 160 billion tonnes a year of ice into the ocean, twice the amount of a few years ago, according to new satellite observations. The ice loss is adding to the rising sea levels driven by climate change and even east Antarctica is now losing ice.

The new revelations follows the announcement last week that thecollapse of the western Antarctica ice sheet has already begun and is unstoppable, although it may take many centuries to complete.

Global warming is pushing up sea level by melting the world’s major ice caps and by warming and expanding oceans waters. The loss of the entire western Antarctica ice sheet would eventually cause up to 4 metres (13ft) of sea-level rise, devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world.

The new data, published in journal Geophysical Research Letters, comes from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite, which was launched in 2010. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Oceans

Arctic conference in Maine to focus on state’s role in studying melting ice caps

Note: And by studying the melting ice caps, the Maine National Guard of course means figuring out how they might get a piece of the oil and gas pie under the Arctic. Sigh…

-The GJEP Team

By Nok-Noi Ricker, May 18, 2014. Source: Bangor Daily News

Dr. Paul Mayewski displays an ice core in this file photo. Mayewski is a guest speaker at the Arctic symposium in Bangor.  Photo: Kevin Bennet/BDN

Dr. Paul Mayewski displays an ice core in this file photo. Mayewski is a guest speaker at the Arctic symposium in Bangor. Photo: Kevin Bennet/BDN

Changing conditions in the Arctic, the role Maine might play in studying the ice cap and the potential for emerging industries will be the topic of a two-day symposium May 20-21 in Bangor, according to Lt. Col. Darryl Lyon of the Maine Army National Guard.

“Mainers thrive in the cold. Let’s leverage our cold weather hardiness and ingenuity to provide leadership where it’s needed — in the High North,” said Lyon, a member of the Maine Guard’s 11th Civil Support Team who helped organize the event.

The Maine National Guard and the University of Maine’s School of Policy and International Affairs are hosting the two-day event titled “Leadership in the High North” at the Regional Training Institute at 289 North Hildreth St. Participation is invitation only.

“The conference will explore the challenges and emerging opportunities arising from the significant increases in Arctic activity due to the diminishment of sea ice and the emergence of the new Arctic environment,” Maj. Michael Steinbuchel, spokesman for the Maine Army National Guard, said in a press release.

“This change is providing unique challenges and opportunities for everyone who has concerns about that change,” Lyon said in an email. “As ice melts and recedes, technology advances, and human curiosity peaks, indigenous cultures are affected, human activity is increasing, and interested parties are claiming their political positions.”

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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Oceans, Oil

Four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Gulf is still suffering

By Katie Valentine, April 20, 2014. Source: Think Progress

PJ Hahn, Coastal Zone Manager for Plaquemines Parish, examines oil along the shoreline of Bay Jimmy, which was heavily impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in Plaquemines Parish, La., Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

PJ Hahn, Coastal Zone Manager for Plaquemines Parish, examines oil along the shoreline of Bay Jimmy, which was heavily impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in Plaquemines Parish, La., Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

In his 34 years living in Louisiana, Ryan Lambert can’t remember ever seeing young, dead dolphins on his trips out in the Gulf. In just the last few months, however, he says he’s seen two.

Lambert, who owns a charter fishing company in Louisiana, told ThinkProgress he’s worried that the dying dolphins he’s still seeing point to lingering effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which four years ago killed 11 people and spewed 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

“We still see little telltale signs,” he said. “There’s crabs with holes in their shells we’re seeing that we haven’t seen before, and I’ve never seen baby dolphins die.”
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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Oceans, Oil

Evidence of acceleration of anthropogenic climate disruption on all fronts

By Dahr Jamail, April 10, 2014. Source: Truthout

Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout

Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout

 

This month’s dispatch comes on the heels of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report, and the news is not good.

“No one on this planet will be untouched by climate change,” IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri announced. The report warned that climate impacts are already “severe, pervasive, and irreversible.”

The IPCC report was one of many released in recent weeks, and all of them bring dire predictions of what is coming. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued a report warning that “the rate of climate change now may be as fast as any extended warming period over the past 65 million years, and it is projected to accelerate in the coming decades.” The report went on to warn of the risk “of abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes in the Earth’s climate system with massively disruptive impacts,” including the possible “large scale collapse of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, collapse of part of the Gulf Stream, loss of the Amazon rain forest, die-off of coral reefs, and mass extinctions.”
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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Oceans, Oil, UNFCCC

Exxon Valdez: What lessons have we learned from the 1989 oil spill disaster?

By Martin Robards, March 24, 2014. Source: The Guardian

Staining the vista of the Chugach Mountains, the Exxon Valdez lies atop Bligh Reef two days after the grounding on 25 March 1989. Photograph: Natalie B Fobes/NG/Getty Images

Staining the vista of the Chugach Mountains, the Exxon Valdez lies atop Bligh Reef two days after the grounding on 25 March 1989. Photograph: Natalie B Fobes/NG/Getty Images

Even after the recent Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico— a much larger accident in terms of the amount of oil released — the spectre of Exxon Valdez remains fresh in the minds of many Americans old enough to remember the wall-to-wall media coverage of crude-smothered rocks, birds, and marine mammals.

In the quarter century since the Exxon Valdez foundered, changing economic and climatic conditions have led to increased Arctic shipping, including increasing volumes of petroleum products through the Arctic. Sadly, apart from a few areas around oil fields, there is little to no capacity to respond to an accident – leaving the region’s coastal indigenous communities and iconic wildlife at risk of a catastrophe.

Local Alaskans and conservationists like myself – who witnessed the Exxon Valdez impact at close range – will never forget the damage. The wake of oil spread far from Bligh Reef, devastating life in Prince William Sound, killing over a quarter of a million seabirds at the large colonies in neighbouring Cook Inlet, before moving along the coast of Kodiak and to a point on the Alaska Peninsula 460 miles to the south. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Energy, Oceans, Oil, Pollution, Water

Fossils put dent in geoengineering claims

Note: Well now that we’ve debunked this crackpot scheme, we can refocus on the priorities — like leaving fossil fuels in the ground, and transforming an economy based in extractive industry and relations.

-The GJEP Team

By Becky Oskin, March 20, 2014. Source: Live Science

Photo: Peter Barritt/Alamy

Photo: Peter Barritt/Alamy

During Earth’s last ice age, iron dust dumped into the ocean fertilized the garden of the sea, feeding a plankton bloom that soaked up carbon dioxide from the air, a new study confirms.

But the results deal a blow to some geoengineering schemes that claim that people may be able use iron fertilization to slow global warming. The planet’s natural experiment shows it would take at least a thousand years to lower carbon dioxide levels by 40 parts per million — the amount of the drop during the ice age.

Meanwhile, carbon dioxide is now increasing by 2 parts per million yearly, so in about 20 years human emissions could add another 40 parts per million of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Levels currently hover around 400 parts per million.

“Even if we could reproduce what works in the natural world, it’s not going to solve the carbon dioxide problem,” said Alfredo Martínez-García, a climate scientist at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and author of the study, published today (March 20) in the journal Science. Continue reading

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Filed under False Solutions to Climate Change, Geoengineering, Oceans

Mass scallop die off a ‘red flag’ for the world’s oceans, and climate change is to blame

By Jacob Chamberlain, March 17, 2014. Source: Common Dreams

Photo: Flickr / thumeco / Creative Commons License

Photo: Flickr / thumeco / Creative Commons License

An increase of acidity in the Pacific Ocean is quickly killing off one of the world’s most beloved shellfish, the scallop, according to a report by the British Columbia Shellfish Grower’s Association.

“By June of 2013, we lost almost 95 per cent of our crops,” Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops in B.C. told Canada’s CTV News.

The cause of this increase in acidity, scientists say, is the exponential burning of fossil fuels for energy and its subsequent pollution. Oceans naturally absorb carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fossil fuel emissions, which causes acidity to rise.

An overdose of carbon in the atmosphere subsequently causes too much acidity in the world’s oceans, Chris Harley, a marine ecologist from the University of British Columbia, told CTV News. Overly acidic water is bad for shellfish, as it impairs them from developing rigid shells. Oyster hatcheries along the West Coast are also experiencing a steep decline,CTV News reports.

“This is a bit of a red flag,” said Harley.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Oceans, Pollution