Category Archives: Oceans

E.O. Wilson has a plan to save the world

Eminent Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, the great champion of biodiversity and the man who coined the term “biophelia,” has a plan to save the world from extinction.

It is a plan to set aside half of the world for wildlife and ecosystems. His vision of permanently setting aside protected areas is described and partially mapped in this important new article published in the September issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

the familiar Monarch Butterfly (danaus plexippus) is in rapid decline in North America due to pesticide use, climate change, and loss of habitat. -photo by Jay Burney

The familiar Monarch Butterfly (danaus plexippus) is in rapid decline in North America due to pesticide use, climate change, and loss of habitat. Photo by Jay Burney

Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the World for Wildlife?
By Tony Hiss, Smithsonian Magazine. September 2014 

The eminent evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson has an audacious vision for saving Earth from a cataclysmic extinction event.

“Battles are where the fun is,” said E.O. Wilson, the great evolutionary biologist, “and where the most rapid advances are made.” We were sitting in oversized rocking chairs in a northwest Florida guest cottage with two deep porches and half-gallons of butter-pecan ice cream in the freezer, a Wilson favorite. He’d invited me here to look at what he considers a new approach to conservation, a new ecological Grail that, naturally, won’t happen without a fight.

Wilson, 85, is the author of more than 25 books, many of which have changed scientific understanding of human nature and of how the living part of the planet is put together.

Known as the father of sociobiology, he is also hailed as the pre-eminent champion of biodiversity: Wilson coined the word “biophilia” to suggest that people have an innate affinity for other species, and his now widely accepted “theory of island biogeography” explains why national parks and all confined landscapes inevitably lose species. He grew up in and around Mobile, Alabama, and has been at Harvard for over 60 years but still calls himself “a Southern boy who came north to earn a living.” He is courtly, twinkly, soft-spoken, has a shock of unruly white hair, and is slightly stooped from bending over to look at small things all his life—he’s the world’s leading authority on ants. Wilson has earned more than a hundred scientific awards and other honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes. And perhaps his most urgent project is a quest to refute conservation skeptics who think there isn’t enough left of the natural world to be worth saving.

Read More Here

Leave a Comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Forests and Climate Change, Great Lakes, Oceans, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Uncategorized

Scientists surprised by number of methane leaks in Atlantic, note terrifying climate change scenario

2013 Northeast US Canyons Expedition/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program via Science AAAS article linked below

2013 Northeast US Canyons Expedition/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program via Science online article linked below

The rebooted Cosmos was a fascinating series for all sorts of reasons, but perhaps one of its most memorable sequences was Neil DeGrasse Tyson ominously explaining what methane leaks can do in an already heating-up world. It’s just one more example of the chain of effects, each multiplying on the last in intensity, that happen in nature when it’s messed with too much.

Scientists Discover Hundreds Of Methane Leaks Bubbling From The Floor Of The Atlantic Ocean
By Jeff Spross, ThinkProgress. August 26, 2014.

In what could be a clue to the future effects of climate change, scientists have discovered a huge collection of methane leaks from the ocean floor off the United States’ eastern seaboard.

Their work, published Sunday in Nature Geoscience, used a research vessel equipped with sonar to map a 94,000-square-kilometer area that arcs from North Carolina up to Massachusetts. Within that expanse, according to Scientific American, they discovered around 570 separate plumes of bubbles rising from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. And while the scientists haven’t yet collected samples, the bubbles’ sources suggest they contain methane.

That raises the possibility that the hydrates, which are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, are being melted by warming waters. That heat could be brought by natural cycles and variability — or by climate change. Another twist is that most of the methane is absorbed by the ocean long before it breaches the surface. The process reacts with oxygen and releases carbon dioxide, which in turn increases the acidification of the ocean in the vicinity. So there’s the possibility that warming waters from climate change could release more methane, thus further speeding up the ocean acidification that is itself being driven largely by humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions.

To read more from ThinkProgress, click here.

To read another great article, with an interesting debate forming in comments, go to Science online.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Oceans

Oil clean-up chemicals can be just as harmful as the spill itself

An article in the Halifax Media Co-op outlines how chemicals used to clean up oil spills can be just as deadly to marine life as the oil itself. The idea of using harsh chemicals to clean up a chemical spill leaves us wondering: What are they trying to save if Corexit and other dispersants remove oil, but still cause damage?

Of course, if we stopped relying so much on fossil fuels, stopped drilling in areas with fragile ecosystems, stopped drilling period… we wouldn’t even have this issue to begin with.

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion poured into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months before the well was finally capped. Photo: Office of the Governor of the State of Louisiana

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion poured into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months before the well was finally capped. Photo: Office of the Governor of the State of Louisiana

Making it go away: oilspills, corexit and Nova Scotia’s offshore

by Robert Devet, Halifax Media Co-op, August 11, 2014

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) – A chemical known as corexit 9500 will be the main line of defense if an oilspill occurs once Shell starts drilling exploratory wells offshore of Nova Scotia.

This becomes clear from Shell’s Environmental Impact Statement that is winding its way through the federal approval process

Corexit, and other dispersants like it, are used to dissolve oilspills. It contains chemicals that break up the oil into tiny droplets that sink so they can be degraded by bacteria.

Critics say that the chemical kills marine life and makes people sick.

These same critics also argue that dispersants merely hide the effects of spills. Fewer visuals of birds covered in oil, but the trade-off are clouds of miniscule oil droplets floating below the ocean’s surface and settling on the ocean bottom.

Read the full article here.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Oceans, Oil, Pollution, Water

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

Leave a Comment

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

Leave a Comment

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.”

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

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.”
Continue reading

Leave a Comment

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.”
Continue reading

1 Comment

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