Category Archives: Oceans

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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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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Fukushima anniversary: Ex-Japanese PM on why he now opposes nuclear power

March 11, 2014. Source: Democracy Now!

Photograph: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Photograph: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Three years ago today a massive earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that struck Japan’s northeast coast, resulting in an unprecedented nuclear crisis: a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

As Japan marks the anniversary with continued uncertainty around Fukushima’s long-term impact, we are joined by Naoto Kan, Japan’s prime minister at the time. It’s rare that a sitting world leader changes his position completely, but that’s what Kan has done.  He explains how he came to oppose nuclear power while still in office, as he weighed Tokyo’s evacuation.

“It’s impossible to totally prevent any kind of accident or disaster happening at the nuclear power plants,” Kan says. “And so, the one way to prevent this from happening, to prevent the risk of having to evacuate such huge amounts of people, 50 million people, and for the purpose, for the benefit of the lives of our people, and even the economy of Japan, I came to change the position, that the only way to do this was to totally get rid of the nuclear power plants.”

Click here for the video interview.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Nuclear power, Oceans, Pollution

Nunavut community opposes offshore oil and gas exploration

By Warren Bernauer, March 4, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Photo: Intercontinental Cry

Photo: Intercontinental Cry

The Inuit community of Clyde River has restated its opposition to a proposal by the oil industry to conduct offshore seismic surveys near the community’s hunting grounds. The proposal is currently being assessed by the National Energy Board (NEB), and Nunavut communities are waiting for the board to finish analyzing submissions and make a decision on the file.

Residents of several communities on Baffin Island have repeatedly opposed this proposal since it was first brought forward in 2011. Nunavut’s Inuit organizations have recommended the proposal not be approved until a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is conducted on the broader question of oil and gas development in the area. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has initiated an SEA, and preliminary meetings were held in Baffin communities in February 2014.

However, the NEB has indicated that the SEA process will not alter its assessment of the proposed seismic survey. The consortium proposing the survey has begun advertising job openings for the proposed project in local media, with an expected start date of August 2014. Continue reading

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U.S. moves towards Atlantic oil exploration, stirring debate over sea life

By Michael Wines, February 27, 2014. Source: The New York Times

A blue whale near rigs off Southern California. Experts disagree on the effects of seismic surveys on sea mammals. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

A blue whale near rigs off Southern California. Experts disagree on the effects of seismic surveys on sea mammals. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

The Interior Department opened the door on Thursday to the first searches in decades for oiland gas off the Atlantic coast, recommending that undersea seismic surveys proceed, though with a host of safeguards to shield marine life from much of their impact.

The recommendation is likely to be adopted after a period of public comment and over objections by environmental activists who say it will be ruinous for the climate and sea life alike.

The American Petroleum Institute called the recommendation a critical step toward bolstering the nation’s energy security, predicting that oil and gas production in the region could create 280,000 new jobs and generate $195 billion in private investment.

Activists were livid. Allowing exploration “could be a death sentence for many marine mammals, and is needlessly turning the Atlantic Ocean into a blast zone,” Jacqueline Savitz, a vice president at the conservation group Oceana, said in a statement on Thursday. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Energy, Oceans, Oil

What is climate geoengineering? Word games in the ongoing debates over a definition

By Rachel Smolker, February 12, 2014. Source: TruthOut

(Photo: Kai Morgener / Flickr)

(Photo: Kai Morgener / Flickr)

Climate geoengineering advocates have long argued over how to actually define the term “geoengineering.” The precise details of that definition are important for various reasons, not the least of which is that it will determine what likely is to be subjected to the scrutiny and potentially complex and difficult legal governance processes that such a global scale climate-tweak effort would necessarily involve.

Already, as of 2010, the Convention on Biological Diversity, a treaty that 193 UN member countries (all other than the Holy See, Andorra and the United States) have ratified, adopted a de-facto moratorium on climate geoengineering in 2010. That was based in part on previous deliberations and decisions on one particular form of geoengineering, ocean iron fertilization, which also is regulated under the London Convention. Those decisions were negotiated and agreed in painstaking process, with each word and its implications carefully weighed in the balance.1 Obviously, there is much need to specify exactly what is geoengineering and, thus, subject to the moratorium or any other legal ruling.

For most people, it seems intuitively clear that, for example, spewing sulphate aerosols into the atmosphere – a technology in the category of “solar radiation management” (SRM) clearly would be considered “geoengineering.” We would not consider doing that for any other reason or intent – there are known anticipated serious risks and dangers, etc. Continue reading

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Geoengineering, Green Economy, Oceans, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

KPFK Earth Minute: Australia gives green light to dump coal sludge on Great Barrier Reef


kpfk_logoGlobal Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK radio for a weekly Earth Minute and Earth Watch interview.

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Filed under Coal, Earth Minute, Earth Radio, KPFK, Oceans, Water

Great Barrier Reef authority approves dredging and dumping to expand port

By Bridie Jabour, January 31, 2014. Source: The Guardian

The reef: the spoil will be dumped about 24km from Abbot Point, the gateway to the world heritage-listed reef. Photograph: Grant V Faint/Getty Images

The reef: the spoil will be dumped about 24km from Abbot Point, the gateway to the world heritage-listed reef. Photograph: Grant V Faint/Getty Images

Three million cubic metres of sediment from dredging to expand a coal port will be dumped in the Great Barrier Reef marine park, after the park authority approved the move on Friday.

The spoil resulting from the Abbot Point port project is to be dumped 24km away at a location near Bowen in north Queensland.

The expansion, which hinged on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s approval of the dumping, means an extra 70m tonnes of coal each year, worth between $1.4bn and $2.8bn, will go through the port, which is also a gateway to the world heritage-listed reef.

The authority granted approval with strict conditions on Friday afternoon. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Coal, Energy, Mining, Oceans, Water