Category Archives: Oceans

BP still in denial about impact of Gulf oil disaster

A new report released this week by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Oil disaster from April of 2010 left at least 10 million gallons of congealed oil on the floor of the Gulf.

BP disputes the findings saying that “the authors fail to identify the source of the oil.”

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig explodes and burns, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico-

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig explodes and burns, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico-

Tons of BP Oil Still on the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico

A new study shows that cleanup barely scratched the surface

Tim McDonnell, Mother Jones. 27 October 2014

We all saw the images of oil-coated birds and shorelines in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. These were the most visible impacts of the catastrophe, but much of the oil that gushed from the busted Macondo wellhead 5,000 feet underwater never made it to the surface. Of the estimated 5 million barrels that spilled, approximately 2 million stayed trapped in the deep ocean. And up to 31 percent of that oil is now lying on the ocean floor, according to a new study.

Based on an analysis of sea-floor sediment samples collected from the the Gulf of Mexico, geochemists at the University of California-Santa Barbara were able to offer the first clues about the final resting place of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil. Their results were published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The data, which was gathered as part of the ongoing federal damage assessment, shows “a smokingly clear signal, like a bulls-eye” around the Macondo well, said lead author David Valentine.

In a related story published last week in GRIST, researchers claim that they can now identify the fingerprints from tracking operations in polluted water contaminated by fracking. Maybe the day is not so far off where forensics will link BP to the world’s greatest ecological catastrophe in ways that are undeniable, even in their own minds.

Read more here.

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New climate study says oceans are warming faster than anyone knew

(DRAFT) A just released study (5 October 2014) published on nature climate change  “Quantifying underestimates of long-term upper-ocean warming” says that global ocean warming may have been underestimated by as much as 24-55%.

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Experts are Stunned by How Quickly Oceans are Warming 

DeSmog Blog   8 October 2014  Mike G

Southern Hemisphere ocean temperatures have been rising much more quickly than previously thought, so much so that global ocean warming may have been underestimated by as much as 24 – 55%, according to a new study. Published by the journal Nature Climate Change and carried out by researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the study sought to determine just how much we’ve underestimated long-term upper-ocean warming given the scarcity of data collected on Southern Hemisphere ocean temperature increases. “It’s likely that due to the poor observational coverage, we just haven’t been able to say definitively what the long-term rate of Southern Hemisphere ocean warming has been,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Paul Durack.   Read the whole DeSmog Blog Article here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Oceans, Uncategorized

Why the UN is useless on Climate Change–from the BBC

Okay, so much for binding climate change agreements.  As we’ve mentioned previously, the UN Climate Convention is worse than useless.  It is controlled by corporate interests while pretending to do something useful–which in turn eliminates the space for real, effective (and justice based) action on climate change.  Yet another reason for more direct action at the People’s Climate March in NYC on the 21st of this month, and the Flood Wall Street action on the 22nd.

Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984

atmosphere
A surge in atmospheric CO2 saw levels of greenhouse gases reach record levels in 2013, according to new figures.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 2012 and 2013 grew at their fastest rate since 1984.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says that it highlights the need for a global climate treaty.

But the UK’s energy secretary Ed Davey said that any such agreement might not contain legally binding emissions cuts, as has been previously envisaged.

The WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin doesn’t measure emissions from power station smokestacks but instead records how much of the warming gases remain in the atmosphere after the complex interactions that take place between the air, the land and the oceans.

About half of all emissions are taken up by the seas, trees and living things.

According to the bulletin, the globally averaged amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 396 parts per million (ppm) in 2013, an increase of almost 3ppm over the previous year.

“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the WMO.

“We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board,” he said.

“We are running out of time.”

Read the complete story here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Oceans, Pollution, Uncategorized, UNFCCC

Half of North American Bird species face disruption,decline

The National Audubon Society released a report this past Tuesday, September 9, indicating that 314 North American Bird species are on the brink, due to shifting and shrinking ranges that have a fundamental cause in climate change.  This includes loss of habitat caused by a number of factors including climate shifts and commodification of natural resources such as forests.  126 species are identified in the report that will lose more than 50% of their current ranges, some up to 100% by 2050.  Another 188 species face catastrophic loss of range by 2080. The Bald Eagle is expected to loose 73% of its range by 2080.  Familiar birds like the Baltimore Oriole, Common Loon, the Purple Finch, and the Wood Thrush may  will be significantly effected.  Some like the Trumpeter Swan will not survive.

 

Warblers such as this Yellow-throated Warbler are vanishing. Photo by Jay Burney 2014

An article published tuesday in the New York Times tells the story of the Audubon Report.

Climate change will Disrupt Half of North America’s Bird Species, Study Says.

Felicity Barringer   New York Times  September 8, 2014

The Baltimore oriole will probably no longer live in Maryland, the common loon might leave Minnesota, and the trumpeter swan could be entirely gone.

Those are some of the grim prospects outlined in a report released on Monday by the National Audubon Society, which found that climate change is likely to so alter the bird population of North America that about half of the approximately 650 species will be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find new places to live, feed and breed over the next 65 years. If they do not — and for several dozen it will be very difficult — they could become extinct.

The four Audubon Society scientists who wrote the report projected in it that 21.4 percent of existing bird species studied will lose “more than half of the current climactic range by 2050 without the potential to make up losses by moving to other areas.” An additional 32 percent will be in the same predicament by 2080, they said.

Read the New York Times Story

Read the Audubon Report

 

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Forests and Climate Change, Great Lakes, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Human made disasters, Industrial agriculture, Latin America-Caribbean, Oceans, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Uncategorized

BP will appeal $18 billion fine: That is the corporate message as people who have lost everything continue to suffer

The BP fine over the Macondo Gulf of Mexico disaster was unexpected, at least by BP.  The company had put aside $3.5 billion to pay its way out of the Clean Water Act violations and has fully intended to continue business as usual. However, Federal District Court Judge Carl Barbier in his 153 page decision ruled that BP is “grossly negligent” and engaged in decisions that were “profit” rather than “safety” driven. The finding of “gross negligence” increases the amount of the fine by up to four times. If the company had been found merely negligent, the fines could be $1,100 per barrel spilled. Gross negligence ups that to $4,300 per barrel.

BP continues to contest the amount spilled and has hired the the best science that money can buy and shady public relations advisors to convince the world that they didn’t really spill all that much oil.  Expect the appeal process to focus on that.  Meanwhile, according to the article below published by the Bellona Foundation, thousands of people affected by the disaster and the clean-up efforts are so sick that they will never work again, and never have normal lives.

 

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig explodes and burns, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico-

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig explodes and burns, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico-

 

BP found guilty of ‘gross negligence’ in Deepwater Horizon spill – victims far from rejoicing
By Charles Digges, Bellona Foundation. Sept. 5, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – British oil giant BP’s “gross negligence” and “profit-driven decisions” in the Gulf of Mexico was directly responsible for the worst accidental oil spill in history, Federal District Court Judge Carl Barbier ruled in New Orleans Thursday – to a tepid reception from those a possible settlement might benefit.

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which BP leased and operated, exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, killing 11 men and spewing 4.9 million of barrels of oil and plodded through 87 days of hit and miss attempts to plug it until it finally manage to seal it.

Read the whole story here

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Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Energy, Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Independent Media, Latin America-Caribbean, Oceans, Oil, Pollution, Uncategorized

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

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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.

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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.

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Filed under Oceans, Oil, Pollution, Water