Tags: oceans*

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  1. Ultimately, the ban could push countries to tackle wasteful, disposable lifestyles at source, by forcing plastics and other disposable goods manufacturers to take responsibility for the environmental damage caused by their products throughout their whole life cycle. For plastic bottles, for example, the life cycle from production to decomposition can be up to 450 years.

    There are fears that the ban will simply lead to these huge quantities of waste being exported to less ­developed, less well-regulated waste industries, especially in Southeast Asia. In fact, UK exports of waste to Vietnam and Malaysia doubled in 2017, compared to 2016. However, there are no new waste markets with equivalent capacity to China’s over the last three decades.

    This globally disruptive event, then, leaves governments little alternative but to face up to the reality of their waste problems.
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  2. It is undeniably an ambitious vision. Boyan Slat, a charismatic 22-year-old drop-out inventor, plans to clean up plastic trash circulating in the North Pacific Gyre by launching a fleet of floating trash collectors. Ocean currents would propel floating plastic trash into curved floating booms, which would funnel trash toward a central tank, to be collected monthly by ships. “We let the plastic come to us,” he says. The group hopes to eventually finance the operation by recycling the plastic and selling it as a branded product or raw material. Slat already has a pair of sunglasses made from recycled Pacific plastic.

    Skeptics say the idea doesn’t make much sense and that collecting trash closer to shore would be more cost effective. “Focusing clean-up at those gyres, in the opinion of most of the scientific community, is a waste of effort,” says marine biologist Jan van Franeker of Wageningen Marine Research in the Netherlands. “It’s a lot of money to reduce something that disappears in 10 to 20 years, if you stop the input.” His research on seabirds showed a 75% decline of ingested plastic over 2 decades after reductions in industrial plastic entering the North Sea. Critics also worry that the high-tech clean-up project could distract from less glamorous efforts to lessen the use of plastic.

    Slat’s 4-year-old organization, The Ocean Cleanup, based in Delft, the Netherlands, is well on its way to launching its first unit. At an event tonight in the Werkspoorkathedraal—an industrial meeting hall in Utrecht, the Netherlands—Slat unveiled a new design that he says will allow The Ocean Cleanup to deploy its first collector in 2018, 2 years earlier than planned. It will also collect trash at twice the rate of earlier designs, he predicts.
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  3. Similarly, nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin creates a massive dead zone every year in the Gulf of Mexico, suffocating aquatic life and impacting commercial and recreational fishing. Reducing the dead zone will require cutting this pollution — which predominantly comes from agriculture — to about half of its historical baseline. Despite decades of effort by farmers and conservationists, annual nutrient loads remain stubbornly high.

    Given these challenges, it is good news that the world’s appetite in 2050 may not be as voracious as some estimates have indicated.
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  4. Stiv Wilson writes:

    “The sheer scale of the problem is immense—in the United States alone, it is estimated that there are 89 million washing machines doing an average of nine loads of laundry a week. Each load can emit anywhere from 1,900 fibers to 200,000 per load, a nightmare scenario.”

    Ocean conservation group Rozalia Project estimates that the average U.S. family sends the equivalent plastic of 14.4 water bottles into public waterways per year via washing machines.
    So what’s a concerned individual to do?

    It’s a tough problem to solve – much more difficult than getting plastic microbeads banned (the Story of Stuff’s last big project). This is a problem that affects everyone, especially considering than 60 percent of the fabric manufactured globally in 2014 was polyester, and that the athletic wear sector is the fastest-growing one in the fashion world.
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  5. there's multiple countries, islands, continents involved in the sourcing of the parts of an iPhone. I actually followed one assembly inside the phone - the home button, which also has a touch ID sensor. And you would think, oh, well, the parts all must be assembled in one place and then put together. But it doesn't work that way. The actual glass cover, the sapphire - synthetic sapphire that is the button - comes from one place. And that's sent to the next factory, which turns it into an assembly and adds a little circuit.

    And then it goes to another country, and - or it may even go back to the same place again for another part to be added because the expertise has been spread around the world. And by the time you finish this trip tick that this little assembly takes, there's something like 12,000 of miles embedded in the homely little button that goes on your phone. And the logistics behind the fully assembled phone is something like 160,000 miles. And that's just for the parts. It doesn't even consider the raw materials, the precious metals and the rare earth elements and all the other things that have to go in.

    1) Bunker fuel, a massive pollutant, is burned by the tonne, by international shipping fleets.
    2) Just 160 of these mega-ships pollutes more than all the cars in the world.
    3) That 160 is a small fraction of the entire fleet, which pollutes more than most countries, enough to be in the top 10 list of polluters.
    4) And it is all hidden and unaccounted for:

    " I » t's all off the books when we look at countries and businesses' carbon footprints because for it to count in the global assessment of carbon pollution, it has to belong to a country. But when these ships are at sea and beyond national boundaries, their emissions aren't part of that accounting. So this tremendous impact doesn't even figure in our calculations about, for instance, the carbon footprint of a product or a country or a business."
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  6. The energy production industry is the second-largest consumer of water in the world after agriculture, according to Xylem Inc., which makes equipment for the water industry. It estimates that some processes in OPEC nations such as secondary oil recovery use about 30 times more of the liquid to extract their crude than producers outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

    The Middle East has some of the world’s lowest levels of water supplies that aren’t replenished by rains. A significant amount of the region’s fresh water is made from the sea pumped through desalination plants, ranging from 27 percent in Oman to 87 percent in Qatar, according to a report on Wednesday by Irena. Removing the salt burns through a third of total power consumed in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, the report said. Saudi Arabia uses a 10th of its domestic oil to power its desalination plants.
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  7. All this begins with temperature. The Pacific Ocean along western North America is a cold water ecosystem. This is because wind patterns bring deep sea water to the surface—called an upwelling. That cold, deep water is packed with nutrients, feeding massive blooms of plankton, which are then eaten by microscopic lobster-like creatures called copepods. “Cold water copepods are full of fat, and you have a food chain full of fat animals,” says Bill Peterson, a copepod expert at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries research center in Oregon.

    That nutrient rich cold water feeds delectable Dungeness crab, heavenly hake, choice black cod, and five species of scrumptious salmon. Warm water has fewer nutrients, and its copepods are comparatively lean.

    The 1982-83 El Niño brought Humbolt squid far north of their normal southern California range. “Fishermen on the Oregon coast were using them as crab bait,” says Weitkamp.

    But don’t expect that to be the trend. Even if this warm water brings a deluge of tropical species, it’ll be hard for fishermen to take advantage of the shift. “It takes a while to find markets,” says Weitkamp. “It’s not like you can start fisheries based on these unusual visitors. They are kind of a flash in the pan.”

    “The interesting thing to me is figuring out how we are going to know when the El Niño gets here and when the Blob goes away,” says Peterson. “Because the ocean is already warm.” And for fish, it doesn’t really matter when one ends and the other begins. All it matters is the water is warm, and is going to stay warm for a long time.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-12-23)
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  8. A third of all food produced is wasted. 842 million people are starving. We have lost 75% of our biodiversity. In the US there are 8 times more antibiotics sold for industrial farming than to hospitals. Cancers and other health issues are booming. There are less and less nutrients in food. Climate change threatens the future of our planet. There are 400 dead zones in the ocean, with no marine life left. Food packagings contribute to that 7th continent made of waste, in the middle of the ocean. 370 000 farmers commit suicide every year using pesticides. … So one must ask the question: isn’t the food system broken?
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  9. What does climate change mean for Pacific sardine and anchovy longer term?

    It means more unknowns. It means we must be careful in assuming fish will always be there to be caught by humans and eaten by the many other marine species that rely on them as an important source of food.

    Many species of other wildlife depend on sardines for food.

    Correlating populations with climate should be made with caution due to the inter-annual as well as multi-decadal variations in abundance as well as climatic indices.

    The variability in sardine and anchovy in particular highlights a key point in resource management and echoes what many marine scientists have concluded about the anchovy-sardine story: management needs to be flexible and adaptable, based on changes in climate as well as the exploitation efforts of humans and the health of present stocks. If we do not integrate the natural as well as human-induced drivers of population change we may take too much from a system which is already close to or beyond a breaking point.
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  10. German researchers conclude that even magic technology that would suck all the carbon from the atmosphere won’t be enough to save the oceans from climate change and its associated warming and acidification.

    The reason technological fixes won’t work is because changes to ocean chemistry and temperature can take hundreds or even thousands of years to manifest, so even if we had a giant straw that could slurp up all this extra carbon and spit it off the moon until atmospheric temperatures are back to pre-industrial levels, it would still be too late: The oceans are just going to keep getting hotter and more acidic. The researchers concluded that the only way to stop ocean warming and acidification is to stop burning fossil fuels now.
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