Global warming driving mass migration of marine life

April 14, 2021 by  
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Marine life is migrating from the equator to the tropics, according to a recent  study  published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study shows that many species known to reside in the equator’s warm waters are migrating to cooler waters. Scientists behind the study have linked this situation to global warming, saying that water at the equator has become too warm for some species.  Traditionally, the equatorial regions are known to have more species diversity than the poles due to abundant food sources and warm waters. However, with the changing climate , environments for marine life are changing, too. As equatorial waters become less hospitable, many species are migrating for better conditions. Related: Scientists search for cause of mass marine die-off in Russia Researchers warn that if the situation continues, this migration will have serious ecological effects. The authors note that such a situation happened has occurred before. For example, about 252 million years ago, this type of species migration led to the death of about 90% of all marine species. When species migrate to other regions, they can affect the area’s natural food chain and overburden the environment. In turn, this can lead to the death of weaker species.  Though global warming has not affected the equatorial regions as heavily as other parts of the globe, it still significantly impacts the area. Over the past 50 years, the equator has witnessed a temperature rise of about 0.6 degrees Celcius. While modest compared to temperature changes in polar regions, the equator’s rising temperature can be detrimental because “tropical species have to move further to remain in their thermal niche compared with species elsewhere.” A 2015  study  published in Nature Climate Change predicted that species richness would decline at low latitudes. The recent study found that species richness is greatest at around 30 degrees North and 20 degrees South. This could mean that many species are migrating from the equator to the cooler subtropics, and they may move even further if global warming continues. Via EcoWatch Lead image via Pixabay

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Global warming driving mass migration of marine life

Harmful algal blooms release "Very Fast Death Factor" into air

April 12, 2021 by  
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A new study published in the journal  Lake and Reservoir Management has found that a dangerous toxin known as anatoxin-a (ATX) could be airborne around bodies of water with algal blooms. The toxin could be released from scum found on ponds and lakes into the surrounding air. Also known as the “Very Fast Death Factor”, ATX has many negative effects on fish, other animals and ecosystems at large. The study was conducted on a pond in Massachusetts after scientists suspected that the toxin, produced by cyanobacteria and found in harmful algal blooms, could spread into the air. Related: Botswana elephant deaths caused by cyanobacteria ATX can affect humans and animals in various ways. The most common symptoms include lack of coordination, respiratory paralysis and muscular twitching in humans. It has also been linked with the death of waterfowl, livestock and dogs that drink this water. Besides the direct effects of the toxin, the algal blooms that produce ATX can also affect water quality. When the algae die and sink below the lake or pond surface, the decomposition process drains oxygen from the water, leading to the death of fish. While ATX has been produced in water for a long time, the rate at which the toxin is being produced has increased in recent years. The toxin is produced by cyanobacteria, which can grow exponentially when fertilizer runoff from farms finds its way into bodies of water. Rising temperatures also provide ideal growing conditions. “ATX is one of the more dangerous cyanotoxins produced by harmful algal blooms, which are becoming more predominant in lakes and ponds worldwide due to global warming and climate change ,” said study lead author James Sutherland of the Nantucket Land Council. Sutherland and his colleagues are warning people who live around bodies of water to be watchful. They said if a person inhales or comes in direct contact with the toxin, there is a possibility of serious health risks. “People often recreate around these lakes and ponds with algal blooms without any awareness of the potential problems,” Sutherland said. “Direct contact or inhalation of these cyanotoxins can present health risks for individuals, and we have reported a potential human health exposure not previously examined.” + Scimex + Lake and Reservoir Management Image via Aerial Associates Photography, Inc. by Zachary Haslick / NOAA

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Harmful algal blooms release "Very Fast Death Factor" into air

Do we really need to mine the deep seas to power EVs?

April 12, 2021 by  
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While more and more cities plan an end to sales of vehicles powered by fossil fuels and car manufacturers announce goals to go all electric, there’s a major complication. Where will all the metal for EV batteries come from? Some companies are looking toward deep-sea mining, which could have a whole new set of dire consequences. “These spaces out in the high seas, which include undersea mountain ranges, are really quite biodiverse and they’re full of very unique species,” said Douglas McCauley, director of UC Santa Barbara’s Benioff Ocean Initiative. “Many species are still unknown to scientists, and some have been newly identified.” Related: Cobalt-free batteries will make EVs more affordable For instance, there’s a newly found white octopus species, as well as black corals that live for thousands of years and the sea pangolin , which has the unwanted distinction of being the first marine species assessed as officially endangered, thanks to deep-sea mining. The need for lithium -ion batteries to power all these promised EVs may be the sticking point that thwarts the whole electrified future. A 2019 study determined that lithium demand could outrun supply by next year. Cobalt and nickel, other crucial battery components, may also be running low within a decade. “Cobalt is the metal of most concern for supply risks as it has highly concentrated production and reserves, and batteries for EVs are expected to be the main end-use of cobalt in only a few years,” according to a study by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney. China is claiming most of the world’s cobalt , which is mined primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The global lithium supply is concentrated in Chile, Australia and Argentina. In addition to the negative environmental impacts of this mining, there are also major concerns over human rights abuses. Businesspeople are turning to areas beyond national jurisdiction in the high seas. The International Seabed Authority, an intergovernmental body, has already approved 28 mining contracts totaling more than 1 million square kilometers. Investors are getting excited about profits. One deep-sea mining group expects to have a $2.9 billion market value once it goes public. Environmentalists aren’t happy about putting profits over sea pangolins; neither are some manufacturers. BMW and Volvo have both come out against deep sea mining. “There are a lot of conversations about the real risks and unanswered questions about ocean mining,” McCauley said. “There’s now more than 90 NGOs that have come out and said that we need a moratorium on ocean mining and we shouldn’t be sprinting to do this until we are able to answer some of the serious questions about the impact of mining on ocean health.” Via The Revelator and Washington Post Image via Andrew Roberts

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Do we really need to mine the deep seas to power EVs?

Biden unveils $2 trillion infrastructure and green economy plan

April 2, 2021 by  
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President Joe Biden has unveiled a $2.2 trillion masterplan that will see investments in infrastructure and job creation for Americans. The plan is designed to reshape the economy by investing in infrastructure and social support. If the plan is fully implemented, it will be the largest U.S. domestic investment in many years. The investment will have far-reaching effects in reshaping energy policy and turning away from greenhouse gases to green energy. The plan seeks to repair roads and bridges, boost public transit projects, replace all lead pipes to improve water systems, expand electric vehicles and invest in other renewable energy infrastructure. Related: Study finds US tap water is contaminated with dangerous chemicals While unveiling the plan, President Biden has tried to remain focused on the economic positives while still introducing the climatic aspects of the project. Besides infrastructure development, the plan will work to to slash greenhouse gases , address racial inequalities and generate well-paying jobs. The biggest concern over this ambitious climate plan has been the cost of the entire project. Opponents of the green economy have been adamant that if such a plan is implemented, it will come at a painful economic cost. However, President Biden and climate experts argue that global warming would be more costly in the long run. Several studies have indicated that climate change will cost nations more in the future. A 2018 Federal Climate Report disclosed that the U.S. would lose 10% of its GDP to climate change if things continue as usual. “If we act now, in 50 years people are going to look back and say, this was the moment that America won the future,” President Biden said. The Biden administration plans to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% in a bid to raise funds for the project. Other funding sources that the government is considering include increasing tax on U.S. multinational corporations and eliminating the no-tax rule for U.S. companies on their first 10% of returns when locating investments in other countries. Via USA Today and Axios Image via Maarten van den Heuvel

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New study predicts 6-month summers by 2100

March 12, 2021 by  
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Schoolkids and surfers might think an endless summer sounds too good to be true. But the world may soon be facing six-month summers with staggering consequences. A new study published in Geophysical Research Letters predicts that if emissions continue at their present pace, by 2100 it’s going to be summer for half of every year. These long summers will be filled with heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and more. Scientists at the State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography in China led the research. They analyzed 60 years of climate records and used models to predict future trends. For the study, they defined summer as the “onset of temperatures in the hottest 25 percent during that time period, while winter began with temperatures in the coldest 25 percent.” Related: NYC Metronome clock now displays deadline for irreversible global warming Using that definition, the researchers found that from 1952 to 2011, the number of summer days in the Northern Hemisphere increased from 78 to 95. Meanwhile, winter shrank by three days, spring by nine and fall by five. “Summers are getting longer and hotter while winters shorter and warmer due to global warming ,” lead study author Yuping Guan, a physical oceanographer at the State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, said in a statement. “Numerous studies have already shown that the changing seasons cause significant environmental and health risks.” These changes will greatly impact the environment, agriculture and the health of all living organisms on the planet. It will change the timing of feeding, breeding and migration for many animals. Instead of this extra summer meaning more beach time, it will be difficult for humans. A longer growing season will torment humans with allergies. Pestilence-carrying mosquitoes will fly at the chance to expand their range northward. More extreme weather events like fires, droughts and hurricanes will drive untold numbers of humans from their homes — if they’re lucky enough to survive. The study concluded that policies on agricultural management and disaster prevention will need to be adjusted. Seasonal-related fields of study will also have to readjust, as six months of summer will mean a new reality for those studying topics like the ocean , atmosphere and ecology. + Geophysical Research Letters Via Yale Environment 360 Image via Roger Laurendeau

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New study predicts 6-month summers by 2100

"Carbon-absorbing" vertical forest skyscraper nears completion in Taipei

March 12, 2021 by  
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Paris-based  Vincent Callebaut Architectures  has revealed new photos of Tao Zhu Yin Yuan, a LEED Gold-certified high-rise slated for completion in the second half of 2021. Located in the financial district of Taiwan’s capital, the award-winning vertical forest building was created by the architects as an “anti-global warming and carbon-absorbing ecosystem” and will feature approximately 23,000 trees, shrubs and plants along the ground floor, balconies and terraces. The architects estimate that the 21-story building will absorb around 130 tons of carbon a year.  The Tao Zhu Yin Yuan — formerly known as the Agora Garden — includes 20 floors of luxury apartments expected to be the most expensive per square foot in Taipei. Designed to mimic the double helix structure of DNA , the building’s twisting form allows for stunning panoramic city views from every floor. There are two apartments per floor and spacious 165-square-meter open-air private terraces. Each column-free floor is rotated by 4.5 degrees clockwise, resulting in a 90-degree difference between the ground floor and the top level.  Since seismic activity and tropical typhoons are common in Taiwan, the architects bolstered Tao Zhu Yin Yuan with a suspended structural system and a Vierendeel truss system to ensure high earthquake and weather resistance. To meet  LEED Gold  standards, the energy-efficient building is wrapped in a double-skin facade and integrates natural ventilation chimneys, a rainwater recycling system, LEDs and solar panels to generate renewable energy. Related: France’s first Vertical Forest will add a “hectare of forest” to Paris’ skyline “A building should be a song of the earth and co-exist with the environment,” the architects explained. “A carbon absorbing  Vertical Forest  building is no doubt the most profound foresight for the buildings of future cities. Tao Zhu Yin Yuan puts fighting global warming into practical action, shows love for the trees and forests, interprets in depth through space and carves the sustainable faith. We hope to improve the world’s effort in fighting against global warming and establish the carbon absorbing culture of the people; we will set out from Taiwan and declare it to the world.” + Vincent Callebaut Architectures Images via Vincent Callebaut Architectures

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"Carbon-absorbing" vertical forest skyscraper nears completion in Taipei

News From the Future imagines iconic landmarks after a climate apocalypse

March 5, 2021 by  
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Have you ever wondered what the world might look after an environmental apocalypse? Thanks to Paris-based digital artist and photographer Fabien Barrau, you can get a clear picture. A professional advertising artist by day, he uses his personal time to create thought-provoking visuals out of his drone images and stock photography for a series known as “News From the Future.” “My motivation for this series was how to influence awareness of climate change and the urgency to act every day according to one’s means and power,” Barrau told Inhabitat. “In my case, my little power is to create images and imagine myself as an explorer who will return from the future with photos of a changed world.” He hopes that the striking images will serve as a reminder to global citizens, especially young people, to the potential future of our world’s most treasured landmarks should climate change continue to worsen. Related: Artist creates mesmerizing paintings using coal pollution from local streams With the effects of climate change threatening to raise ocean levels and heighten the Earth’s temperatures , News From the Future might not be far off from our future reality. The project depicts images of an underwater Arc de Triomphe, a sinking Statue of Liberty and a sand-covered Colosseum, among others. Barrau said he wanted to create a feeling similar to what archaeologists of the 19th century would have felt discovering Pompeii or the great Aztec cities, only with modern architectural achievements as the main subjects. The artist is a self-proclaimed fan of the post-apocalyptic theme in art , novels, films and documentaries. He is especially inspired by Planet of the Apes, Mad Max and the French painter Roland Cat, whom he pays tribute to with one of his pieces. “I love using my photos taken with my drone to use them in post-apocalyptic photo montages,” Barrau said. “I try to imagine what would happen in the event of desertification, the rise of the oceans or the tropicalization of a region.” + Fabien Barrau Via Dezeen Images via Fabien Barrau

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US officially rejoins Paris Agreement

February 23, 2021 by  
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As promised, President Joe Biden has helped the U.S. rejoin the Paris climate accord after Donald Trump’s reign of eco-terror. As of last Friday, it’s official. But now comes the hard part: getting the U.S. to set and meet a national target for cutting fossil fuel emissions. Although the U.S. president is also busy with COVID-19 deaths surpassing 500,000, the climate just can’t wait. As Biden said to the Munich security conference, “We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change . This is a global existential crisis, and all of us will suffer if we fail.” Related: Biden signs executive order to rejoin Paris Agreement Biden’s challenge is to set a realistic target while balancing tricky financial and political realities in a country where many citizens deny the climate is even changing. His administration wants to settle on a U.S. emissions goal by April, in time for the Earth Day summit Biden is hosting. Climate leaders are hoping that a strong U.S. plan will serve as a good role model for other countries figuring out how to cut their emissions. Many Republican leaders are skeptical. “Returning to the Paris climate agreement will raise Americans’ energy costs and won’t solve climate change,” tweeted Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, the Senate energy panel’s top Republican. “The Biden administration will set unworkable targets for the United States while China and Russia can continue with business as usual.” Paris accord leaders want to keep global warming from reaching 3.6°F (2°C) higher than pre-industrial times. Already the world is up 2.2°F (1.2°C), leaving us very little wiggle room. Thanks to Trump’s stance on the environment, the U.S. was officially out of the Paris Agreement for 107 days. Some environmental leaders worried that when a Trump-led U.S. abandoned the accord, other countries would follow. Fortunately, none did. Now, Biden has the challenge of reversing Trump’s four years of climate inaction. The world awaits the nation’s new emission -cutting plan. Via AP Image via H. Hach

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Earth911 Reader: 2020 Ties Hottest Year Record

January 16, 2021 by  
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The Earth911 Reader collects and comments on useful news about … The post Earth911 Reader: 2020 Ties Hottest Year Record appeared first on Earth 911.

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Earth911 Reader: 1.5° C Warming Is Inevitable and the World Appears Ready to Respond

January 9, 2021 by  
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