The Ocean Conservancy’s Janis Searles Jones on ending upstream plastic pollution

March 15, 2019 by  
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Protecting the oceans by working on land.

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The Ocean Conservancy’s Janis Searles Jones on ending upstream plastic pollution

Oceans are dubbed the ‘ultimate sink’ for plastic waste

March 4, 2019 by  
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Plastic waste has officially reached the deepest levels of the world’s oceans, which are now being dubbed as the ultimate sinks for pollution. Scientists discovered organisms that had ingested microplastics at the bottom of the Mariana trench, which descends over 6,000 meters. The Royal Society Open Science journal published the findings of the study, concluding that all marine environments have now been affected by plastic waste. Many of these microplastics come from substances that do not biodegrade quickly and make their way to the ocean via landfills. Once they reach the ocean, the plastics break down even further and float to the bottom. Related: Point Nemo, the most remote spot in the ocean, is plagued with plastic Scientists are well aware of the impact plastics have on shallow marine environments, where the waste is a choking hazard for seabirds, whales and dolphins. But nobody thought the problem to be as widespread as the study showed. Scientists captured creatures from six different locations deep on the ocean floor. The researchers examined organisms from the Japan trench, Mariana trench , Izu-Bonin trench, Peru-Chile trench and the New Hebrides and Kermadec trenches. Microplastics were discovered in all six locations. Some of the plastics that were ingested included lyocell, ramie, polyvinyl, rayon and polyethylene. The deeper the scientists looked, the more contamination they found. This is largely due to the fact that the waste has nowhere to go once it reaches the bottom of the ocean and cannot be flushed out. “It is intuitive that the ultimate sink for this debris, in whatever size, is the deep sea,” the study concluded. It is unclear how much these microplastics are harming deep sea ecosystems. Scientists believe the waste is more harmful at lower depths, because organisms that thrive in these environments often eat whatever they come across. While scientists continue to do more studies, researchers admitted that it is depressing finding so much plastic waste in a place where humans have such little contact yet are making the biggest impact. Via The Guardian Image via TKremmel

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Oceans are dubbed the ‘ultimate sink’ for plastic waste

Stop Fish Bombing! uses gunshot detection technology to foil marine criminals

March 1, 2019 by  
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A nonprofit organization called Stop Fish Bombing! (SFB) is combating a famously destructive and illegal fishing practice. By adapting technology developed by the California company SST Inc. to detect gunshot locations, the nonprofit hopes to catch villains who are destroying the underwater world through fish bombing. Fish bombing — also called blast or dynamite fishing — uses explosives to stun or kill fish, making it easy to gather them up en masse. Dynamite doesn’t discriminate. Everything from fish eggs to dolphins to coral reefs die in the blast. While the short-term effect means an easy haul for fishermen, the long-term effects spell doom to the fish, the fishing industry and reef-related tourism. Eventually, the repeated blasts create dead zones, destroying biodiversity and whole ecosystems. Fish bombing is practiced in many places around the world, including Tanzania, Malaysia and Nicaragua. Related: Loophole allows 1M tons of sludge to be dumped on Great Barrier Reef SFB has adapted urban tech for the marine world. Law enforcement in more than 90 cities use SST Inc.’s ShotSpotter technology to find shooters. Acoustic sensors are placed throughout neighborhoods. When somebody fires a gun, multiple sensors detect and timestamp the sound. “The precise location of the gunshot is determined based on the time it takes for the sound of the gunshot to travel to each individual sensor, effectively triangulating the sound. The exact location of the detected gunshot is indicated by a dot on a map,” according to a video on the SpotShotter site. Back at the command center, analysts use audio technology to differentiate gunshots from other percussive sounds. Translating this tech to an underwater environment, SFB places sensors on piers and boats to locate blasts. In one success, the nonprofit triangulated the positions of 16 explosions in Sabah, Malaysia within 60 meters in about 10 seconds. They were able to safely detonate 19 bombs. By photographing boats in the vicinity at the time of blasts, SFB can help local law enforcement efforts. SFB, based in Hong Kong, was founded by Scubazoo, SST and Teng Hoi Conservation Organization . Scubazoo is a production and filming company specializing in marine and jungle locations in South East Asia. Teng Hoi focuses on environmental problems and education in Hong Kong and internationally. In addition to its work on fish bombing, SST has also adapted its ShotSpotter technology to deter rhino poachers in South Africa. Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife Environmentalists now have one more tool in their race to save reefs. George Woodman, founder of Teng Hoi Conservation Organization, said, “Fortunately, we now have the technology to detect and locate fish bombs as they happen and publish this information on tablets and phones for access by everyone.” + Stop Fish Bombing! Via UN Environment Images via Shutterstock

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Stop Fish Bombing! uses gunshot detection technology to foil marine criminals

Climate change to change the color of the oceans over the next 80 years

February 12, 2019 by  
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The color of the oceans is about to undergo some major changes. As a result of ongoing climate change , scientists are predicting that the color of the oceans will slowly become bluer over the next 80 years. The color difference is directly connected to microbial phytoplankton , which absorb sunlight near the surface of the ocean. As the acidity and temperature of the oceans rise, the number of phytoplankton is expected to decrease in certain regions. Once the phytoplankton populations drop off, the surface will have a harder time reflecting sunlight, which will ultimately change its color. Related: Oceans warming 40 percent faster than previously thought According to Gizmodo , new research from Nature Communications argues that the subtropical oceans will be most affected by the color change. These regions are particularly susceptible to temperature and pH fluctuations, which will harm phytoplankton populations. Conversely, oceans in the Antarctic and Arctic could become greener, because these areas are not likely to experience significant changes in water temperature. Scientists have been using satellites to monitor the color of the oceans over the past 20 years. The images taken by the satellites are manipulated by a computer algorithm, resulting in a rough sketch of how much chlorophyll is present in the water. The only issue with this tactic is that climate change is not the only force at work here. Natural forces, like El Niño , also affect the color of the oceans. This is why scientists are exploring other methods of detection that will isolate the impacts of climate change. This includes measuring food sources for phytoplankton, looking at patterns of ocean circulation and analyzing growth rates of phytoplankton populations around the world. “Our model can now suggest what such satellites might see in the future world,” MIT scientist Stephanie Dutkiewicz explained. Experts predict that by 2100, the temperature of the oceans will have risen by at least 3 degrees Celsius. This difference in temperature is expected to change the color of around half of Earth’s oceans, though the color difference will not be detectable by human sight. Via Gizmodo Image via NOAA

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Climate change to change the color of the oceans over the next 80 years

Nestle ditching plastic straws, water bottles to reduce plastic waste

January 18, 2019 by  
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Nestle, the world’s largest packaged food company, is on a mission to reduce plastic waste. This week, the Swiss group announced they will be dropping plastic straws from their products and will also focus on creating biodegradable water bottles. With environmental groups all over the world advocating for alternatives to single-use plastic, Nestle says these changes are part of a campaign to make all of their packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025.  Beginning next month, the company will begin using different materials such as paper, and will also be replacing their plastic straws and using innovative designs to reduce litter. The company is also working with Danimer Scientific to create a new biodegradable water bottle , and with  PureCycle Technologies to develop food-grade recycled polypropylene, which is a polymer used for food packaging, specifically for food packaged in trays, tubs, cups and bottles. Nestle Waters, the bottled water unit of the Nestle brand, is also aiming to increase the content of polyethylene terephthalate, or recycled PET, in its bottles. By 2025, they have a goal of increasing the recycled PET content to 35 percent globally, and 50 percent in the United States. Related: Zero-waste packaging is coming to a freezer aisle near you Magdi Batato, Nestle’s global head of operations, says that the company is still trying to figure out the impact of the new packaging,  Reuters reports. It could possibly reduce their products’ shelf life and increase manufacturing costs, but they don’t know for sure. “Some of those alternative solutions are even cheaper, some of them are cost neutral, and indeed some of them are more expensive,” Batato said. In their press release, Nestle said that the plastic waste challenge would require a change in everyone’s behavior, and they are committed to leading the way. All 4,200 of their facilities around the globe are “committed to eliminating single-use plastic items that cannot be recycled,” and will replace those items with new materials that can easily be reused or recycled. Via Nestle and Reuters Image via Shutterstock

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Nestle ditching plastic straws, water bottles to reduce plastic waste

Seeds on the moon started to sprout for the first time but quickly died

January 18, 2019 by  
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China has taken a major step toward long-term space exploration. Earlier this month, the Chinese moon probe Chang’e 4 carried a container with cotton, mustard and potato seeds , yeast and fruit fly eggs to the moon’s far side (facing away from Earth), and early this week, the China National Space Administration said that those seeds started to sprout. Unfortunately, temperatures dropped and killed the plants. According to the BBC , the project was designed by 28 Chinese universities, and the experiment was contained within a canister 7 inches tall and weighing about 6.5 pounds. It was designed to test photosynthesis and respiration, which are processes that produce energy . For the first time ever seeds 🌱 are growing on the moon 🌑! China’s moon mission success means that astronauts 👩‍🚀👨‍🚀could potentially harvest their own food in space! Learn more 👉 https://t.co/S6dOB3p2Ym via @BBCNews #ZeroHunger #FutureofFood pic.twitter.com/TNssZBLG0R — FAO (@FAO) January 15, 2019 The plants  were in a sealed container on the lunar lander, and the hope was that the crops would form a mini-biosphere. Inside the container, the organisms had a supply of air, water and nutrients to help them grow. The scientists said that keeping it at the right temperature was a challenge, because of the wild temperature swings on the moon , which ultimately killed the first sprout. If the experiment worked, astronauts could potentially begin to harvest their own food in space. That would be incredibly useful for long-term space missions, because they wouldn’t have to return to Earth to resupply. Although the sprout died, the experiment is a move toward this goal. Related: China plans to launch the world’s first ‘artificial moon’ But could these experiments contaminate the moon ? Generally, scientists don’t believe this is something we need to worry about, especially because there have been containers of human waste on the moon for 50 years thanks to the Apollo astronauts. The consensus among experts is that the sprout was “good news.” Fred Watson, astronomer-at-large at the Australian Astronomical Observatory, said that it could be a positive development for future space exploration. “It suggests that there might not be insurmountable problems for astronauts in future trying to grow their own crops on the moon in a controlled environment,” Watson said. “I think there’s certainly a great deal of interest in using the moon as a staging post, particularly for flights to Mars , because it’s relatively near the Earth.” Via BBC and The Guardian Image via Jeremy Bishop

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Seeds on the moon started to sprout for the first time but quickly died

Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

October 3, 2018 by  
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Ben Lecomte, the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean back in 1998, is now attempting to be the first swimmer to traverse the Pacific Ocean . The record-setter is taking on the challenge not only for himself, but also to raise awareness about ocean pollution, health and conservation. Lecomte has now passed the 1,000 nautical mile marker from his starting point in the port city of Yokohama, Japan. “My eyes are not too much on the milestones,” Lecomte said of his headline distance. “But it’s important to have milestones to celebrate any progress.” The swimmer is nearly a fifth of the way through his 5,500-mile expedition. Related: Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution Despite six years of preparation, Lecomte and his crew aboard the research vessel dubbed ‘Seeker’ have had to overcome many obstacles since leaving Yokohama in June. The team has been forced back to port by typhoons , suffered sea sickness aboard the 65-foot (20-meter) sailboat and rerouted several times to avoid cargo ships. Aside from this, Lecomte attempts to swim an average of 30 miles a day, aided by North Pacific currents and a protein-based diet of approximately 8,000 calories. Throughout the roughly eight hours it takes him to swim this distance, he is also collecting ocean debris and plastic that his expedition team geotags for research. “Every single day we collect trash,” Lecomte said. “I’m truly shocked by the amount of plastic I find on my way every single day.” The team has collected more than 1,300 pieces of floating trash along its journey, scooping up to four samples each minute with a specially designed net. Related: Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change Even among the heart-rending stages of Lecomte’s journey, there have still been touching moments. “I am very surprised by the amount of amazing encounters I made in the middle of nowhere — birds, jellyfish, swordfishes, turtles , dolphins, whales and even a shark who followed me for two days,” he said. “As I swim everyday, I see this wild and beautiful environment being affected by the virus of plastic. Every stroke is dedicated to inspire people and find ways to rethink their plastic consumption on land.” Viewers can tune-in to top science publisher Seeker.com and its social channels to watch daily videos and live moments from the expedition, with weekly updates also airing on Discovery. Follow Ben’s journey at Seeker.com/TheSwim . Via Seeker Images via Seeker

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Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

Climate change is expected to bring more intense storms like Hurricane Florence

September 11, 2018 by  
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Hurricane Florence is on a collision course with the southeastern United States. The immense and powerful storm will create high winds and surges along coastal towns and cities, but scientists are more concerned about how much rain Florence might produce — and the increased frequency of similar storms as a result of climate change . James Kossin, a climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , said flooding is the biggest risk with the incoming hurricane. Florence is moving so slow across the ocean that it might come to a near standstill once it hits land, moving somewhere around two to three miles per hour. If that happens, Florence could hit cities on the East Coast with record rainfall. Related: 2018 hurricane season may be worse than last year A similar situation occurred last year when Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. The massive storm slowed almost to a halt in the Houston area, dumping more than 60 inches of rain in some locations. The excess rain led to 93 deaths and completely shut down certain areas. With Hurricane Florence set to repeat history, scientists believe slow moving storms may become the new norm — and it is all thanks to climate change. Kossin and his team published a study this year that showed cyclones are moving slower on average. In fact, hurricanes have undergone a decrease in speed by about 10 percent over the past 70 years. Kossin believes climate change is slowing down wind currents, which hurricanes use to travel across the ocean. Once the storms stall over land, they continuously dump rain and produce record flooding. The only exception to this trend is in the Indian Ocean, where wind currents have remained strong. Along with slowing down hurricanes, climate change is creating larger and more intense storms as ocean waters warm. The added warmth creates more fuel for the storms as the water evaporates. Harvey and Florence are two examples of this, and scientists believe that trend will continue until we begin to cut down greenhouse gases. + NOAA Via NPR Image via NOAA

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Climate change is expected to bring more intense storms like Hurricane Florence

This Girl Scout Is Saving Our Oceans

August 13, 2018 by  
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Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. … The post This Girl Scout Is Saving Our Oceans appeared first on Earth911.com.

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This Girl Scout Is Saving Our Oceans

Sharks and Starbucks: How brand licensees can impact your value

July 2, 2018 by  
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A cautionary tale that’s a wake-up call for the coffee colossus.

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