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New York may ban shark fin sales, following other states

New York may ban shark fin sales, following other states | The Water Steward | Scoop.it

Tuesday, legislators in New York state announced a bill that, following the example of Western states, would ban the sale, trading, possession and distribution of shark fins, possibly as of 2013. California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington are implementing similar bans that were passed last year, while Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia have legislation pending.

Scientists estimate that as many as 73 million sharks are killed annually to satisfy the appetite for shark fin soup, leading some species to the brink of extinction and depleting oceans of a key ecosystem predator. Since the fin is so much more valuable than the rest of the shark, fishermen often slice it off and push the still-writhing shark back into the sea to die — although many governments ban the practice.

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Tropical Dams an Underestimated Methane Source | Climate Central ("not clean energy from tropic dams")

Tropical Dams an Underestimated Methane Source | Climate Central ("not clean energy from tropic dams") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
New scientific data supports the belief that methane emissions from big hydroelectric dams outweigh the benefits.

In many rocky regions low on vegetation and population, such as in Iceland and other northern mountainous regions, the production of electricity from hydropower is clearly a net gain in the battle against climate change.

In Asia, Africa and South America, however, masses of methane are produced from dams by the drowning of tropical forests in them. As long ago as 2007, researchers at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research calculated that the world’s largest dams emitted 104 million tonnes of methane annually and were responsible for 4 percent of the human contribution to climate change.

Since methane has an impact 84 times higher over 20 years than the same quantity of carbon dioxide, this is a serious short-term threat to pushing the planet towards the danger threshold of increasing temperatures by 2°C (3.6°F).
Despite the warnings that big dams in the tropics might be adding to climate change, governments go on building them — while often claiming that large dams equal clean energy.
The new research shows that the methane discharges are probably even worse than current calculations.
In an attempt to find out exactly what the perils and benefits of big dams in the tropics can be, a French team from the National Center for Scientific Research has been studying the Nam Theun 2 reservoir in Laos — the largest in Southeast Asia — prior to its filling, in May 2008, right up to the present to calculate the total methane emissions.
Methane is produced by bacteria feeding on the plant material drowned when the dam is filled. This is added to by more organic matter that is washed into it by rivers and rains.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Mega-hydroelectric dams in tropical countries may be big contributors of GHG, especially methane. Check out this report.

"Measuring the methane produced is the tricky bit as it reaches the atmosphere in three ways. (a) Some is dissolved in the water and reaches the atmosphere by diffusion, (b) some goes through the turbines and is released downstream, and (c) the third way is called ebullition — which means bubbles of methane coming directly to the surface and going straight into the atmosphere."

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Manila Bay Reclamation Project - YouTube ("stewardship of creation involves caring for common good")

Listen to the other side of the fence. The Catholic media cites the lack of adequate studies to the proposed Manila Bay Reclamation. They enumerate the possible negative effects of the project to the common good.

Watch the full video.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The Manila Bay Reclamation Project has elicited negative concerns from many civilian sectors, including the Catholic Church. This video shows a scientific basis for the concern.

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BusinessMirror - DENR to strengthen coastal, marine biodiversity-conservation program

BusinessMirror - DENR to strengthen coastal, marine biodiversity-conservation program | The Water Steward | Scoop.it

cTHE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has vowed to strengthen the management regimes for the 32 Marine Protected Areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) law and Verde Island Passage, finally giving marine biodiversity conservation its much-deserved attention.
The MPAs and Verde Island Passage have been identified as priority areas for coral reef mapping and associated marine habitat assessments, Director Theresa Mundita Lim of the Biodiver­sity Management Bureau (BMB) said.
Lim said the creation of the Coastal and Marine Management Office has institutionalized coastal and marine biodiversity conservation into the DENR’s mandate.
Before that, she said the focus was more on protection and biodiversity conservation within the country’s ter­restrial forests.
Lim said this during the forum titled “State of Nature Assessment 2014: Biodiversity in the Face of De­velopment” convened by the Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Econo­my at Miriam College in Quezon City early this month.
She said that with the new divi­sion, the DENR through the BMB will be able secure a small but stable place among the multiple, diverging government agency players that take responsibility over Philippine seas such as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources which is under the Department of Agriculture.

“As we strengthen our coastal and marine program, we continue to work with partners to protect our seas, since our manpower re­sources and expertise is still lim­ited in this respect,” she added.

“We will continue to support and collaborate with the local governments, especially those within the Nipas areas and marine Key Biodiversity Areas, for the recovery of our coastal and marine ecosystems,” she said.

Bert Guevara's insight:

"There are at least 661 inland wet­lands all over the country. So far, she said only about 195 covering 1,598,378 hectares have been iden­tified and assessed.

"The Agusan Marsh covering about 5,487 hectares, which is the only re­maining intact peat swamp in the country, should be protected at all cost, Lim said. “It is a valuable carbon store and sinks with estimated substantial carbon storage of 22.9 million tons held in its biomass and peat soil. It’s a more efficient carbon store compared to other forest ecosystem types in the country,” she said."

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Climate Change Ups Odds of a Southwest Megadrought | Climate Central ("unprecedented proportions!")

Climate Change Ups Odds of a Southwest Megadrought | Climate Central ("unprecedented proportions!") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
A new study shows that climate change is increasing the odds of long-term drought in the Southwest.

If you think the drought in California is bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. New research indicates that climate change is giving a boost to the odds of long-term drought across the Southwest.

The research, published Thursday in the Journal of Climate, puts the chances of a megadrought lasting 35 years or longer at up to 50 percent in the region. It would be a drought of epic proportions that would wreak havoc on the region’s already tenuous water supply for its growing population.

The impetus for the study was to assess the odds of consecutive dry years. That’s because even in an overall drier climate, an occasional wet year or two are still expected and could break up or at least temporarily alleviate long-term drought. While that’s still a possibility, what Ault found was that climate change is still likely to increase the odds of long-lasting drought.

If current greenhouse gas emissions trends continue, the odds of a megadrought hitting some parts of the Southwest is a 50-50 proposition. And the odds of a decade-long drought – like the Dust Bowl of the 1930s or Southwest drought of the 1950s – are around 90 percent, meaning it’s near certain parts of the Southwest will deal with substantialdrought impacts at some point in the next century due to climate change.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is an "alarming" scenario of MEGAdrought. In the Philippines, we are still waiting for our water dams to reach normal levels in an El Niño scenarion.

 

“Even without climate change, there would be some risk of megadrought even if we weren’t warming up the planet. But because of climate change and drying predicted from climate change, that weights the dice toward making these things more likely,” Ault said.

 

"The estimates for all three types of drought could be even higher because Ault and his colleagues only considered precipitation and not temperature, which is expected to rise and further dry out the region."

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Norway kills 729 whales in record year for hunt but demand failing for meat ("ever heard of mercury?")

Norway kills 729 whales in record year for hunt but demand failing for meat ("ever heard of mercury?") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
More than 720 whales have been harpooned in Norway in the most deadly hunting season since the Government began defying an international ban in 1993.

The number is under the country’s self-imposed quota of 1,286 and the Government claims the four-month hunt is for the “protection and sustainable harvesting of marine resources”.

But retailers are having trouble shifting the huge amount of minke meat in supermarkets, as Norwegians show little appetite for whale.

“Good catches are positive, but we now face market challenges,” he said.

“We possess more meat than we can sell and that is not a favourable position to be in.”

 “Norwegian whaling is based on the principle of protection and sustainable harvesting of marine resources.

“Management of resources is founded on scientific advice, with the objective based on the concept of an ecosystem approach.”

Inspectors ensure compliance with whaling regulations, it added, and whalers have to take an annual course on safety and on ways to “ensure that as little pain and stress as possible is inflicted” on the mammals.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Aside from the high mercury content in whale meat, buyers are dwindling. 

“These animals' right to live should be respected, and Norway itself would benefit from promoting whale watching rather than whale killing as a commercial enterprise. A cruel industry like whaling has no place in your country – or any country.”


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Tide turns for shark fin in China ("when the buying stops, the killing can too")

Tide turns for shark fin in China ("when the buying stops, the killing can too") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
A sprawling market floor in Guangzhou was once a prime location for shark fin, one of China's most expensive delicacies. But now it lies deserted, thanks to a ban from official banquet tables and a celebrity-driven ad campaign.

Environmental and animal rights groups have campaigned for decades against consumption of shark fin, arguing that demand for the delicacy has decimated the world's shark population and that the methods used to obtain it are inhumane.

China consumes more shark fin than any other country in the world, according to the campaign group WildAid.

The tide began to turn in 2012, when the ruling Communist Party announced a government ban on serving shark fin, bird's nest soup and other wild animal products at official functions, saying that it would set a precedent that would help protect endangered species.

Demand has since decreased dramatically, the group says, with the biggest impact in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province and the heart of China's shark fin industry.

A WildAid survey released this month said shark fin sales had slumped in the city, with retail prices slumping an average 57 percent and wholesale costs dropping by 47 percent.

In neighbouring Hong Kong, a major transit point for the trade, import-export volumes have plunged.

The largest category, undried fins with cartilage, went from almost 6,800 tonnes in 2011 to less than two tonnes last year, government statistics showed -- although dried fins with cartilage still stood at around 3,800 tonnes.

Several major hotel chains and airlines in the region have banned it and WildAid's executive director Peter Knight said: "Demand reduction can be very effective. The more people learn about the consequences of eating shark fin soup, the less they want to participate in the trade."

Government bans on the dish, he added, "helped send the right message and this could be a model to address issues such as ivory".

Bert Guevara's insight:

Some good news for the beleaguered shark. Fin eaters have started to lose their appetite. 

"The tide began to turn in 2012, when the ruling Communist Party announced a government ban on serving shark fin, bird's nest soup and other wild animal products at official functions, saying that it would set a precedent that would help protect endangered species.

"Around the same time new leader Xi Jinping launched a much-publicised austerity drive for the ruling classes, in tandem with an anti-corruption push that has claimed notable scalps despite a lack of systemic reforms."

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Map: All the places where the CDC says you can't drink the water ("water pollution almost everywhere")

Map: All the places where the CDC says you can't drink the water ("water pollution almost everywhere") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
The US, Australia, Japan, Korea, Israel, and Western Europe are solid. Everyplace else has problems.

As you can see, the CDC is very cautious, essentially arguing that only the richest countries have safe drinking water. In my personal experience, drinking tap water in Argentina, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Slovakia, Russia, and even the dread Mexico has worked out just fine. But your mileage may vary.

The World Health Organization uses a looser criteria for access to safe water, and by their standards it is a very serious problem in quite a few very poor countries but not many of the middle-income ones on the CDC map.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is the extent of water pollution in the world, based on the CDC criteria.

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Mercury Levels In The Ocean Are Now 3 Times Higher Than Before The Industrial Revolution ("due to man")

Mercury Levels In The Ocean Are Now 3 Times Higher Than Before The Industrial Revolution ("due to man") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
The study also determined where the mercury was coming from: human activities, including burning fossil fuels like coal, and mining for gold and coal.

The study, published this week in Nature, is the first to create a comprehensive overview of the mercury in the ocean. The study also determined where the mercury was coming from, finding that human activities, including burning fossil fuels like coal, and mining for gold and coal, are the main drivers for the increase in the ocean’s mercury, causing the substance toincrease by a factor of 3.4 in the ocean’s upper levels since the Industrial Revolution started.

Because the increase in mercury is driven by human activities — settling into the ocean from air pollution or being carried via streams and rivers — the upper 100 meters (328 feet) of the ocean is the region that’s most quickly accumulating the dangerous element. But the increase in the ocean’s surface levels means that, as humans emit more mercury, the deep ocean is going to be less and less able to store the mercury, study co-author Carl Lamborgtold Nature.

“You’re starting to overwhelm the ability of deep water formation to hide some of that mercury from us, with the net result that more and more of our emissions will be found in progressively shallower water,” he said. Lamborg also said that, at the rate humans are going now, we’re projected to emit as much mercury in the next 50 years as they did in the last 150 years.

Mercury is a neurotoxin, and ingesting too much of it can cause developmental defects in fetuses and, at extreme levels, death. Typically, people ingest mercury through eating fish, with larger, predatory fish containing more mercury than smaller prey fish. Right now, the scientists aren’t sure how these increased levels of mercury affect the health of ocean fish or the health of people consuming them

“I would not stop eating ocean fish as a result of this,” Simon Boxall, lecturer on ocean and Earth science at the University of Southampton, told the Guardian. “But it is a good indicator of how much impact we are having on the marine environment. It is an alarm call for the future.”


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Severe water pollution in China - The Darkroom - The Baltimore Sun ("resurrecting the dead; too late?")

Severe water pollution in China - The Darkroom - The Baltimore Sun ("resurrecting the dead; too late?") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
China aims to spend $850 billion to improve filthy water supplies over the next decade, but even such huge outlays may do little to reverse damage caused by decades of pollution and overuse in Beijing's push for rapid ...

Growing cities, overuse of fertilizers and factory wastewater have degraded China’s water supplies to the extent that half the nation’s rivers and lakes are severely polluted. China aims to spend $850 billion to improve filthy water supplies over the next decade, but even such huge outlays may do little to reverse damage caused by decades of pollution and overuse in Beijing’s push for rapid economic growth.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The money earned by killing the water bodies is now being used to bring it back to life. Is it still possible within their lifetime?

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10 ways to stop being a water waster ("many daily habits waste water; it's time for pro-activity")

10 ways to stop being a water waster ("many daily habits waste water; it's time for pro-activity") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it

There is no resource more precious than water. There is also no resource that is misused, abused, misallocated, and misunderstood the way water is. Safe drinking water, healthy and intact natural ecosystems, and a stable food supply are a few of the things at stake as our water supply is put under greater and greater stress.

1. No drips

2. Install new water-saving fixtures

3. Cultivate good water habits

4. Stay off the bottle

5. Go beyond the lawn

6. Harvest your rainwater

7. Harvest your greywater

8. At the car wash

9. Keep your eyes open

10. Don't spike the punch


Bert Guevara's insight:

We are all duty-bound to conserve water.

"The picture might look grim, but opportunities to be more efficient abound. Many people have had water-saving etiquette pumped into them at one point or another, so hopefully we can make a good case for conserving the stuff with practical, everyday water-saving strategies as well as some more high-tech approaches."

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Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Decimates Fish Populations in ... ("too many downsides for dirty coal")

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Decimates Fish Populations in ... ("too many downsides for dirty coal") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
A study from researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) published this month provides strong new evidence that mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia is devastating downstream fish populations.

That’s hardly news for long-time followers of the controversy surrounding mountaintop removal, a coal mining practice that involves blowing off the tops of mountains to access thin seams of coal and dumping the waste into valleys below. In 2010, a group of 13 prestigious biologists published a paper in Science, the nation’s premier scientific journal, that found:

“Our analyses of current peer-reviewed studies and of new water-quality data from WV streams revealed serious environmental impacts that mitigation practices cannot successfully address… Clearly, current attempts to regulate [mountaintop removal mining] practices are inadequate.”

The authors of the study published last week found a 50 percent decline in the number of fish species and a two-thirds decline in the total number of fish in streams below mountaintop removal mines in West Virginia’s Guyandotte River drainage. They made this important contribution to the science by using rigorous methodology to isolate several types of waterpollution most likely to have caused these staggering declines.

But a more important contribution of the study may be that it draws the focus of water pollution impacts away from mayflies and other aquatic insects and onto a far more popular and charismatic organism that not only is important to rural people’s way of life, but supports a multi-billion dollar sportfishing industry in Appalachia.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Aside from killing the fish population, it is killing a major job creator on this mining site - sport fishing. Coal mining becomes a losing proposition for the host community.

"Widespread damage to fish populations could also be important from the pocketbook perspective that political leaders in Kentucky and West Virginia take seriously. According to data from the American Sportfishing Association, recreational fishing creates a lot more jobs than mountaintop removal does in the states where it occurs:"

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Pacific Nation Bans Fishing in One of World's Largest Marine Parks ("another Pacific fish sanctuary")

Pacific Nation Bans Fishing in One of World's Largest Marine Parks ("another Pacific fish sanctuary") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Kiribati announces "very significant" step at U.S. Our Ocean conference.

Anote Tong, the president of Kiribati—a chain of islands about halfway between Hawaii and Fiji—announced Monday that commercial fishing will end in the country's Phoenix Islands Protected Area on January 1, 2015.

"We will also close the area around the southern Line Islands to commercial fishing to allow the area to recover," said Tong, who spoke at the Our Ocean conference hosted by the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. The southern Line Islands also will be closed to fishing by the beginning of next year.

The Phoenix Islands and the southern Line Islands represent some of the most pristine coral reef archipelagos in the Pacific, says National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, who led the first underwater expedition to the five uninhabited southern Line Islands in 2009 as part of National Geographic's Pristine Seas project.

Sala's team of scientists found healthy coral reefs, abundant predator populations, and pristine lagoons carpeted with giant clams and shark nurseries.

Bert Guevara's insight:

A tiny island nation that controls a vast area of the Pacific Ocean has announced it will ban all commercial fishing in a massive marine park that is the size of California.

"... Kiribati's announcement -- "very significant." Decreasing the impact of fishing will "preserve biodiversity, large predators, and reefs,..." 

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Infographic: Climate change and our ailing oceans

Infographic: Climate change and our ailing oceans | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Bert Guevara's insight:

What do you think will happen to the fish population and marine world if oceans in the world get warmer and more acidic? Can we turn it back if it becomes too warm or too acidic?

Check out this infograph.

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7 GIFs That Will Convince You Just How Scary the Drought in the West Is ("pictures tell the story")

7 GIFs That Will Convince You Just How Scary the Drought in the West Is ("pictures tell the story") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
From a popular skiing spot to the largest man-made reservoir in North America, these before-and-after photos show why we need to save water.

This week the city’s Department of Water and Power announced that it’s ramping up patrols by deploying four inspectors—up from one—to drive around and investigate water-wasting complaints. But in a city of nearly 4 million, it will be no surprise if four people aren’t able to stop golf courses from maintaining their green grass to a tee, dads from hosing down their SUVs, and Ice Bucket Challengers giddily dousing themselves with water. (Grist offers some commonsense advice: Skip the shower, recycle the water, or just donate to ALS research.) Meanwhile, Nestlé, which owns Arrowhead, continues to tap water from the desert 80 miles from Los Angeles.

Other Southwest states have been seeing the effects of the drought as well. Last month in Nevada, Lake Mead’s water level dropped to its lowest since the 1930s.

Most Americans might not feel the thirst just yet, but if the current rate of water consumption continues, they soon will. So here are seven before-and-after GIFs that reveal just how bad the drought has gotten.

Bert Guevara's insight:

If this kind of drought can dry up this part of the world, then it is not far fetched that continuous global warming can do the same in other warm parts of the planet.

Let's observe how the impending El Niño may make matters worse.

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California Drought: What Loosing '63 Trillion Gallons of Water' Looks Like! ("where did the water go?")

http://www.undergroundworldnews.com A new study says that California's drought is so severe it's causing the ground to rise. Angela Fritz of The Washington Post reported scientists estimate...

A new study says that California’s drought is so severe it’s causing the ground to rise. Angela Fritz of The Washington Post reported scientists estimate 63 trillion gallons of water have been lost in the past 18 months.

What happens when 63 trillion gallons of water disappear? “As it turns out, 63 trillion gallons of water is pretty heavy,” Fritz wrote. ” … That incredible water deficit weighs nearly 240 billion tons, and as it evaporated, the ground began to shift” — in California’s mountains, by as much as half-an-inch.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The 2011 pictures, when compared to 2014 shows us the extent of the drought. The estimated 63 Trillion gallons of water that has vanished from the landscape of California is devastating.

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10 things you need to know about water impacts of the fashion industry ("seeking water sustainability")

10 things you need to know about water impacts of the fashion industry ("seeking water sustainability") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
In a recent live chat experts discussed how the fashion industry is approaching water sustainability in the face of a changing climate and increasing competition over resources

1. Water is central to sustainable development

2. “Peak water” is being taken increasingly seriously

3. There’s a strong business case for the fashion industry to manage its water footprint

4. Water issues can be a non-competitive space

5. There is a broad consensus that production should stay put, rather than move to G20 countries .....

Bert Guevara's insight:

Water sustainability in the fashion industry needs to be addressed as the global clean water supply reaches dangerous levels. These are some of the issues that need to be tackled.

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In Pictures: India's water crisis deepens - Aljazeera.com ("more demand vs supply, what now?")

In Pictures: India's water crisis deepens - Aljazeera.com ("more demand vs supply, what now?") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
In Pictures: India's water crisis deepens
Aljazeera.com
"The water mafia will work when there is a scarcity of water. It's because of the unequal distribution of the water by the authorities.

But does the city have enough drinking water for its bulging population?

Currently the demand for potable water is around 1,100 mgd (million gallons per day) but the government only supplies around 800 mgd. About 81 percentof the households get piped water. The rest of the population relies on mobile water tankers.

Last year the Delhi government even had to insist that 35 five-star hotels cut down their consumption.

With no ensured timely distribution of water to the inhabitants at many places, the water mafia has taken over.

"Government is the biggest problem. It doesn't plan water resources," Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator with the New Delhi-based South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, told Al Jazeera.

That's why in this water-hungry city, a parallel water industry is flourishing despite tough measures taken by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) which is responsible for maintaining Delhi's water supply.

It's estimated that more than 2,000 private tankers draw water from tube wells and the DJB connection and sell the water to residential localities and industries at exorbitant rates. This industry earns an estimated 400 crores ($66.15m) annually.

Water tanker rates differ on the basis of capacity, season and demand, and in some cases, the customer.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The worse is yet to come for India on water supply. Climate change has reduced its water source.

"With no ensured timely distribution of water to the inhabitants at many places, the water mafia has taken over."

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Scraping the Seafloor for Fish Harms Biodiversity - Scientific American ("trawlers more vicious now")

Scraping the Seafloor for Fish Harms Biodiversity - Scientific American ("trawlers more vicious now") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Scraping the Seafloor for Fish Harms Biodiversity
Scientific American
Trawling cut biodiversity by 50 percent and organic matter by 52 percent when compared with untouched sites. Meanwhile it slowed carbon cycling by 37 percent.

Despite images from early submersible expeditions of ghostly white dust settling onto a sandy floor, the deep sea is not a desert, Pusceddu says. Even parts of the sea that lack impressive corals or craggy seamounts can host important, if tiny, life-forms. Some such creatures feed shrimp, the main target species for trawlers at Pusceddu's study site. Others consume carbon and trap it in the seafloor.

Better care is urgent: more powerful trawlers now reach deeper waters, oil drilling is moving ever downward, and Papua New Guinea just signed the first commercial sea-mining agreement. Plus, other work has found that the deepest-sea dwellers are among the longest-lived and slowest to recover from the effects of bottom trawling. The European Union may take the lead on this issue. Its newly elected parliament is reviewing draft legislation to limit the scope of deep-sea trawling. Chief scientist Elliott Norse of the Marine Conservation Institute in Seattle says the recent findings show decision makers that “they need to find ways to make fishing less harmful environmentally.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

We don't see it, so we don't mind it. But the vast destruction created by deep-sea trawling affects the ocean, the fish, biodiversity, and of course, us.

"The final tally was grim. Trawling cut biodiversity by 50 percent and organic matter by 52 percent when compared with untouched sites. Meanwhile it slowed carbon cycling by 37 percent. Instead of settling on the seafloor, that stray carbon may acidify seawater or escape into the atmosphere."

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Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Now the Size of Connecticut ("who's to blame? the list is long but few admit")

Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Now the Size of Connecticut ("who's to blame? the list is long but few admit") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Scientists say that the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, largely fueled by the BP oil spill, is the size of Connecticut – a startling 5,052 square miles.

How do we contribute to the dead zone? Phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals that we use to encourage plant growth wash into rivers and streams. Streams and rivers drain into the Mississippi River, and then flow into the Gulf of Mexico. The freshwater of the Mississippi then floats on top of the sea-water, keeping oxygen from the atmosphere from getting into the deeper sea waters.

Add to this the fact that BP never cleaned up their mess from 2010, even though both the company and the Feds were applauded for their ‘quick response.’ The oxygen deprivation caused by the spill is vast, with the Gulf’s coral community suffering especially.

The ‘footprint’ of the 2010 oil spill involving the oil giant BP, TransOcean, which operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, and Halliburton, is likely much worse than anyone guessed. Of course BP wants to downplay the bad press, saying that, “PSU researchers ‘prematurely linked’ the oil found on the coral reefs to the 2010 oil spill, when it could have come from other sources including underwater landslides or natural oil and gas seeps.”

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Acidification affects future of all sea life ("prospect looks grim; favorite dishes may not survive")

Acidification affects future of all sea life ("prospect looks grim; favorite dishes may not survive") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
This week, IoM Friends of the Earth’s Tony Brown looks at the impact of rising ocean acidification on our planet, and our diets

In 2010, a report by the US National Research Council found that pH levels – the level of acidity or alkalinity – at the oceans’ surface had fallen from a measure of 8.2 in pre-industrial times, to 8.1 in modern times.

This has taken place as something between a quarter and a third of man-made CO2 emissions have been added to the natural absorption rates of those oceans.

Since pH is measured on a logarithmic scale, this means that there has been a 10-fold decrease in alkalinity – or to put it another way, an increase in acidity.

The rate of change is 100 times faster than anything the world’s oceans have experienced for the last few million years.

By 2100, pH levels could, it’s estimated, drop to between 7.7 and 7.8, if we continue to emit CO2 at present rates. A pH of 7.0 is ‘neutral’, so this is significant – it would be the lowest level for 55 million years, when during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM), a sudden die-off of shell-based ocean life forms took place in the space of around 1,000 years. If projections are correct, our extra CO2 emissions will cause a similar demise in a few centuries, with no time for species to evolve or adapt.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The call to mitigate ocean acidification by reducing global carbon emissions is as urgent as ever. The consequences are widespread and cannot be solved by a few nations alone.

Read and be informed and act. 

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Canadians Can't Drink Their Water After 1.3 Billion Gallons Of Mining Waste ... ("unforgiveable sin")

Canadians Can't Drink Their Water After 1.3 Billion Gallons Of Mining Waste ...  ("unforgiveable sin") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it

gThinkProgress
Canadians Can't Drink Their Water After 1.3 Billion Gallons Of Mining Waste ...

A breach in a tailings pond from the open-pit Mount Polley copper and gold mine sent five million cubic meters (1.3 billion gallons) of slurry gushing into Hazeltine Creek in B.C. That’s the equivalent of 2,000 Olympic swimming pools of waste, the CBC reports. Tailings ponds from mineral mines store a mix of water, chemicals and ground-up minerals left over from mining operations.

The flow of the mining waste, which can contain things like arsenic, mercury, and sulfur, uprooted trees on its way to the creek and forced a water ban for about 300 people who live in the region. That number could grow, as authorities determine just how far the waste has traveled. The cause of the breach is still unknown.

“What we know so far is that debris from the tailings pond backed up a little into Polley Lake, which absorbed some of the flow, but the majority of it went down into the Hazeltine Creek,” Al Richmond, chairman of the Cariboo Regional District told the Vancouver Sun. “The creek (used to be) four feet wide. Now it’s 150 feet wide.”

The region is sparsely populated, which makes emergency response difficult — Richmond told the Vancouver Sun that only four people from the region’s volunteer fire department were able to act as first responders to the disaster. Right now, authorities are working to test all waterways for contamination, a process that Richmond said he hopes will take no more than 48 hours. Richmond also said he didn’t know whether or not the spill had been contained.

“The potential long-term impact to waterways, the watershed and roads is huge,” he said.

Bert Guevara's insight:

It would take decades to clean up the mess, if at all possible.

Remember Marinduque's Boac River which is still dead and the mining company not taking responsibility? This is happening all over the planet.

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Worldwide water shortage by 2040 ("hard choices for future water stability; drinking water or energy?")

Worldwide water shortage by 2040 ("hard choices for future water stability; drinking water or energy?") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Water is used around the world for the production of electricity, but new research results show that there will not be enough water in the world to meet demand by 2040 if the energy and power situation does not improve before then.

Two new reports that focus on the global electricity water nexus have just been published. Three years of research show that by the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today. It is a clash of competing necessities, between drinking water and energy demand. 

In most countries, electricity is the biggest source of water consumption because the power plants need cooling cycles in order to function. The only energy systems that do not require cooling cycles are wind and solar systems, and therefore one of the primary recommendations issued by these researchers is to replace old power systems with more sustainable wind and solar systems.

The research has also yielded the surprising finding that most power systems do not even register how much water is being used to keep the systems going.

Combining the new research results with projections about water shortage and the world population, it shows that by 2020 many areas of the world will no longer have access to clean drinking water. In fact, the results predict that by 2020 about 30-40% of the world will have water scarcity, and according to the researchers, climate change can make this even worse.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Drinking water vs. (conventional) energy? We can't have both.

"How to solve the problem?

In the reports, the researchers emphasize six general recommendations for decision-makers to follow in order to stop this development and handle the crisis around the world:

Improve energy efficiencyBetter research on alternative cooling cyclesRegistering how much water power plants useMassive investments in wind energyMassive investments in solar energyAbandon fossil fuel facilities in all water stressed places (which means half the planet)"
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Climate model shows Australia’s rainfall decline due to human-caused climate change ("no other reason")

Climate model shows Australia’s rainfall decline due to human-caused climate change ("no other reason") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
NOAA scientists have developed a new high-resolution climate model that shows southwestern Australia’s long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall is caused by increases in manmade greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion, according to research published today in Nature Geoscience.
[EasyDNNGallery|2254|Width|300|Height|600|position|right|resizecrop|True|lightbox|True|title|True|description|True|redirection|False|LinkText||] “This new high-resolution climate model is able...

NOAA researchers conducted several climate simulations using this global climate model to study long-term changes in rainfall in various regions across the globe. One of the most striking signals of change emerged over Australia, where a long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall has been observed over parts of southern Australia. Simulating natural and manmade climate drivers, scientists showed that the decline in rainfall is primarily a response to manmade increases in greenhouse gases as well as a thinning of the ozone caused by manmade aerosol emissions. Several natural causes were tested with the model, including volcano eruptions and changes in the sun’s radiation. But none of these natural climate drivers reproduced the long-term observed drying, indicating this trend is due to human activity.

Southern Australia’s decline in rainfall began around 1970 and has increased over the last four decades. The model projects a continued decline in winter rainfall throughout the rest of the 21st century, with significant implications for regional water resources. The drying is most severe over southwest Australia where the model forecasts a 40 percent decline in average rainfall by the late 21st century.

“Predicting potential future changes in water resources, including drought, are an immense societal challenge,” said Delworth. “This new climate model will help us more accurately and quickly provide resource planners with environmental intelligence at the regional level. The study of Australian drought helps to validate this new model, and thus builds confidence in this model for ongoing studies of North American drought.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

Scientific studies could not point to other reasons for the drought (ex. volcano eruptions and changes in the sun’s radiation) except human-caused climate change. This is another evidence of the obvious.

"Southern Australia’s decline in rainfall began around 1970 and has increased over the last four decades. The model projects a continued decline in winter rainfall throughout the rest of the 21st century, with significant implications for regional water resources. The drying is most severe over southwest Australia where the model forecasts a 40 percent decline in average rainfall by the late 21st century."

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US water stress may drive energy shift to renewable power ("water-to-energy link vital")

US water stress may drive energy shift to renewable power ("water-to-energy link vital") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
NEWS: Thermoelectric power including gas, coal and nuclear responsible for 40% of US water use
Climate change may drive a shift to more wind and solar power generation, to conserve water, a U.S. Department of Energy report said this week. The report found a risky mutual dependence between water and energy. Energy was needed to pump, treat and transport water, while water was needed to cool electricity generating equipment in thermal power plants such as gas, coal, nuclear and concentrated solar power. Such thermoelectric power accounts for 40% of all U.S. freshwater use. Climate change including more storms and droughts would intensify those mutual risks, the report said. “When severe drought affected more than a third of the United States in 2012, limited water availability constrained the operation of some power plants and other energy production activities,” said the report, “The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities”. “Shifts in precipitation and temperature patterns—including changes in snowmelt—will likely lead to more regional variation in water availability for hydropower, biofeedstock production, thermoelectric generation and other energy needs. Rising temperatures have the potential to increase the demand for electricity for cooling. “These changes and variations pose challenges for energy infrastructure resilience.”
Bert Guevara's insight:
Water-dependent cooling systems of coal, gas and nuclear power plants are now under scrutiny because of water scarcity. The current drought and water stress in many countries of the world is putting into question the sustainability of these conventional power plants. In the Philippines, we are very much dependent on coal and are mulling nuclear power.
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Obama May Make Biggest Marine Sanctuary ("marine conservation makes big stride in Pacific")

Obama May Make Biggest Marine Sanctuary ("marine conservation makes big stride in Pacific") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
And fight seafood fraud.

Obama’s America will potentially expand to a large section of the central Pacific Ocean. The president is set to announce Tuesday a proposal that could create the world’s largest marine sanctuary by barring fishing, energy exploration, and other activities from a swath of the Pacific Ocean. It could also double the area of the ocean that is fully protected. The marine endeavor will also utilize federal agencies to tackle seafood fraud and the global black market for fish. The plan is being led by Secretary of State John Kerry and White House counselor John Podesta. Obama has used executive powers 11 times during his tenure to secure federal lands, most recently to the chagrin of cattle ranchers and Cliven Bundy. Hopefully, tensions with the feds will remain in check before anyone is sleeping with the fishes.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Pres. Obama is on a roll!

After setting his sights on carbon emission limits, now he is setting up a Pacific marine sanctuary. Credits also go to Sec. of State John Kerry and White House counselor John Podesta.

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