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Grabbing Water From Future Generations - Water Grabbers - National Geographic

Grabbing Water From Future Generations - Water Grabbers - National Geographic | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Many of the world's aquifers are being pumped dry to support unsustainable agriculture.

We are used to thinking of water as a renewable resource. However much we waste and abuse it, the rains will come again and the rivers and reservoirs will refill. Except during droughts, this is true for water at the surface. But not underground. As we pump more and more rivers dry, the world is increasingly dependent on subterranean water. That is water stored by nature in the pores of rocks, often for thousands of years, before we began to tap it with our drills and pumps.

We are emptying these giant natural reservoirs far faster than the rains can refill them. The water tables are falling, the wells have to be dug ever deeper, and the pumps must be ever bigger. We are mining water now that should be the birthright of future generations.

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Making the Deep Blue Sea Green Again ("state of the oceans is an urgent international issue")

Making the Deep Blue Sea Green Again ("state of the oceans is an urgent international issue") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
“Our ocean is the first and eternal playground of our children, they don’t go to parks they go to the ocean, they go to the beach, they go to the coral reefs, and all that is just collapsing around them,” Jumeau told IPS. 
The tiny country off the East Coast of Africa is one of 39 UN member states known as small island states, or as Jumeau likes to call them: “large ocean states.” 
Ambassadors and delegations from these 39 countries often speak at UN headquarters in New York steadfastly sounding the alarm about the changes to the world’s environment they are witnessing first hand. Jumeau sees these island states as sentinels or guardians of the oceans. He prefers these names to being called the canary in the gold mine because, he says: “the canaries usually end up dead.” 
Yet while much is known about the threats rising oceans pose to the world’s small island states, much less is known about how these large ocean states help defend everyone against the worst impacts of climate change by storing “blue carbon.” 
“We are not emitting that much carbon dioxide but we are taking everyone else’s carbon dioxide into our oceans,” says Jumeau.
Despite decades of research, the blue carbon value of oceans and coastal regions is only beginning to be fully appreciated for its importance in the fight against climate change. 
“There’s proof that mangroves, seas salt marshes and sea grasses absorb more carbon (per acre) than forests, so if you’re saying then to people don’t cut trees than we should also be saying don’t cut the underwater forests,” says Jumeau.
Mangroves guard against erosion and protect coral reefs. They are also provide nurseries for fish.
Bert Guevara's insight:
In June 2017, which is also Environment Month, there will be a U.N. Ocean Conference to tackle the deteriorating condition of our oceans.
The Philippines has as much stake as any other country on the condition of our oceans, considering its long coastline.

“If you look at the trends right now, you see more and more overfishing, we are seeing more and more pollution, plastic litter coming into our oceans, and we’re also seeing all the stress that the ocean is under due to climate change, acidification of the water, but also the warming and sea level rises and all of this is putting a tremendous, tremendous pressure on our oceans,” said Lövin.
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Dolphin & whale deaths rise 5-fold with 56 mammals washing up on beaches (man-made causes increasing")

Dolphin & whale deaths rise 5-fold with 56 mammals washing up on beaches (man-made causes increasing") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Fifty-six dolphins and whales have washed up on beaches in Ireland so far this year making 2017 the worst on record for such strandings. 

The number of deaths is a fivefold increase on the same period in 2010. They have prompted an unprecedented meeting this week between experts from state marine and wildlife agencies and fishing and trawler organisations to discover what is killing so many of the species. 

Pollution, trawler nets, disease, natural causes and inclement weather are all possible causes for the demise of the marine mammals whose beached bodies are being discovered almost every other day on some part of the coastline. 

Former taoiseach Charlie Haughey famously made Ireland the first whale and dolphin sanctuary in Europe in 1991 during his last term in office but this decade has seen more than 1,000 of the creatures stranding. 

While some die of natural causes like hunger or illness, others bodies bear the tell-tale marks of having been caught in a net but there are no conclusive causes of death as the animals currently don’t undergo an autopsy in Ireland. 

The death toll is heaviest every January and February and it is rising ever year. 

“Every January and February, I see a non-stop stream of dead dolphins coming in all over the country. It’s something we didn’t get to the same level at all before 2011,” he said. 

The numbers have snowballed from around 30 strandings a year at the start of the century to figures of around 200 annually in recent years. If the dolphins or whales are caught up in the giant trawler nets they suffer a terrible death of drowning or being crushed while being towed by the mammoth ships underwater. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
A silent ocean kill is happening that is not properly monitored. Do we care enough for dolphins and whales?

"Pollution, trawler nets, disease, natural causes and inclement weather are all possible causes for the demise of the marine mammals whose beached bodies are being discovered almost every other day on some part of the coastline.
"It is thought the numbers washing up onshore are only a tiny fraction of the mammals caught in nets which are thrown overboard and disappear without a trace at sea. 
“One study suggests as little as 8% of dolphins dying at sea are actually recorded,” said Mr O’Connell."
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Sharks Could Be Resistant To Cancer And Scientists Think They Know Why ("stop shark fin hunting now")

Sharks Could Be Resistant To Cancer And Scientists Think They Know Why ("stop shark fin hunting now") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

The ancient creatures may be even tougher than they look.

At 400 million years old, the shark animal group is one of the oldest on the planet. So it’s no surprise it’s picked up some impressive tricks along the way. 

Scientists know the ancient creatures are super effective wound healers, and they suspect they have a greater resistance to cancer too. 

Now a new study suggests a link between sharks’ natural survival mechanisms and their fine-tuned immune systems, and it could pave the way for new approaches to treatments in humans. 

Researchers identified two immune genes, legumanin and Bag1, which if over-expressed in humans are associated with cancer, but in sharks appear to have been modified as a result of natural selection. 

It’s thought that the protein produced by the genes in sharks may have a new function, potentially protecting the animals from even acquiring cancer.

The Bag1 gene is often involved in inhibiting cells’ death in people, preventing those that are dysfunctional from being eliminated. 

But in sharks it’s suspected that the gene may have evolved to remove its tendency to inhibit programmed cell death. 

“Several studies have demonstrated anti-tumor properties of shark-derived compounds in lab studies,” said Mahmood Shivji, the study’s co-lead and director of Nova Southeastern University’s Save Our Seas Shark Research Center.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The shark that we are killing by the millions (for their fins) may hold the secret to man's longer life. Ocean life holds a lot of undiscovered secrets that were created for man. 
This does not mean we should eat shark meat!

“It’s intriguing that we are now seeing evidence of evolutionary adaptation in these specific shark immunity genes, which just happen also to be involved in promoting cancer in humans,” Shivji added. 
"He said that more research was required to confirm the notion that sharks are more resistant to cancers, stressing that eating shark meat would not cure or prevent cancer. The meat’s high mercury content could even damage our health."
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Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate ("no room for denialism when waters really rise")

Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate ("no room for denialism when waters really rise") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Homeowners are slowly growing wary of buying property in the areas most at risk, setting up a potential economic time bomb in an industry that is struggling to adapt.

Real estate agents looking to sell coastal properties usually focus on one thing: how close the home is to the water’s edge. But buyers are increasingly asking instead how far back it is from the waterline. How many feet above sea level? Is it fortified against storm surges? Does it have emergency power and sump pumps? 

Rising sea levels are changing the way people think about waterfront real estate. Though demand remains strong and developers continue to build near the water in many coastal cities, homeowners across the nation are slowly growing wary of buying property in areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. 

A warming planet has already forced a number of industries — coal, oil, agriculture and utilities among them — to account for potential future costs of a changed climate. The real estate industry, particularly along the vulnerable coastlines, is slowly awakening to the need to factor in the risks of catastrophic damage from climate change, including that wrought by rising seas and storm-driven flooding. 

But many economists say that this reckoning needs to happen much faster and that home buyers urgently need to be better informed. Some analysts say the economic impact of a collapse in the waterfront property market could surpass that of the bursting dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008. 

The fallout would be felt by property owners, developers, real estate lenders and the financial institutions that bundle and resell mortgages.

Over the past five years, home sales in flood-prone areas grew about 25 percent less quickly than in counties that do not typically flood, according to county-by-county data from Attom Data Solutions, the parent company of RealtyTrac. Many coastal residents are rethinking their investments and heading for safer ground.

Bert Guevara's insight:
When sea-level rise begins to affect the real estate industry, then climate reality wakes up the deniers and the apathetic public.
The Philippines, with all its coastlines, is experiencing a higher rate of sea level rise from the Pacific region, compared to other regions of the world. It's time to re-write the textbooks.

"It is not just property owners, buyers and sellers who are struggling to estimate the potential financial impact of climate change on the real estate market. These risks compound as individual mortgages get bundled and sold as securities. In his April report, Mr. Becketti, the Freddie Mac economist, emphasized how difficult it was to predict whether the bubble in coastal real estate would slowly deflate or suddenly pop."
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We cannot survive without our oceans. We must act to save them - now ("primary life support system")

We cannot survive without our oceans. We must act to save them - now ("primary life support system") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

We have a choice. We can degrade the salty water that covers most of our planet or we can steward it in a way that enables it to take care of us.

The oceans of the Earth can exist without us. If we humans become extinct, they won’t even notice we’re gone. We, however, simply cannot exist without our oceans. We need them. They are the primary life support system on Earth, the lungs, climate regulator, and ultimate food factory - connected deeply to each of us and nearly every economic activity that makes our world go round. 

For those old enough to remember - and for the young and curious, too - you may know “Earthrise,” the iconic photograph taken on 24 December, 1968 by a 35-year-old American astronaut and engineer named William Anders as he looked through a small, frosty window of Apollo 8, the first spacecraft to leave Earth’s gravity and orbit the moon. 

From 380,000km away, our spectacular planet appeared as a vulnerable, mostly blue sphere, vividly illustrating their size and importance – they cover some 70% of the Earth with an average depth of four kilometers.

Since then, we’ve explored just 10% of our oceans’ contents. We’ve learnt they provide 99% of the Earth’s living space and contain around 80% of all living organisms. They are the largest space in our universe known to be inhabited by organisms. 

They provide our Earth with a moist, livable climate, full of oxygen from trillions of microscopic plants floating like tiny stars in a watery, immense universe, producing close to 100 million tons of food each year, enough to provide one in every four or five people with their daily protein.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The ignoramus of the human species can kill our lifeline. By mismanaging our oceans, we are killing ourselves.

"Since then, we’ve explored just 10% of our oceans’ contents. We’ve learnt they provide 99% of the Earth’s living space and contain around 80% of all living organisms. They are the largest space in our universe known to be inhabited by organisms. 
"They provide our Earth with a moist, livable climate, full of oxygen from trillions of microscopic plants floating like tiny stars in a watery, immense universe, producing close to 100 million tons of food each year, enough to provide one in every four or five people with their daily protein."
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Dirty Danube: looming pollution threats to world’s most int'l river ("microplastics is new threat")

Dirty Danube: looming pollution threats to world’s most int'l river ("microplastics is new threat") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

After barely surviving decades of pollution during the communist era, the Danube is facing new threats from microplastics, pesticides and pharma waste.

Looking out over the Danube river as it passes through central Budapest, Gabor Farkass, director of Hungarian Plastics Association, bemoans his local authority’s careless attitude to recycling . “There are some sad pictures coming out in the media, because [scientists] check the riverbed, they check inside fish and birds, and they find a load of plastic,” he says. After barely surviving decades of heavy pollution by industries in the communist era, the ecological status of the Danube river has dramatically improved. But threats from new sources of pollution are looming on the world’s most international river, which tracks almost 1,800 miles through 10 countries and four capitals.

The river is seeing a rise in plastic waste, pesticide run off and pharmaceutical waste. But perhaps the biggest difficulty is working out exactly what and where these problems are. The last Joint Danube Survey report by International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) lists the top 20 hazardous substances to the entire river and found that just seven of them are officially reported on. 

“We have a massive lack of information about what kind of pollutants industries are releasing into the Danube,” says Adam Kovacs, technical expert for pollution control at the ICPDR. He says that EU legislation is behind industrial development. 

One of the newer pollution threats is microplastics, which can affect fish and fish larvae that confuse the particles with food sources. A study in Austria last year discovered that 40 tonnes of microplastics, pieces of plastic 5mm or smaller in diameter, are being transported each year through the country’s stretch of the river alone. It found that littering, wind carry and ineffective waste management are key contributors as larger plastic particles in the environment breakdown into smaller microplastics. 

If the synopsis sounds bleak, that’s because it is; despite the apparent urgency there is not yet a standardised scientific methodology for measuring microplastics in environmental samples. Scientists admit they know little about the long-term impacts to the Danube, human health, or the wider natural environment.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The newest threat to marine pollution is microplastics. This is happening worldwide because of the modern consumer products that are draining into our water bodies after use.
Be aware and refrain from using these products.

"One of the newer pollution threats is microplastics, which can affect fish and fish larvae that confuse the particles with food sources. A study in Austria last year discovered that 40 tonnes of microplastics, pieces of plastic 5mm or smaller in diameter, are being transported each year through the country’s stretch of the river alone. It found that littering, wind carry and ineffective waste management are key contributors as larger plastic particles in the environment breakdown into smaller microplastics.
"If the synopsis sounds bleak, that’s because it is; despite the apparent urgency there is not yet a standardised scientific methodology for measuring microplastics in environmental samples. Scientists admit they know little about the long-term impacts to the Danube, human health, or the wider natural environment."
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From thin air, clean drinking water ("solar panel captures water from air and produces potable H2O")

From thin air, clean drinking water ("solar panel captures water from air and produces potable H2O") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Clean drinking water is a desperate need and an elusive commodity in Ecuador’s villages. Despite its plentiful rain, 10 million Ecuadorians don’t have access to potable water. Others spend more money on drinking water than housing. It’s one of the most pressing problems in developing countries. And in developed countries such as the United States, droughts, increasing demand and aging infrastructure have caused shortages and failures many predict will become worse.

Zero Mass Water’s CEO, Cody Friesen – a U.S. scientist whose previous company makes batteries serving as a power source in remote villages in four continents – has developed a system that uses solar panels to produce drinking water from the sun and air.

“The unit has had great reception by the community. The water has been sampled by everybody ... it was very good,” said Segundo Esterilla Yaguachi, a community leader. “They are pleased.” 

Here’s how Source works: The free-standing solar panel uses energy from the sun to capture water vapor from the air to produce, mineralize and deliver clean, drinkable water.

“This is a potentially transformational technology addressing a critical and growing issue for humanity,” Rowand said. “Given the opportunity, Duke Energy is going to help with that. We saw this as a way to understand the technology from a renewable energy standpoint, and its potential to impact lives.” 

Rowand said he sees promise, from both a business and humanitarian perspective, in the solar panel technology.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Such a simple gadget that can change lives of many communities in remote areas with no potable water. There may be a lot of water around you, but can you drink it?

"Here’s how Source works: The free-standing solar panel uses energy from the sun to capture water vapor from the air to produce, mineralize and deliver clean, drinkable water."
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Don't drink nasty tap water or waste money on 1-use water bottles ("1 capsule = 2000 water bottles")

Don't drink nasty tap water or waste money on 1-use water bottles ("1 capsule = 2000 water bottles") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

PuriBloc GoPure water purification pods can purify, alkalize, and sweeten the taste of tap water, avoiding the cost and waste of single-use water bottles.

What if a reusable capsule could purify and freshen tap water? Bloc Enterprises’ PuriBloc GoPure water purification pods aim to help solve two problems: nasty tap water and expensive wasted plastic bottles. 

It’s a localized issue for sure, but many people can’t drink their local tap water, or prefer not to because of color, taste, or odor. According to Ban the Bottle, an organization that isn’t coy about its position on the issue, “Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year.” The same source states that in the U.S., on average, if people drank the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, it would cost $0.49 with tap water but $1,400 with bottled water. 

Available now for pre-order on Fundable, GoPure pods neutralize tap water contaminants and optimize the water’s pH level. Inside a polypropylene capsule, the reusable GoPure pod, which will retail for $25, is capable of treating up to 264 gallons of tap water. That’s the equivalent of 2,000 single-use water bottles. 

According to Bloc Enterprises, the active element in GoPure pods is “an advanced, highly porous ceramic that not only absorbs many soluble and particulate chemical impurities, but also balances pH levels to re-mineralize and alkalize the water.” The ceramic is “made from a special combination of food-grade ingredients that undergo a lengthy firing and sintering process at over 1,000 degrees centigrade. The major structural component is a natural, mineralized material known as Diatomaceous Earth (DE).” The ceramic’s high porosity results in high levels of surface area contact with water. 

You can put the GoPure pod in any container holding up to 3 gallons of water. The company also developed the PuriBlock GoPure Pet, a dome-like structure that attaches to pet water bowls. The GoPure Pet is also included in this crowdfunding campaign. According to Bloc Enterprises, the PuriBloc technology is NSF/ANSI certified. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
This "purification pod" looks promising. We can greatly reduce the amount of plastic water bottles to satisfy our thirst.

"GoPure pods neutralize tap water contaminants and optimize the water’s pH level. Inside a polypropylene capsule, the reusable GoPure pod, which will retail for $25, is capable of treating up to 264 gallons of tap water. That’s the equivalent of 2,000 single-use water bottles."
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Floating bamboo domes could keep urban farms safe from rising seas ("climate resiliency measures")

Floating bamboo domes could keep urban farms safe from rising seas ("climate resiliency measures") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
The Hope Waters Dome project is designed to build resilience in Jamaica, a water-locked nation with major food security issues.
Jamaica's agriculture sector suffers from many woes, including natural disasters that caused $14.4 billion in losses between 1994 and 2010, according to Dinesh Ram, the designer of this innovative floating bamboo dome concept. An noteworthy entrant in Inhabitat's recent Biodesign Competition, the Hope Waters Dome is designed to combat the twin dangers of rising sea levels and food scarcity in the water locked nation, and it could be built using locally-available materials such as bamboo and plastic....
The bamboo frame rests on a platform of recycled plastic material.
The dome would provide 250 square meters of growing space that is safe from rising seas.
The floating dome would also act as a modular meeting space.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Here is an example of climate resilient architecture. The concept is amazingly resourceful with its use of recycled materials. It is actually an urban farm, but doubles up as a recreation spot.
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Ecuador creates Galápagos marine sanctuary to protect sharks ("time to keep ocean safe from man")

Ecuador creates Galápagos marine sanctuary to protect sharks ("time to keep ocean safe from man") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Belgium-sized area around northern islands of Darwin and Wolf will be off-limits for fishing in bid to conserve sharks and unique habitat.

Ecuador has created a new marine sanctuary in the Galápagos Islands that will offer protection to the world’s greatest concentration of sharks. 

Some 15,000 square miles (38,000 sq km) of the waters around Darwin and Wolf - the most northern islands - will be made off limits to all fishing to conserve the sharks that congregate there and the ecosystem on which they rely. 

Several other smaller “no-take” areas have also been created throughout the volcanic archipelago, a biodiversity hotspot around 600 miles (1,000km) off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. 

The announcement of the new reserve, which is the same size as Belgium, means that 32% of the waters around Galápagos will now be protected from fishing and other extractive industries. It will be incorporated into the existing 80,000-square mile marine reserve created in 1998. 

Until now, small-scale local fishing cooperatives had been allowed to operate in the area, but the government says additional protection is now essential as the habitat has come under increased pressure from global warming and incursions by industrial trawlers and illegal shark fin hunters. 

More than 34 different species of shark can be found off the shores of the Galápagos including the largest shark species, the filter-feeding whale shark, the migratory hammerhead shark and the Galápagos shark. 

The world’s shark populations are in steep decline. Scientists estimate that about 100 million sharks are killed every year, representing 6-8% of all sharks and far outstripping the ability of populations to recover.


Bert Guevara's insight:
Nature will heal itself while man stays out of it! Long live the sharks!!!

"The government hopes the new protection will support a breeding ground that can allow sharks to grow to full size and repopulate the world’s oceans. It hopes the shark sanctuary, together with the existing marine reserve, will strengthen international pressure for ocean conservation, action on shark finning and more ambitious action on climate change."
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Once the 4th-Largest Lake in the World, the Aral Sea Is Now Gone ("an example of drier times ahead")

Once the 4th-Largest Lake in the World, the Aral Sea Is Now Gone ("an example of drier times ahead") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

The Dutch parliament voted Thursday night to shutter the nation’s coal industry in order to achieve a 55-percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The vote, which is not yet binding, would require shutting down the five coal power plants currently operating in the Netherlands, three of which just came online in 2015. Slashing CO2 emissions by 55 percent would bring the country’s emissions in line with the targets set by the Paris climate deal last December, and set a strong precedent among European nations for policies to slow the effects of climate change.

The Netherlands’ Liberal and Labour parties led the 77 to 72 vote on September 22, in favor of the 2030 emissions reduction goal. Parliament will next move to get the plan into effect. The decision comes on the heels of the discovery that the nation’s CO2 emissions have jumped 5 percent over the last year, which analysts blame on the three new coal-fired power plants. Turning away from coal power is the fastest and simplest method for drastically reducing emissions over time.

“Closing down big coal plants–even if they were recently opened–is by far the most cost effective way to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement, and all countries will need to take such far-reaching measures,” the Dutch Liberal MP and vice president of the parliament, Stientje van Veldhoven, told the Guardian. “We cannot continue to use coal as the cheapest source of energy when it is the most expensive from a climate perspective.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
Much of the world is either melting or drying up.

"The Dutch parliament voted Thursday night to shutter the nation’s coal industry in order to achieve a 55-percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The vote, which is not yet binding, would require shutting down the five coal power plants currently operating in the Netherlands, three of which just came online in 2015. Slashing CO2 emissions by 55 percent would bring the country’s emissions in line with the targets set by the Paris climate deal last December, and set a strong precedent among European nations for policies to slow the effects of climate change."
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Florida sinkhole leaks radioactive water into local aquifer ("if true, the aquifer is forever doomed")

Florida sinkhole leaks radioactive water into local aquifer ("if true, the aquifer is forever doomed") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

About 215 million gallons of radioactive water have spilled in to the sinkhole in Mulberry, Florida, so far.

About 215 million gallons of radioactive water has been leaked into a massive sinkhole that opened at a fertilizer plant in Mulberry, Fla, threatening the state aquifer. According to abc news, Fertilizer company Mosiac said the sinkhole is about 45-feet wide and 800-feet deep.

The aquifer is the source of drinking water for millions of local residents and empties into springs that Floridians use for recreation.

"Based on the nature of the water loss and what we've learned so far," the sinkhole damaged the liner system at the base of a phosophogypsum stack, Mosaic said on Thursday. "The pond on top of the cell drained as a result" and "some seepage continues." 

The fertilizer company added that it believes the sinkhole reached the Floridian aquifer, and WFTS reported that the company told the station about 215 million gallons of contaminated water used to process fertilizer drained had into the hole.

After learning of the water loss, "Mosaic immediately implemented additional and extensive groundwater monitoring and sampling regimens and has found no offsite impacts," the company said. Additionally, Mosaic "began pumping water out of the west cell" of the affected phosphogypsum stack "into an alternative holding area on site to reduce the amount of drainage." 

The company has also "begun the process of recovering the water" drained through the sinkhole "by pumping through onsite production wells," it said.

Bert Guevara's insight:
When something may go wrong, it will.

Who would have thought that a sink hole will happen under a fertilizer plant and leak radioactive water into the aquifer? Well, here is a case of an foreseen event creating a nightmare for the local population.
If the leak is true, that aquifer is dead!
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Two dead in water riots in India's Silicon Valley ("future water wars begin w/ question of ownership")

Two dead in water riots in India's Silicon Valley ("future water wars begin w/ question of ownership") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Two people have died in ongoing disputes over water in India's Silicon Valley.

Relative calm has been restored to the Indian city of Bangalore following the deaths of two men amid riots over an ongoing water dispute. Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to protesters to exercise restraint and follow the law as a heavy paramilitary presence was deployed Wednesday. Protests began earlier this week over a water sharing deal between the Indian states of Karnataka and neighboring Tamil Nadu.

Tempers have been running high on Karnataka's streets since a September 5 Supreme Court ruling which ordered the state to release 15,000 cubic feet of water per second per day (cusecs) from its reservoirs to relieve drought-stricken farmers in Tamil Nadu. 

Millions of farmers in both states rely on water from the Cauvery River -- which originates in Karnataka and flows into Tamil Nadu before feeding into the Bay of Bengal -- for irrigation. As the monsoon rains wind down in southern India in September, sources of drinking water run short.

Farmers also struggle to meet their farming needs. Tamil Nadu claims it is not receiving enough water and blames Karnataka for holding it in its reservoirs. The latter claims the former is asking for more than it actually needs. 

After rumblings of unrest, the Supreme Court on Monday reduced the level of water that had to be released by Karnataka to 12,000 cubic feet of water per second each day until September 30.

"We are ready to give up our lives but not Cauvery," one protestor screamed, referring to the river that supplies the water to the reservoirs.

Bert Guevara's insight:
This unrest in India is an example of what happens when water runs dry. People become threatened when drinking water supply or irrigation water is threatened.

"We are ready to give up our lives but not Cauvery," one protestor screamed, referring to the river that supplies the water to the reservoirs. 
"Cauvery belongs to Karnataka," the crowd shouted. 
The dispute over Cauvery's waters go back to early 1800, according to government records. The two-century-old disagreement has resulted in multiple settlements in the past, but none has resolved the issue.
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Tiny plastic particles from clothing, tyres clogging oceans, report warns ("new invisible pollutants")

Tiny plastic particles from clothing, tyres clogging oceans, report warns ("new invisible pollutants") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it


GENEVA, Feb 22 — Invisible particles washed off products like synthetic clothing and car tyres account for up to a third of the plastic polluting oceans, impacting eco-systems and human health, a | Life | Malay Mail Online

Unlike the shocking images of country-sized garbage patches floating in the oceans, the microplastic particles that wash off textiles and roadways leave the waterways looking pristine. 

But they constitute a significant part of the “plastic soup” clogging our waters — accounting for between 15 and 31 per cent of the estimated 9.5 million tonnes of plastic released into the oceans each year, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

In its report “Primary Microplastics in the Oceans”, IUCN found that in many developed countries in North America and Europe, which have effective waste management, tiny plastic particles are in fact a bigger source of marine plastic pollution than plastic waste. 

In addition to car tyres and synthetic textiles, such particles stem from everything from marine coatings and road markings, to city dust and the microbeads in cosmetics. 

“Plastic waste is not all there is to ocean plastics,” IUCN chief Inger Andersen said in a statement, insisting that “we must look far beyond waste management if we are to address ocean pollution in its entirety.” 

“Our daily activities, such as washing clothes and driving, significantly contribute to the pollution choking our oceans, with potentially disastrous effects on the rich diversity of life within them, and on human health,” she warned. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
There is a new actor in the problem of marine pollution!

"In its report “Primary Microplastics in the Oceans”, IUCN found that in many developed countries in North America and Europe, which have effective waste management, tiny plastic particles are in fact a bigger source of marine plastic pollution than plastic waste.
“Our daily activities, such as washing clothes and driving, significantly contribute to the pollution choking our oceans, with potentially disastrous effects on the rich diversity of life within them, and on human health,” she warned.
"While microplastics are hard to spot, they can seriously harm marine wildlife and as they enter the global food and water supplies they are believed to pose a significant risk to human health."
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Global warming could lead to toxic fish ("increased toxic mercury levels could affect our seafood")

Global warming could lead to toxic fish ("increased toxic mercury levels could affect our seafood") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Global warming could lead to raised levels of toxic mercury in the fish we eat, new research suggests. Increased rainfall and melting snow and ice is expected to increase the flow of organic matter into aquatic ecosystems in large parts of the northern hemisphere. Research conducted in Sweden predicts that this could lead to a sevenfold increase in the mercury content of zooplankton, tiny marine animals at the base of the ocean food chain.

As the small creatures are eaten by larger ones, the mercury is concentrated until it reaches high enough levels in large fish such as cod to pose a potential risk to human health.

Mercury is a poison that can damage nerves. Children may be especially at risk from exposure to fish-derived mercury while their brains and nervous systems are developing in the womb.

In fish and other sea creatures, the metal is present in an organic form called methylmercury.

The new research shows that organic run-off linked to global warming is likely to encourage the growth of bacteria, which go on to dominate the aquatic food web.

A “heterotrophic” food web based around bacteria generally has more levels of different organisms than an “autotrophic” food web founded on phytoplankton - microscopic ocean plants.

With a greater number of stages, a heterotropic food web may have the effect of increasing mercury concentrations, experts believe.

The predicted higher levels of organic matter run-off were in accordance with climate change scenarios for large regions of the northern hemisphere, including the Baltic Sea, said the scientists.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Even fish are not safe from ocean warming and all the side effects that go along with it. As that happens, our seafood safety is affected.

"Global warming could lead to raised levels of toxic mercury in the fish we eat, new research suggests. Increased rainfall and melting snow and ice is expected to increase the flow of organic matter into aquatic ecosystems in large parts of the northern hemisphere. Research conducted in Sweden predicts that this could lead to a sevenfold increase in the mercury content of zooplankton, tiny marine animals at the base of the ocean food chain. 
"As the small creatures are eaten by larger ones, the mercury is concentrated until it reaches high enough levels in large fish such as cod to pose a potential risk to human health."
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The Great Barrier Coral Reef Is Dying Faster Than Ever ("death happening from Pacific to Caribbean")

The Great Barrier Coral Reef Is Dying Faster Than Ever ("death happening from Pacific to Caribbean") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

The coral bleaching event that struck the Great Barrier Reef earlier this year was the deadliest ever recorded in the region, scientists confirmed this week.

Coral bleaching occurs when a disturbance—in this case unusually warm waters due to El Niño—causes corals to lose their color. The bright organisms can recover under the right conditions, but bleaching events typically lead some to die. More that two-thirds of corals in the northern part of the reef closest to shore, the most affected region, have died in the last nine months, researchers said. Around a quarter died farther offshore in the north.

“The coral is essentially cooked,” James Cook University researcher Andrew Baird, who participated in the survey, told Reuters.

The Great Barrier Reef, perhaps the world’s best known coral reef, is far from the only region hit hard by this year’s bleaching. Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported earlier this year that bleaching had occurred in a greater area than ever before, stretching from the South Pacific to the Caribbean.

Restoring coral reefs is a tall order in a warming climate. Scientists expect bleaching to get more frequent and more severe, even if the world fulfills commitments to limit climate change. And, once reefs are gone, they will not come back.

“If you think of corals as canaries [in a coal mine], they’re chirping really loudly right now,” said Jennifer Koss, NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program director, earlier this year. “The ones that are still alive, that is.

Bert Guevara's insight:
What's the score with our coral reels? As a whole, they are dying, with small pockets of hope.

“The coral is essentially cooked,” James Cook University researcher Andrew Baird, who participated in the survey, told Reuters. ...
“If you think of corals as canaries [in a coal mine], they’re chirping really loudly right now,” said Jennifer Koss, NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program director, earlier this year. “The ones that are still alive, that is.
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Eric Larson's curator insight, December 1, 2016 5:43 PM
Great barrier reef dying?
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Bleached corals in the Pacific have started bouncing back ("amazing resurrection from the dead!!!")

Bleached corals in the Pacific have started bouncing back ("amazing resurrection from the dead!!!") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Small signs of recovery and arrival of new baby coral and fish have left scientists somewhat upbeat about prospects of coral recovery following major bleaching last year.

In a ghost town of dead coral off a remote Pacific island, scientists have found a little more life. 

In excursions a year ago and then last April, scientists examined the normally-stunning coral reefs around the island of Kiritimati and pronounced it mostly a boneyard of dead coral. 

About 85 per cent of the coral was dead, 10 per cent was sick and bleached but still technically alive, and only 5 per cent was doing okay. 

The same scientists returned this month and found that 6 to 7 per cent of the coral is alive and not bleached, says Julia Baum, coral reef scientist from the University of Victoria, in Canada.

“But despite this mass mortality, there are a few small signs of hope,” Baum says. “It’s clear that coral reefs have great resilience and the coral here is trying to recover.” 

Not only has some of the bleached coral recovered, she says, but “there are coral babies that have settled on the reef some time in the last year to year and half and these are the reef’s best hope for recovery”. 

A study published on Thursday in the journal Current Biology goes back more than a million years and finds that even during mass die-offs, coral species are able to rebound. 

Eakin points to Scott reef off western Australia where 12 years after the damaging 1998 El Niño coral die-off, nearly half the original reef revived. But it was damaged again by the recent El Niño. 

Even after the recovery seen at Kiritimati, Baum is wary. 

“It’s like having a patient who is very sick and instead of letting them recover we keep infecting them with more and more illnesses,” Baum says. “There’s only so much that any person – or any natural system – can take.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
New lessons in coral resiliency - they can rise from the dead!

“But despite this mass mortality, there are a few small signs of hope,” Baum says. “It’s clear that coral reefs have great resilience and the coral here is trying to recover.” 
"Not only has some of the bleached coral recovered, she says, but “there are coral babies that have settled on the reef some time in the last year to year and half and these are the reef’s best hope for recovery”.
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Coral recovering?
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EPA Admin defends agency's drinking water plan in event of nuclear emergency ("disaster readiness")

EPA Admin defends agency's drinking water plan in event of nuclear emergency ("disaster readiness") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Gina McCarthy insisted that the nation's water supply will be protected in the aftermath of a nuclear emergency.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency spoke to members of the National Press Club yesterday, addressing concerns over drinking water and public safety. Following reports of a new proposal to allow higher levels of radiation in drinking water, Gina McCarthy insisted that the nation's water supply will be protected in the aftermath of a nuclear emergency. 

"A lot of this information and this concern came out of Japan in the Fukushima incident," McCarthy said, referencing the 2011 earthquake that triggered a tsunami that damaged the cooling system at a nuclear plant, resulting in the release of radioactive chemicals into surrounding water bodies. 

The EPA's most recent Protective Action Guide (PAG 2016) lists three radioactive materials, which, if found to be present in water supplies at maximum levels would require government agencies to provide bottled water or evacuate residents. 

NBC Bay Area reports that when the EPA posted its plan for public review it received 67,404 responses, of which all but six were negative. 

McCarthy stressed that EPA'S policy concerning new levels for radioactive materials in water would only be used in the case of "an apocalyptic scenario following a nuclear disaster." She also stated that the organization would not be changing its current drinking water standards. 

"What we are trying to do is figure out how to actually start transitioning from a case where everybody is in their house and hunkered down, and can't drink drinking water to being able to understand what exposures, in a temporary way, would allow life to continue," she said.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Countries with nuclear power are always living in fear of what happens in case of a nuclear disaster. If the Philippines enters this nuclear energy scenario, we are gambling with our future safety and peace of mind.
No matter how modern nuclear plants are (our BNPP is half a century old), if something can go wrong, it probably will. 
In this article, the US EPA has no other alternative to drinking water problems, other than provide bottled water! - how convenient?
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Sharks are helping the Philippines recover from a typhoon ("hope in ecotourism w/ shark habitat")

Sharks are helping the Philippines recover from a typhoon ("hope in ecotourism w/ shark habitat") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Three years ago, the Philippines was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. In one corner of the country, the people have found a surprising way to recover.

Malapascua, a small island resort that lay right in Haiyan's path, was particularly hard-hit. Buildings were flattened, fishing boats annihilated, and all power and communications lost. To most, it seemed that this once-popular tourist destination was finished. But all hope was not lost: Malapascua still had its thresher sharks.

Thresher sharks are long-tailed creatures that use their tails as whips to stun other fish, making them easier to catch.

All three species of thresher shark are highly migratory, and are found both in high seas and shore waters. They only reproduce slowly, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Pelagic threshers produce just two offspring a year and do not reach sexual maturity until they are around 8 years old. 

Every day, pelagic thresher sharks head to Monad Shoal, a sunken island just off the coast of Malapascua. They have chosen this spot for a good reason, says Alessandro Ponzo, executive director of the Large Marine Vertebrates Project Philippines.

These "cleaning stations" lie along the rocky edge of the sea mount. "The sharks approach the area and hover to allow the fishes to remove the parasites from [their] bodies," he says.

Divers have been coming to the region since 1999 to witness this natural marvel for themselves. Each morning the divers wait on the sea mount edge, 66ft (20m) below the surface, for the sharks to approach. 

"There are no cages or baiting involved in our thresher shark tourism," says Anna Oposa, co-founder of campaign group Save Philippine Seas. "The sharks are there because they come to clean themselves on the reef every day."

Bert Guevara's insight:
This is an amazing story of how shark conservation helped a devastated fishing community recover from hopelessness. Sharks saved this village.

Divers have been coming to the region since 1999 to witness this natural marvel for themselves. Each morning the divers wait on the sea mount edge, 66ft (20m) below the surface, for the sharks to approach. 
"There are no cages or baiting involved in our thresher shark tourism," says Anna Oposa, co-founder of campaign group Save Philippine Seas. "The sharks are there because they come to clean themselves on the reef every day."
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Reforesting Africa's highest mountain could halt severe water shortages - UN Environment - UNEP

Reforesting Africa's highest mountain could halt severe water shortages - UN Environment - UNEP | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

- Rivers begin to dry up as the loss of Mt Kilimanjaro's forests triggers water crisis
- Climate change has destroyed 13,000 hectares of the mountain's forests since 1976 – equivalent to cutting off a year's supply of drinking water for 1 million people
- East Africa's glaciers expected to disappear within a few decades

Reforesting Africa's highest mountain could help protect vital water supplies that are under threat across large parts of East Africa, according to a UN Environment report that looks at the impact of climate change on the region's mountains.

Mt Kilimanjaro's forests are a vital source of water for the surrounding towns and the wider region. Water from the mountain feeds one of Tanzania's largest rivers, the Pangani, providing food, fuel and building materials to much of East Africa.

But higher temperatures as a result of climate change have increased the number of wildfires on the mountain. These fires have destroyed 13,000 hectares of forest since 1976. Because there are now fewer trees to trap water from clouds, the annual amount of dew on the mountain is believed to have fallen by 25 per cent. This drastic decline is equivalent to losing enough drinking water to supply 1 million people every year.

The town of Moshi, which is located in the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro, is already experiencing severe water shortages as rivers begin to dry up, starving farmland of water in an area already struggling to cope with a dramatic drop in rainfall.

It urges Tanzania to protect Mt Kilimanjaro's water catchment area by reforesting the mountain, investing in early warning systems and making climate adaptation a top priority.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Mountain conditions like these are happening in many countries, threatening water supplies. The solution is still basic: PLANT TREES!!!

"- Rivers begin to dry up as the loss of Mt Kilimanjaro's forests triggers water crisis 
- Climate change has destroyed 13,000 hectares of the mountain's forests since 1976 – equivalent to cutting off a year's supply of drinking water for 1 million people 
- East Africa's glaciers expected to disappear within a few decades"
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Research Highlight: Researchers Weather Microplastic to Understand Global Marine Debris Problem

Research Highlight: Researchers Weather Microplastic to Understand Global Marine Debris Problem | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Seabirds with plastic bottle caps and straws in their gut and massive fishing nets drifting like ghosts in remote parts of the ocean are graphic reminders of where plastic trash can end up. Yet according to scientists, tiny plastic particles nearly invisible to the naked eye pose the largest threat to marine life and humans. 
Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego are studying these microplastic particles found floating across the world’s ocean to understand how old they are, where they originated, and how they might move up the food chain into humans. The science behind the plastic trash could help with efforts to reduce plastic pollution reaching the ocean. 
“One plastic bottle eventually disintegrates into many tiny pieces that can be eaten by anything,” said Scripps PhD student Jennifer Brandon. “The real problem in the ocean is happening at a very small scale.” 
Scientists estimate that 90 percent of the marine plastic in the world’s oceans is less than a centimeter in length, and that five trillion pieces of plastic are currently in the ocean, with an estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons more entering every year.
Results from the chemical analysis showed that the plastics collected from the middle of the gyre were considerably older than those obtained from areas closer to the coast. With this data, the researchers were able to confirm that most of the microplastics found in the gyre originated from coastal regions and became permanently trapped in the garbage patch by ocean currents, rather than being dumped there by passing ships. 
“This study helps us get a better picture of what is out there,” said Brandon, a coauthor of the study recently published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin. 
The researchers hope that their micro-scale plastic studies will lead to a better understanding of how these plastics impact the base of the food web, such as larval fish and zooplankton, and also bring more awareness to the bigger marine debris problem—the small stuff.
Bert Guevara's insight:
What we can't see is doing the most damage to marine life. Are you using products with microplastics?

"Scientists estimate that 90 percent of the marine plastic in the world’s oceans is less than a centimeter in length, and that five trillion pieces of plastic are currently in the ocean, with an estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons more entering every year."
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NASA: Megadrought Lasting Decades Is 99% Certain in American Southwest ("living with less water")

NASA: Megadrought Lasting Decades Is 99% Certain in American Southwest ("living with less water") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

A study in Science Advances finds strong evidence for severe, long-term droughts​ afflicting the American Southwest, driven by climate change. A megadrought lasting decades is 99 percent certain to hit the region this century, said scientists from Cornell University, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

"Historically, megadroughts were extremely rare phenomena occurring only once or twice per millennium," the report states. "According to our analysis of modeled responses to increased GHGs, these events could become commonplace if climate change goes unabated." 

Rising temperatures will combine with decreased rainfall in the Southwest to create droughts that will be worse than the historic "Dust Bowl" of the 20th century and last far longer. The Dust Bowl lasted no longer than eight years, and affected 100 million acres around the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and adjacent lands in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. Dust storms swept through large swaths of former farmland, depositing dust as far east as Chicago, New York and Washington. It is estimated that more than half a million people were made homeless, and some 3.5 million Dust Bowl refugees migrated west, in hopes of finding work.

The megadrought study looked at conditions under a 2-degree Celsius level of global warming, 4 degrees and 6 degrees. With 4 degrees of warming, which is the rate the planet is currently heading for, megadroughts are almost a certainty. If the rise in global temperatures is kept to 2 degrees, which is the upper-limit goal of the Paris climate agreement, the risk of megadroughts is between 30 and 60 percent. 

Currently, 62 percent of California—home to 39 million people—is under severe or worse drought conditions. The state is entering its sixth consecutive year of drought, with record-low levels of precipitation and snowpack. Moderate or worse drought covers 45 percent of Arizona and 37 percent of Nevada. The water level in many of California's lakes and reservoirs remains below historic averages.

Bert Guevara's insight:
More drought news! We should learn to live with less water.
"The implications are that the river is already severely depleted and the reservoirs are at near historic lows and all the predictions are that it is going to get worse," said Wockner. "And so people who manage water supplies need to be managing for less water."

"Under the 4-degree scenario plotted by the study, all but the extreme southeast corner of California is at a 90 to 100 percent risk of megadrought. The Colorado River supplies 55 to 65 percent of water for Southern California. ProPublica reported last year that more people are entitled to Colorado River water than the river can supply—or has supplied, on average, for the past 110 years. 
"Much of the water is lost, overused or wasted, stressing both the Colorado system, and trickling down to California, which depends on the Colorado for a big chunk of its own supply," ProPublica reported.
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Are Baby Lobsters In Trouble? Warming Waters, Ocean Acidification Threaten Lobster Industry

Are Baby Lobsters In Trouble? Warming Waters, Ocean Acidification Threaten Lobster Industry | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

A new study warned that lobster industry is awaiting the worst crisis as rising ocean warming and acidifications are threatening baby lobsters with a special reference to the Gulf of Maine.

Rising sea water temperature in the Gulf of Maine is posing a big threat to the survival of baby lobsters and there will be bad economic consequences for industry stakeholders. 

This was revealed in a newly published research by the University of Maine Darling Marine Center (DMC) and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. 

Published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science, the study explains how larvae of American lobster is affected by ocean acidification and ocean warming. 

Noting that acidification is still not a serious threat to the survival of young lobsters, the study highlighted the struggle larvae faced when exposed to water 3 degrees Celsius higher than the normal water temperature in the Gulf of Maine. 

For the study, the researchers raised 3,000 baby lobsters as soon as they were hatched. 

"They developed twice as fast as they did in the current temperature of 16 C (61 F), and they had noticeably lower survival," said Jesica Waller, lead author and a graduate student at the DMC.

Concerns are high as the fortunes of Gulf of Maine are under threat. The lobster population was up in the past 20 years. In 2015, Maine lobstermen had a record catch of $495.4 million worth of lobsters. 

Lobster exports from Maine have zoomed $103 million in the first six months of 2016. The largest beneficiaries of Maine lobsters were the U.S. fishermen who had a catch of more than 100 million pounds. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
For lobster lovers, ocean warming is bad news.

"Noting that acidification is still not a serious threat to the survival of young lobsters, the study highlighted the struggle larvae faced when exposed to water 3 degrees Celsius higher than the normal water temperature in the Gulf of Maine.
"There is already a forecast by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that Maine's temperature will increase 5 degrees more by 2100. Experts said the study is a wake-up call."
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Chinese poachers destroyed coral reefs in Spratly, Pag-asa islands ("all happening in the open sea")

Chinese poachers destroyed coral reefs in Spratly, Pag-asa islands ("all happening in the open sea") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Marine biologist John McManus said Chinese poachers had been using the propellers on their boats to destroy coral reefs at disputed islands Spratyls and Pag-asa, referred to as Thitu in China. 

"I looked at the historical satellite imagery and found out that in every single case where they built their islands, a few years before, there had been the giant clam fishers who had used their boats to dig up the reef flat, killing all the corals," McManus said in a report by Maki Pulido for "News To Go" on Friday.

According to data, coral bleaching and reef scarring are evidence of systematic crushing through repeated scratching or scraping by Chinese poachers to harvest giant clams. 

McManus added that aside from discovering the poaching method, the data also links the destruction of the corals to China's construction of artificial islands. 

"They said their scientists went there. They looked around and they say 'Oh, this is all dead coral.' It was! It's the truth—it had been killed by the Chinese fishers," he said.

McManus is pushing for a large Spratly Island International Peace Park, which would be managed together by concerned countries. 

"There has to be coordination of fisheries management and coral reef management across the whole South China Sea or it will collapse," he said. 

Peace parks have already been established in parts of Africa and on the Red Sea between Israel and Jordan. 

The Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959 to turn Antarctica into a scientific preserve and to ban military activity in the continent, is an early example of an agreement between seven countries with overlapping territorial claims. It is also proof that territorial disputes do not need to end in armed conflict and violence. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
This rape of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is irreversible! Something has to be done.

"I looked at the historical satellite imagery and found out that in every single case where they built their islands, a few years before, there had been the giant clam fishers who had used their boats to dig up the reef flat, killing all the corals," McManus said in a report by Maki Pulido for "News To Go" on Friday.
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Expedition to study scale of microplastics on Atlantic's smallest creatures ("tiny particles' havoc")

Expedition to study scale of microplastics on Atlantic's smallest creatures ("tiny particles' havoc") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Scientists will sail from the UK to the Falkland Islands to study the level of microplastic pollution on tiny zooplankton at the bottom of the food chain

Scientists will set off from the east coast of England this week to journey thousands of miles across the Atlantic to discover how bad the problem of the oceans’ tiniest creatures eating microplastics has become. 

Zooplankton are essential for the marine food web right up to the fish we eat, and are known to be more likely to die and be worse at reproduction after eating the minuscule pieces of plastic. 

But researchers still do not have a clear picture of exactly how prevalent the pollution has become in the wild. The Atlantic Meridional Transect expedition, due to leave the Port of Immingham on Tuesday, will travel to the middle of the Atlantic and then head south before cutting across to the Falkland Islands to shed light on how widespread microplastics are in zooplankton. 

“Studies have proven that zooplankton suffer side effects from ingestion of microplastics: increased mortality, not as successful at reproducing. In other species, there is a change in behaviour that makes them more vulnerable to predation. Basically it’s not good for them, they’re going to die,” said Madeleine Steer at Plymouth University, who will be aboard the RRS James Clark Ross for the 46-day voyage. 

“But there’s not much work that’s been done looking at the bottom of the food chain in the wild, and how microplastics affect them. We need to see the prevalence [of microplastics] in zooplankton.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
One serious plastic problem is the one that we can't see, especially in water.

"Microplastics have become an increasingly high profile environmental problem. The UK government followed the US earlier this month when it said it would ban a subset of them, known as microbeads, from some household products."
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