CO2 Benefits the “Rats and Cockroaches” of Marine World
Ocean acidification may be driving a cascade of changes that drains marine biodiversity
By Adam Aton, ClimateWire on July 7, 2017
Beneath the waves, swelling levels of carbon dioxide could be boosting some species to ecological dominance while dooming others.
A study published yesterday in Current Biology suggests ocean acidification is driving a cascading set of behavioral and environmental changes that drains oceans’ biodiversity. Niche species and intermediate predators suffer at the expense of a handful of aggressive species.
Sea-level rise and coral bleaching often dominate discussions about how climate change affects the ocean, but a host of more subtle—and harder to research—trends also play a role in reshaping the world’s marine ecosystems. Among the most pressing questions is how fish react to rising levels of CO2, said Tom Bigford, policy director at the American Fisheries Society.
“The hurdles for behavioral changes are far lower than the hurdles for life and death,” said Bigford, who worked with fish habitats at NOAA for more than three decades.
Now, for the first time, researchers from the University of Adelaide in South Australia have cataloged the changing ways marine species interact with each other.
For three years, they observed marine environments near undersea volcanic vents where CO2 levels are high—providing a window into the future acidity of ocean water—along with adjacent areas of normal acidity. They also conducted behavioral experiments on fish from the different zones to test their responses to food and habitat competition.
Receding kelp means less habitat for intermediate predators, with about half as many near the volcanic vents.
But the acidified conditions proved to be a boon to what the researchers called “the marine equivalent to rats and cockroaches”—small fish with low commercial or culinary value.
Snails and small crustaceans can flourish in high-CO2 conditions, providing plenty of prey for those small fish. And their high risk-taking behavior and competitive strength, coupled with the collapse of predator populations, allowed them to more than double their population.
In water with higher CO2, the dominant species were willing to adapt to riskier habitats, preferring bare surfaces instead of turf while subordinate species were nearby.
Mimicked predator attacks also showed the dominant species adopted riskier behavior in higher-acidity water, fleeing shorter distances than the fish in water with normal acidity. Subordinate species showed no change.
Rare and specialist species are the most vulnerable to climate change, even though they “contribute disproportionately to [ecosystems’] functional diversity,” the researchers wrote.
To counter that diversity loss, the researchers suggested stronger fishing protections for predators.
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Attention, people of earth: we have a serious plastic problem. In just 30 years, global plastic production has jumped over 320 percent, which equates to about 300 million tons of plastic pieces coming into circulation every year. If imagining what 300 million tons of plastic looks like isn’t enough to boggle your mind, here’s another scary fact: over 85 percent of that plastic is never recycled. It makes its way from the factories to the stores to our homes, and then, way more often than not, it ends up in landfills instead of the recycling bin. To make matters worse, it doesn’t stay in landfills. Studies have shown that 80 percent of marine trash is land-based and 90 percent of that trash is plastic. Once plastic ends up in the ocean, the world’s marine animals are stuck with it. It can take thousands of years for plastic to break down, and when it does, it only breaks into small pieces known as microplastics.
These facts are some heavy realities to process but in spite of that, we can all do something to help. In fact, one little boy took his passion for recycling and turned it into a business that benefits the planet.
In 2012, after visiting the local recycling center in Orange County, California, Ryan decided that recycling would be his future. He was three-years-old at the time.
According to the Ryan’s Recycling website, “The day after going to the recycling center, Ryan notified his mom and dad that he wanted to give empty plastic bags to all the neighbors and maybe they would save their recyclables for him.” Soon he had a bonafide consumer-base made up of neighbors and community members.
He collects and sorts plastic, glass, and tin items then takes them over to the recycling center. Ryan is using the money he’s made from customers to save for his future college education (you really have to get a head start these days).
Ryan has also become a Youth Ambassador for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) in Laguna Beach. Currently, over 700 marine species are threatened with extinction, so this rescue organization can use all the help they can get. All proceeds from Ryan’s Recycling t-shirts go to help PMMC’s volunteer efforts.
It’s amazing that at such a young age, Ryan is committed to sticking to a regular recycling schedule. He spends a portion of each week sorting recyclables that have been donated by friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers of neighbors and he and his family make weekly trips to the center. So far, he has recycled over 200,000 bottles and cans and donated $1,624 to charity. This kid sure knows how to #CrushPlastic! To learn more about Ryan’s Recycling, visit the official website.
While efforts are being made to remove debris from the oceans, improve recycling systems, and innovate barriers to prevent plastic from getting into waterways, we can all take action in our daily lives to stop plastic waste at the source.
If we all make an effort to identify where we use plastic and actively look for alternatives, we can drastically cut down on the amount of plastic pollution that finds its way into the oceans.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
When we start to look for it, we quickly find there is a literal sea of distressing environmental news flooding our phones and computers every day. Seeing this deluge of negativity, it’s easy to start to lose faith. But the winners of the Bow Seat’s 2016 Ocean Awareness Contest reminds us that we have the power and the creativity to change the course of our oceans’ fate. Bow Seat is an organization dedicated to, “inspire[ing] the next generation of ocean caretakers through education and engagement with the arts, science, and advocacy.” As a part of this mission, Bow Seat hosts The Ocean Awareness Contest. Every year, they ask middle schoolers and high schoolers across the world to submit a piece of artwork addressing ocean pollution and the challenges we face going forward. They say a picture is worth 1000 words, and these images speak volumes. Here are a few of some of the compelling pieces centered around ocean plastics from the 2016 winners.
This piece is titled, “Message in a Bottle” by Jessica Yang. It shows how the 40 billion plastic bottles we put in landfills every year make their way into our oceans and affect marine life.
We have a responsibility to future generations to maintain our most precious resource. These children clearly see the danger plastic poses to our oceans and marine life – we owe it to both these young ones and animals to stop our reckless behavior and prevent plastic pollution. Join One Green planets #CrushPlastic movement to learn about easy ways that you can help to save our planet’s oceans and the animals that live in them.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
One Green Planet
Imagine you’re taking a day to relax on the beach. There’s a warm, gentle breeze rustling your voluminous, freshly-washed hair –you pretty much look like a super model. You reach for a chip and hear the crinkle of cellophane mixing with the hypnotic sounds of the surf crash against the beach. As the sun presses down on your oiled bronzing skin, you grab your water bottle feel the cool plastic, slick from perspiration, beneath your palm as you take a swig of the ice cold water. Now imagine a 37-foot sperm whale washing up dead at your feet on the beach. Back to reality . . .
A juvenile sperm whale recently washed up dead on a beach of the Davao Gulf just outside of a resort in Samal, located in the Philippines. The autopsy revealed that the whale had, “large amounts of plastic trash, fishing nets, hooks and even a piece of coco lumber in its stomach,” and experts believe the cause of death for this majestic creature was choking on plastic. Seems a little crazy that such a mammoth whale could be taken down by plastic, but this is not the first time this has happened. Of the 54 whale deaths that have been reported in the Davao Gulf, only four of them can be attributed to natural causes. That means that 50 whales have died because of human industry and pollution. This is unacceptable, but how do we stop these senseless deaths?
The Next Time You Use Disposable Plastics – Think of a Dead 37-Foot Sperm Whale
So think back to your fictional day on the beach. Did you know that 18,000 tons of shampoo bottles are thrown out every year? Or that 40 billion plastic bottles end up in landfill every year. We generate around 8.8 million tons of plastic waste annually and only 15 percent of it is recycled – the majority of it makes it back into our oceans. From there it makes it into the stomachs and throats of marine life like the young sperm whale in this picture. Plastic pollution chokes, cuts, and entangles marine life and is currently endangering 700 different species with extinction around the world. So the next time you’re fantasizing about your perfect day, cut disposable plastics out of the picture, and while you’re at it – cut them out of your real life as well. Join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign to learn about how you can stop plastic pollution at the source. Stop daydreaming about saving the world and start doing it.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
Photographs of Mermaids Trapped in Plastic Depict the Plight of Marine Animals
One Green Planet
December 14, 2016
Every day as activists, we struggle to make our causes appealing to the masses. Saving puppies from the side of the road is heartwarming and rescuing a baby rhino from the poachers who murdered his mother is inspiring. While these impressive rescues are important, the little things we do in our daily lives can also have a huge impact on conservation efforts. Bringing your own water bottle to work or your own bag to the grocery store doesn’t sound as exciting as saving an elephant – but it should. Benjamin Von Wong, an artist focused on conservation issues, is making plastic pollution exciting with his newest series of photographs.
Von Wong was terrified when he learned there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. So he started to wonder, “how do you get people to talk about something that is ordinary, ugly, and boring?” The answer he landed on? Mermaids … obviously. He organized dozens of volunteers to help him collect and delaminate more than 10,000 plastic bottles and started to create his surreal vision. Von Wong wanted to humanize the very real danger that marine life is put in by our thoughtless use of plastic products and what better way to do this than with half-fish people trapped in a sea of plastic bottles. He was as excited about the project as we are and told the
He organized dozens of volunteers to help him collect and delaminate more than 10,000 plastic bags and started to create his surreal vision. Von Wong wanted to humanize the very real danger marine life experiences as a result of our thoughtless use of plastic products – and what better way to do this than with half-fish people trapped in a sea of plastic bottles? He was as excited about the project as we are and told the CBC news, “How do you generate a conversation over stories people don’t want to talk about? I think art and beauty are the way to do that.” And these images are incredibly beautiful. So what should the conversation be?
Over the past 30 years, plastic production has increased by 620 percent but only 15 percent of these plastics are recycled.
Over 700 different species face extinction from to the hazards caused by plastic pollution: entanglement, ingestion, and toxicity.
Von Wong hopes that these images will inspire people to start cutting back on plastics in their day to day lives.
You can help the marine life treated by plastic waste by signing Von Wong’s petition to reduce the amount of plastic you consume. You can also join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign where we outline easy ways that you can help to #Crushplastic and save our oceans. Here are a few to start you out.
Bring your own, reusable water bottle with you when you leave the house.
Always bring your own bag with you to the grocery store and if you forget, go with a paper bag.
Politely refuse plastic utensils and instead, bring your own from home
For more great tips check out the #CrushPlastic page here.
Image source: Benjamin Von Wong
Please act now and sign the petition ~ submissions will close on Monday the 7th of November,2016
Summary September 19, 2016
Fiscal Year 2017
Once again, the Republican leadership, especially in the House, is advancing a Big Polluter Agenda to undermine just about every basic environmental protection current law provides to the American people. It appears no environmental law is safe from the demands of corporate polluters and their cheerleaders in the Republican Party.
The Republican Leadership is trying to force this Big Polluter Agenda on the public through provisions in must-pass spending bills. These provisions are called “riders” because they ride along on unrelated legislation. Riders that are typically tacked onto a spending bill, for example, would not change federal spending by one cent. Instead, riders are used to sneak through legislative changes that would be difficult to pass on their own in open congressional debate. Riders often result in the measures getting less scrutiny and enable their sponsors to avoid responsibility for pushing them. And they can be harder to veto because of all the unrelated items surrounding them. In the past, spending riders have led to government shutdowns when intransigent Republicans were unwilling to fund the government without restricting environmental protection.
But polling clearly shows strong public support for environmental protection. That’s why the Republican leadership uses riders – they know how hard it would be to prevail on a clean yes-or-no vote directly on environmental and public health protections. Republican leaders have learned little after forcing a government shutdown that Standard & Poor’s says cost the nation $24 billion. They are again threatening damage to America’s families, communities, and economy as they strive to reverse many years of progress.
These are the riders that have been added so far to the spending bills for fiscal year 2017, which begins October 1. We include section numbers to indicate where these riders are found in the corresponding legislation. In some cases, we include amendment numbers for riders that were voted into legislation but have not yet been assigned section numbers. This page will be updated as the appropriations process plays out in the House and Senate.
Clean Air & Climate Change
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (p.83) requires all biomass burned for electricity production to be considered to have zero carbon pollution despite the fact that emissions from wood biomass are often higher than those from coal. This language threatens the long term health of forests by encouraging the burning of trees to generate electricity, and worsens climate change by pretending climate-changing emissions don’t exist. A similar rider was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 414).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 127) added by Rep Culberson (R-TX) prevents new air quality protections that under development by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM). The new rules will improve air quality for coastal communities by updating decades old standards and require better pollution controls for offshore sources.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 417) permanently prevents the EPA from limiting pollution from livestock production under the Clean Air Act. A similar rider was added to the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 420).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 418) prevents the EPA from requiring the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems. A similar rider was added to the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 421).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 431) prevents EPA from limiting carbon pollution and implementing the first-ever carbon pollution standards for new and existing fossil fuel power plants.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 434) blocks EPA’s ability to set standards curtailing use of super-polluting hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants and foam blowing agents. HFCs are potent greenhouse gases that have thousands of times more impact on climate change, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide. Companies are making safer alternatives, but the rider would allow unlimited growth in these outmoded and dangerous pollutants. The rider would also damage the United States’ international credibility and frustrate efforts – supported by industry – to negotiate a global HFC phase-out under the Montreal Protocol.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 436) blocks EPA from considering of the costs of carbon pollution on the rest of the world. It bars the government from assessing and weighing the full costs of extreme weather or other climate impacts caused by our pollution, and the full benefits of any actions to improve energy efficiency or clean up carbon pollution. We want Europe and China to be responsible for the harms their emissions impose, so it’s only right for us to consider the effects of our carbon pollution on others.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (sec. 438) delays EPA’s latest health standards for ground-level ozone (smog) pollution for ten years, preventing Americans from even having the right to know if the air they breathe is unhealthy for ten years and severely delaying cleanup steps. The rider also would let corporations that apply for air pollution permits pollute at levels that are unsafe under national health standards.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 439) prevents EPA from addressing methane emissions from sources in the oil and natural gas sector under Sections 111(b) or (d) of the Clean Air Act. This includes the recently finalized new and modified methane source standard and an as yet to be proposed standard for existing sources of methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, including a recently initiated process by EPA to obtain data for existing methane sources. The rider also blocks yet to be finalized Draft Control Techniques Guidelines that would control emissions of volatile organic compounds for the oil and natural gas industry.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Perry (R-PA) rolls back the Clean Air Act and blocks any potential plan to address climate change. Instead of listening to the national security experts, faith leaders, scientists, energy innovators, health professionals and many others who are sounding the alarm on climate change and have implored our nation’s elected officials to support action, this amendment simply seeks another way to say “no.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Ratcliffe (R-TX) blocks a proposed, voluntary program that encourages and rewards early action to reduce carbon pollution, something many states and power companies have asked for as EPA developed the Clean Power Plan. In addition to providing incentives for clean energy technologies like wind and solar, the program would provide a double credit for energy efficiency investments in low-income communities. By releasing the Clean Energy Incentive Program proposed rule and taking public comment, EPA is doing the prudent thing by continuing to work with those states, power companies, and stakeholders that are continuing to plan for future Clean Power Plan implementation.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation offered by Rep. Gosar (R-AZ) blocks work on the Department of Energy’s Climate Model Development and Validation Program.
A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 419) attempts to waste resources and thwart progress by requiring the Administration to submit a report to the congressional Appropriations committees describing all Federal agency funding for climate change programs, projects, and activities in fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
A rider in the Senate Energy and Water appropriation committee report (Committee Report, p. 62) would block any Department of Energy regulation in FY17 that analyzes the impact of the rule on carbon emissions until EPA revises its “social costs of carbon assessment” downward in a biased fashion. A similar rider was added to the House Energy and Water appropriation (H. Amdt. 8) by Rep Gosar.
A rider in the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriation (Sec. 236) blocks the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from updating its standards for publicly funded construction to better avoid flood damage. In order to update the standard, the rider requires HUD to perform the Herculean task of mapping every floodplain in the United States; a task that is highly cost prohibitive. This requirement is just a ploy to stop implementation of the federal flood protection standard. It is a myopic action that will harm our country in the long-run as the federal flood protection standard is meant to increase our resilience to future flooding and reduce the amount of federal tax dollars spent to rebuild after a disaster.
A rider in the House Defense appropriation (Sec. 8132) would prevent the Department of Defense from enforcing Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. EISA Section 526 is a do no harm provision that simply requires high carbon unconventional fuel producers to capture and store their excess carbon before launching their projects through federal awards. It simply ensures that federal contractors reduce the damage they inflict on taxpayers before benefitting from public funds. Taxpayer accountability is an extremely fair thing to ask.
An amendment added to the House Defense Appropriation by Rep Buck (R-CO) would discourage the Department of Defense from making its military installations and the military industrial complex more resilient to weather related disasters. It prevents the Department of Defense from assessing the impacts of climate change despite global warming’s long acknowledged role as a security threat multiplier. Many military installations are exposed to worsening weather driven events, yet the amendment elevates climate denial over national security.
A rider in the House Financial Services and General Government appropriation (Sec. 745) would unnecessarily delay implementation of new measures to protect public infrastructure from flooding. The rider requires every agency responsible for incorporating the new requirements into their regulations and operating procedures to hold a six-month long public comment period on any proposed regulation, policy, or guidance to implement the executive order. The opportunity for public comment must and should happen, but requiring a minimum of 180 days for public comment is just a blatant attempt to delay implementation until the next Administration. It is not about ensuring public participation and transparency. This sleight-of-hand political maneuvering only serves to harm the American public. The federal flood protection standard is meant to increase our resilience to future flooding, protecting lives and reducing taxpayer dollars spent to rebuild after a disaster.
A rider in the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriation (Sec. 1228) offered by Rep Posey would block guidance designed to better inform the public, shareholders and policymakers of the potential risks of climate change to businesses. Climate change can pose a wide variety of risks to a business from loss of assets to broader implications on market trends; disclosure of those potential business risks provides important information for both investors and policymakers. Ignoring the effects of climate change will not make them go away.
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Clean Energy & Energy Efficiency
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (H. Amdt. 33) offered by Rep. Burgess (R-TX) blocks the Department of Energy (DoE) from implementing and enforcing common sense energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. These standards were passed by a bipartisan majority, enacted in 2007 and gradually phased in over the past two and a half years. By all reasonable measures the transition has been a success, and efficient incandescent bulbs are among the variety of choices available for consumers. Continuing the rider will prevent DoE from issuing clarifications on the law that manufacturers desire or enforcing the standards against inefficient, non-compliant bulbs.
A rider in House Energy and Water appropriation offered by Rep. Buck (R-CO) prevents the Department of Energy from finalizing or enforcing energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans, ceiling fan light kits, dishwashers, and vending machines.
A rider in House Energy and Water appropriation offered by Rep. Stivers (R-OH) prevents the Department of Energy from doing anything to further the Cape Wind Project off the coast of Massachusetts.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation offered by Rep. Sanford (R-SC) prevents the Department of Energy from making loans under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. This program is designed to ensure that growing demand for efficient vehicles creates jobs in the United States.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation offered by Rep. Mullin (R-OK) prevents the Department of Energy from promulgating any regulation with an annual effect of over $100 million between November 8, 2016 and January 20, 2017. This rider continues the false narrative that public protections are snuck through in the final hours of an administration. In fact, these protections are often developed over years with opportunity for public comment at numerous points along the way.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 505) would prevent the government from shutting down the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
A rider in the Senate Energy and Water Appropriation (Sec. 306) would allow nuclear waste to be stored in private facilities. The rider severs any meaningful linkage between the storage and disposal of nuclear waste by exploring storage as a viable option for dealing with nuclear waste from the nation’s weapons programs and nuclear power plants. This dangerous precedent breaks with over 50 years of scientific consensus that supports permanent isolation in deep geological repositories as the only technically, economically, and ethically viable waste disposal option. The substantial distinction between nuclear waste storage and nuclear waste disposal must be preserved and never be blurred.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Black (R-TN) prevents EPA from applying vehicle efficiency and carbon pollution standards to heavy duty truck rebuilds. The amendment would unnecessarily perpetuate pollution and oil dependence by weakening heavy duty vehicle fuel economy standards.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Loudermilk (R-GA) prevents EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from heavy duty truck trailers. Medium and heavy duty vehicles represent a disproportionate share of transportation emissions. New EPA-NHTSA standards for medium and heavy duty vehicles can reduce these emissions with known and available technology, including efficiency improvements to trailers. These measures will help the nation slow climate change and reduce its reliance on oil. Congress should reduce our oil dependency rather than perpetuate it.
An amendment added to the House Defense Appropriation by Rep McClintock (R-CA) prevents the Department of Defense from implementing common sense clean energy and energy efficiency programs that are encouraged through Executive Order and statute even though the Department of Defense could benefit from minimizing energy demand and diversifying energy sources.
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A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 118) unnecessarily diverts funding away from real solutions for restoring the health of California’s Bay-Delta estuary to hatcheries. Scientists and conservation groups agree that conservation hatcheries do not address the underlying environmental problems that must be solved in order to save Delta Smelt and other native species in California’s Bay-Delta estuary. In fact, hatcheries in California have not prevented the decline of native salmon populations.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 120) blocks the Department of Interior (DOI) from developing or implementing safeguards designed to protect streams from pollution from surface coal mining. A similar rider was added to the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 121).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 425) permanently prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from updating the definition of “fill material” or “discharge of fill material,” allowing the mining industry to continue dumping toxic waste from mountaintop removal activities into mountain streams.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 426) exempts pollutant discharges that Congress intended to be covered by the Clean Water Act. These discharges damage or destroy streams and wetlands without adequate environmental review, even though the Clean Water Act would otherwise require such oversight.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 427) permanently prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from clarifying which streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. Blocking EPA’s updated Clean Water Rule would threaten those waters, which help supply one in three Americans’ drinking water and trap flood water.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 433) undermines management of federal lands and waters by unreasonably limiting the ability of federal agencies to condition permits to protect fish and wildlife, including endangered species. Last year the White House noted that an identical measure was unnecessary and would preclude management agencies from protecting the public interest. Furthermore it would prevent land management agencies from maintaining sufficient water for other congressionally-designated purposes and ensuring water rights are tied to the activities for which they were developed.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 447 and Sec. 448) added by Rep Valadao (R-CA) would harm endangered and native fish species, threaten thousands of fishing jobs, and upend water usage in California. It overrides protections required under two Endangered Species Act biological opinions regarding management of the state and federal water projects in California’s Bay-Delta estuary, mandating pumping levels far in excess of what is required to protect salmon and other native fish under the Endangered Species Act. It prohibits implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration settlement between the United States, Friant Water Authority, and conservation and fishing groups to restore the river as required under state and federal law, which is likely to lead to further litigation and eliminate funding for water supply and flood control projects. It further requires the Department of the Interior to increase unsustainable water supply allocations to certain Central Valley Project contractors north of the Delta and reduces reservoir releases in order to provide greater water supply to certain Central Valley Project contractors at the expense of the environment and water deliveries to Southern California.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Pg. 83) forces EPA to continue using Safe Drinking Water Act aquifer exemption rules that have allowed for the contamination of underground sources of drinking water. These rules are used to exempt underground sources of drinking water from the protections of the Act, and have led to approval of aquifer exemptions without scientifically-defensible evidence about water quality, demand for groundwater, the rapid depletion of aquifers in many states, the extent to which climate change is likely to exacerbate these problems, improved technologies for water treatment to use brackish groundwater as a drinking water source, and advances in our scientific and technical understanding of groundwater contaminant fate and transport.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Crawford (R-AR) prevents EPA from enforcing or implementing oil spill prevention requirements on farms, irrespective of the amount of oil they store. This approach is nonsensical, in view of the fact that oil spills are no less dangerous to waterways when they come from agricultural operations. The amendment also ignores a study Congress directed EPA to undertake, which identified a “lack of evidence that farms are inherently safer than other types of facilities,” and it ignores the fact that farms already are treated more leniently than other facilities under this program.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Gosar (R-AZ) blocks completion or public distribution of an important EPA-USGS technical report that describes the environmental effects of water flow alteration and how states can manage those effects under existing law.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 108) prevents the Army Corps of Engineers from changing the definition of “fill material” or related definitions. This perpetuates the Bush-era redefinition, which treated all kinds of solid material, except garbage, as fill and undid a prior regulatory limitation on discharging other material primarily for the purpose of getting rid of waste. As a result, the rider prohibits action to curtail the use of the nation’s waters as waste dumps for polluting activities like mountaintop removal coal mining.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 109) prevents the Army Corps of Engineers from requiring a permit “for the activities identified in subparagraphs (A) and (C) of section 404(f)(1)”. This has been interpreted as reinforcing existing Clean Water Act exemptions for discharges of dredged or fill material associated with farming, ranching, and forestry.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 110) prohibits the Army Corps of Engineers from developing, implementing, or enforcing any change to the regulations and guidance” in effect concerning the meaning of “waters of the United States” in the Clean Water Act prior to the Clean Water Rule’s development. The rider would undermine a critically needed, long-overdue, overwhelmingly supported, and scientifically sound rule that protects drinking waters for roughly one in three Americans. The rider also potentially interferes in the judicial process and ongoing litigation around the rule.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 204) restricts implementation of two Endangered Species Act biological opinions regarding management of the state and federal water projects in California’s Bay-Delta estuary, making it harder to reduce water pumping to protect salmon and other endangered species under those biological opinions.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 205) overrides protections required under two Endangered Species Act biological opinions regarding management of the state and federal water projects in California’s Bay-Delta estuary. The rider mandates pumping levels outside of the Delta far in excess of the maximum limits permitted under those biological opinions, prohibits re-initiation of consultation under the Endangered Species Act, and prohibits implementation of the biological opinions if doing so would reduce water supply.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 206) requires the Department of the Interior to attempt to increase unsustainable water supply allocations to certain Central Valley Project contractors north of the Delta.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 207) prohibits implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration settlement between the United States, Friant Water Authority, and conservation and fishing groups to restore the river as required under state and federal law. This would prevent funding for water supply and flood control projects that benefit local farmers, and likely lead the parties back to court because it would allow some 60 miles of California’s second longest river to remain completely dry in violation of state law.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 209) attempts to undermine environmental protections for salmon and water quality on the Stanislaus River, reducing reservoir releases in order to provide greater water supply to certain Central Valley Project contractors at the expense of the environment and water deliveries to Southern California.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Lummis (R-WY) prevents EPA’s common sense proposal to monitor groundwater where in-situ uranium mining takes place. These increasingly common mining activities threaten to contaminate groundwater resources with uranium and other harmful pollutants like arsenic. Groundwater that is contaminated by these activities cannot be restored to pre-mining conditions. These long lived contaminants can also migrate to other water sources, demanding that we carefully monitor their movements at a very minimum. The rider also resides in the House Interior and Environment committee report (Committee Report pg. 61). A similar rider was added to the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation committee report as well (Committee Report pg 72).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Goodlatte (R-VA) undermines the successful cooperative federalism of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup and would severely hamper progress being made to clean up local waters. The cleanup is working, and the current process has given the states more control than ever in seeking a solution to the degraded waters of the region, while taking advantage of federal resources to help the states meet their commitments.
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A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 112) blocks implementation of the “Wild Lands” initiative unveiled by then-Interior Secretary Salazar in 2010 that would ensure that lands with wilderness characteristics remain unspoiled. A similar rider was added to the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 113).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 407) allows the Secretary of Agriculture to rely on outdated forest plans, ignoring the reality that national forests are not being managed sustainably, nor taking into account additional considerations such as the increasing impacts from climate change.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 421) exempts livestock grazing permit renewals from environmental review. A similar rider was added to the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 424).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 428) forbids federal land management agencies from placing reasonable limits via the normal land use planning process on fishing, shooting activities for hunting, or recreational shooting if those activities were allowed as of January 1, 2013.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 440) prevents federal agencies from raising royalty rates for federal onshore oil, gas or coal production. American taxpayers are currently being shortchanged by low onshore oil, gas and coal royalty rates and should be allowed a fair return on publicly owned resources.
A rider in the House Interior and Environmental appropriation (Sec. 441) derails necessary reforms to coal leasing. The federal coal program faces systemic problems that fail to generate a fair return for taxpayers or provide an efficient, transparent process for coal leasing. The broken federal coal program needs a complete overhaul but instead, this rider short circuits the reform process by placing an unnecessary and arbitrary deadline for its completion. Coal companies have already stockpiled enough unmined coal on existing leases to continue current production levels for at least 20 years, making this rider completely unwarranted.
An amendment added to the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 443) by Rep Simpson (R-ID) prevents new federal land use planning procedures from going forward. This rulemaking will improve not only how BLM treats renewable energy facilities but how it plans for all types of development and conservation on its lands. It is critical that this rule is finalized.
An amendment added to the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 453) by Rep Stewart (R-UT) prevents monument designations in a long list of U.S. counties. The amendment undermines the Antiquities Act, one of our most important tools for preserving our natural and cultural heritage for future generations.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment committee report (Committee Report pg. 12) pressures the Bureau of Land Management to allow oil and gas development in sensitive and unique habitats. The BLM is currently deciding the fate of oil and gas leasing in pristine roadless areas of the White River National Forest in Colorado, the most visited national forest in the country. The WRNF is home to priceless outdoor recreational opportunities and essential wildlife habitat and is the source of much-needed tourism dollars and clean drinking water for numerous communities. More than 50,000 members of the public commented on BLM’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, with the vast majority asking BLM to cancel illegal oil and gas leases and ensure that roadless areas and all their ecological values are fully protected. Congress should not try to politicize the process and intimidate BLM into changing course.
A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 122) allows for the construction of a gravel road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. This provision would overturn Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s December 2013 decision rejecting the 11 mile road through the Izembek refuge. Construction of the road through congressionally-designated wilderness within the wildlife refuge would not only have disastrous environmental impacts on the region, but would also set a dangerous precedent that could allow for other infrastructure projects in refuges nationwide.
A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 407) allows the Secretary of Agriculture to rely on outdated forest plans, ignoring the reality that national forests are not being managed sustainably, nor taking into account additional considerations such as the increasing impacts from climate change.
A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 409) prohibits the use of eminent domain deemed necessary to support federal lands management without approval by the Appropriations committee, with the exception of federal assistance to Florida for Everglades restoration.
A rider in the House Agriculture Appropriations committee (Sec. 714) cuts funding for Farm Bill conservation programs essential to protecting our lands and waterways from agricultural pollution. The committee cut funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by $225 million dollars, and reduced the Conservation Stewardship Program by 2 million acres. In the absence of strong regulations, these voluntary programs are the only line of defense against agricultural pollution and they are essential for reducing pollution from agricultural land. These programs also improve wildlife habitat and help farms mitigate and adapt to climate change. Unfortunately, Congress has disproportionately targeted conservation programs for budget cuts every year through the annual appropriations process.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Lamborn (R-CO) would stop the implementation of the Bureau of Land Management’s hydraulic fracturing rule. This rule will help reduce the severe risks posed to clean water and important drinking water sources by widespread hydraulic fracturing by improving well safety, increasing transparency, and addressing threats from toxic wastewater. Health, safety and environmental protections must keep pace with hydraulic fracturing’s rapid growth.
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A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 506) would prevent implementation of the National Ocean Policy, a landmark policy designed to safeguard our oceans and coasts.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Byrne (R-AL) prevents implementation of the National Ocean Policy. The National Ocean Policy is a common sense policy that improves the way we manage our oceans, reducing duplicative efforts and conflicting government actions, and facilitates better coordination between federal, state, and local stakeholders.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Zeldin (R-NY) blocks new marine monuments in U.S. waters and undermines the Antiquities Act. By prohibiting the designation of new marine monuments in the Exclusive Economic Zone, this amendment would effectively block future marine monument protections in more than 4.5 million square miles of the ocean. The Antiquities Act is a critical conservation tool and any attempts to undermine it should be opposed.
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Toxics and Public Health
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 420) permanently prevents the EPA from regulating toxic lead in ammunition, ammunition components, or fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) or any other law. A similar rider was added to the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 423).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 429) blocks EPA from enforcing rules to limit exposure to lead paint.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 430) blocks EPA from requiring industries with high probability of causing catastrophic damage by releasing toxics into the environment from carrying insurance to cover environmental damages they cause. A similar rider was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 417).
An amendment added to the House Defense Appropriation by Rep Smith (R-NE) legislatively overrides DOD autonomy to make decisions on nutritional standards for military personnel critical to meet the needs of individual combat readiness, morale, and long-term health obligations. Specifically, it prohibits the military from offering nutritionally complete vegetable-based and/or meat-free meals, even when such meals are determined to be healthier or specifically requested by personnel. These types of nutritional decisions should be science-based, and left to military health and dietary experts who are better qualified to understand the readiness, health, and long term healthcare cost implications of dietary standards, and the commanders who are responsible for the wellbeing and quality of life of their personnel.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Newhouse (R-WA) prohibits EPA from writing any rule that would require the largest industrial animal farms (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs) to properly store, transport, or dispose of their wastes, including the hundreds of millions of tons of manure they generate annually. CAFO wastes contain dangerous pollutants that can increase the risk of birth defects, infant deaths, diabetes, and cancer. When not handled properly, CAFO wastes endanger drinking water sources and pose a particularly severe risk to rural communities reliant on well water.
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A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec 114) prevents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from fulfilling its obligations under the Endangered Species Act. The provision overrides a court requirement that FWS must make a determination on whether sage-grouse should be listed as a threatened or endangered species, and sets a dangerous precedent by circumventing the scientific and legal process established to protect imperiled species. A similar rider was added to the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 115).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 119) delists gray wolves in the Great Lakes and Wyoming from the Endangered Species Act and prevent judicial review of this action. A similar rider was added to the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 119).
A rider the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 445) added by Rep Yoder (R-KS) would prevent implementation of enforcement of a threatened species listing for the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act. A similar provision was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 111).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Lamborn (R-CO) blocks protections for the threatened Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse under the Endangered Species Act, thwarting recovery efforts for this western species, which continues to experience habitat loss and other threats throughout its range. The rider eliminates crucial recovery programs for the mouse, such as Habitat Conservation Plans, that require the participation of private and public land managers as well as federal funding.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Lamborn (R-CO) blocks funding for species listed under the Endangered Species Act if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fails to complete a timely 5-year review of that species’ status. Yet insufficient funding can cause FWS to miss the deadline. Thus, this amendment would condition the very survival of some species on Congress’s longstanding and continuing failure to pass bills to appropriately fund FWS.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Newhouse (R-WA) blocks efforts to protect endangered gray wolves in the continental United States by 2017 under the Endangered Species Act. This species is currently listed as endangered in most of the lower-48 states. A national delisting for wolves would reverse the remarkable progress the ESA has achieved for this species and once again put the gray wolf at risk of extinction.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Pearce (R-NM) blocks federal recovery efforts for the endangered New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse under the Endangered Species Act. This rare southwestern subspecies has suffered a significant population decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation throughout its range.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Gosar (R-AZ) blocks federal funding for the endangered Mexican gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act. It also limits recovery to “historic range,” even though scientists say the wolves must be restored to new habitats to recover. There are less than 100 Mexican gray wolves in the United States; blocking recovery for these wolves and keeping them out of suitable habitats they need to recover brings them one step closer to extinction.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Westerman (R-AR) blocks enforcement of a federal court decision that found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by allowing the killing of double crested cormorants without current data, adequate scientific analysis, or evaluating less harmful alternatives. Congress should allow court decisions to stand, rather than stepping into a role that is not rightfully theirs.
A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation that was added to the committee report (Committee Report pg. 68) declares glyphosate safe for humans and wildlife and urges EPA to rush completion of its registration. Glyphosate is linked to the dramatic decline in pollinator habitat and potentially poses risks to human health. EPA should expeditiously complete its review but only on the basis of sound science rather than political pressure from Congress.
A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 117) blocks an important FWS rule to conserve wolves, grizzly bears and other native carnivores on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. This provision would bar FWS from prohibiting the state’s aggressive “predator control” program on our federal public lands, effectively allowing extreme non-subsistence hunting practices that target iconic carnivores, including trapping, baiting, aerial gunning, killing at den sites and killing mothers and young. The provision would prevent FWS from ensuring over 100 million acres of federal lands in Alaska are managed in accordance with bedrock conservation laws.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Gosar (R-AZ) would threaten wildlife and risk public safety at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. It would block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and stakeholders from addressing certain recreational activities on the refuge that create dangerous conditions for visitors and undermine natural resource conservation, setting a dangerous precedent for the entire Refuge System.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Cramer (R-ND) would block a badly needed rule that better protects lands and wildlife where non-federal oil and gas development takes place in the National Wildlife Refuge System. This rule will at least better mitigate the impacts of oil and gas extraction on refuges that host wildlife, prized recreation opportunities and natural heritage. By blocking efforts to improve protections, the amendment increases risks to wildlife and public lands.
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A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Price (R-GA) blocks implementation of any rule or regulation that is considered “major.” Official analyses from administrations of both political parties consistently find that such regulations often provide far greater benefits than costs. Yet under this amendment, a rule that brings billions in benefits and a rule that saves human lives will still be barred as long as it has impacts of more than $100 million. A similar rider was added to the Financial Services and General Government appropriation (sec. 1204) by Rep Duffy (R-WI).
A rider in the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriation (Sec. 1211) offered by Rep Hudson (R-NC) would stop any regulations from being proposed or finalized until Jan 21, 2017. This amendment would block implementation of regulatory standards and safeguards simply by virtue of when they were proposed or finalized. Such an arbitrary distinction, which bears no relationship to the merits of any particular regulation, would impact regulations that have been in the works for years. Indeed, regulatory process experts at the Administrative Conference of the United States recently released their recommendation on reforms to “midnight” rulemaking, stating “shutting the rulemaking process down during this period would be impractical given that numerous agency programs require constant regulatory activity, often with statutory deadlines.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Weber (R-TX) denies all funds to EPA for its entire budget under the spending bill if the agency is found to act at odds with a single provision in the Clean Air Act to evaluate employment effects. A coal company is suing EPA alleging the agency has failed to conduct such an evaluation. If the company prevails, the court would direct EPA to do the evaluation. This amendment would then prohibit all funds to EPA under the spending bill because the agency was found to have contravened this single Clean Air Act provision. It is irrational and punitive to the American people to defund an entire agency budget over the failure to conduct an evaluation, especially when linked to the active litigation strategy of a company suing the agency.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Smith (R-MO) undermines the ability of citizens to recover legal fees when they settle a lawsuit brought under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, or Clean Water Act. This restricts access to the courts and allows for the most egregious violations of the Act to remain unchecked and encourages costly litigation rather than settlement.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Smith (R-MO) severely undermines the National Environmental Education Act by prohibiting all funding for environmental education grants to elementary and high schools, colleges and universities and state education and environmental agencies under this law. These grants help state and local educators develop curricula for America’s school children; train teachers, state and local officials, and not-for-profit organizations; and advance environmental education, science and research. The amendment would cripple valuable federal support for environmental education under a law adopted during the first Bush administration.
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Clean Air & Climate Change
Clean Energy & Energy Efficiency
Toxics and Public Health
2016 Anti-Environmental Budget Riders by Appropriations Bill
September 19, 2016
2015 Anti-Environmental Budget Riders
You only use a little bit of suncreen — a squeeze of the bottle or two or three sprays. Sure, it has some chemical ingredients, but it won’t kill anyone, right? Wrong. Sunscreen is actually one of the culprits of putting over 60 percent of the planet’s coral reefs in critical danger — and bringing a whole lot of other wildlife down with them.
About 80 percent of reefs in the Caribbean have been lost in the last 50 years, and while coral reefs only occupy one percent of the ocean’s floor, its loss wouldn’t just mean the demise of awe-inspiring nature. Nearly one million species of fish, invertebrates and algae are estimated to live in these “biodiversity hotspots” and they generate billions of dollars yearly to humans via the tourism industry. How can a little bit of sunscreen then be to blame for this much destruction?
Millions of little bits add up
While the quantity of sunscreen one person uses is fairly small, as millions of people visit beaches around the world, that amount adds up quickly. The U.S. National Park Service estimates that between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen enter coral reef areas around the world each year.
Love This? Never Miss Another Story.
Coral Reefs are sensitive living beings
While the tons of sunscreen in the ocean are still only equivalent to a drop of water in an Olympic swimming pool, reefs are sensitive living beings and it is still more than enough to harm them.
Bleaching is a death sentence
The beautiful colors that coral reefs are famous for are what actually keeps them alive. Corals are made up of tiny soft-bodied animals called polyps. Inside the polyps lives a form of algae that uses photosynthesis to feed the coral and keep it alive. The algae make the coral colorful and as generations of these polyps grow attached and close to one another, they create the antler shaped reefs on the floor of the ocean.
Oxybenzone, one of the UV blocking ingredients in sunscreen, makes the coral sick. When the coral is sick, it expels the algae living in it and without it, the coral loses its color and, very often, its life.
It kills baby coral (and hope for newer generations of coral)
A recent study also found that oxybenzone produces deformities in young coral and alters its DNA so that instead of harboring the life-giving algae inside it, it encases itself in its own skeleton, both leading to death. If young coral die, there’s no way for reefs to replenish themselves.
So what now?
Should humans then risk cancer to protect coral reefs? Thankfully, one must not make that choice and, according to the National Park Service, reading the labels on sunscreen bottles should suffice. Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide have not been found to harm reefs, and the nonprofit Environmental Working Group has an extensive list of coral-friendly sunscreens for reference on its website.
Another option is to cover up with clothing like a wetsuit instead of slathering on sunscreen, which keeps all body parts covered and the water clear of residue.
The reefs surrounding the Florida Keys are rapidly dissolving due to increased ocean acidification. Demand these valuable natural resources be protected before they disappear forever.
This did arrive with us on 22/4 but it is only today, 23rd that we have published. SAV.
Today is Earth Day. And since 71% of the Earth is covered in oceans, we consider this Oceans Day as well!
It’s a chance to celebrate all of the marine animals that we are working to protect.
And to say thank you. Your actions — and those of all of Turtle Island Restoration Network’s community members — are saving sea turtles, whales, dolphins and other ocean animals:
You have supported nesting beach protection projects in Texas, Nicaragua and Costa Rica that have returned more than 1 million endangered sea turtle hatchlings safely to the ocean.
More than 25,000 people so far have signed our petition calling for an end to the whale and dolphin-killing California Driftnet Fishery. Legislation to phase out the fishery is currently…
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April 22nd is Earth Day.
NASA Earth-Rise Christmas Eve 1968
Schedelsche Weltchronik or Nuremberg Chronicle Date 1493
While browsing on Google, the Earth Day web site kept forcibly opening. And, who is among the Earth Day sponsors? Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) located in Woods Hole Massachusetts: http://www.earthday.org/earth-day/earth-day-2016-partners/ Wikipedia tells us that Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) should not be confused with the nearby (and now infamous) Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). And as late as 2002 the founder of WHRC, George Woodell, raised concerns about the impacts of nuclear war on the environment, http://whrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2002-04-TooSmallForWar.pdf , whereas WHOI appears to have been long been tied in with the military. However, the two have recently been joined together in a consortium: http://www.woodsholeconsortium.org/news/consortium.html They are also listed as a WHOI funder-partner.
We turn then to the now infamous Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) with its tainted funding ties and home to nervous…
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President Obama is going to allow offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This is horrible news for anyone who cares about the future of our planet. Urge President Obama to withdraw this plan and stop selling our environment to Big Oil.
Plastic micro-pollution adds insult to injury for stressed coral reefs
FRISCO — Widespread micro-plastic pollution may take a toll on the famed Great Barrier Reef, scientists said this week after discovering that coral organisms will ingest the tiny plastic particles.
“Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater,” said Dr, Mia Hoogenboom, a researchers with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.
“If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic,” Hoogenboom added.
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When you throw a plastic bottle or bag in the ocean, do you know what happens to it? Many bags and bottles break apart into tiny pieces of trash which can accidentally be swallowed by filter feeders or mistaken as tiny edible animals by fish. In worse cases, plastic bags are eaten by endangered animals (such as some species of sea turtle) or may become caught or tangled on creatures or even plants. However, many plastic bags, bottles, and other forms of trash are carried on ocean currents until they join patches of garbage afloat in the ocean. These “Plastic Islands” are found scattered all over the world, but the largest Plastic Island is located offshore in the Pacific Ocean. How big is Plastic Island? Unbelievably, Plastic Island is BIGGER THAN THE STATE OF TEXAS!!!!
It is very sad that people could throw away that much trash in the ocean…
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Scientists Identify Virus Killing Millions of Starfish
Scientists finally discovered the culprit responsible for wiping out starfish along the Pacific Coast: a killer virus called SSaDV. They can’t exactly figure out why it became deadly or if it will continue to kill a lot of other species, however.
Researchers from University of California, Santa Cruz and Cornell University said the pathogen that causes starfish to wither and die was identified as “Sea Star Associated Densovirus (SSaDV),” a type of parvovirus found in invertebrates.
SSaDV triggered the deadly epidemic among starfish because of its overpopulation caused either by a genetic mutation or other unknown environmental factors.
The densovirus dissolves the starfish in under 10 days, leaving a pile of dissolved starfish. The infection over the past 18 months has affected a majority of the starfish population and stopped their reproduction.
Aside from starfish, the disease is also present in brittle stars…
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Radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster is approaching the West Coast, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is reporting.
A sample taken Aug. 2 about 1,200 kilometers west of Vancouver, B.C. tested positive for Cesium 134, the Fukushima “fingerprint” of Fukushima.
It also showed higher-than-background levels of Cesium 137, another Fukushima isotope that already is present in the world’s oceans from nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.
The sample is the first of about 40 offshore test results that will be made public next month, said Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at Woods Hole.
Further results, which Buesseler will release at a conference Nov. 13, will show offshore Fukushima radiation down the coast into California, he said, including some samples that are closer to shore.
Buesseler emphasized that the radiation is at very low levels that aren’t expected to harm human health or the environment.
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Humans have taken a lot from the ocean — but what if the ocean decided to call it quits? What if the ocean, encapsulated in the film below by the booming voice of Harrison Ford, really did stop providing us with the generous benefits it has given us for all of human history? What would happen then?
This possibility is something that more and more governments, businesses and organizations are waking up to, and they are starting to worry. Just consider the remarkable range of benefits we get from healthy oceans:
- Food provision through wild fisheries and fish farming. About 4.3 billion people get around 15% of their animal protein and essential nutrition from seafood.
- Natural products like shells, seaweed, fish oil and coral. Each year, people consume almost 23 million tons of seaweed alone, an amount valued at over US 6 billion.
- Coastal protection. Natural barriers like coral reefs…
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(NASA satellite shot of Antarctica on October 13 of 2014. Recent scientific papers point toward a vicious cycle of Antarctic glacial melt. Expanding sea ice results from increased cold, fresh water outflows from melting land-anchored glaciers spreading out along the ocean surface and protecting the floating ice. Meanwhile, rapidly warming waters concentrate in a layer beneath the ice to further accelerate melting of the giant glaciers’ bases. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)
With fewer and fewer logical straws to grasp for plausibly denying an obvious and inexorable warming of the global climate system, climate change deniers have resorted to pointing toward an expanding veil of sea ice near Antarctica as ‘proof positive’ that global warming really isn’t happening.
But recent scientific papers reveal that what may well appear to be a soothing light at the end of an imaginary cooling tunnel is more a freight train of global heat aimed directly…
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