Environment and Climate Change

The secret on the ocean floor

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A wave of pioneers is poised to scoop up treasure from the deep sea. But was this ocean mining boom sparked by a 1970s CIA plot? By David Shukman BBC In the summer of 1974, a large and highly unusual ship set sail from Long Beach in California. It was heading for the middle of the Pacific where its owners boasted it would herald a revolutionary new industry beneath the waves. Equipped with a towering rig and the latest in ... Read More »

Neighbourhood living rooms – we can learn a lot from European town squares

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Australian urban design has historically focused on providing and improving access to public green spaces. As cities increase in density, this is a crucial part of creating healthy, engaged communities. Dina Bacvic The Conversation But Australian urban designers often fail to consider the “other half” of public space – the town square. Public squares or plazas were, and are, the centres of daily public life in many European towns and cities. Today they still influence the perception of place and ... Read More »

What’s Actually Behind Cape Town’s Water Crisis

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Blame austerity-obsessed technocrats, irresponsible development, and willful ignorance. RICHARD POPLAK The Atlantic The city of Cape Town was plonked by its founders onto a peninsula not far from where the Indian and Atlantic oceans merge, often violently, beneath the imposing banks of Table Mountain. To its north lie the fertile fruit and wine farms that weigh down the city’s restaurant tables with unimaginable bounty. Every day when the clock strikes noon, a cannon blast echoes from Signal Hill, a reminder ... Read More »

Why our obsession with GDP ignores harm done to welfare and the world

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One of the first things economics students learn about is Gross Domestic Product (GDP) GDP is also a central concept in many political debates, including Brexit. The Converstion Will it rise? Will it fall? What effect will this have on our lives? Gross Domestic Product measures the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country, calculating the net value added by each economic “actor”. So if you produce a car sold for £10,000 but you bought parts ... Read More »

A ghostly oil spill menaces Asia’s richest fisheries

Smoke is seen from the Panama-registered Sanchi tanker carrying Iranian oil, which went ablaze after a collision with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea, in this January 9, 2018 handout picture released by China's Ministry of Transport January 10, 2018. China's Ministry of Transport/Handout via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

ZHOUSHAN, China — A fiery collision that sank an Iranian tanker in the East China Sea a month ago has resulted in an environmental threat that experts say is unlike any before: an almost invisible type of petroleum has begun to contaminate some of the most important fishing grounds in Asia, from China to Japan and beyond. By STEVEN LEE MYERS and JAVIER C. HERNNDEZ Today It is the largest oil spill in decades, but the disaster has unfolded outside the ... Read More »

Cape Town drought declared a ‘national disaster’

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South Africa has declared the drought which has seen Cape Town hurtling towards “Day Zero” a national disaster. BBC The government made the announcement after reassessing the “magnitude and severity” of the three-year drought. It has badly affected three of the country’s nine provinces. The decision came as Cape Town announced its water saving measures, which require each citizen to use less than 50 litres a day, had successfully pushed back “Day Zero” to 4 June. Just a matter of ... Read More »

Panel: Navy and Coast Guard Operating More in a Maritime ‘Grey Zone’

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GULF OF ADEN (Dec. 19, 2011) A visit, board, search and seizure team from the guided missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91) approaches a suspected pirate vessel after the Motor Vessel Nordic Apollo reported being under attack and fired upon by pirates.  Pinckney is assigned to Combined Task Force 151, a multinational, mission-based task force working under Combined Maritime Forces to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Southern Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Between war and peace is the grey zone – a legal status where the rules of engagement aren’t always clear for the Navy and Coast Guard forces increasingly operating there, according to top commanders from the services. By: Ben Werner USNI News The Navy and Coast Guard are tasked with protecting the trade and sovereign interests of both the U.S. friends and allies. But, without a clearly identified mission and clearly articulated and supporting rules of ... Read More »

Scientists Watch Ocean Plastic Hotspots Form in Real Time

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Researchers tracked hundreds of buoys deployed in the Gulf of Mexico. Not only did the buoys not spread out – many concentrated into an area the size of a football stadium. Erica Cirino News Deeply The findings may help scientists pinpoint areas for plastic or oil-spill cleanup. I was at the wheel of a 54ft (16m) research sloop crossing the north Pacific Ocean through the heart of one of the most plastic-polluted parts of the sea, when I spotted my first ... Read More »

Giant ‘Dead Whale’ Is Haunting Reminder of Massive Plastic Pollution Problem

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Greenpeace Philippines recently created a real… whale of a public art piece (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves), to address one of the world’s most serious problems: plastic pollution. Expand Your Consciousness In an effort to motivate the public to consider the impact this plastic trash has on our planet and illustrate why we need to recycle, use alternative biodegradable containers (like hemp or glass) when possible, and participate in local clean-up projects, Greenpeace Philippines created a powerful visual and global message ... Read More »

Plastic pollution: Scientists’ plea on threat to ocean giants

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Scientists say there needs to be more research into the impact of plastic pollution on sharks, whales and rays Helen Briggs BBC A study, in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, says the creatures may be swallowing hundreds of tiny bits of plastic a day. Microplastic pollution has the potential to further reduce the population sizes of the large filter feeders, they say. Yet, there is very little research being carried out into the risks. Researchers from the US, Australia ... Read More »

Green Brexit is impossible to guarantee, say Tory MEPs

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Exclusive: Leaked document says it will be impossible to ensure current environmental and food safety standards are kept in Britain or the EU Arthur Neslen in Brussels The Guardian Conservative MEPs have said Brexit will make it “impossible” to guarantee that current environmental standards can be kept in Britain or the EU. A leaked document seen by the Guardian also calls for “the closest possible working relationship” between the EU and UK after Brexit, and for a “no regression clause” in future British ... Read More »

Cultural change at sea

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A proactive approach to building relationships and collaborative research are part of Kyri Toumazos’s style in improving respect for the commercial seafood sector and enhancing its prospects Kyri Toumazos Fishing is a longstanding tradition in the Mediterranean nation of Cyprus, from which Kyri Toumazos and his family hail. And although they were not fishers before emigrating in the mid-1980s, the seafood culture from which they came, combined with Australia’s seemingly endless waters offered them new opportunities. However, Kyri Toumazos initially ... Read More »

Was Your Seafood Caught With Slave Labor?

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New Database Helps Retailers Combat Abuse The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, known best for its red, yellow and green sustainable seafood-rating scheme, is unveiling its first Seafood Slavery Risk Tool on Thursday. npr It’s a database designed to help corporate seafood buyers assess the risk of forced labor, human trafficking and hazardous child labor in the seafood they purchase. The tool’s release comes on the heels of a new report that confirms forced labor and human rights abuses ... Read More »

We can still win the fight against climate change

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As 2017 drew to an end, becoming one of the three hottest years on record, my native United States conversely experienced dangerously frigid, Arctic weather, leading to intense debate about how climate change could also be the cause of extreme cold. Jennifer Morgan Al Jazeera Although the big freeze was predictably seized upon by climate sceptics to scorn the veracity of global warming, the jury on whether climate change triggered the extreme weather is far from out. Research into the ... Read More »

Paris readies for floods as Seine surges higher

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Riverside homes and businesses in Paris are on high alert as the swollen River Seine threatens to overflow its banks Some basements in the city have already sprung leaks after the river surged following heavy rainfall, reports said. BBC The Seine is forecast to swell even further this weekend, adding several metres of water above its normal level. Many roads in the region are already waterlogged. Boat traffic – including the capital’s famous tourist cruises – has also been interrupted. ... Read More »

Coral reefs inundated with billions of pieces of plastic

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More than 11 billion pieces of plastic are stuck in coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific region, according to an alarming new study. Tom Bawden The Scotsman The finding has raised concerns that the presence of so much plastic could considerably increase the risk of coral disease by blocking out light and depriving them of oxygen. The researchers estimate the increased chance of infection on the reefs affected could be as high as 89 per cent, in some… It is well ... Read More »