Nature

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 »

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 »

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 »

New Eni Discovery ‘Confirms’ Extension of Zohr Like Play in Cyprus EEZ

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Eni has made a ‘promising’ gas discovery offshore Cyprus, which it says confirms the extension of a ‘Zohr like’ play in the country’s exclusive economic zone. RigΖone The Calypso 1 well, located in block 6, was drilled in 6,800 feet of water depth and reached a final total depth of 12,555 feet. Calypso 1 encountered an ‘extended’ gas column in rocks of Miocene and Cretaceous age, with the Cretaceous sequence showing ‘excellent reservoir characteristics’, Eni said in a company statement. Detailed ... 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 »

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 »

Scientists Warns on Seabed Mining

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Mining on the ocean floor could do irreversible damage to deepsea ecosystems, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Exeter and Greenpeace. By MarEx  The Maritime Executive The deep sea (depths below 200m) covers about half of the Earth’s surface and is home to a vast range of species. Little is known about these environments, and the researchers say mining could have “long-lasting and unforeseen consequences”– not just at mining sites but also across much larger ... Read More »

The Buzz Fades

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Under-resourced in an overworked agricultural system, honeybee colonies are gradually failing in most temperate regions. By Raúl Guillén The Nation Honeybees, or Apis mellifera, which are native to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, have been domesticated around the world, but since the 1980s their mortality has increased rapidly in most temperate regions (Europe, Japan, North and South America). The naturalist Jean-Pierre Rogel writes, of Canada: “The current losses of around 25% are exceptional, and would be disastrous economically if ... Read More »

Global warming will expose millions more to floods

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Global warming is expected to unleash more rain, exposing millions more people to river flooding particularly in the United States and parts of Asia, Africa and central Europe, researchers have said. MIAMI – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet The study in the journal Science Advances calculates how much more flood protection will be needed to keep the risks of high-end floods constant in the next 25 years. Unless actions are taken – such as enhancing dykes, boosting building standards, relocating settlements and ... Read More »

Brexit bill may have broken international environment law, says UN

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Exclusive: compliance committee considers complaint alleging government breached Aarhus convention by not consulting public over withdrawal bill Laura Laker The Guardian The British government may have breached a major “environmental democracy” law by failing to consult the public when drawing up Brexit legislation. A UN-backed committee has confirmed it is considering a complaint from Friends of the Earth that the government’s EU withdrawal bill breached the Aarhus convention, which requires public consultation on any new environmental law. Most of the… Brexit bill may… Read More »

Trump proposes massive expansion of offshore drilling

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The Trump administration is proposing to greatly expand the areas available for offshore oil and natural gas drilling, including off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Timothy Cama The Hill In the first major step toward the administration’s promised expansion of offshore drilling, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said nearly all of the nation’s outer continental shelf is being considered for drilling, including areas off the coasts of Maine, California, Florida and Alaska. The proposal, which environmentalists immediately panned as an environmental disaster ... Read More »

With Oceans Under Greatest Threat Ever, Trump Administration Urges Even Less Protection for Marine Life

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“It shouldn’t be too much to ask to protect two percent of the U.S.’s exclusive economic zone off the Atlantic coast for future generations.” Julia Conley Common Dreams With the world’s oceans more severely threatened than ever before, President Donald Trump’s Interior Department is recommending even less protection for the fraction of ocean life the U.S. has guarded from commercial fishing and other activities in recent years. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed that three ocean monuments in the Pacific ... Read More »

Earth Will Start Becoming a Desert by 2050 If Global Warming Isn’t Stopped, Study Says

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More than 25 percent of the Earth will experience serious drought and desertification by the year 2050 if the attempts made by the Paris climate agreement to curb global warming are not met, according to a new study by the journal Nature Climate Change. Leah Thomas Newsweek The study, which was published on Monday, claims that if the Earth’s average yearly temperature is raised by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next 32 years, the areas of the world experiencing “aridification,” or ... Read More »

Chinese ban on ivory sales goes into effect

Seized elephant ivory tusks are seen during a press conference at the Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound in Hong Kong on July 6, 2017.
Hong Kong Customs have seized 7.2 tonnes of ivory tusks with an estimated market value of HKD 72 million (9.2 million usd) in the city's largest bust in three decades. / AFP PHOTO / Anthony WALLACE

China’s complete ban on ivory trade went into effect on Dec. 31, officials said, a major step forward in Beijing’s efforts to rein in what was once the world’s largest market for illegal ivory. BEIJING – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet “From today… the buying and selling of elephant ivory and goods by any market, shop or vendor is against the law!” the forestry ministry said on its official account on Chinese social media platform Weibo. “From now on, if a merchant ... Read More »

Droughts And Ecosystems Determined By Interaction Of Two Climate Phenomena

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What is causing the droughts that the Iberian Peninsula regularly endures? Why are the winters sometimes mild and rainy and other times cold and dry or cold and damp? Eurasia Review Is climate change of anthropogenic origin exerting an influence on these processes? How are these cycles affecting the productivity of terrestrial ecosystems? And finally, can these cycles be predicted and the economy thus adjusted to them? The work, published this week in Nature Communications, was led by the University ... Read More »