Open ocean cleanups won’t solve the marine plastics crisis. To really make a difference, here’s what we should do instead.

At least a tenth of the world’s mature giant sequoia trees were destroyed by a single California wildfire that tore through the southern Sierra Nevada last year, according to a draft report prepared by scientists with the National Park Service.

The Visalia Times-Delta newspaper obtained a copy of the report that describes catastrophic destruction from the Castle Fire, which charred 273 square miles (707 square km) of timber in Sequoia National Park.

Researchers used satellite imagery and modeling from previous fires to determine that between 7,500 and 10,000 of the towering species perished in the fire. That equates to 10% to 14% of the world’s mature giant sequoia population, the newspaper said.

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Human greed and indiscipline are taking an enormous toll on the quality and availability of freshwater. Finding strategies to sustainably maintain freshwater supply has become a global priority. Recently, based on the fascinating potential of algae to remove a large number of chemical pollutants and various bacteria from water, scientists have developed a new eco-friendly, sustainable, and cost-effective solution for urban wastewater treatment, and tested the utility of such treated water for pisciculture.

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Coal was the most important source of energy in Germany in the first six months of 2021, accounting for 27.1% of the total electricity fed into the grid, as still days in the spring led to a significant decline in wind power generation, the Federal Statistics Office said on Monday.

The share of electricity from conventional sources increased 20.9% as compared with the first half of 2020 and accounted for 56% of the total electricity generation, which was 258.9 billion kWh or 4% more than a year earlier, according to preliminary figures.

In contrast, renewables generated 114 billion kWh of the total, which represents an 11.7% drop on an annual basis and this was largely due to the decline in wind power.

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These coastal ecosystems are carbon sinks and coastline protectors, and we know how to restore them. Why have we been doing it the wrong way?

With climate change, Arctic communities—already threatened by sea level rise, permafrost melt, and erosion—will also face longer seasons of more extreme tides.

International and Saudi researchers have discovered archaeological sites in the Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia associated with the remains of ancient lakes formed when periods of increased rainfall transformed the region into grassland. The researchers found that early humans spread into the region during each ‘Green Arabia’ phase, each bringing a different kind of material culture. The new research establishes northern Arabia as a crucial migration route and a crossroads for early humans.

For marine animals in New Zealand’s busy waterways, COVID-19 restrictions brought brief respite from noise pollution.

“Africa accounted for about two-thirds of global wood charcoal production in 2018, with dire consequences for the continent’s carbon-absorbing forests. Deforestation is frequently blamed on local dependence on wood fuels, in addition to land cleared for farming, timber, and construction. But there is also another factor: illicit charcoal export to countries in Europe and North America…”


Researchers affiliated with the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub find that paving material selection could mitigate extreme heat and greenhouse gas emissions.

Kebnekaise massif’s south peak was stepped down to second in the rankings of the country’s mountains in 2019 following the melting of a third of its glacier. The north peak of Kebnekaise, which has no glacier, is presently the highest in the Nordic country.

In a statement on Tuesday, the university said: “On 14 August, the southern peak of Kebnekaise was measured at 2,094.6 metres (6,912 feet) above sea level by researchers from Tarfala research station. This is the lowest height that has been measured since the measurements started in the 1940s.” 

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Over the last six years, a group of marine scientists has built up evidence that the vast majority of coastal restoration projects globally are designed and planted incorrectly. A simple change of layout, they say, could dramatically multiply success rates for restoring everything from oyster reefs to mangrove forests.

Today, the team is using the mudflats of the Netherlands’ Eastern Scheldt as a testing ground to work out how to best replant large areas of coastline across the world, employing surprising tools including a 3D-printed mesh made from potato chip waste and frozen sticks of fertilizer the rust-red color of blood.

The vast majority of marine restoration projects take their cue from land-based agriculture and commercial forestry, says Brian Silliman, a marine conservation biologist at Duke University in North Carolina. They are planted in dispersed patterns, he says, in “sort of a HairClub for Men fashion, where you spread everything out, plantation style.”

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Farook Kassim reaches into a desk drawer, extracts a small plastic baggie, and offers up its contents for inspection. Inside is what looks like a stone the size of a thumb, white flecked with brown and gray. Its light color denotes high quality. The fragrance from the baggie is subtle and refined: musky with hints of tobacco and the ocean.

This is ambergris, one of the world’s unlikeliest commodities. The waxy substance formed in the gut of around one in 100 sperm whales is frequently described as vomit, but is almost certainly expelled from the other end of the animal. Fresh ambergris has a strong fecal odor and is much less valuable than aged specimens. Despite its origins, ambergris, with its unique scent, fixative properties, and perceived ability to elevate other olfactory notes, has been prized by the perfume industry for hundreds of years. It has also been consumed as a delicacy and administered as medicine. At times, it has fetched prices more than twice that of gold. Today, it still changes hands for up to US $25 per gram, a price approaching that of platinum and many times that of silver and can mean a payday of thousands of dollars for a tennis ball–sized chunk.

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It looked like a rope or a question mark – a black scribble on the sand. The creature had washed up on a Northland beach in May and was found by a steely local 11-year-old, who popped it into a bag, took it to his local corner shop and requested a box. The purveyor told him it was a sea snake, so the boy put it in a bucket and took it home. The snake did not survive the trip.

“I didn’t know what to do with it,” the boy told the New Zealand Herald. “I chopped its head off, put it in a bag and threw it out.”

Aotearoa has very few predators that could plausibly harm a person. Wandering the forests, your best bet for being attacked by a wild creature is probably an over-enthusiastic, amorous parrot – the country has no crocodiles, bears, wolves or scorpions. It also had no snakes – or so many people mistakenly believed.

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Hydrogen is often viewed as an important energy carrier in a future decarbonized world. Currently, most hydrogen is produced by steam reforming of methane in natural gas (“gray hydrogen”), with high carbon dioxide emissions. Increasingly, many propose using carbon capture and storage to reduce these emissions, producing so-called “blue hydrogen,” frequently promoted as low emissions. We undertake the first effort in a peer-reviewed paper to examine the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of blue hydrogen accounting for emissions of both carbon dioxide and unburned fugitive methane. Far from being low carbon, greenhouse gas emissions from the production of blue hydrogen are quite high, particularly due to the release of fugitive methane. For our default assumptions (3.5% emission rate of methane from natural gas and a 20-year global warming potential), total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions for blue hydrogen are only 9%-12% less than for gray hydrogen. While carbon dioxide emissions are lower, fugitive methane emissions for blue hydrogen are higher than for gray hydrogen because of an increased use of natural gas to power the carbon capture. Perhaps surprisingly, the greenhouse gas footprint of blue hydrogen is more than 20% greater than burning natural gas or coal for heat and some 60% greater than burning diesel oil for heat, again with our default assumptions. In a sensitivity analysis in which the methane emission rate from natural gas is reduced to a low value of 1.54%, greenhouse gas emissions from blue hydrogen are still greater than from simply burning natural gas, and are only 18%-25% less than for gray hydrogen. Our analysis assumes that captured carbon dioxide can be stored indefinitely, an optimistic and unproven assumption. Even if true though, the use of blue hydrogen appears difficult to justify on climate grounds.

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In Patagonia, seabirds and artisanal hake fishers have a long-established relationship. Industrial fishers, not so much—and it’s not good for the birds.

Human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and sometimes irreversible ways, a major UN scientific report has said.

The landmark study warns of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over a decade.

The report “is a code red for humanity”, says the UN chief.

But scientists say a catastrophe can be avoided if the world acts fast.

Twenty-two years after at least 15 salmon-starved grizzlies were shot to protect residents of a small Indigenous village on British Columbia’s central coast, that same First Nation is preparing to prioritize the bears’ claim to the fish. The Wuikinuxv Nation is willing to reduce its own catch of wild Pacific sockeye from Rivers Inlet to provide more for grizzlies during an age of reduced spawning returns.

“In this era of low fish abundance, how do we take care of bears?” says Megan Adams, a Raincoast Conservation Foundation researcher and lead author of a new study, supported in part by the Hakai Institute,* designed to determine how to achieve peaceful coexistence with bears by sharing the salmon harvest. “If people can compromise their catch by 10 percent … bear population density can increase by 10 percent,” she says.

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A long-overdue report by the world’s climate scientists will on Monday reveal that global warming is accelerating faster than thought, with temperatures set to punch through the critical 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold by the early 2030s, a decade earlier than anticipated just three years ago.

Environment

A community for discussions about the environment, and humanity's effects on climate change.

Created on Sep 18, 2020
By @gurlic