An effort to turn “ecocide” — the systematic destruction of the environment — into an international crime on par with genocide and crimes against humanity is gaining momentum in the EU.

Buried deep in an obscure European Parliament report is a sentence calling for the EU to explore the idea. The provision was backed by most of the legislature’s political groupings in committee in March, which means it’s likely to be adopted by the full Parliament later this month.

That puts the EU way out in front of most other jurisdictions in an international bid to make ecocide a crime prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

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  • In February, Florida officials identified the body of an arapaima (Arapaima gigas) that had washed ashore from the Caloosahatchee River.

  • An expert said the arapaima, a fish species endemic to the Amazon lowlands, had likely come from the pet trade.

  • Live arapaimas are mainly brought into the U.S. for aquaculture, although a small number are also imported for the pet trade, another expert said.

  • While arapaimas are not currently considered to be an invasive species, there are concerns they could become problematic in the future if enough end up in Florida’s waterways.

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The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays, and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Ecologists have assumed this global pattern has remained stable over recent centuries – until now. Our recent study found the ocean around the equator has already become too hot for many species to survive, and that global warming is responsible.

In other words, the global pattern is rapidly changing. And as species flee to cooler water towards the poles, it’s likely to have profound implications for marine ecosystems and human livelihoods. When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died.

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Known as “the lost years,” it is a little-understood journey that unfolds over thousands of miles and as much as two decades or more. Now, a Stanford-led study illuminates secrets of the North Pacific loggerhead turtles’ epic migration between their birthplace on the beaches of Japan and reemergence years later in foraging grounds off the coast of Baja California. The study, published April 8 in Frontiers in Marine Science, provides evidence for intermittent passages of warm water that allow sea turtles to cross otherwise inhospitably cold ocean barriers. The findings could help inform the design of conservation measures to protect sea turtles and other migratory sea creatures amid climatic changes that are altering their movements.

“For decades, our ability to connect the migratory dots for this endangered species has remained elusive,” said study lead author Dana Briscoe, who was a research associate at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment during the research and now works at the Cawthron Institute, New Zealand’s largest independent marine science organization. “This work builds on the backbone of exceptional research about these ‘lost years,’ and for the first time ever we are excited to provide evidence of a ‘thermal corridor’ to explain a longstanding mystery of one of the ocean’s greatest migrants.”

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A small-scale experiment shows that brine waste from desalination can be turned into fertilizer for hydroponic plants.

The University of Reading led the most detailed ever study forecasting how vulnerable the vast floating platforms of ice surrounding Antarctica will become to dramatic collapse events caused by melting and runoff, as climate change forces temperatures to rise.

It found that 34% of the area of all Antarctic ice shelves—around half a million square kilometers—including 67% of ice shelf area on the Antarctic Peninsula, would be at risk of destabilization under 4°C of warming. Limiting temperature rise to 2°C rather than 4°C would halve the area at risk and potentially avoid significant sea level rise.

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Global heating has made the ocean around the equator less rich in wildlife, with conditions likely already too hot for some species to survive, according to a new study.

Analysis of the changing locations of almost 50,000 marine species between 1955 and 2015 found a predicted impact of global heating – species moving away from the equator – can now be observed at a global scale.

It said further global heating, which is now unavoidable, would cut the richness of species in the ocean in tropical regions even further.

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In a dark TV ad aired in 1971, a jerk tosses a bag of trash from a moving car. The garbage spills onto the moccasins of a buckskin-clad Native American, played by Italian American actor Espera Oscar de Corti. He sheds a tear on camera, because his world has been defiled, uglied, and corrupted by trash. The poignant ad, which won awards for excellence in advertising, promotes the catchline “People Start Pollution. People can stop it.” What’s lesser known is the nonprofit group Keep America Beautiful, funded by the very beverage and packaging juggernauts pumping out billions of plastic bottles each year (the likes of The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Anheuser-Busch Companies), created the PSA.

The real message, underlying the staged tear and feather headdress, is that pollution is your problem, not the fault of the industry mass-producing cheap bottles.

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Trekking out to my research sites near North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, I slog through knee-deep water on a section of trail that is completely submerged. Permanent flooding has become commonplace on this low-lying peninsula, nestled behind North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The trees growing in the water are small and stunted. Many are dead.

Throughout coastal North Carolina, evidence of forest die-off is everywhere. Nearly every roadside ditch I pass while driving around the region is lined with dead or dying trees.

As an ecologist studying wetland response to sea level rise, I know this flooding is evidence that climate change is altering landscapes along the Atlantic coast. It’s emblematic of environmental changes that also threaten wildlife, ecosystems, and local farms and forestry businesses.

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Globally, only one in 50 new cars were fully electric in 2020, and one in 14 in the UK. Sounds impressive, but even if all new cars were electric now, it would still take 15-20 years to replace the world’s fossil fuel car fleet.

The emission savings from replacing all those internal combustion engines with zero-carbon alternatives will not feed in fast enough to make the necessary difference in the time we can spare: the next five years. Tackling the climate and air pollution crises requires curbing all motorised transport, particularly private cars, as quickly as possible. Focusing solely on electric vehicles is slowing down the race to zero emissions.

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Can casting away from established society to inhabit sea-based colonies save us from the problems of modern life—or are we bound to repeat our mistakes?

A forestry company in Gabon has built new roads to log a forest in the northeastern province of Ogooué-Ivindo. Villagers had applied to the government last August to reclassify this valuable forest as a protected area, and say they are alarmed by the company’s rapid advance while they wait for a formal response.

Rural communities in this area rely on local forests for fishing, hunting and gathering. These livelihoods and the wildlife populations they depend on are increasingly threatened by mining, intensive logging, and poaching for the illegal ivory trade and unregulated commercial hunting for bushmeat. A massive increase in logging by foreign companies over the last decade — around 40 companies hold logging concessions covering most of the area — and associated road building has opened access to formerly intact forests and razed local ecosystems.

In response, three Ogooué-Ivindo villages have taken steps to protect the environment and their way of life. The villages of Latta, Ebessi, and Massaha have established management plans to regulate hunting practices and delineate informal protected reserves in their forests.

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Blue is the desired color for many people, and the “blue flower” is considered a symbol of romantic longing. In nature, however, there are only a few plant species whose flowers contain blue color pigments. 

One important factor is the great chemical effort required to produce blue dyes, however differing color perception of pollinators also plays a role. 

For bees, all the shades of blue assume a more conspicuous share in the colorfulness of flowers than they do for the human eye. 

But the problem posed by scientists - in contrast - is that the bee community is threatened with losing many of its members due to climate changes, urban expansion, and other factors that have caused the decline in the number of bees in nature.

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The new Netflix documentary Seaspiracy opens with suspenseful music as a fishing boat chugs along. Quick cuts. Guns. Tuna. Danger. Life or death stakes. We’re introduced to filmmaker and main character Ali Tabrizi. Tabrizi is a Brit in his 20s driven by curiosity, passion, and a yearning to discover the one crucial reason the ocean he loves is in trouble.

And therein lies the crux of why this film has angered so many people.

Environment

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

Created on Sep 18, 2020
By @gurlic