4 Must-See Videos on World Oceans Day
The ocean covers nearly three-fourths of the globe and is home to nearly half of the world’s known species—with countless yet to be discovered. It helps support more than 250 million people who depend directly or indirectly on fishing for their livelihoods. Still, human activities increasingly threaten its health. Although 72 percent of the world is covered by the ocean, less than 2 percent of these waters are fully protected.
Global Ocean Legacy, a project of Pew and its partners, works with local communities, governments, and scientists around the world to protect and conserve some of our most important and unspoiled ocean environments. These efforts have helped double the amount of protected marine habitat worldwide over the last nine years. That includes two recent achievements: expansion of the U.S. Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in September 2014 and the British government’s announcement in March 2015 that it will create the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific Ocean.
Research shows that large, fully protected marine reserves are essential to rebuilding species abundance and diversity and protecting overall ocean health. To commemorate World Oceans Day on June 8, we invite you to watch four videos that highlight why fully protected marine reserves are critical to safeguarding these waters and the broader environment.
Caring for the environment has long been an important element of Palau’s culture. For centuries, chiefs have acted to protect these Pacific waters through the traditional "bul," a moratorium on catching key species or fishing on reefs that provide critical habitat. Commonly referred to as "one of the seven underwater wonders of the world," Palau’s ecosystems contain remarkable biodiversity, including more than 1,300 species of fish, more than 700 species of hard and soft coral, seven of the world’s nine types of giant clam, and non-stinging jellyfish. Pew was invited by Palau’s president to help create a large fully protected marine reserve in the island nation’s exclusive economic zone.
Located in the southeastern Pacific nearly 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) from mainland Chile, Easter Island has a rich cultural and environmental heritage. The island’s monumental sculpted heads have stood sentinel over this natural wonder, known as Rapa Nui in local Polynesian language, for centuries. Ancient Polynesians traveled through Easter Island’s waters for thousands of years using only the stars and the ocean for navigation. While largely unexplored, these seas are known to contain geological hot spots and areas of rare biodiversity that sustain highly migratory fish species. They also are known for ancient seamounts, 8.4 million to 13.1 million years old. Pew is working with the Rapa Nui community and the Chilean government to protect these ecologically important waters.
In March 2015, the British government announced its commitment to create the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the waters surrounding the Pitcairn Islands. A small U.K. overseas territory in the South Pacific, Pitcairn has one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the world. Within these waters lies one of the best-preserved ecosystems, a complex community of hard and soft corals that is home to hundreds of species of fish, including two found nowhere else on Earth. Pew, on behalf of the Global Ocean Legacy campaign partners, is working with the British government and the Pitcairn Island community to implement the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve to safeguard this important habitat for future generations.
The Kermadec region, a remote area between New Zealand’s North Island and Tonga, includes some of the most geologically active and biologically unusual features on Earth. Extending in places to a depth of more than 6.2 miles (10 kilometers), the Kermadec-Tonga Trench is the deepest in the Southern Hemisphere, five times deeper than the Grand Canyon. The waters are teeming with birds, whales, dolphins, fish, turtles, and many unique sea creatures, some that exist only there. The area provides important habitat for deep-diving mammals such as sperm whales. Half of the known beaked whales—at least 10 species—are thought to inhabit these waters, perhaps the world’s richest habitat for these rare and elusive animals.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
- Biden Commits to Banning Fossil Fuel Subsidies After DNC Dropped It ›
- As Biden Embraces More Ambitious Climate Plan, Fossil Fuel Execs ... ›
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Grayson Jaggers
The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.
- 15 Indigenous Crops to Boost Your Immune System and Celebrate ... ›
- 15 Supplements to Boost Your Immune System Right Now - EcoWatch ›
- Should I Exercise During the Coronavirus Pandemic? Experts ... ›
- The Immune System's Fight Against the Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.
- FDA Approves First In-Home Test for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- When Should You Get a COVID-19 or Antibody Test? - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites ... ›
- Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial Into Agency Reports ... ›
- Climate Denier Is Named to Leadership Role at NOAA - EcoWatch ›
New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.