By Sylvia Earle & David Helvarg
We've recently seen the remarkable capacity of youth to mobilize and to inspire us with a message of change in their march against gun violence. Theirs is also a generation equipped with technologies not just to connect to each other but to better understand our blue planet in ways unimaginable even a generation ago. These include satellite tagging and following of migratory species such as whales, sharks and tuna and accessing the deep ocean with both autonomous robots and human occupied submersibles that allow us to dive into the history of our Earth.
While more than 500 people have blasted into space only three humans have been to the lowest point of our planet, seven miles down in the Pacific. We've mapped less than five percent of our ocean with the resolution we've mapped one hundred percent of the moon and mars. And yet what's the first thing we do when we send a probe to mars in search of life? Look for water.
Even as we're discovering the wonders of our own water planet however—its contribution to the air we breath, the rain that feeds our crops, the way it regulates our climate and weather—we're also putting these newly discovered connections at risk through greed, short-term thinking and thoughtless exploitation.
The ocean and all of the life it sustains is under threat from industrial overfishing, plastic and other forms of pollution, loss of vital habitat on and offshore and fossil-fuel fired climate change that is raising sea levels, intensifying hurricanes such as last season's Harvey, Irma and Maria, even changing the basic chemistry of the seas through ocean acidification.
We know what the solutions are and how to grow them faster than the problems we face. These include transitioning from fossil fuels to job-generating clean energy, reducing and replacing plastic waste in packaging and throwaway products and creating great wilderness reserves or "hope spots" in the ocean to act as an insurance policy for the web of life in a changing ocean. Some nations are stepping up their commitment to our living seas while others including Australia and the U.S. are pulling back from policies that protect ocean systems and all they embrace.
That's why we, our organizations and a coalition of more than 120 others from conservation, business, science, social justice, youth and student groups, along with public officials from both parties (and independents) will be attending March for the Ocean. This will take place Saturday June 9, World Oceans Day weekend, in Washington DC and other locations around the world. It will be the first ever mobilization on behalf of a healthy ocean and clean water for all. Half a century ago we marched to save the whales. Now we're marching to save it all.
We're asking others to join us to Wear Blue and March for the Ocean that day because the fish can't be there to say what they need to say, the whales can't be there, the turtles, the ocean, unless it rains—that's the ocean sending us a message—but we need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. And that's not just the creatures in the ocean, not just the ocean as a whole, but also those of us yet to come. They can't be there either. But the decisions we make now, the voice that we have now will shape whatever follows—so be there with us, come celebrate, come be a voice!
Sylvia Earle was the first senior scientist for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and a National Geographic explorer-in-residence sometimes referred to as 'Her Deepness.'
David Helvarg is an author and executive director of Blue Frontier Campaign, an ocean conservation and policy group. He is chair of the March for the Ocean Steering Committee.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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