New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.
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In his latest documentary, My Octopus Teacher, free diver and filmmaker Craig Foster tells a unique story about his friendship and bond with an octopus in a kelp forest in Cape Town, South Africa. It's been labeled "the love story that we need right now" by The Cut.
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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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This year, the UK National James Dyson Award went to a team of student designers who want to reduce the environmental impact of car tires.
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By Andrea Willige
More than half of the world's population lives in cities, and most future population growth is predicted to happen in urban areas. But the concentration of large numbers of people and the ecosystems built around their lives has also been a driver of climate change.
Electric Buses in Santiago de Chile<p>Over the past few years, Chile's capital, <a href="https://cleantechnica.com/2020/07/01/chile-orders-150-electric-buses-from-byd/" target="_blank">Santiago de Chile, has bought 455 electric buses</a>, and plans to raise this to nearly 800 by the end of 2020. The e-buses do not generate emissions through their operation, reducing air pollution and its associated impact on human heath and productivity. Air conditioning and a quieter ride are also popular with Santiago's public transport users.</p><p><a href="https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/db408b53-276c-47d6-8b05-52e53b1208e1/e-bus-case-study-Santiago-From-pilots-to-scale-Zebra-paper.pdf" target="_blank">Latin America's first "electric corridor"</a> now operates along one of Santiago's major transport axes, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports. It is only served by e-buses and consists of bus stops using solar panels to power free Wi-Fi, USB charging and LED lighting – further adding to the attractiveness of the e-bus network for users.</p><p>The e-buses also help the local government to reduce operational expenditure. They cost an impressive 70% less to operate and maintain than diesel-powered buses, offsetting their higher cost of purchase, which is nearly double that of a conventional bus. These huge reductions may also lead to lower fares – which could encourage more people to use public transport.</p><p>Chile has <a href="https://webstore.iea.org/download/direct/3007" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">electrification targets</a> for both private and public transport and has put substantial effort into building demand for EVs and charging infrastructure. Its transport minister has recently issued a tender for the procurement of 2,000 more e-buses, and the project is set to be extended to other cities in Chile.</p><p>Although more than nine out of 10 electric buses in 2019 were registered in China, <a href="https://webstore.iea.org/download/direct/3007" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">South America is a major growth market for e-buses</a>, according to the IEA. Santiago's e-fleet is the largest, but cities in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador also operate electric buses.</p>
New Farming Methods in Abu Dhabi<p>As the number of urban dwellers grows, feeding them is likely to become an ever greater challenge. By 2050, it is expected that <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/how-to-build-a-circular-economy-for-food/" target="_blank">80% of all food will be consumed in cities</a>. Where space is limited for traditional farming or the climate makes it difficult to grow sufficient food, <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/02/hydroponics-future-of-farming/" target="_blank">hydroponic farming</a> could be one solution.</p><p>Hydroponics is a water-based farming process that feeds plants nutrient-rich water, rather than them being planted in soil. Because roots don't have to burrow into the ground, hydroponically farmed plants take up a smaller footprint and can be stacked vertically.</p><p>By carefully controlling the plant's environment and nutrient intake, hydroponic farming can not only <a href="https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/poverty-reduction/private_sector/catalyzing-private-sector-investment-in-climate-smart-cities.html" target="_blank">increases yield by a factor of 10 per hectare</a>, but it can also make better use of resources – reducing waste, water usage, pesticides and fertilizers - compared with traditional farming methods. Being indoors, they are less affected by pests and weather events, and crops can be grown close to where they will be consumed. This can save 'food miles' and associated emissions, according to the UN report.</p><p>Abu Dhabi is now providing $100 million in funding to build a vertical farm of over 8,200 square meters (88,000 square feet) for both research and development and the commercialization of crops. The objective for the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, which has granted the funding, is to turn <a href="https://www.just-food.com/news/abu-dhabi-invests-big-in-vertical-farming-initiatives_id143518.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">"sand into farmland,"</a> boost local food production and accelerate the growth of its agricultural technology ecosystem.</p><p>The facility will house four different vertical farming companies, whose initiatives will include indoor tomato cultivation, the development of an irrigation system and an R&D center.</p><p>Similar forays into vertical farming are under way around the world, including in neighboring Dubai, which recently launched <a href="https://gulfagriculture.com/majid-al-futtaim-launches-dubais-first-in-store-hydroponic-farm-bringing-fresh-and-sustainable-food-options-to-shoppers/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">its first in-store hydroponic farm</a>.</p>
Insuring Coral Reefs in Mexico<p>When hedging against climate risk, natural solutions can be important elements in a city's sustainable infrastructure.</p><p>Coral reefs are a case in point, serving as natural barriers against hazards such as ocean surges and flooding. <a href="https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/poverty-reduction/private_sector/catalyzing-private-sector-investment-in-climate-smart-cities.html" target="_blank">They can absorb as much wave energy as seawalls and breakwaters</a>, which are less durable.</p><p>The UNDP report says reefs and other natural defenses are less costly to maintain than man-made solutions and could save as much as $100 billion in cases of natural disasters.</p><p>However, it says, 20% of reefs have been lost globally and another 15% are in danger, and funding for their restoration and maintenance is limited and such initiatives only happen on a small scale.</p><p>In Mexico, the UNDP is now piloting an insurance scheme to protect and boost the Meso-American reef – the second largest globally – as a natural defense, and as a source of income for coastal populations.</p><p>Reef2Resilience is similar to a trust fund that local businesses pay into. The role of the fund is two-fold. It invests in restoring and maintaining the reef – so it can offer better natural protection. And it pays for catastrophe insurance so that the reef and its surrounding ecosystem can recover quickly after a natural disaster, ensuring future protection and protecting the livelihoods of coastal communities.</p><p>An extension of the project to the Caribbean and Asia is being discussed.</p>
Climate-Smart Infrastructure as an Investment Opportunity<p>Climate-smart urban infrastructure, whether technology-driven or natural, represents a $30 trillion investment opportunity – ranging from renewable energy to public transport and from electric vehicles to green buildings, the report says. And that's just in developing economies.</p><p>New funding models, policies and risk assessment will be needed to overcome barriers to investment and bring out the long-term value of climate-smart infrastructure for growing urban populations.</p>
In 2010, representatives of 196 countries met in Japan and agreed to 20 targets to protect Earth's imperiled biodiversity by 2020.
That year has come, and not a single target has been met, according to a major UN assessment released Tuesday, as CNN reported.
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A Japanese ship that wrecked off the coast of Mauritius in July and sparked one of the worst environmental disasters in the country's history may have run aground because of birthday celebrations on board at the time.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="34287b18290ccad5cf7b867046c7a054"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/SxguTU3tt5c?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier has been called the "Doomsday Glacier." Thwaites and its neighbor, the Pine Island Glacier, are among those in West Antarctica most influenced by the climate crisis. If they melted, they could destabilize the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which has the potential to contribute about 10 feet to global sea level rise.
<div id="9e0ea" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="307392311f755bed5cb3a21f52e3dbc1"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1305597446182051841" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">We use satellite imagery to show how the shear margins of both @AntarcticPIG and @ThwaitesGlacier have weakened. He… https://t.co/nKn0nGLU9V</div> — Stef Lhermitte (@Stef Lhermitte)<a href="https://twitter.com/StefLhermitte/statuses/1305597446182051841">1600113662.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Anthony C. Didlake Jr.
Of all the hazards that hurricanes bring, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property along the coast. It can sweep homes off their foundations, flood riverside communities miles inland, and break up dunes and levees that normally protect coastal areas against storms.
But what exactly is storm surge?
What Storm Surge Looks Like From Shore<p>As a hurricane reaches the coast, it pushes a huge volume of ocean water ashore. This is what we call storm surge.</p><p>This surge appears as a gradual rise in the water level as the storm approaches. Depending on the size and track of the hurricane, storm surge flooding can last for several hours. It then recedes after the storm passes.</p><p>Water level heights during a hurricane can reach 20 feet or more above normal sea level. With powerful waves on top of it, a hurricane's storm surge can cause catastrophic damage.</p>
What Determines How High a Storm Surge Gets?<p>Storm surge begins over the open ocean. The strong winds of a hurricane push the ocean waters around and cause water to pile up under the storm. The low air pressure of the storm also plays a small role in lifting the water level. The height and extent of this pile of water depend on the strength and size of the hurricane.</p><p>As this pile of water moves toward the coast, other factors can change its height and extent.</p>
Other Factors That Shape Storm Surge<p>Ocean tides – caused by the gravity of the moon and sun – can also strengthen or weaken the impact of a storm surge. So, it's important to know the timing of the local tides compared to the hurricane landfall.</p><p>At high tide, the water is already at an elevated height. If landfall happens at high tide, the storm surge will cause even higher water levels and bring more water further inland. The Carolinas saw those effects when Hurricane Isaias hit at close to high tide on Aug. 3. Isaias brought a storm surge of about <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/08/03/isaias-path-carolinas-northeast/" target="_blank">4 feet at Myrtle Beach</a>, South Carolina, but the water level was <a href="https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/waterlevels.html?id=8661070&units=standard&bdate=20200802&edate=20200804&timezone=GMT&datum=MLLW&interval=6&action=" target="_blank">more than 10 feet</a> above normal.</p>
How a storm surge and high tide add up to coastal flooding. The COMET Program/UCAR and National Weather Service<p><a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2680/new-study-finds-sea-level-rise-accelerating/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sea level rise</a> is another growing concern that influences storm surge.</p><p>As water warms, <a href="https://sealevel.nasa.gov/understanding-sea-level/global-sea-level/thermal-expansion" target="_blank">it expands</a>, and that has slowly raised sea level over the past century as <a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/world-of-change/global-temperatures" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">global temperatures have risen</a>. Freshwater from melting of ice sheets and glaciers also adds to sea level rise. Together, they <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevate the background ocean height</a>. When a hurricane arrives, the higher ocean means storm surge can bring water further inland, to a more dangerous and widespread effect.</p>
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Killer whales have been ramming yachts and boats off the coast of Northern Spain and researchers are puzzled by their behavior. In several attacks over the last couple of months, orcas have damaged boats and injured sailors, according to The Guardian.
Two years ago, J35, a Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) nicknamed Tahlequah, broke hearts around the world when she carried her dead calf over 1,000 miles over 17 days of apparent mourning. Now, she's given birth to a "robust and lively" calf that researchers are calling a ray of hope for the endangered population, reported The New York Times.
The killer whales, also called orcas, stay off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, near Washington State, Oregon and British Columbia. According to the Marine Mammal Commission, the SRKW population may have historically numbered more than 200 animals prior to the 20th century. Their numbers plummeted due to loss of prey, opportunistic hunting prior to the 1960s and the live capture of nearly 70 Resident and Transient killer whales for marine parks from 1967 to 1971, the commission found. There were only 88 of the iconic whales left when they were listed as endangered in 2005, The New York Times reported, and the population has continued to dwindle since. The birth of the newest orca, called J57, brings the population to 73.
"It's a bit of a nail-biter right now," whale researcher Dr. Deborah Giles from the Center for Conservation Biology told The New York Times. "I can't help but be thrilled that she had this baby and this baby didn't die right away. Everybody is worried and on pins and needles, wondering if this calf is going to make it."
"With such a small population … every successful birth is hugely important for recovery," said a blog post from SR3, the marine conservation group that used drone footage to confirm J35's pregnancy in July and monitor her condition.
Several factors have hurt the population's chances of rebounding, including food scarcity, toxic pollutants that bioaccumulate, and noise pollution, the news report said.
The whales are "essentially starving," reported Smithsonian Magazine. Eighty percent of the SRKW's diet consists of Chinook salmon, the Center for Whale Research wrote. The salmon have declined "significantly" due to commercial fishing and widespread habitat destruction, according to the Marine Mammal Commission.
Government reports also found that agricultural pesticides jeopardize the survival of the salmon. Then, when the orcas eat polluted fish, the chemicals and pesticides eventually end up stored in the whales' fat, suppressing their immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to disease and affecting females' ability to reproduce, reported Smithsonian Magazine.
Additionally, according to the Georgia Straight Alliance, noise disrupts the whales' echolocation and prevents them from hunting, navigating and communicating.
"Both the physical presence of vessels and associated underwater noise hinders Southern Residents' ability to perform basic life activities," the Alliance reported.
To make matters worse, many of the population's pregnancies fail, and around 40% of calves die within their first year, The New York Times reported. Recent scientific findings suggest that these reproductive failures and high calf mortality rates are linked to malnutrition and lack of their preferred salmon prey, reported the Marine Mammal Commission.
With nothing to eat and nowhere to live, the Southern Resident orcas have thus become a symbol for animals on the brink of extinction. J35 became the poster child for her population during her 17-day "tour of grief," catalyzing many groups to call for new protections for the endangered whales.
According to the Center for Whale Research, J52, another two-and-a-half-year-old calf from the J-pod, died presumably from malnutrition one ear earlier.
After the 2018 loss of J35's previous calf, Ken Balcomb, founder of the Center for Whale Research, estimated that the SRKW population only had about five years to rebound or face irreversible decline.
"We've got at most five more years of reproductive life in this population to make it happen"— meaning, to have viable offspring — "but if we don't do it in those five years it isn't going to happen," he told National Geographic in 2018.
That's why, with the birth of J57, researchers are cautiously optimistic.
The encounter report from the Center for Whale Research announcing J57's birth said, "Her new calf appeared healthy and precocious, swimming vigorously alongside its mother in its second day of free-swimming life … We hope this calf is a success story."
Balcom said, "The baby looked very robust and lively, so I have good expectations for this one surviving," reported The New York Times.
He told The New York Times he hoped that recent efforts such as the removal of a dam on the Elwah River would bring back more robust runs of Chinook salmon and issue a turning point for the orcas.
"This new birth brings new hope – for Tahlequah and for all of us," wildlife photographer Alena Ebeling-Schuld told The Guardian. "I am wishing Tahlequah and her new little one the very best with all of my being."
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Many of New York City's coastal residents are plagued by flooding – during storms and on sunny days.
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