Our Plastic Habit Now Pollutes the Arctic Ocean
Ocean plastic has reached the northernmost ends of the earth. The remote and icy waters of the Arctic Ocean are also being inundated by this form of non-biodegradable pollution.
According to a paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, currents carrying trash, originating mostly from the North Atlantic, are flowing north into the Greenland and Barents Seas. An estimated 300 billion bits of plastic debris has accumulated in those waters, in sea ice or even the seafloor.
Researchers from the University of Cádiz in Spain and several other institutions found that in some parts of the Greenland and Barents Seas, concentrations of plastic were in the hundreds of thousands of pieces per square kilometer. The researchers dubbed the region a "dead end for this plastic conveyor belt."
"It's only been about 60 years since we started using plastic industrially, and the usage and the production has been increasing ever since. So most of the plastic that we have disposed of in the ocean is still now in transit to the Arctic," said Carlos Duarte, one of the study's co-authors and director of the Red Sea Research Center at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
The scientists warned that climate change could make the problem worse as rising temperatures melt sea ice.
"The growing level of human activity in an increasingly warm and ice-free Arctic, with wider open areas available for the spread of microplastics, suggests that high loads of marine plastic pollution may become prevalent in the Arctic in the future," the paper stated.
The multinational team of scientists analyzed plastic debris from survey sites around the Arctic Ocean. Most of the plastic was in tiny fragments, mostly ranging from 0.5 millimeters to 12.6 millimeters. Fishing line, film or pellets were also uncovered.
Lead author Andrés Cózar Cabañas, a professor of biology at the University of Cádiz, told the New York Times that he was both surprised and worried about the results.
"We don't fully understand the consequences the plastic is having or will have in our oceans," he said. "What we do know is that these consequences will be felt at greater scale in an ecosystem like this" because it is unlike any other on Earth.
The European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, announced Tuesday it has opened an in-depth investigation into Bayer's proposed $66 billion takeover of Monsanto over "concerns that the merger may reduce competition in areas such as pesticides, seeds and traits."
The controversial merger, if successful, will form the world's largest integrated seed and pesticide company.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt appears in a video sponsored by the beef industry calling on farmers and ranchers to file official comments on a proposal to withdraw and rewrite the Obama-era "Waters of the United States" rule (or WOTUS) before the Aug. 28 deadline.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) video was produced by the beef lobbying organization's policy division, Beltway Beef and was released last week. Notably, NCBA spent $117,375 in lobbying last year.
Two years ago, Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson and his collaborators published a widely circulated study that detailed how the U.S. can eliminate nuclear, biofuels and fossil fuels and transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
Now, in a paper published Wednesday in the new scientific journal Joule, Jacobson and 26 co-authors created clean energy roadmaps not just for the 50 United States, but for 139 individual countries.
The effects of climate change is inextricably linked to human health. The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that traps heat in the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to spike, air quality to worsen, all while fueling droughts, floods and storms that impact food and water security.
By Steve Horn
Energy Transfer Partners, owner of the Dakota Access pipeline, has filed a $300 million Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) lawsuit against Greenpeace and other environmental groups for their activism against the long-contested North Dakota-to-Illinois project.
In its 187-page complaint, Energy Transfer alleges that "putative not-for-profits and rogue eco-terrorist groups who employ patterns of criminal activity and campaigns of misinformation to target legitimate companies and industries with fabricated environmental claims and other purported misconduct" caused the company to lose "billions of dollars."
In a study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, Harvard postdoctoral fellow Geoffrey Supran and professor Naomi Oreskes reviewed nearly 200 communications on climate change from the oil giant, including scientific research, internal company memos and paid editorial features in the New York Times.
The U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Tuesday saying that the Federal Environmental Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) failed to adequately review the environmental impacts of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the fracked gas Sabal Trail pipeline, which runs more than 500 miles through Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
As ocean waters warm and acidify, corals across the globe are disappearing. Desperate to prevent the demise of these vital ecosystems, researchers have developed ways to "garden" corals, buying the oceans some much-needed time. University of Miami Rosenstiel School marine biologist Diego Lirman sat down with Josh Chamot of Nexus Media to describe the process and explain what's at stake. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.