By Nathalie Chalmers
The ocean is our lifeline - its health is essential to our health. Securing the ocean's well-being will have positive impacts across many global challenges we face today such as poverty, hunger, human health, unemployment, inequality and more. Finding and elevating promising ocean innovations wherever they may be, connecting them and helping them scale is crucial to ensure we protect one of our planet's most valuable assets.
In that vein, UpLink - a digital platform for scaling innovation and driving progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals - is proud to unveil its second cohort of ocean innovators.
To find these innovators, we launched our second Ocean Solutions Sprint alongside four partners: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), and the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).
We believe these innovations have the potential to address some of the key opportunities in the ocean space today, such as protecting and restoring coral reefs, scaling restorative aquaculture, unearthing technologies for marine protection and helping invest in nature-based solutions.
Scientists say climate change and pollution could kill off the world’s coral reefs by 2100. UpLink has launched a… https://t.co/kWgbY7ncq8— World Economic Forum (@World Economic Forum)1600707600.0
Over the next few months, we will work with the cohort to help them scale their impact through mentoring opportunities, capacity building workshops, exposure and visibility, as well as introductions to experts and potential investors where relevant. These organizations will join a growing community of UpLink innovators who are benefiting from the platform.
We would also like to thank supporting partners from the investment side Aquaspark, The Blue Natural Capital Financing Facility (BNCFF), Blue Ocean Partners, Hatch and Katapult Ocean for their support during this challenge.
Welcome to our new ocean innovators cohort:
Arc Marine's innovative Reef Cubes can help boost large-scale coral restoration projects and provide eco-friendly marine habitats while also protecting man-made assets.
A new home for endangered sea animals. 📕 Read more: https://t.co/QWeJtsxNDo @WEFUpLink https://t.co/nxKHUY2otR— World Economic Forum (@World Economic Forum)1603746000.0
Atlantic Sea Farms is creating products made from sustainably farmed sea greens, while also expanding opportunities for fishing communities and helping them to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification.
Cascadia Seaweed provides healthy plant-based nutritional food, climate action and ocean regeneration, and economic resiliency for Indigenous communities through seaweed cultivation in British Columbia.
CHARM, the innovative coral farming robot, combines scientific research with computer automation to reduce costs, save time, and grow resilient coral colonies at economies of scale.
Kelp Blue is a restorative large-scale offshore kelp cultivation enterprise that produces sustainable agri-foods and bio-stimulants which displace environmentally damaging alternatives.
Mussel Farm Mechanization in Brazil aims to increase productivity and competitiveness of small-scale mussel farms in Santa Catarina, through the adoption of mechanized farming systems and the integration between farmers and processing companies.
Plant a Million Corals and their adaptable, low-cost coral restoration units, can be deployed to not only increase coral growth but also to empower communities to take an active role in conservation.
Sea6 Energy modernizes tropical seaweed farming to produce large quantities of inexpensive biomass from which a whole range of products are derived.
Australian Seaweed Institute is developing seaweed biofilter technology to protect the Great Barrier Reef through a network of seaweed biofilters that can be harvested for use in products such as animal feed and biofertilizer.
SharkSafe Barriers help promote a friendly coexistence between sharks and humans by installing vertical bio fences that mimic kelp forests and use magnetism to deter shark species.
WIPSEA specializes in digital environmental surveys and deep-learning techniques to map large marine mammals and human activities at sea.
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
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By Douglas Broom
COVID-19 has presented us with a unique opportunity for a green and inclusive recovery that will make the world a better place for everyone, says the head of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
"The pandemic has shown us the importance of being prepared when crises hit. It has also shown us that postponing bold decisions can have huge costs," says José Ángel Gurría, OECD Secretary General.
"We were not prepared for the COVID-19 crisis, and we are even less prepared for the looming consequences of ongoing and worsening challenges such as climate change, biodiversity collapse, life-shortening air pollution, and ocean acidification."
Global emissions broken down by economic sector. OECD
Here are the 25 things the OECD says we must do to accelerate a fair, low-carbon recovery, focusing on five key emitting sectors of the world economy – agriculture, buildings, electricity, industry and transport – and using five policy levers: investment, regulation, tax & subsidies, leadership by example, and information & education.
4.0 Gigatonnes of Methane emissions come from land-use change. OECD
1. Improve agricultural productivity in sustainable ways that lower emissions and allow us to feed a growing global population.
2. Reform food and farming regulations that lead to overproduction, waste food and distort prices and increase agricultural emissions.
3. Use the tax system and support payments to reduce emissions, taking care to avoid inflating food prices or driving farmers out of business.
4. Include agriculture in national climate change strategies to ensure its effects are not overlooked.
5. Help consumers and producers make informed food choices and reduce food waste.
We need to ensure wider, societal benefits to create a greener future. OECD
6. Ensure that public money is not spent on projects that harm the climate and invest instead in sustainable buildings.
7. Put in place stringent climate-friendly building regulations and construction standards.
8. Use tax and financial incentives to renovate and reuse existing buildings rather than always building new ones.
9. Encourage sustainable building within urban and rural planning.
10. Teach planners and builders how to construct and maintain green buildings.
Over 60% of investment is given to fossil fuels. OECD
11. Focus investments on green energy generation and sustainable power distribution networks.
12. Phase out the use of coal and switch to the green energy sources that are available locally.
13. Use carbon pricing to drive the transition to clean power and remove barriers that stop people switching to renewable energy.
14. Channel central and local government money into green energy projects.
15. Provide investors and consumers with information to ensure they choose sustainable energy.
Evidence shows that rapid increases in emissions are linked to short term infrastructure growth. OECD
16. Increase research and development into new low-carbon industrial processes.
17. Introduce energy efficiency regulations to reduce emissions from industry.
18. Use carbon pricing to encourage innovation without harming competitiveness.
19. Take the lead in your sector in switching to a circular economy in which resources are conserved and reused.
20. Educate business leaders and workers in energy and resource-efficient sustainable practices.
The non-urban passenger is expected to increasingly contribute to CO2 emissions. OECD
21. Increase research into the development, production and use of zero-emission fuels.
22. Make the best use of existing transport capacity through measures like car sharing and smart logistics to improve freight efficiency.
23. Use measures like increased taxes on polluting vehicles to encourage the use of sustainable passenger and freight transport.
24. Ensure low-carbon solutions are the default choice when setting transport policies.
25. Share knowledge about proven methods of reducing transport emissions, such as teaching truckers eco-driving techniques.
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
There's no better way to show your dog that you love them than by keeping them healthy. In addition to exercise, a healthy diet, grooming, and regular checkups at the vet, you can also help support your dog's wellbeing with CBD dog treats. Learn how CBD oils and treats can benefit your four-legged friend and see which brands made our list of the best CBD treats for dogs.
How CBD Treats and Chews Can Help Dogs (and Other Pets)
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the many naturally occurring compounds found in the hemp plant. CBD oil is derived from the leaves, flowers, and stems of the cannabis plant. This important cannabinoid compound has been found to possess both medical as well as therapeutic benefits in both humans and animals.
Like humans, dogs possess an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS plays a role in the body's natural processes related to mental function, mood, inflammation, pain, appetite, energy, digestion, and more.
Some of the potential benefits of CBD for dogs include support for:
- Separation anxiety and stress
- Chronic inflammation
- Arthritis and joint pain
- Digestive issues
- Seizures, tremors, or spasms
With so many potential benefits, more and more pet owners are seeking CBD for dogs as a natural way to help keep them healthy.
Related: Best CBD Oils for Dogs of 2021
Top 6 CBD Dog Treats Online
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - Joy Organics Premium CBD Dog Chews
- Best for Anxiety - Charlotte's Web Calming Chews for Dogs
- Best for Mobility - Zesty Paws CBD Mobility Bites Soft Chews
- Best for Skin & Coat - R+R Medicinals Hemp Extract Dog Chews
- Best Flavor - FAB CBD Calm & Cool Dog Treats
- Best Hard Chew - Paw CBD Dog Treats
How We Review CBD Treats for Dogs
To select the best CBD dog treats, we considered specific factors around the CBD, the ingredients, the flavoring, and the brands themselves. Here are more details about how we reviewed each of CBD treats for dogs that made our list.
Source of CBD
Just like with CBD products for people, we only choose brands that use CBD from safe and trustworthy sources. We prefer brands that use CBD from hemp plants grown in the U.S., and we also look to see if the CBD is grown organically or naturally. The extraction process also matters, especially if they use clean CO2 extraction. This helps determine the type of CBD contained in their products, whether it's full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.
In addition to the CBD, we look to see what other ingredients go into each dog treat. The best brands use all-natural ingredients and flavorings and avoid fillers or allergens like corn, wheat, and soy. We also look for additional healthy ingredients like sweet potato, flaxseed, turmeric, passionflower, sunflower oil, and more, that are known to promote better health in dogs.
A CBD dog treat won't do much good if you're dog won't eat it! We select products that come in appetizing flavors that dogs will love. It's important that these come from natural ingredients instead of artificial flavoring. We also chose different types of treats, both soft and hard chews, to give you more options depending on your dog's preferences.
We only recommend CBD dog treats from brands that we trust. All of the best CBD brands include third-party lab testing on all of their products to ensure the strength and purity of their CBD. Certain brands also offer veterinarian-formulated pet CBD treats, or are certified by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). We also look for brands that offer affordable prices and money back guarantees.
Our Top Picks for Dog CBD Treats
Best Overall: Joy Organics Premium CBD Dog Chews
These Joy Organics Premium CBD Dog Chews are made with premium grade broad spectrum CBD. That means they contain all of the beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids to help promote wellness without any THC. Joy Organics also uses water-soluble CBD powder for these chews, making them faster and easier to absorb. They are certified organic, non-GMO, cruelty-free, and third-party lab tested for purity.
Why buy: Joy Organics CBD dog chews are our favorites overall because they include real ingredients like beef liver, brewers yeast, flax oil, and sweet potato powder, as well as broad spectrum CBD. These treats are easy to digest, making them a great option for dogs with sensitive stomachs.We also love that Joy Organics offers carbon neutral shipping.
Best for Anxiety: Charlotte's Web Calming Chews for Dogs
Charlotte's Web Calming Chews combine full spectrum CBD from U.S. grown hemp with natural botanicals like valerian root, chamomile, and passionflower extract to help relax and calm your dog. Each chew contains 2.5 mg of CBD and other cannabinoids to help promote a balanced emotional state in your pet, especially for stressful situations like boarding, traveling, or vet visits. While we wish the offered a little more information on the ingredient breakdown, as a certified B corp we trust Charlotte's Web overall.
Why buy: We love that these calming chews include so many natural botanicals to help dogs manage stress and anxiety. Charlotte's Web CBD dog treats are also NASC certified and undergo independent third-party lab testing for quality assurance. These are great for nervous or anxious adult dogs.
Best for Mobility: Zesty Paws CBD Mobility Bites Soft Chews
Zesty Paws CBD Mobility Bites Soft Chews are made with CBDistillery broad spectrum CBD. They use non-GMO industrial hemp plants grown naturally in the U.S. and extract the CBD oil solely from aerial plant parts. The Hip & Joint formula also includes glucosamine, chondroitin, and OptiMSM to support joint lubrication, cartilage formation, and muscular function. Each soft chew includes 5 mg of CBD to help improve your dog's mobility.
Why buy: We recommend these chews for dogs with joint or hip pain as they can both help relieve pain and support joint health. We love that they are NASC certified, contain no grain, corn, or soy derivatives, and are made with an organic vegetarian roast beef flavor.
Best for Skin & Coat: R+R Medicinals Hemp Extract Dog Chews
These CBD dog chews from R+R Medicinals contain full spectrum hemp extract for a potent blend of natural plant compounds including terpenes, flavonoids, and antioxidants. Each chew contains 5 mg of CBD from Colorado grown hemp to promote mental and physical wellness. Plus the natural chicken flavor offers a savory taste your dog will love.
Why buy: We love R+R Medicinals Hemp Extract Dog Chews because they are made with real, natural ingredients like sweet potato, flax seed, and chicken liver. They also include grapeseed oil to promote a healthy coat and skin. These CBD treats are ideal for natural overall health.
Best Flavor: FAB CBD Dog Treats
FAB CBD Dog Treats are a great baked treat option for dogs who prefer some crunch. They include 3 mg of broad spectrum CBD per treat, and are baked without any corn, wheat, soy, or dairy. These Calm & Cool treats are also made to help dogs relax from anxiety or stress, and include natural ingredients like passionflower and chamomile to promote calm.
Why buy: We love that these baked CBD dog treats from FAB come in a peanut butter and apple flavor that most dogs won't be able to resist. We also like that they use organically grown hemp extract with no THC. These treats are a great way to help support a calmer dog naturally.
Best Hard Chew: Paw CBD Dog Treats
Paw CBD Dog Treats are veterinarian formulated hard chews made with cbdMD broad spectrum hemp extract. They come in two different flavors, baked cheese and peanut butter, and three different strengths so you can choose the right amount of CBD for the size of your dog. All Paw CBD Dog Treats are THC-free and contain no artificial preservatives or colors.
Why buy: We love that these hard chews not only provide CBD to help support your dog's wellbeing, they also offer a satisfying crunch that can help clean their teeth too. These CBD dog treats are perfect if your pet doesn't go for soft chews. Plus, cbdMD offers a 60 day money back guarantee.
What's the Difference Between CBD Oil and CBD Dog Treats?
CBD for dogs can come in several different forms. Some brands offer CBD oil for dogs, which comes as an oil tincture that you measure using a dropper. CBD oil can either be administered orally or mixed in with your dog's food. This provides a fast way for your dog's body to absorb the CBD and to experience the mental and physical benefits. CBD oils for dogs also typically contain fewer ingredients than some other pet CBD products, just the CBD and a carrier oil, so it's easier for you to know exactly what you give to your dog.
CBD dog treats are soft or hard chews made with CBD and are meant to be more palatable for dogs than oils. Some dogs do not enjoy the earthy or natural flavor of CBD oil and respond better to a savory treat. These products also typically include other natural ingredients meant to promote your dog's health, including sweet potato and flax seed. Treats make it easier to know exactly how much CBD you give to your dog each time, as every treat will contain the same amount of CBD. Dog treats with CBD are typically an easier, less messy option than oils.
What the Experts Say About CBD and Dogs
Research has found that CBD can provide a number of different benefits for dogs, from calming dogs with separation anxiety to helping older dogs that suffer from chronic joint pain.
A 2018 study concluded that CBD oil "can help increase comfort and activity" in dogs with osteoarthritis. Another study conducted in 2019 found that CBD could help dogs with epilepsy by potentially reducing the frequency of seizures when added to their existing medication.
In addition to joint pain and epilepsy, CBD is also frequently used to help relieve anxiety and stress in dogs. Recent research has shown that CBD can help to reduce aggression in some dogs, especially through calming dogs in stressful settings like shelters.
What to Look for in CBD Dog Products
While there are a lot of CBD dog products out there, not all of them are safe or effective. Here are the things to look for when evaluating CBD for dogs.
There are a few signs that can tell you if a CBD dog treat or oil is a quality product.
First, always look to see that the product has undergone independent third-party lab testing to ensure its potency and safety. Second, try to choose CBD products that are sourced from hemp grown in the United States. Third, you can always look for the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) seal that indicates a product or brand meets strict standards for safety and testing.
Additionally, look for labels and certifications that you trust like USDA organic, non-GMO, and products made without wheat, corn, or soy.
How to Read Labels
When comparing CBD dog treats, make sure to check the labels for a few key pieces of information.
Type of CBD
Make sure you know what type of CBD is in the product. Full spectrum CBD offers the complete profile of cannabinoids and plant compounds found in hemp. For some, this provides more benefits and stronger relief. Broad spectrum CBD, meanwhile, all of the same cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids as full spectrum, but it is THC-free. This can be important if your dog is especially sensitive or does not react well to full spectrum products.
Amount of CBD
Next, look to see how much CBD is contained in each treat or serving. This will help you determine the right product for your dog based on their size. Some brands include serving guides on their packaging to help make sure you give your dog the appropriate amount of CBD.
List of Ingredients
Check the ingredients list as well to make sure that the CBD dog treat does not contain anything your dog might be allergic to. You can also note if the treat is made with all natural ingredients. Depending on your dog, you can also look for treats that contain additional ingredients that are good for specific health concerns, like sweet potato, turmeric, passionflower, and flax seed.
How Many CBD Treats Should Your Dog Take?
The amount of CBD contained in each treat will determine how many you should give your dog at one time. As with humans, it's best to start with a small dose, monitor your dog's response, and gradually increase slowly from there. The same rule of thumb applies for dogs and other pets: start low and go slow.
Most CBD dog treats will include a recommended serving guide based on the size of your dog. For example, for dogs under 10 lbs you may only want to give them 1.5 mg of CBD daily. If a treat contains 3 mg of CBD total, you should only give them half of a treat per day. Dogs over 60 lbs, however, may need two treats a day, or 6 mg of CBD, to experience the desired benefits. Again, start with a small amount to make sure that your dog responds positively to CBD before gradually increasing the number of treats.
Possible Side Effects
As with any natural supplement or prescription medication for your dog, there is the possibility for certain side effects. Some of the more common side effects that dogs can experience include:
- Excessive panting
- Loss of balance
If you notice that your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, then you may have given them too much CBD, as these are signs of toxicity. If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it's best to call your veterinarian right away.
CBD can offer a number of potential benefits for dogs. For those who don't want the mess of oil tinctures, or for dogs who don't like the taste of oils, CBD dog treats offer an easy and tasty solution. Whether you want to help your dog with anxiety and stress or mobility issues due to joint pain, you can find a CBD dog treat that you both will love.
The future may be too hot for baby sharks, a study published Tuesday found.
Oceans are warming as a result of global climate change, causing harm to aquatic ecosystems across the planet. In response, researchers from Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University and the University of Massachusetts asked: How will climate change affect species who rely on their environment to regulate their biological processes?
The researchers chose to study the epaulette shark to better understand how ectotherms, species that match their body temperatures to the environment's, will respond to climate change.
"The epaulette shark is known for its resilience to change, even to ocean acidification," Dr. Jodie Rummer, co-author of the study told the ARC Centre in a statement.
Epaulette sharks are only found in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia and are often the subject of climate change studies because they thrive in captivity and are considered of little concern in the wild, the study reported. "So, if this species can't cope with warming waters then how will other, less tolerant species fare?" Rummer asked.
The scientists examined how 27 epaulette shark embryos grew and developed in average summer temperatures, 27 degrees Celsius, and temperatures predicted for the middle and end of the century, 31 degrees Celsius.
"The hotter the conditions, the faster everything happened, which could be a problem for the sharks," Carolyn Wheeler, lead author of the study, said.
In hotter temperatures "the creatures hatched earlier, were born smaller, and needed to feed straight away, but lacked energy," CNN reported, and emerged from their egg cases after 100 days, The Guardian added. But in the normal temperatures, the sharks emerged from the egg cases after 125 days.
Sharks could respond to warming temperatures in three likely ways, Rummer said, according to The Guardian. The first case is the sharks find colder temperatures, but only if they find the right habitat.
The second is the sharks could genetically adapt to warmer temperatures. But this is improbable because the sharks like the epaulette grow slowly and reproduce at low rates compared to other fishes, the ARC Centre wrote in a statement.
And the last case would be for the sharks to "disappear off the planet," Rummer told The Guardian.
Since 1910, the Great Barrier Reef has warmed by 0.8 degrees Celsius. This warming impacts more than a species' biological processes, according to Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, impacting a fish's swimming abilities and behavior.
Why does this matter?
"When sharks change their behaviour it affects the whole ecosystem," The Conversation reported in an article that analyzed how the Port Jackson shark, a bullhead shark living in Southern Australia, responds to climate change.
Generally the top of the food chain, sharks play a critical role in ecosystem management.
"Port Jackson sharks, for example, are predators of urchins, and urchins feed on kelp forests — a rich habitat for hundreds of marine species. If the number of sharks decline in a region and the number of urchins increase, then it could lead to the loss of kelp forests," The Conversation reported.
Similarly, "Sharks are important as predators because they take out the weak and injured and keep the integrity of the population strong," Rummer told The Guardian.
The future of healthy ecosystems for baby sharks and other marine species seems grim. So what can be done?
Research on how individual species are impacted by climate change is a step in the right direction, The Conversation wrote, which can determine unknown resilience within species and highlight new populations at great risk.
Emphasizing "the importance of curbing our reliance on fossil fuels because climate change is affecting even the toughest little sharks," should come next, Rummer remarked. "Our future ecosystems depend us taking urgent action to limit climate change," she added.
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A team of scientists has created the first-ever aerial map of the coral reefs surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands, in a breakthrough researchers hope will assist reef conservation in the islands and beyond.
The map, written up in a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article Monday, was able to show the geographic distribution of live coral around the island chain at 16 meters (approximately 52 feet) of depth and also pinpoint where the corals were more or less impacted by human activity.
"Never before has there been such a detailed and synoptic view of live corals at this scale," study co-author Jamison Gove of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told ASU Now.
The research was led by the Arizona State University's (ASU) Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (GDCS). The scientists sought to resolve several challenges with mapping coral reefs as they face unprecedented challenges.
Because of ocean acidification and coral bleaching caused by the climate crisis, as well as problems like runoff from coastal development, 75 percent of the world's coral reefs could face critical threats by 2050. But, in order to protect these reefs, it is important to know where they are. On-the-ground mapping is inherently limited in scope, while satellite images do not provide enough detail.
This is the problem GDCS researchers sought to solve with their Global Airborne Observatory. This is an airborne lab that combines two processes to create detailed maps, Courthouse News Service explained. These techniques are laser-guided imaging spectroscopy, which is often used to map complicated landscapes like forests, and artificial intelligence.
"We undertook this first-ever mapping of a large archipelago to determine where corals live in Hawaiian waters despite repeated heatwaves and problematic coastal development issues," lead study author and GDCS Director Greg Asner told ASU Now. "It's this basic information that is needed by partner organizations to drive more cost-effective protections, restoration activities, and public engagement."
Hawaii's reefs, like reefs worldwide, face major challenges. Marine heatwaves in 2015 and 2019 caused bleaching events, while coastal development and fishing have also harmed reefs through factors like pollution and sedimentation. The mapping found that on Oahu, for example, only 12 percent of the island's reefs still had live coral. There was likely three times as much living coral surrounding the island 200 years ago, Asner told Honolulu Civil Beat.
The study found that around 60 percent of the presence or absence of living coral could be explained water depth, wave power or coastal development. Overall, the biggest human impacts on Hawaii's coral were nearshore development, water quality, sea surface temperature and non-commercial fishing, in that order, Asner tweeted.
The distribution of live corals in the main Hawaiian Islands was determined by mapping and AI-driven analyses. In d… https://t.co/X8H6nIsmcj— Greg Asner (@Greg Asner)1607988030.0
But the mapping also turned up places, known as refugia, where coral proved to be resilient to human impacts, ASU Now reported. Asner told Honolulu Civil Beat that the map could be used to help policymakers determine which reefs, like the refugia, to protect; which areas would be ideal for restoration; and which were so degraded that perhaps it is not worth the effort to restore them given limited resources.
"Operational mapping of live coral cover within and across Hawaii's reef ecosystems affords opportunities for managers and policymakers to better address reef protection, resilience and restoration," study coauthor and head of Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources Brian Neilson told ASU Now. "With these new maps, we have a better shot at protecting what we have while focusing on where to improve conditions for corals and the myriad of species that depend upon corals."
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What Is Climate Change? Is It Different From Global Warming?
Climate change is actually not a new phenomenon. Scientists have been studying the connection between human activity and the effect on the climate since the 1800s, although it took until the 1950s to find evidence suggesting a link.
Since then, the amount of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases) in the atmosphere have steadily increased, taking a sharp jump in the late 1980s when the summer of 1988 became the warmest on record. (There have been many records broken since then.) But climate change is not a synonym for global warming.
The term global warming entered the lexicon in the 1950s, but didn't become a common buzzword until a few decades later when more people started taking notice of a warming climate. Except climate change encompasses a greater realm than just rising temperatures. Trapped gases also affect sea-level rise, animal habitats, biodiversity and weather patterns. For example, Texas' severe winter storms in February 2021 demonstrate how the climate isn't merely warming.
Why Is Climate Change Important? Why Does It Matter?
Marc Guitard / Moment / Getty Images
Despite efforts from forward thinkers such as SpaceX Founder Elon Musk to colonize Mars, Earth remains our home for the foreseeable future, and the more human activity negatively impacts the climate, the less habitable it will become. It's estimated that Earth has already warmed about one degree Celsius, or two degrees Fahrenheit, since the start of the Industrial Revolution around the 1750s, although climate change tracking didn't start until the late 1800s. That warming number may not sound like much, but this increase has already resulted in more frequent and severe wildfires, hurricanes, floods, droughts and winter storms, to name some examples.
Then there's biodiversity loss, another fallout of climate change that's threatening rainforests and coral reefs and accelerating species extinction. Take rainforests, which act as natural carbon sinks by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But as rampant deforestation is occurring everywhere from Brazil's Amazon to Borneo, fewer trees mean that rainforests are becoming carbon sources, emitting more carbon than they're absorbing. Meanwhile, coral reefs are dying as warming ocean temperatures trigger bleaching events, which cause corals to reject algae, their main food and life source. Fewer trees, coral reefs and other habitats also equate to fewer species. Known as the sixth mass extinction, a 2019 UN report revealed that up to a million plant and animal species could become extinct within decades.
It can be easy to overlook climate change in day-to-day life, or even realize that climate change is behind it. Notice there's yet another romaine lettuce recall due to E. Coli? Research suggests that E. Coli bacteria are becoming more common in our food sources as it adapts to climate change. Can't find your favorite brand of coffee beans anymore? Or that the price has doubled? Climate change is affecting that too. Climate change is also worsening air quality and seasonal allergies, along with polluting tap water. Not least, many preliminary studies have also drawn a line between climate change and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that is still gripping much of the world. Future pandemics are likely to happen more frequently until the root causes, such as deforestation, are addressed.
Speaking of larger-scale issues, global water scarcity is already happening more frequently. The Caribbean is facing water shortages due to rising temperatures and decreased rainfall; Australia's dams may run dry by 2022 as severe wildfires increase and Cape Town, South Africa has already faced running out of water.
As touched upon earlier, it's one thing to be inconvenienced by a lack of romaine lettuce for a couple of weeks or higher coffee bean prices, but reports warn how climate change will continue to threaten global food security, to the point of triggering a worldwide food crisis if temperatures surpass two degrees Celsius.
Many of these factors are already contributing to climate migration, forcing large numbers of people to relocate to other parts of the world in search of better living conditions.
Unless more immediate, drastic action is taken to combat climate change, future generations will have to contend with worst-case scenario projections by the end of the 21st century, not limited to coastal cities going underwater, including Miami; lethal heat levels from South Asia to Central Africa; and more frequent extreme weather events involving hurricanes, wildfires, tsunamis, droughts, floods, blizzards and more.
What's Happening and Why?
Fiddlers Ferry power station in Warrington, UK. Chris Conway / Moment / Getty Images
The Earth's temperature has largely remained stable until industrial times and the introduction of greenhouse gases. These gases have forced the atmosphere to retain heat, as evidenced by rising global temperatures. As the planet grows warmer, glaciers melt faster, sea levels rise, severe flooding increases and droughts and extreme weather events become more deadly.
The Greenhouse Effect
In the late 1800s, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius studied the connection between the amount of atmospheric carbon and its ability to warm and cool the Earth, and while his initial calculations suggested extreme warming as carbon increased, researchers didn't start to take human-induced climate change seriously until the late 20th century.
But proof of human-led climate change can be traced to the 1850s, and satellites are among the ways that scientists have been tracking increased greenhouse gases and their climate impact in more recent years. Climate researchers have also documented warmer oceans, ocean acidification, shrinking ice sheets, decreased snow amounts and extreme weather as among the events resulting from greenhouse gases heating the planet.
Numerous factors contribute to the production of greenhouse gases, known as the greenhouse effect. One of the biggest causes involve burning fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas, to power everything from cars to daily energy needs (electricity, heat). From 1970-2011, fossil fuels have comprised 78 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Big Ag is another greenhouse contributor, particularly beef production, with the industry adding 10 percent in 2019. This is attributed to clearing land for crops and grazing and growing feed, along with methane produced by cows themselves. In the U.S. alone, Americans consumed 27.3 billion pounds of beef in 2019.
Then there's rampant deforestation occurring everywhere from the Amazon to Borneo. A 2021 study from Rainforest Foundation Norway found that two-thirds of the world's rainforests have already been destroyed or degraded. In Brazil, deforestation reached a 12-year-high in 2020 under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro. As it stands, reports predict that the Amazon rainforest will collapse by 2064. Rainforests are important carbon sinks, meaning the trees capture and remove carbon from the atmosphere. As rainforests collapse, the remaining trees will begin emitting more greenhouse gases than they're absorbing.
Meanwhile, a recent study revealed that abandoned oil and gas wells are leaking more methane than previously believed, with U.S. wells contributing up to 20 percent of annual methane emissions.
Not least is the cement industry. Cement is heavily used throughout the global construction industry, and accounts for around eight percent of carbon dioxide emissions.
Natural Climate Change
Granted, natural climate change exists as well, and can be traced throughout history, from solar radiation triggering the Ice Ages to the asteroid strike that rapidly raised global temperatures and eliminated dinosaurs and many other species in the process. Other sources of natural climate change impacts include volcano eruptions, ocean currents and orbital changes, but these sources generally have smaller and shorter-term environmental impacts.
How We Can Combat Climate Change
Participant holding a sign at the climate march on Sept. 20, 2020, in Manhattan. A coalition of climate, Indigenous and racial justice groups gathered at Columbus Circle to kick off Climate Week with the Climate Justice Through Racial Justice march. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images
While the latest studies and numbers can often feel discouraging about society's ability to prevent the worst-case climate scenarios from happening, there's still time to take action.
As a Society
In 2015 at COP 21 in Paris, 197 countries came together to sign the Paris Agreement, an international climate change treaty agreeing to limit global warming in this century to two degrees Celsius, and ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels; it's believed that the planet has warmed one degree Celsius since 1750. Studies show that staying within the two-degree range will prevent the worst-case climate scenarios from happening. Achieving this goal requires participating parties to drastically slash greenhouse gas emissions sooner rather than later. However, there have already been numerous setbacks since then, from former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement in 2020 to world leaders, such as China, the world's biggest polluter, failing to enact aggressive climate action plans. Yet many of the treaty participants have been slow to implement changes, putting the world on track to hit 3.2 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century even if the initial goals are met. However, it's worth noting that U.S. President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement in 2021, and pledged to cut greenhouse gases in half by 2030.
Then there's the Montreal Protocol, a 1987 global agreement to phase out ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons, chemicals that were commonly used in air-conditioning, refrigeration and aerosols. Recent studies show that parts of the ozone are recovering, proving that a unified commitment to combatting climate change issues does make a difference.
On a smaller scale, carbon offset initiatives allow companies and individuals to invest in environmental programs that offset the amount of carbon that's produced through work or lifestyle. For example, major companies (and carbon emitters) such as United Airlines and Shell have pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in part by participating in carbon offset programs that remove carbon from the atmosphere. The problem is that these companies are still producing high levels of fossil fuel emissions.
While individuals can make a small impact through carbon offsets, the greater responsibility lies with carbon-emitting corporations to find and implement greener energy alternatives. This translates to car companies producing electric instead of gas vehicles or airlines exploring alternative fuel sources. It also requires major companies to rely more on solar and wind energy for their energy needs.
In Our Own Lives
While it's up to corporations to do the heavy lifting of carbon reduction, that doesn't mean individuals can't make a difference. Adopting a vegan lifestyle, using public transportation, switching to an electric car and becoming a more conscious consumer are all ways to help combat climate change.
Consuming meat relies on clearing land for crops and animals, while raising and killing livestock contributes to about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization. By comparison, choosing a plant-based diet could reduce greenhouse gas footprints by as much as 70 percent, especially when choosing local produce and products.
Riding public trains, subways, buses, trams, ferries and other types of public transportation is another easy way to lower your carbon footprint, considering that gas-powered vehicles contribute 95 percent of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Electric cars and trucks have come down in price as more manufacturers enter the field, and these produce far lower emissions than their gas counterparts. Hybrid vehicles are another good alternative for lowering individual emission contributions.
Buying locally produced food and items is another way to maintain a lower carbon footprint, as the products aren't shipped or driven long distances. Supporting small companies that are committed to sustainability is another option, especially when it comes to clothes. Fast fashion has become a popular option thanks to its price point, but often comes at the expense of the environment and can involve unethical overseas labor practices. Not least, plastic saturates every corner of the consumer market, but it's possible to find non-plastic alternatives with a little research, from reusable produce bags to baby bottles.
Those interested in becoming even more involved can join local climate action organizations. Popular groups include the Sunrise Movement, Fridays for Future, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, to name a few. Voting, volunteering, calling local representatives and participating in climate marches are additional ways to raise your voice.
It's taken centuries to reach a climate tipping point, with just a matter of decades left to prevent the worst-case climate scenarios from happening. But there's still hope of controlling a warming climate as long as individuals, companies and nations make an immediate concerted effort to lower greenhouse gas emissions. As the world already experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic, a rapid unified response can make all the difference.
Meredith Rosenberg is a senior editor at EcoWatch. She holds a Master's from the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in NYC and a B.A. from Temple University in Philadelphia.
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"The big picture with this is the modern day coral reef can build an island even though the sea level is rising," study coauthor and University of Auckland senior lecturer Dr. Murray Ford told Stuff.
Atolls are islands situated on top of rings of coral, with a lagoon in the center. Past studies have indicated that several of these islands have actually been growing, despite the threat of rising sea levels. A 2018 analysis of 30 Pacific and Indian Ocean atolls including 709 islands found that none of the atolls had lost land area in the preceding decades and that 88.6 percent of the islands had either increased their size or stayed the same.
"That started a bit of a goldrush in terms of studies," Ford told CNN. "The signal was kind of consistent -- there's no widespread chronic erosion of atoll islands in the Pacific."
To understand what was going on, Ford and his team focused on Jeh Island in the Marshall Islands, where sea levels have risen by 0.3 inches a year since 1993. They used aerial photographs to confirm that the island had increased in size by 13 percent between 1943 and 2015. In fact, sediment had actually caused two separate islands to merge and a spit at the island's western end to grow longer, Stuff explained.
The researchers also used radiocarbon dating to confirm that much of the new sediment was deposited after 1950. This is an important finding, because scientists had previously been unsure if the islands were increasing in size because of new material or recycled reef pieces.
"This is the first time we can see the islands form, and we can say the stuff making that island is modern ... so it must be coming from the reef around the island," Ford told CNN. "It's entirely the skeletons of the reef and the organisms that live on it."
Ford told Stuff that more research was needed to discover if the same process was taking place on other growing atolls. Further, it isn't certain if coral reefs will continue to protect the atolls from sea level rise in the future. Increased flooding could still damage fresh water supplies, CNN pointed out. A 2018 study found that the contamination of fresh water supplies with salt water could make atolls uninhabitable by 2050. And the climate crisis threatens reefs themselves with coral bleaching and ocean acidification.
"It's all about the reef health, being able to produce sand and gravel to help make these islands and maintain them," Ford told Stuff.
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As the Pacific Ocean becomes more acidic, Dungeness crabs, which live in coastal areas, are seeing their shells eaten away, according to a new study commissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The study authors looked at ocean acidification levels from 2016. They found that the lowered pH is dissolving the shells of young Dungeness crabs in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Without strong shells, the young crabs suffer damage to their sensory organs, as CNN reported.
The findings contribute to growing concerns about the viability of the Dungeness crab as atmospheric carbon dioxide, which continues to rise, is absorbed by the Pacific Ocean and increases acidification, as The Seattle Times reported.
"If the crabs are affected already, we really need to make sure we pay much more attention to various components of the food chain before it is too late," said study lead author Nina Bednarsek, a senior scientist with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, as CNN reported.
The study was published last week in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Dungeness crabs are vital to the West Coast fishing industry — netting around $200 million annually. They are also important to tribal and recreational crabbers. The crabs have thrived in coastal waters that have recently become hotspots for ocean acidification, according to The Seattle Times.
Ocean acidification happens when the pH of ocean water drops. The primary cause is an increase in absorption of atmospheric CO2 over a long period. When CO2 is absorbed by seawater, a chain of chemical reactions is set in motion. That causes the sea water to increase its acidity as an increase in hydrogen ions tamps down carbonate ions, which would balance out the water's pH level, as NOAA explained in a statement.
Crustaceans and corals need carbonate ions to help them build strong shells. In their absence, it becomes difficult for crabs, oysters and clams to build shells. It also stops corals from building strong skeletons and it weakens plankton, as CNN reported.
"Decreases in carbonate ions can make building and maintaining shells and other calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying organisms," explains NOAA.
Previous research had shown that ocean acidification was causing harm to West Coast pteropods, small free-swimming snails that are food for Dungeness crab, according to The Seattle Times. Direct damage to Dungeness crabs was not expected for many years to come, so the findings have alarmed NOAA scientists.
"We found dissolution impacts to the crab larvae that were not expected to occur until much later in this century," Richard Feely, study co-author and NOAA senior scientist, said as CNN reported.
The research boat that took samples in 2016 did not just find damage to the crab's shell, but also to tiny hair-like structures crabs use to navigate their environments, which is something scientists had never seen before. Crabs without these tiny mechanoreceptors could move slowly and have trouble swimming and finding food, according to CNN.
As for shell damage, the shells showed signs of scarring and abnormal ridging, which may impair a crab's ability to swim, stay buoyant and escape from predators. The damaged crabs were also smaller, which suggests developmental delays, as the Sustainability Times reported.
"We were really surprised to see this level of dissolution happening," Bednarsek said, as The Seattle Times reported.
The authors say their findings mean more research is needed to make new predictions about the future of the Dungeness crab as the Pacific coastal waters continue to absorb more carbon dioxide, according to The Seattle Times.
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The excess carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the start of the industrial revolution has already raised the Earth's temperature by more than one degree Celsius, increased the risk of extreme hurricanes and wildfires and killed off more than half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. But geologic history shows that the impacts of greenhouse gases could be much worse.
In fact, scientists from Scotland's University of Saint Andrews and two major German research centers have for the first time determined a "conclusive picture" of the initial trigger and subsequent processes responsible for Earth's biggest mass extinction. The answer? Massive amounts of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere from a volcanic eruption.
"We are dealing with a cascading catastrophe in which the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere set off a chain of events that successively extinguished almost all life in the seas," study lead author Dr. Hana Jurikova told The Independent.
The study, published in Nature Geoscience Monday, sought to understand the mechanisms behind an event known as the "Great Dying," the University of Saint Andrews explained in a press release. This was a period around 252 million years ago between the Permian and Triassic epochs in which 95 percent of marine species were wiped out within tens of thousands of years. It is the closest life on Earth has come to total extinction.
Scientists have advanced many theories for what caused this turn of events, including a release of methane from the seafloor and volcanic activity, but this is the first time a group has determined the exact cause, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, one of the research centers involved in the new study, said.
The extinction process went something like this, as Saint Andrews explained.
- A volcanic eruption in what is now Siberia sent 100,000 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.
- This release led to ocean acidification and warming, which was especially deadly to marine life that requires calcium carbonate for their shells and skeletons.
- The atmospheric warming increased the rates of chemical weathering on land.
- This caused more nutrients to run off into the ocean, depleting it of oxygen and perhaps also poisoning it with sulphide.
"It took several hundreds of thousands to millions of years for the ecosystem to recover from the catastrophe, which profoundly altered the course of evolution of life on Earth," Jurikova said.
The researchers, who also included members of the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, were able to reach their conclusions by examining the shells of fossil brachiopods.
"These are clam-like organisms that have existed on Earth for more than 500 million years," Jurikova explained in the GEOMAR press release.
The researchers were able to assess the pH levels in the ocean based on the different isotopes of boron in the fossilized shells. Because oceanic pH levels are tightly linked to atmospheric carbon dioxide, the team could then create a model of the atmosphere at the time.
"With this technique, we can not only reconstruct the evolution of the atmospheric CO2 concentrations, but also clearly trace it back to volcanic activity," study coauthor Dr. Marcus Gutjahr of GEOMAR said in the press release.
The amount of carbon dioxide released by the Siberian volcano was more than 40 times all the carbon dioxide currently held in fossil fuel reserves, including everything that has been released since the start of the industrial revolution, according to Saint Andrews.
Still, the researchers told The Independent that the study offered "bleak lessons" for humanity as we face the sixth mass extinction.
"Ancient volcanic eruptions of this kind are not directly comparable to anthropogenic carbon emissions, and in fact all modern fossil fuel reserves are far too insufficient to release as much CO2 over hundreds of years, let alone thousands of years as was released 252 million years ago," Jurikova told The Independent. "But it is astonishing that humanity's CO2 emission rate is currently fourteen times higher than the annual emission rate at the time that marked the greatest biological catastrophe in Earth's history."
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Whether you're a conscious consumer yourself or are looking for the perfect gift for your environmentally-friendly friend or family member, we've rounded up the best eco-friendly gifts for sustainable living this holiday season.
According to Stanford University, Americans toss 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day than any other time of year. Don't become a statistic — check out our last-minute eco-friendly stocking stuffer ideas, sustainable gift wrap guide, and the products listed below to have a low- or even zero-waste holiday.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
If you want to reduce your waste but are tight on space, the Utopia Kitchen Countertop Compost Bin is a must-have. This bin is ideal for apartment composting, as it holds five liters of food scraps and uses charcoal filters to eliminate odors and pests. Plus, it has a convenient handle for carrying your compost outside or to a food waste recycling center.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with more than 8,000 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Zero-waste; Odor-free composting; Easy to clean; Plastic-free
The key to delicious tofu is pressing the excess water out before cooking, but doing this can be a messy and time-consuming process. That's why one of our best eco-friendly gifts for plant-based eaters is the Yarkor Bamboo Tofu Press. It has a simple design that presses tofu blocks pressed between two bamboo plates while excess water drains into an easy-to-clean, leak-proof compartment.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with more than 150 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Vegan-friendly; Easy to clean; Plastic-free
Carrying a reusable, eco-friendly water bottle is one of the easiest ways to reduce your single-use plastic consumption – and stay hydrated throughout the day. We recommend Hydro Flasks because they're fun and functional, have a grippy powder coating that prevents bottle sweating, and can keep beverages hot or cold for hours on end.
Customer Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars with nearly 11,000 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Zero-waste; Free of BPA and phthalates; Easy to clean; Dishwasher safe
With an AeroGarden Indoor Hydroponic Garden, even serial plant-killers can have fresh herbs year-round. This innovative system takes the work out of gardening – simply pop in the seed pods, add plant food or water when necessary, and let nature take its course. If whomever you're shopping for already owns an AeroGarden, they may appreciate a Salad Greens or Salsa Garden Seed Pod Kit to grow.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with more than 1,000 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Zero-waste; Non-GMO seeds
"Unpaper" towels are a zero-waste alternative to your typical kitchen roll. Mioeco Reusable Unpaper Towels come in packs of 10 or 20 and can be wrapped around an old paper towel roll for convenience. They're made in a solar-powered, carbon-neutral facility and are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, which means they're made with at least 95% organic fiber and aren't treated with harmful chemicals and dyes.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with nearly 1,000 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Zero-waste; Solar-powered, carbon-neutral manufacturing; GOTS-certified material; Machine-washable; Plastic-free
Looking for eco-friendly gifts for the coffee lover in your life? The Original Grind Cold Brew Coffee Maker takes single-use plastics out of your morning routine. Just pour your favorite coarse-ground beans into the mesh filter, fill it with water, and let it sit for 12 to 18 hours. The stainless-steel spigot allows for no-spill dispensing, and you can use the grounds to make a DIY exfoliant (or toss them in your brand-new compost bin).
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with more than 700 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Zero-waste; Plastic-free; Easy to clean; Great for small kitchens and apartments
After you've brewed your coffee, you'll need something to drink it out of. We like the KeepCup 16oz Reusable Coffee Cup, which can be filled at home or at a coffee shop (COVID-permitting). These sleek to-go mugs come in a variety of lid colors and sizes, but none is too big to fit in a standard cup holder. KeepCup is a certified B Corp, and the company donates part of its annual revenue to protect the environment through the 1% for the Planet initiative.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with almost 15,000 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Zero-waste; Packaging made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cardboard; Certified B Corp; Supports 1% for the Planet; Free of BPA and BPS
If you're more of a tea person, the Origin Fruit and Tea Glass Infuser Bottle might be up your alley. The bottle comes with a fine-mesh strainer insert that you can fill with loose tea or fruit slices to make infused water or tea on the go. Along with promoting sustainability, Origin is a socially responsible company, donating 2% of revenue to address extreme poverty.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with almost 500 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: BPA, BPS, PVC, and lead-free; Dishwasher safe; Zero-waste; Supports socially conscious initiatives
The Stasher Reusable Storage Bag Set helps you cut out single-use plastic without skipping on convenience. They have a locking seal that keeps food fresh and can be tossed in the dishwasher after use. This gift set comes in multiple colors and includes two sandwich bags, a snack bag, and a half-gallon bag, making it a great eco-friendly gift for just about anyone on your list.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with more than 700 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Zero-waste; Dishwasher-safe; Non-toxic; Free of PVC, BPA, and latex; Supports 1% for the Planet; Certified B Corp
LaCroix cans cluttering your recycling bin? Ditch the aluminum and start making your own seltzer with the SodaStream Fizzi One Touch Sparkling Water Maker. The SodaStream infuses still water with carbon dioxide bubbles using CO2 canisters that can be sent back to the company to refill. It comes with a BPA-free plastic bottle, but you can also purchase a glass replacement. And don't forget the Fruit Drops for added flavor.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with more than 700 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Zero-waste; Dishwasher-safe; Non-toxic; Free of PVC, BPA, and latex; Supports 1% for the Planet; CO2 canisters are reusable
If someone on your list is getting a new phone from Santa, get them an eco-friendly gift to go with it, like the Pela 100% Compostable and Biodegradable Phone Case. Not only are Pela cases stylish, but they're made from recycled materials, a plant-based biopolymer, and flax straw fibers that are a waste byproduct of producing flaxseed oil.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with more than 350 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Zero-waste; 100% compostable and biodegradable; Non-toxic; Sustainable packaging; Supports 1% for the Planet; Certified B Corp; Made from recycled materials
The Suga Recycled Wetsuit Yoga Mat is one of our favorite sustainable gifts for yogis. Made from old surfing wetsuits, these upcycled neoprene mats are grippy, supportive, and more durable than a typical yoga mat. Plus, Suga encourages sending mats back for recycling at the end of their useful lives. Not sold on Suga? See our eco-friendly yoga mat review for more green gift options.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with under 100 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Made in the USA; Made from recycled materials; Can be sent back and recycled by the company; Supports 1% for the Planet; Non-toxic
Luxury meets sustainability with the Sheets & Giggles 100% Eucalyptus Lyocell Sheet Set. These buttery soft bed linens are made from high-quality eucalyptus wood pulp that's harvested on sustainably managed, biodiverse farms instead of wild forests. The best part? For every tree harvested, Sheets & Giggles plants two more trees in its place.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with nearly 1,000 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Hypoallergenic; 100% biodegradable; Non-plastic packaging; Pesticide-free; Plants one tree for every order received and two trees for every tree harvested
4ocean removes a pound of trash from the ocean for every product sold. Since 2017, the company has pulled nearly 12 million pounds of trash from our waterways and sustainably disposed of them, including recycling glass and plastic bottles to create their 4ocean Signature Bracelets. These bracelets make a beautiful, eco-friendly gift for those who like to show off their care for the environment.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with more than 1,000 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Each purchase removes 1 pound of trash from the ocean; Certified B Corp; Made from recycled plastic and glass
You can feel good about giving this eco-friendly gift to your dad, husband, brother, or any other whiskey enthusiast on your list. Not only is each Prestige Decanter Bourbon Barrel Whiskey Decanter made with sustainable materials, but for each product sold, the company plants one tree. The hand-blown decanter holds 1,000 milliliters and is available in many styles.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with about 150 Amazon reviews
Why Buy: Handcrafted; Lead-free; Recyclable packaging; Plants a tree for each decanter sold
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
As the climate warms, sea levels are rising, tropical storms are intensifying, and ocean waters are growing more acidic.
These changes to the oceans have major impacts for people on land, from flooded coastal communities to losses for the fishing industry.
David Helvarg is executive director of Blue Frontier, an ocean and coastal conservation nonprofit.
"Hundreds of millions of people and tens of billions of dollars are at risk if we don't start to address what we're seeing in terms of the impacts of fossil-fuel-driven climate change on our coasts and oceans," he says.
But Helvarg says the ocean is often overlooked in climate policy discussions.
So his group is lobbying for what some refer to as a Blue New Deal – a comprehensive set of policies and programs to protect ocean health and help coastal communities adapt to climate change.
For example, they want to see policies that reform the National Flood Insurance Program and protect critical fish habitat. They also advocate for restoring coastal ecosystems that can naturally buffer storm waves.
Helvarg says prioritizing oceans and coastlines can save lives, strengthen the economy and "restore a healthy and vital ocean that so many of us grew up with."
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
By Robert J. Orth, Jonathan Lefcheck and Karen McGlathery
A century ago Virginia's coastal lagoons were a natural paradise. Fishing boats bobbed on the waves as geese flocked overhead. Beneath the surface, miles of seagrass gently swayed in the surf, making the seabed look like a vast underwater prairie.
More than 70 species of seagrasses grow in shallow waters around the world, on every continent except Antarctica. In Virginia, beds of eelgrass (Zostera marina) provided habitat for bay scallops and food for birds, and kept barrier islands from washing away. Eelgrass was so common that people who lived near the shore packed and baled it to use as insulation for homes, schools and hospitals.
In the 1930s, however, pandemic plant disease and repeated hurricanes eliminated the eelgrass along Virginia's eastern shore. The once-vibrant seafloor became barren mud, leading to a loss of "wildfowl, the cream of salt-water fishing, most of the clams and crabs, and all of the bay scallops," sportsman and publisher Eugene V. Connett wrote in 1947.
We are marine scientists who study seagrasses, marine biodiversity and coastal ecosystems. In a newly published study, we describe the results of a 20-year mission to reintroduce eelgrass into Virginia coastal bays using a novel seed-based approach.
This project has now restored 9,600 acres of seagrasses across four bays – one of the most successful marine restoration efforts anywhere in the world. It has triggered large increases in fishes and invertebrates, made the water clearer and trapped large quantities of carbon in seafloor sediments, helping to slow climate change. We see this work as a blueprint for restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems along coastlines around the world.
Why Didn’t Seagrasses Recover Naturally?
Development, nutrient runoff and other human impacts have damaged marshes, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrasses in many bays and estuaries worldwide. Loss or shrinkage of these key habitats has reduced commercial fisheries, increased erosion, made coastlines more vulnerable to floods and storms and harmed many types of aquatic life. Rapid climate change has compounded these effects through rising global temperatures, more frequent and severe storms and ocean acidification.
In the late 1990s, local residents told two of us who are longtime students of seagrasses (Robert "JJ" Orth and Karen McGlathery) that they had spotted small patches of eelgrass in shallow waters off Virginia's eastern shore. For years the conventional view had been that seagrasses in this area had not recovered from the events of the 1930s because human activities had made the area inhospitable for them.
But studies showed that water quality in these coastal bays was comparatively good. This led us to explore a different explanation: Seeds from healthy seagrass populations elsewhere along the Atlantic coast simply weren't reaching these isolated bays. Seagrasses are underwater flowering plants, so seeds are among the main ways they reproduce and spread to new environments.
Eelgrass beds were restored in four bays at the southern tip of Virginia's eastern shore on the Atlantic coast. David J. Wilcox/VIMS, CC BY-ND
Sowing a New Crop
From our earlier research, we knew that when eelgrass seeds fall from the parent plant, they sink to the sea bottom quickly and don't move far from where they land. We also knew that these seeds don't germinate until late fall or early winter. This meant that if we collected the seeds in spring, when eelgrass flowers, we could hold them until the fall, helping them survive over the months in between.
We decided to try reseeding eelgrass in the areas where they were missing. Starting in 1999, we collected seeds by hand from underwater meadows in nearby Chesapeake Bay – plucking the long reproductive shoots, bringing them back to our laboratory and holding them in large outdoor seawater tanks until they released their seeds naturally. After about 10 years we started gathering the grasses using a custom-built underwater "lawn mower" to collect many more of the reproductive shoots than we could by hand.
In 2001 we sowed our first round by simply tossing seeds from a boat. Our first test plots covered 28 acres of mud flats in waters 2 to 3 feet deep. Returning the following year, we saw new seedlings sprouting up.
Each year since then, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Nature Conservancy's Virginia Coast Reserve, along with staff and students from the University of Virginia, have led a team of scientists and citizens to collect and seed a combined 536 acres of bare bottom in several coastal bays.
These initial plots took off and rapidly expanded. By 2020 they covered 9,600 acres across four bays. Several factors helped them flourish. These bays are naturally flushed with cool, clean water from the Atlantic Ocean. And they lie off the tip of Virginia's eastern shore, where there is little coastal development.
Sheltering Marine Life and Storing Carbon
Since eelgrass disappeared from these bays in the 1930s, human understanding of seagrass ecosystems has evolved. Today people don't pack their walls full of seagrass insulation but instead value different services they provide, such as habitat for fish and shellfish – including many commercially and recreationally important species.
Scientists and government agencies also have recognized the importance of coastal systems in capturing and storing so-called "blue carbon." In fact, we now know that seagrasses constitute a globally significant carbon sink. They are a key tool for reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and slowing climate change
We are working to understand the valuable services that our restored seagrass beds provide. To our surprise, fish and invertebrates returned within only a few years as the meadows expanded. These organisms have established extensive food webs that include species ranging from tiny seahorses to 6-foot-long sandbar sharks.
Other benefits were equally dramatic. Water in the bays become clearer as the seagrass canopy trapped floating particles and deposited them onto the bottom, burying significant stocks of carbon and nitrogen in sediments bound by the grasses' roots. Our research is the first to verify the overall net carbon captured by seagrass, and is now being used to issue carbon offset credits that in turn create more funds for restoration.
One big question was whether restoring seagrasses could make it possible to bring back bay scallops, which once generated millions of dollars for the local economy. Since bay scallops no longer existed in Virginia, we obtained broodstock from North Carolina, which we have reared and released annually since 2013. Regular surveys now reveal a growing population of bay scallops in the restored eelgrass, although there is still some way to go before they reach levels seen in the 1930s.
Restored seagrass beds (dark areas) along Virginia's Atlantic coast, with sunlight reflecting from a small island. Jonathan Lefcheck, CC BY-ND
A Model for Coastal Restoration
Repairing damaged ecosystems is such an urgent mission worldwide that the United Nations has designated 2021-2030 as the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. We see the success we have achieved with eelgrass restoration as a prime model for similar efforts in coastal areas around the world.
Our project focused not only on reviving this essential habitat, but also on charting how restoring seagrasses affected the ecosystem and on the co-restoration of bay scallops. It provides a road map for involving scholars, nonprofits organizations, citizens and government agencies in an ecological mission where they can see the results of their work.
Recent assessments show that the restored zone only covers about 30% of the total habitable bottom in our project area. With continued support, eelgrass – and the many benefits it provides – may continue to thrive and expand well into the 21st century.
Robert J. Orth is a Professor of Marine Science, Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
Jonathan Lefcheck is a Research Scientist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Smithsonian Institution.
Karen McGlathery is a Professor of Environmental Sciences and Director, Environmental Resilience Institute, University of Virginia.
Disclosure statement: Robert J. Orth receives funding from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Coastal Zone Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Virginia Recreational Fishing License Fund, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of the Environment, Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, Virginia Sea Grant. He is an elected official on the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors as an independent.
Jonathan Lefcheck is supported by the Michael E. Tennenbaum Secretarial Scholar gift to the Smithsonian Institution.
Karen McGlathery receives funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Fisheries and Wildlife Foundation, and Virginia Sea Grant.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
By Harry Kretchmer
Who better to study the sea than a surfer?
That's the big idea behind Smartfin, a U.S.-based non-profit that's giving data-collecting "smart" surfboard fins to surfers. The fins collect a range of data, including temperature and location.
Innovations like the Smartfin project – decentralizing data collection and crowdsourcing solutions to our biggest problems – are just the kind of solution the World Economic Forum's UpLink initiative is looking for.
The Surfing Secret
"Most people who really call themselves surfers are out there, you know, almost every single day of the week and often for three, four hours at a time," Smartfin's senior research engineer Dr. Phil Bresnahan told Chemistry World. "I'm really a hobbyist compared to that."
But it's precisely the surfing pedigree of its scientists that has enabled Smartfin to break new ground in marine research. Because the inspiration behind Smartfins came from knowledge of an existing piece of kit.
Surfboards typically have fins mounted on the tail to improve stability in the water. The Smartfin team realized these fins could become powerful data-gathering machines if sensors were included.
The team also figured there was a gap in existing ocean data collection methods. The dynamic, choppy nature of coastal waters makes it hard for traditional sensors to operate. And buoy-mounted sensors are limited in number and have less flexibility.
Working with researchers from the University of California San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, in 2017 a collaboration with local San Diego surfers was born. The project showed how a small group of citizen scientist-surfers could collect an entirely fresh dataset that was also accurate.
The San Diego trial informed today's Smartfins, which are collecting motion data as well as temperature and location. This makes the readings even more valuable.
"This is enormously beneficial for researchers," said Bresnahan. "No scientist would be able to do a whole lot with a temperature time series without their locations." The team hopes to include pH detectors and optical sensors soon too.
But the data isn't just "nice to have." The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warns that rising sea temperatures are not only damaging marine habitats like coral reefs; they are also impacting food security and causing more extreme weather events.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), since 1993 it is likely that the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled and it is virtually certain that by absorbing more CO2, the ocean is undergoing increasing surface acidification.
While the cost of Smartfin production is falling, the project still relies on donations and is not looking to become a mass market product anytime soon, project creator Andy Stern told Science Magazine.
Yet the desire to help protect a much-loved resource is motivating surfers to get involved in data collection.
"If doing what I love and being where I love to be can contribute toward scientific research with the ultimate goal of ocean conservation, then I'm stoked to be doing it," says David Walden, Smartfin project participant at the Surfrider San Diego Chapter.
"The Smartfin Project is a joy that gives my surfing meaning. Rad!"
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
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