NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.
Watchdog Accuses Trump's NOAA of 'Choosing Extinction' for Right Whales by Hiding Scientific Evidence
By Julia Conley
As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.
EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.
Climate models are predicting faster warming of the North Atlantic Ocean, which will shift the Gulf Stream. NASA
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As we look for advanced technology to replace our dependence on fossil fuels and to rid the oceans of plastic, one solution to the climate crisis might simply be found in rocks. New research found that dispersing rock dust over farmland could suck billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year, according to the first detailed large scale analysis of the technique, as The Guardian reported.
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By Tim Radford
German scientists now know why so many fish are so vulnerable to ever-warming oceans. Global heating imposes a harsh cost at the most critical time of all: the moment of spawning.
Nearing the Brink<p>Since <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/abundant-fish-need-cool-seas-and-protection/" target="_blank">fish in the temperate zones already experience a wide variation</a> in seasonal water temperatures, it hasn't been obvious why species such as <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/sardines-swim-into-northern-waters-to-keep-cool/" target="_blank">cod have shifted nearer the Arctic, and sardines have migrated to the North Sea</a>.</p><p>But <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/ocean-warming-spurs-marine-life-to-rapid-migration/" target="_blank">marine creatures are on the move</a>, and although there are other factors at work, including overfishing and <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/fish-cant-smell-well-in-more-acidic-seas/" target="_blank">the increasingly alarming changes in ocean chemistry</a>, thanks to ever-higher levels of dissolved carbon dioxide, temperature change is part of the problem.</p><p>The latest answer, Dr Dahlke and his colleagues report in the journal <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aaz3658" target="_blank">Science</a>, is that many fish may already be living near the limits of their thermal tolerance.</p><p>The temperature safety margins during the moments of spawning and embryo might be very precise, and over hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, marine and freshwater species have worked out just what is best for the next generation. Rapid global warming upsets this equilibrium.</p>
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The oceans could look much emptier by 2100, according to a new study that found that most fish species would not be able to survive in their current habitat if average global temperatures rise 4.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, as The Guardian reported.
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By Monica Evans
This article has been updated to reflect corrected information in the original version.
The Cook Islands government plans to license seabed mining operators to prospect its exclusive economic zone for manganese and cobalt nodules within the coming financial year, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown told the Cook Islands News.
Mining a Marine Protected Area?<p>The Cook Islands made international news in 2017 when it turned its entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which spans nearly 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles), into the <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2019/09/will-a-massive-marine-protected-area-safeguard-cook-islands-ocean/" target="_blank">largest mixed-use marine protected area in the world</a>. Dubbed "Marae Moana," which means "sacred ocean" in Cook Islands Maori, the park was designed to ensure all activities within it complied with its overarching purpose: to protect and conserve the ecological, biodiversity, and heritage values of the country's marine environment.</p><p>A decision-making council and a technical advisory group, both comprising government officials, traditional leaders and civil society organizations (CSOs), were established to help develop a new marine spatial plan that fit the objectives of Marae Moana, and to ensure that any new ocean-related initiatives comply with the park's overarching purpose. The plan is still being developed.</p><p>Meanwhile, the government passed a new act, the Seabed Minerals Act 2019, which sets up new institutions and processes for planning and designating areas for seabed minerals activities. The act is legally subservient to the provisions of the act that established Marae Moana, called the Marae Moana Act 2017. "No license may be granted that…would likely lead to a contravention of a declaration of a marine protected area, the Marae Moana Act 2017, or other zoning rules," it reads.</p><p>But Kelvin Passfield, director of the local conservation group Te Ipukarea Society, told Mongabay he is concerned that without having completed the research and consultation to create the marine spatial plan, there's a risk that "they're going to give out mining exploration permits for areas which may in fact be places that should be protected under Marae Moana." He also expressed concern about the effectiveness of Marae Moana's checks and balances in practice: Te Ipukarea Society sits on its technical advisory group, but Passfield said the government has ignored its advice and that of other CSOs with marine conservation expertise, and that the advisory group had only met once in the past 12 months.</p><p>"Civil society have a role to play in advocating and raising awareness on issues," Herman said when asked about the CSOs' concerns. "But at the end of the day, Government needs to make often-hard decisions based on the best interests of our country and people."</p>
Known Unknowns<p>Te Ipukarea Society advocates that the Cook Islands endorse a 10-year moratorium on seabed mining that civil society leaders put forward at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu in August 2019 and that the governments of Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea support. The idea is to allow sufficient time to conduct in-depth research on the ecosystems in question and potential mining impacts.</p><p>But the Cook Islands government has vocally opposed the moratorium. Marine scientist Jacqueline Evans, who directed the Marae Moana coordination office from 2017 to 2019, was <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2019/10/cook-islands-mpa-leader-fired-after-supporting-seabed-mining-freeze/" target="_blank">fired</a> last year after expressing support for the freeze in an internal email.</p><p>In a <a href="http://www.cookislandsnews.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/item/77261-mark-brown-seabeds-law-safeguards-our-oceans" target="_blank">letter</a> to the Cook Islands News on June 4, Deputy PM Brown said the government simply wants to gain the knowledge to determine whether or not mining could be conducted sustainably, and issuing exploration licenses is the only way to fund such research. "Without exploration (which I stress, is not 'mining'), we have no realistic way of gaining a better understanding of the deep-sea environment, and indeed to know whether we may or may not be able to harness the resources which exist at these depths in the longer term," he wrote.</p><p>Passfield said while the government claims all parties want the same thing — more information — "they have not demonstrated this in their actions." Last year, it approved two short research cruises by different companies and "there was no requirement placed by Government on these cruises to collect any biological samples," he said. "Only nodule and sediment samples were taken, and this was just for analysis for mineral content, nothing biological."</p>
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By David Elliott
Dive beneath the brilliant blue waters surrounding Thailand's Koh Tao island and you might come face to face with a giant sculpture of the sea goddess Mazu.
But a closer look reveals an even bigger surprise – Mazu is alive.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8f055bac39f517e94abf83f7fe746959"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J1b1SPUOnyA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Small Pieces, Big Impact<p>Angeline Chen, Executive Director of Global Coralition – who spoke recently at the World Economic Forum's <a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/virtual-ocean-dialogues-2020/sessions/uplink-ocean-solutions-sprint" target="_blank">Virtual Ocean Dialogues</a> event – is effusive about the benefits of growing coral on land and the role it could play in rebuilding damaged ocean habitats.</p><p>Coral can be grown up to 50 times faster this way, she says, using a technique called <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925857418303094" target="_blank">microfragmentation</a>. This involves dividing a piece of coral into much smaller fragments, which<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287204400_The_cultivation_of_massive_corals_using_micro-fragmentation_for_the_reskinning_of_degraded_coral_reefs" target="_blank"> stimulates the tissue</a> to grow. The pieces are grown a short distance apart and – because<a href="https://www.bbcearth.com/blog/?article=saving-coral" target="_blank"> corals are clonal animals</a> – they fuse together when their edges meet, forming a single mass.</p><p>Combined with other scientific methods, like<a href="https://www.globalcoralition.org/our-approach" target="_blank"> larval propagation and assisted evolution</a> to increase the resilience and reproductive rate of corals, Chen believes the impact of such projects, practiced all around the world, could be massive.</p><p>"With these farms, we could be growing a diverse array of resilient coral on a huge scale," she says.</p><p>Many organizations are practicing these methods, including <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925857418303094" target="_blank">Mote Marine Laboratory</a> in Florida, US, and the government of Hawaii, which is out-planting 1 meter by 1 meter (3.2 foot) corals grown in one year – the <a href="https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/blog/2020/05/28/nr20-072/" target="_blank">largest to be grown in a land-based</a> nursery.</p>
<div id="507c8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e2c57fd8c727e7692e37866d6fc81164"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1266170721882890240" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">In the world of nursery raised corals, a one-meter coral is considered big. Yesterday, a team of biologists and te… https://t.co/wNWMyaARVf</div> — DLNR (@DLNR)<a href="https://twitter.com/dlnr/statuses/1266170721882890240">1590713599.0</a></blockquote></div>
Empowering Communities<p>Driving the work of Global Coralition and organizations like it is a simple fact: coral is vital to the planet.</p><p>Coral reefs are among the <a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_corals/welcome.html" target="_blank">most diverse ecosystems</a> on Earth, and they support nearly<a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Coral" target="_blank"> 1 million species of fish</a>, invertebrates and algae. They're crucial to humans, too. They<a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_protect.html#:~:text=Coral%20reefs%20provide%20a%20buffer,%2C%20property%20damage%2C%20and%20erosion." target="_blank"> protect our coasts from storms</a> and floods, and<a href="https://scripps.ucsd.edu/projects/coralreefsystems/about-coral-reefs/value-of-corals/" target="_blank"> provide work, medicine and food</a> to more than 1 billion people. In fact, coral <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/coral-reefs-we-continue-take-more-we-give#:~:text=Coral%20reef%20ecosystems%20provide%20society,the%20tourism%20and%20fisheries%20industries." target="_blank">reef ecosystems give society resources</a> and services worth $375 billion per year, according to the United Nations.</p><p>But coral faces myriad threats, including overfishing, pollution and climate change. Almost <a href="https://www.statista.com/chart/17126/reef-building-corals-under-threat/" target="_blank">half of reef-building coral species are under threat</a>, according to UN figures. And scientists predict we'll lose up to <a href="https://phys.org/news/2020-02-acidic-oceans-coral-reef-habitats.html" target="_blank">90% of all reefs</a> in the next 20 years if something isn't done soon.</p><p>For Chen and the Global Coralition, the answer lies in engaging and empowering local communities with the knowledge, tools and resources to reduce the local impacts of reef degradation while increasing key habitats and species.</p><p>The organization uses art, like the sculpture of Mazu, to bring people together around cultural themes that are <a href="https://www.globalcoralition.org/our-approach" target="_blank">meaningful to their communities</a>.</p><p>It then works with parties including local officials, marine ecologists, fisherman, students and dive centers to foster the unique skills to rehabilitate their local ecology. This work in turn improves quality of life, water quality, food security, income and employment opportunities and education in the region.</p>
The world's reef-building corals. Statista
Global Effort<p>Global Coralition is currently building a marine farm in a fishing village in the Dominican Republic. It consists of an expansive underwater sculpture garden inspired by Taino wisdom, a land-based coral farm, mangrove and oyster restoration and a community education center.</p><p>As part of this project, Chen says, it used the World Economic Forum's <a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-contribution/a012o00001G7i5TAAR/global-coralition" target="_blank">UpLink</a> platform to connect the community with a recycling facility that pays locals to collect trash, which can be turned into material to be sold back into the economy.</p><p>The organization wants to create <a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/virtual-ocean-dialogues-2020/sessions/uplink-ocean-solutions-sprint" target="_blank">200 of these marine hubs</a> across the globe in collaboration with local communities and governments, fishing villages, dive communities, restoration groups, hotels and local officials.</p><p>"Based on recovery rates, scientists predict we can rebuild marine life by 2050 if we can mitigate climate change, reduce local pressures and increase the abundance of our keystone habitats and species," Chen says.</p><p>"If these methods were applied all over the world, we could scale our collective rates of restoration."</p>
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