Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Three Environmental Stories not Told

Energy
Three Environmental Stories not Told

Media Matters for America

By Jill Fitzsimmons

Over the past year, Media Matters has documented the deterioration of media coverage on a range of environmental issues, including declining coverage of climate change, unbalanced coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline, the perpetuation of falsehoods about U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clean air rules, disproportionate and misleading coverage of Solyndra and the denigration of clean energy. Meanwhile, the mainstream press has overlooked some of the most important environmental challenges we face. In honor of Earth Day, Media Matters compiled three major environmental stories the media missed this year:

1. Garbage In The Ocean Is Accumulating Rapidly. Did you know that in the middle of the Pacific Ocean there is garbage strewn across a region twice the size of Texas? In 1997, oceanographer Charles Moore discovered what is now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a whirlpool of debris from storm drains and fishing boats which includes plastic bottles, light bulbs, toothbrushes, boxes and abandoned fishing nets. The debris is widely dispersed, making cleanup an enormous challenge. Much of the plastic that has accumulated there has broken down into small pieces, which seabirds ingest when they mistake it for food. The plastic is not only toxic for marine wildlife—it eventually contaminates the human food supply.

Scientists say this floating landfill has grown significantly in recent years and will continue to get larger as 1-2 million tons of debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan makes its way into the North Pacific's rotating ocean current. And this is not the only one of its kind—a similar garbage patch has been found in the Atlantic Ocean, and there are at least several others across the ocean. But the media has largely ignored this growing problem. 

2. At Least 46 Oil Spills Have Occurred In The U.S. Since The  BP Disaster. As 5 million barrels of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster, nonstop media coverage drew national attention to the safety and environmental risks posed by deep-water oil drilling. But once the well was capped, the media quickly moved on, Congressional safety reform measures floundered, and the lessons of the largest oil spill in history were largely forgotten, even as gulf drilling surges. Since then, public outrage has subsided, but the risk of oil spills has not. In the two years since the BP disaster, at least 46 oil spills have occurred across the U.S., according to NOAA data compiled by Blue Planet Water Solutions. In the absence of any meaningful action by Congress, oil spills will continue to threaten ecosystems and disrupt the tourism and seafood industries. Nevertheless, the mainstream media has neglected to report on these ongoing risks. Meanwhile, the conservative media have advocated for expanded drilling while dismissing the destructive impact of the BP disaster.

3. Gulf Of Mexico Contains A "Dead Zone"—Devoid Of Life—The Size Of New Jersey. A 2008 study by ecologist Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found that there are more than 400 "dead zones" in coastal waters across the world, totaling 95,000 square miles. Many of these hypoxic zones are caused by nitrogen pollution from farm and sewage runoff, which contributes to excessive algae blooms that deplete oxygen in the water and kill or drive away marine life. Pollution from the Mississippi River watershed contributes to a massive recurring dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico each year, which threatens American fisheries and costs the U.S. seafood and tourism industries $82 million per year. Last summer, a team of scientists supported by NOAA measured the Gulf of Mexico dead zone at 6,765 square miles—about the size of New Jersey. 

Dead zones around the world will only get worse as the human population increases and requires more agricultural productivity. For example, a study published in September by researchers from South Korea and the U.S. found that nitrate levels of the coasts of China, Japan and Korea are soaring due to rapid population growth and industrial development. The study warned that increased nitrogen pollution could have major impacts on marine ecology and could lead to new dead zones in Asia. Global warming is also expected to aggravate the problem by changing rainfall patterns and increasing runoff from rivers into the ocean. But the media has turned a blind eye to this issue.

For more information, click here.

Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Monarch butterflies in Mexico's Oyamel forest in Michoacan, Mexico after migrating from Canada. Luis Acosta / AFP / Getty Images

By D. André Green II

One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.

Read More Show Less
The 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on Sept. 17 introduced ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners, each intended to make people "laugh then think." Improbable Research / YouTube

The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.

Read More Show Less
Solar geoengineering would involve injecting reflective aerosols from high-altitude planes into the layer of the upper atmosphere known as the stratosphere to reduce the amount of heat trapped by greenhouse gases. namoliang / Pixabay

By Betsy Mason

For decades, climate scientist David Keith of Harvard University has been trying to get people to take his research seriously. He's a pioneer in the field of geoengineering, which aims to combat climate change through a range of technological fixes. Over the years, ideas have included sprinkling iron in the ocean to stimulate plankton to suck up more carbon from the atmosphere or capturing carbon straight out of the air.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch