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Study: Climate change is pushing giant ocean currents poleward

by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News


Highlights:

Wind-driven ocean currents are moving towards the poles, causing impacts such as sea-level rise and storms.

  • The shift in poles will affect sea-level rise on the East Coast of the US and disrupt salmon fishing waters on the West Coast
  • Gyres, which are large systems of ocean currents, are also changing along with the smaller currents and will impact ocean life and coastal cities
  • Changes in gyres will cause intense heatwaves in the subtropics and impact fishing in the Pacific Ocean
  • The changes in ocean currents are part of natural fluctuations but some can be attributed to climate change
  • As long as global temperatures increase, the movement of the currents are not likely to stop

With 9 of 15 global tipping points now active, what we do today can either unleash an inhospitable hothouse Earth or secure a safe climate well into the future. As the science and climate reality demand, our only hope for a vibrant, healthy, and equitable future for all is to enact bold climate policies now, not decades from now.


Read more: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/26022020/climate-oceans-weather-fishing-gyres-gulf-stream-sea%20level

History’s largest mining operation is about to begin underwater—and the consequences are unimaginable

by Wil S. Hylton

Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes…


His case for seabed mining is straightforward. Barron believes that the world will not survive if we continue burning fossil fuels, and the transition to other forms of power will require a massive increase in battery production. He points to electric cars: the batteries for a single vehicle require 187 pounds of copper, 123 pounds of nickel, and 15 pounds each of manganese and cobalt. On a planet with 1 billion cars, the conversion to electric vehicles would require several times more metal than all existing land-based supplies—and harvesting that metal from existing sources already takes a human toll. Most of the world’s cobalt, for example, is mined in the southeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where tens of thousands of young children work in labor camps, inhaling clouds of toxic dust during shifts up to 24 hours long. Terrestrial mines for nickel and copper have their own litany of environmental harms. Because the ISA is required to allocate some of the profits from seabed mining to developing countries, the industry will provide nations that rely on conventional mining with revenue that doesn’t inflict damage on their landscapes and people.

On land, Australia’s rising heat is ‘apocalyptic.’ In the ocean, it’s worse.

by Darryl Fears, Washington Post

Even before the ocean caught fever and reached temperatures no one had ever seen, Australia’s ancient giant kelp was cooked.

Rodney Dillon noticed the day he squeezed into a wet suit several years ago and dove into Trumpeter Bay to catch his favorite food, a big sea snail called abalone. As he swam amid the towering kelp forest, he saw that “it had gone slimy.” He scrambled out of the water and called a scientist at the University of Tasmania in nearby Hobart. “I said, ‘Mate, all our kelp’s dying, and you need to come down here and have a look.’

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/world/climate-environment/climate-change-tasmania/

The root of the problem: Finding solutions for the Great Barrier Reef

by Maddie Maffia, CCP

This summer, I am studying land-use practices and their impacts on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia. The GBR is the most diverse coral reef ecosystem in the world. Sadly, it has lost 80% of its coral reef coverage in the northern portion of the reef over the past decade. One of the primary problems for the coral reefs comes from terrestrial land-use management practices.

The majority of the land off the coast of Queensland is primarily used for coastal urbanization, growing sugar cane, cow grazing, and rainforest conservation. However, the area adjacent to the coral reefs is largely used for sugar cane and cow grazing. This land-use practice has immense effects on the GBR due to the increase in runoff, which increases the amount of sediment and nutrient accumulation in the waterways. For example, the coral and algae live in a mutually-beneficial relationship with each other, and excess nutrients in the reef can upset the natural balance of these ecosystems. The plants grab the extra nutrients and grow to dominate in size or quantity more than they normally would. This, in turn, allows the algae to outcompete the corals, which leads to a decrease in coral reef coverage. In addition to this, farmers tend to maximize their profit by placing their farms adjacent to waterways to allow their cows and crops access to freshwater. This additionally increases the rate of transported pollution and furthers the degradation of coral reefs.

The Australian government is very proactive in passing marine legislation to protect the coral reefs, however, the legislation is covering up the problem rather than stopping it. To prevent pollution from entering the waterways, the government needs to address how farmers use their land to make it more sustainable and viable for the coral reefs downstream. Strategies like carbon farming – where farmers use no-till methods and cover crops to quickly sequester carbon and improve soil fertility without toxic fertilizers and pesticides – are undoubtedly going to be the way of the future.

This idea of fixing the root of the problem can easily be translated back to the United States. Switching from fossil fuel use to all-electric renewable power sources (with battery storage) will be key to tackling climate change. How we get there remains to be seen. Many policy wonks agree that we will need a meaningful (high) carbon tax that can help fund the transition and retraining that will be required. However, trying to solve our problems downstream – whether that’s in the coral reefs or at the end of millions of tailpipes – is not efficient or effective. Heading upstream to the source to face the problem head-on will save time, money, and lives.  As we phase out fossil fuels, we will also phase out thousands of pollution-related deaths in favor of a healthy sustainable existence and a stable planet.

To save lobsters, Maine piles into states eyeing 100% renewables

by Chris Martin, Bloomberg

Maine, warning that global warming is a threat to its lobsters, just joined the growing chorus of states pledging to get all of their electricity from renewable energy sources.

In setting a goal of sourcing all of Maine’s power from renewable energy resources by 2050, Governor Janet Mills is aligning the state with others including California and Hawaii that have already established 100 percent clean energy targets. Mills said during a conference Thursday that she plans to introduce legislation that would create a climate council responsible for helping achieve the state’s emissions-reduction goals.

“The Gulf of Maine is warming at a rate faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans, driving our lobster populations further up the coast,” Mills said in a written copy of her speech. “Here in Maine, we are witnessing these changes firsthand.”

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-28/to-save-lobsters-maine-piles-into-states-eyeing-100-renewables?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=190307&utm_campaign=climatechanged

2 million defended the Amazon Reef and won

by Diego Gonzaga, Greenpeace

Almost two years ago, we started an incredible adventure onboard the Greenpeace Esperanza ship. Our goal was clear: to show the world the amazingness of the Amazon Reef and why it is important to protect it from the hands of greedy oil giants like French company Total. It has been a long journey, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We needed to be many, we needed to be strong, diverse, and united. And with you, and all the Amazon Reef Defenders around the world, we did it.

Today is a day to celebrate. All of us Amazon Reef Defenders have made history together. The Brazilian environmental agency (Ibama) has finally denied Total the license to drill for oil near the Amazon Reef in Brazil! This decision sends a powerful message to governments and companies all over the world: the movement to end the age of oil will continue to grow.

Read more: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/victories/2-million-people-defended-the-amazon-reef-and-won/