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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Residents of Cairns in Australia speak out for the future of the Great Barrier Reef

Many people across the world are calling for changes in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, to save the world from climate change.  In Australia, this is the case too.  A recent email from the AMCS (Australian Marine Conservation Society) included a short piece of video which has been posted on Facebook. In the video, people from Cairns in Northern Queensland, describe their grief at the damage being sustained to the Reef by global warming and they cry out for policy changes, to rescue it from further harm.  It is heart-breaking:

Cairns is a large town in Northern Queensland, probably the closest town to the Great Barrier Reef and the livelihood of many of its citizens is dependent on the tourism that the GBR attracts.  But, more than that, most of them have grown up experiencing the beauty of the Reef and don’t want to lose that, especially for their children. Some of them state that their children may never see it.

GBR

One woman says that millions of tourists come to the Great Barrier Reef every year saying “I’ve heard your reef is dying and I’ve come to see it before it’s dead.” She find this devastating.  “As if we’ve already given up.”

I lived in Mackay, to the south of Cairns, for a year, back in the 60s, and also stayed on Magnetic island, just off Townsville, for a while, as well as on Middle Percy Island, 70 miles south east of Mackay – all of these places along the Great Barrier Reef coast are very special.  So I can identify very strongly with the emotions shared by the people in the video above.  We cannot stand by and watch this amazing and beautiful reef die of the coral bleaching caused by the warmer oceans that surround it. The marine life that it sustains is also similarly iconic.

GBRmarinelife



Another recent posting describes how climate change and pesticides in the water can work together to destroy fish populations, especially reef fish:

https://theconversation.com/coral-reefs-climate-change-and-pesticides-could-conspire-to-crash-fish-populations-142689

The article in The Conversation starts:

“Australia barely had time to recover from record breaking fires at the start of 2020 before the Great Barrier Reef experienced its third mass coral bleaching event in the past five years. Only five of these have occurred since records began in the 1980s. High water temperatures and marine heatwaves, caused by climate change, are making coral bleaching an almost regular occurrence in some parts of the world.

Coral reefs are among the most vibrant ecosystems on the planet, but they are also very sensitive to stress. Meteorologists predict that 2020 is likely to be the hottest year on record, threatening yet more bleaching on reefs around the world. But it’s not just the coral itself that suffers.

Reef fishes exposed to high temperatures tend not to behave normally. Underwater noise and pollutants, such as agricultural pesticides, can have the same effect. Juvenile fish exposed to this kind of stress are less able to identify and avoid predators. But scientists aren’t sure exactly why this is.

In our new study, we found that a double whammy of higher water temperatures and pesticide exposure may be affecting the development of baby reef fish, with consequences for the entire ecosystem.”




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Independent review backs introduction of Highly Protected Marine Areas

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/independent-review-backs-introduction-of-highly-protected-marine-areas

marine life

An independent review led by former Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon, and published today on World Ocean Day, is calling for the introduction of Highly Protected Marine Areas in English waters. The review was commissioned on last year’s world ocean day by then Environment Secretary Michael Gove as part of the Government’s drive to protect our waters.

These highly protected marine areas would enable a greater recovery of the marine ecosystem and enhance the Government’s commitment to a national ‘Blue Belt’, which has already seen an area of 92,000 square km protected – 40% of English seas.

The UK currently has a range of protections in place through a network of 355 Marine Protected Areas, which offer protections for a designated feature or habitat within their boundaries. Highly Protected Marine Areas would go further by taking a ‘whole site approach’ and only permitting certain activities within their boundaries such as vessel transit, scuba diving and kayaking. Activities that could have a damaging effect on habitats or wildlife, including fishing, construction and dredging would be banned. The review claims the introduction of such areas could lead to a significant biodiversity boost for our seas by giving our marine life the best chance to recover and thrive.

The review, which was supported by a panel of independent experts, also sheds light on the potential social and economic benefits of introducing highly protected marine areas. These benefits include increased tourism and recreational activities, opportunities for scientific research and education, and positive effects for human health. It also suggests that any potential fishing restriction could be counterbalanced by a stronger and biodiverse marine wildlife – with potential long-term benefits for the fishing industry from providing areas where sea life can develop and breed undisturbed.

Three Marine Protected Areas: Flamborough Head, Lundy Island and the Medway Estuary currently have in place ‘no take zones‘ which prohibit all methods of fishing.

The panel has made a number of recommendations which will now be considered by Government with a formal response made in due course.

Key recommendations include:

  • the introduction of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) within the existing network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to allow for the full protection and recovery of marine ecosystems
  • a “whole site approach” to protect all species and habitats within the HPMA boundaries
  • potential sites should be identified on the basis of ecological principles. Once these are met, the selection of sites should seek to minimise any negative effects on stakeholders. To do this, Government should agree the identification and regulation of these sites in partnership with sea users
  • ‘blue carbon’ habitats are identified for protection during the HPMA site selection process to help combat climate change

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

Our ‘Blue Belt’ of Marine Protected Areas has already raised the bar for marine protection and we are committed to the highest standards of sustainability for our seas that set a gold standard around the world.

That’s why we asked the panel to conduct this review and I am very grateful to them for their work. I welcome and agree with the spirit of ambition, which is in line with our 25 Year Environment Plan, and we will now carefully consider the recommendations set out in the review.

Chair of the Independent review Panel Richard Benyon said:

The sea has provided food, materials and recreational opportunities for thousands of years. However, human activities have significantly impacted these habitats and species, which we now know need greater protection.

Our review demonstrates that in order to deliver the protections our most threated habitats need, Highly Protected Marine Areas need to be introduced, and I hope that government will engage with local communities and stakeholders to more forward plans to designate these new sites.

Chair of Natural England Tony Juniper, said:

I welcome the recommendations put forward by the Panel. This review is an important marker of how we can use highly protected areas to mitigate the impact of human activities on the ocean, and support its recovery to a more natural state.

I thank the panel for their work and look forward to working with Defra as they consider how best to take forward the recommendations.

Lewis Pugh, endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans, said:

The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how important our relationship with nature is. The beauty of nature is that it can bounce back – but only if we give it proper protection. There is little point in having protected areas that are not pulling their weight.

The UK has some of the richest and most diverse sea life in the world. I’m excited that we may soon have a pilot programme of Highly Protected Marine Protected Areas in England, but this must amount to more than dipping a toe in the water.

I urge the UK government to show the same leadership as with their call for 30% of the world’s oceans to be protected. They must act urgently to strengthen protection, as in a few years’ time it will be too late to fix the crisis in our oceans.

Richard Benwell, Chief Executive of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said:

The panel’s work shows strong consensus from conservation, industry and fisheries perspectives: highly protected areas are essential in reviving the ocean. We urge Ministers to now implement the recommendations quickly and create fully protected HPMAs for our seas. These will help recover our seas for people, nature and climate and be a vital addition to the UK network of marine sites. This would set Government at the cutting edge of ocean action and reinforce its leadership role in the Global Ocean Alliance as it calls to protect 30% of the world’s oceans.

On World Ocean Day, this review builds on the UK Government’s commitment to further advance ocean protection measures including last year’s designation of a further 41 Marine Protection Zones protecting species and habitats such as the rare stalked jellyfish, short-snouted seahorse and blue mussel beds. The Government is currently putting in place management measures for Marine Protected Areas, including seeking new powers through the Fisheries Bill, and through implementation of the 25 Year Environment Plan.

This news comes as seven new countries joined the UK led Global Ocean Alliance, an initiative aimed at securing protection of 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. There are now a total of 20 countries in the Alliance following today’s announcement. Germany and Italy are amongst the major new players to join, other joiners include Fiji, Cabo Verde, Monaco, Senegal, and Luxemburg.

This complements a wide programme of overseas engagements, including through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance and the Commonwealth Litter Programme, aiming to prevent plastic waste from reaching the ocean.

The Government has also committed to a £500 million Blue Planet fund to export UK expertise in marine science around the world, supporting overseas countries to protect marine habitats.

Background:

The Benyon Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas was announced on World Oceans Day 2019 by the then Environment Secretary Michael Gove .

This review covers the English inshore, offshore and Northern Irish offshore waters. Collectively these are referred to as Secretary of State waters.

Chair of the review:

Richard Benyon is a former MP and Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries. He is actively interested in environmental issues, and is a former chair of the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group and a former member of the Environment Audit Committee. He is widely respected within the fishing industry, and during his time at Defra worked closely with marine conservation groups, fishermen, and coastal communities during the development of the first tranche of Marine Conservation Zones.

Panel Members:

Peter Barham, Chair of the Seabed User and Developer Group, a representative group of UK marine industries.

Peter has over 20 years’ experience as a senior manager in public and private sectors delivering environmental and sustainable development solutions.

Joan Edwards, Director of Marine Conservation at The Wildlife Trusts.

Joan has substantial experience working on marine issues in the Wildlife Trusts for over 30 years and led the NGO campaign for the Marine and Coastal Access Act and its implementation.

Michel Kaiser, Professor of Fisheries Conservation, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh.

Michael is a board member of Fisheries Innovation Scotland and a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Fisheries Expert Group.

Susan Owens OBE, FBA, Emeritus Professor of Environment and Policy, University of Cambridge, and Fellow Emerita of Newnham College.

Susan was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution that produced the ‘Turning the Tide’ report which addressed the impact of fisheries on the marine environment.

Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation, University of York.

Trustee of Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute; Trustee and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Blue Marine Foundation; Member of WWF-UK’s Council of Ambassador.

Nathan de Rozarieux, inshore fisherman and fisheries consultant.

Nathan has been a Board Member of the Sea Fish Industry Authority since 2018 and was a committee member of the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority.

Benj Sykes, Vice-President of Ørsted’s Offshore wind business.

Co-chair, Offshore Wind Industry Council. Benj is also on the Board of RenewableUK and is a Fellow of the Energy Institute with over 30 years’ experience in the energy sector.



 


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Plastic Packaging Tax: government consultation extended to August 2020

In the Budget 2020, the UK government announced key decisions it had taken for the design of a Plastic Packaging Tax in the light of stakeholder responses to a previous consultation in 2019.

This second consultation was published on 11 March 2020 and was due to run to 20 May. However, the government recognised that many sectors with an interest in this policy have been affected by COVID-19 and wanted to give all stakeholders time to submit their views, so the consultation has been extended. The closing date is now 20 August 2020 (11.45pm) though early responses from stakeholders are encouraged.  The consultation document covers 51 pages and is geared towards the commercial sector, though individuals can respond.

Details of the consultation can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/plastic-packaging-tax-policy-design

Introduction to the consultation:

1. Introduction
1.1 At Budget 2018, the government announced that it will introduce a world leading tax on plastic packaging from April 2022. The tax will encourage the use of recycled plastic instead of new plastic within packaging. It will create greater demand for recycled plastic, and in turn stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, diverting it away from landfill or incineration.
1.2 This document marks the next stage in the consultation process. So far, the government has:
– Held a Call for Evidence (March 2018) to explore how the tax system or charges could be used to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste and published a Summary of Responses (August 2018)
– Launched a Consultation seeking views on the initial Plastic Packaging Tax design (February 2019) and published a Summary of Responses (July 2019)
1.3 At Budget 2020, the government announced that Plastic Packaging Tax will apply at a rate of £200 per tonne of plastic packaging which does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. This will apply to plastic packaging which has been manufactured in, or imported into, the UK. The government will keep the rate of the tax and the 30% recycled plastic threshold under review to ensure that the tax remains effective in increasing the use of recycled plastic.
1.4 At Budget 2020, in response to feedback from the previous consultation, the government announced that it will:
– Extend the scope of Plastic Packaging Tax to imported filled plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic content, rather than just imports of unfilled plastic packaging
– Exempt businesses that manufacture or import less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging in a 12 month period from the requirement to pay the tax. This will ensure the administrative burden and cost of collecting the tax are not disproportionate to the environmental harms the tax seeks to address
1.5 The tax will complement the reformed Packaging Producer Responsibility Regulations. These reforms will encourage businesses to design and use plastic packaging that is easier to recycle and discourage the creation of plastic packaging which is difficult to recycle. They will also make businesses responsible for the cost of managing the packaging they place on the market when it becomes waste. These measures, together with the government’s proposals to increase consistency in household recycling collections across local authorities and businesses, will increase the supply of easier-to-recycle plastic. The government believes that tax and regulatory reform together will provide businesses with the right incentives to recognise the impact of their plastic packaging decisions and drive the development and use of more sustainable packaging. The tax and regulatory changes will be delivered as separate measures given the high level of complexity any combined system would bring. However, the government will continue to ensure that the tax complements the reformed packaging regulations.

What is the government consulting on?
1.6 This consultation seeks views on the detailed design, implementation and administration of Plastic Packaging Tax to ensure it best meets the government’s environmental objectives while placing only proportionate burdens on business. Chapters 3 to 8 set out what the government is consulting on and include specific questions on:
a. Chapter 3: The scope of the tax
b. Chapter 4: Liability for the tax
c. Chapter 5: Excluding small operators (de minimis)
d. Chapter 6: Evidence requirements
e. Chapter 7: Exports
f. Chapter 8: Registration, returns and enforcement
1.7 The government is also seeking to refine its assessment of the impact of Plastic Packaging Tax as set out in Chapter 10.
1.8 At Budget 2020, the government announced that Plastic Packaging Tax will be charged at a rate of £200 per tonne where less than 30% recycled plastic is used in packaging. The rate of the tax and the percentage of recycled content are not within the scope of this consultation.



 


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Nuclear Fallout From Chernobyl and Fukushima Disasters are Stored In Melting Glaciers

This report by Ted Ranosa was published a year ago in the Tech Times:

https://www.techtimes.com/articles/241378/20190412/nuclear-fallout-from-chernobyl-fukushima-disasters-stored-in-melting-glaciers-are-ticking-time-bomb.htm

glacier

Irradiated glaciers from the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters threaten the environment as they could release their stored radiation particles at any moment.

In a study presented at the European Geosciences Union’s General Assembly, researchers discussed how ice and snow in glaciated areas can capture fallout from nuclear accidents and store them for long periods of time.

However, these glaciers are starting to melt at a rapid pace as a result of climate change. They are now at risk of releasing their contaminants into the environment, which could poison humans and wildlife alike.

Chernobyl

Chernobyl

Nuclear Fallout In Glaciers

Dr. Caroline Clason, an expert on physical geography from the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, led an international team of researchers in examining the effects of nuclear radiation on glaciers.

They focused their work on particles known as fallout radionuclides, which are the byproducts of nuclear weapons testings and accidents. These contaminants are often stored in ice surface sediments called cryoconite.

Clason and her colleagues traveled to different sites around the world, such as Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Antarctica. The FRNs detected in these environments have orders of magnitude that are higher than those found in non-glaciated areas.

The team’s discovery underscores the role of glaciers, particularly the interaction between cryoconite and meltwater, in collecting contaminants in the atmosphere from various human activities.

The researchers also found that FRN buildup is not restricted to areas directly affected by nuclear activity such as in Chernobyl and Fukushima. This highlights the impacts of nuclear fallout and other atmospheric pollutants on the entire planet.

Clason said previous studies on nuclear accidents mainly focused on their impacts on humans and ecosystems in non-glaciated areas. However, evidence suggest that cryoconite on glaciers are more adept at collecting and storing dangerous levels of FRNs.

While high concentrations of FRNs have already been detected in the past, not much is known about how they could potentially impact the environment yet. This is something that Clason and her colleagues have been trying to explore in their research.

“Our collaborative work is beginning to address this because it is clearly important for the pro-glacial environment and downstream communities to understand any unseen threats they might face in the future,” Clason said.

Effects Of Radiation Exposure

The high levels of radiation produced after a nuclear disaster can cause long-lasting effects on human health. The longer the body is exposed to the energy, the more cells and tissues are damaged.

One of the most visible health effects of radiation is hair loss (Alopecia), which often occurs when people are exposed to 200 rems or higher.

The brain is also susceptible to damaging from nuclear exposure. Radiation with 5,000 rems or higher can destroy small blood vessels and nerve cells, resulting in seizures and even immediate death in extreme cases.

High amounts of radioactive iodine can seriously damage the thyroid and other cells related to the gland. However, when used properly and in controlled doses, radioiodine can help treat thyroid cancer.

People exposed to 100 rems of radiation may experience a lowering of their lymphocyte cell counts. This leaves them more vulnerable to various infections.

Data from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing suggest that symptoms of this form of radiation sickness can last up to 10 years, and can increase the risk of developing lymphoma and leukemia.



 


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The impact of bushfires on coastal and marine environments

This is a report, published by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

Bushfires Impacts on our oceans report Australian Marine Conservation Society

It can be found at:

Bushfire-Report_February-2020_Final-full-for-web-1.pdf

Bascially, what the report outlines is that the full effects of the summer of disasters will take months to materialise. The report shed light on the dangers to guard against in the critical months ahead.

  • Sediment slugs harming habitats and wildlife: Nutrients, ash and debris released by bushfires can damage habitats and form into sediment slugs following heavy rains – which slowly work their way to our oceans, harming aquatic life along the way.
  • Contamination: Metals and other contaminants released by bushfires in sediment, smoke and ash can change the physiology and behaviours of marine animals and work their way into the food chain.
  • Algal blooms killing fish: Harmful algal blooms caused by nutrient enrichment can kill fish and contaminate oyster farms, forcing their closure;
  • Damage to protective vegetation: Debris, sediment and ash washed into seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and reefs could further burden these already pressured environments.

Critically, the research report has uncovered alarming gaps in the monitoring of waterways and a lack of infrastructure and resources for responding to the threats. Unless these gaps are addressed urgently, many species face an uncertain future in the face of intensifying bushfire seasons.

The report recommends:

  • Monitoring of waterways: a comprehensive and integrated monitoring program for coastal and marine environments, that builds understanding of bushfire impacts and informs responses.
  • Urgent rehabilitation funding: Increased support will be vital for programs targeting the rehabilitation of the most vulnerable catchments and restoration of damaged coastal environments.
  • Rapidly cut carbon emissions: leaders must deal with the root cause of intensifying bushfires – rising temperatures – including swift and effective action to cut carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy sources.


 


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Melting Greenland ice ‘could leave 400 million homeless by the end of the century’

Scientists have warned that coasts could be swamped by regular floods by the end of the century.  This is because the Greenland ice sheets are melting faster than originally predicted.  Calculations suggest that up to 400,000 million people could be left homeless as a result, 40 million more than that predicted by the IPCC.

Greenland has lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice since 1990. The figures from this latest research are similar to the IPCC’s worst case scenario.

GreenlandIcemelt

A team of 96 polar scientists from 50 international organisations contributed to the new findings published in Nature.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07617-1

Analysis indicated rise in air and ocean temperatures caused the surface ice to melt and increased glacial flow.

According to the researchers, Greenland stores enough water to raise global sea levels by six metres and knowing how much of this ice is lost is key to understanding the effects and impact of climate change.



Another report from Danish scientists was published last June, which estimated that 2019 could be the year of record high temperatures in the Arctic (2012 having been the previous high).

On June 12 2019, the day before the photograph below was taken, the closest weather station, in Qaanaaq, registered temperatures of 17.3 degrees Celsius (63.1 Fahrenheit), just 0.3 points lower than the previous record set on June 30, 2012.

“There was a dry winter and then warm air, clear skies and sun — all preconditions for an early melting,” Ruth Mottram explained. She is a climatologist at the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI).

While researching oceanographic moorings and a weather station, Steffen Olsen snapped a picture of his sled dogs pushing through a fjord, the sea ice submerged under several centimetres of meltwater.

Sled dogs wade through standing water on the sea ice during an expedition in northwestern Greenland, whose ice sheet may have completely melted within the next millennium if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate, a study has found (AFP Photo/Steffen Olsen)

Locals who accompanied Olsen’s expedition didn’t expect the sea ice to start melting that early. They usually take that route because the ice is very thick, but they had to turn back because the water was too deep for them to advance.

See further details at:

https://news.yahoo.com/arctic-could-face-another-scorching-annus-horribilis-062144315.html;_ylt=AwrXnCJi1wldRlcAEhDQtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTEyYmQzYmV0BGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjc2MDlfMQRzZWMDc3I-?guccounter=1



September 2020 update:

Even further bad news in that a huge chunk of Greenland’s ice cap has broken off:

https://apnews.com/ac55be4b1b4f7b5f0f2a862e029fc452?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=AP

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — An enormous chunk of Greenland’s ice cap has broken off in the far northeastern Arctic, a development that scientists say is evidence of rapid climate change.

The glacier section that broke off is 110 square kilometers (42.3 square miles). It came off of the fjord called Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, which is roughly 80 kilometers (50 miles) long and 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide, the National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland said Monday.

The glacier is at the end of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream, where it flows off the land and into the ocean.




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Earth’s Oceans bearing the brunt of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide

A new IPPC report outlines how oceans and marine life are responding to climate change:

https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2019/09/1047392

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/

The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation.

Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. However, at the current time, there is a continuous deterioration of coastal waters owing to pollution and ocean acidification is having an adversarial effect on the functioning of ecosystems and biodiversity. This is also negatively impacting small scale fisheries.

bears

Marine protected areas need to be effectively managed and well-resourced and regulations need to be put in place to reduce overfishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification.

Even if all human carbon-releasing activities ceased immediately, the overheated oceans will continue to heat the rest of earth’s already overheated overcrowded ecosystem for decades and possibly centuries.

Facts and figures:

  • Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume.
  • Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.
  • Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at $3 trillion per year or about 5 per cent of global GDP.
  • Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions.
  • Oceans absorb about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.
  • Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 3 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein
  • Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people.
  • Subsidies for fishing are contributing to the rapid depletion of many fish species and are preventing efforts to save and restore global fisheries and related jobs, causing ocean fisheries to generate US$50 billion less per year than they could.
  • Open Ocean sites show current levels of acidity have increased by 26 per cent since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Coastal waters are deteriorating due to pollution and eutrophication. Without concerted efforts, coastal eutrophication is expected to increase in 20 percent of large marine ecosystems by 2050.

Eutrophication is excessive richness of nutrients in a lake or other body of water, frequently due to run-off from the land, which causes a dense growth of plant life.

ocean zones

At the Ocean conference in September 2019, climate experts said:

Our oceans and frozen spaces have been “taking the heat” for global warming for decades, and warned that without a radical change in human behaviour, hundreds of millions of people could suffer from rising sea levels, frequent natural disasters and food shortages.”

“The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive”, the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states. “Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.”

According to the IPCC report on the ocean and cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet – global warming has already reached one degree Celsius above the pre-industrial level.

This temperature rise, which the 195-strong Member State body attributes to greenhouse gas emissions, has resulted in “profound consequences” for people and the planet.

“The world’s ocean and cryosphere have been ‘taking the heat’ from climate change for decades, and consequences for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe,” said Ko Barrett, Vice-Chair of the IPCC.

In total, 670 million people who live in the world’s high mountain regions and around the same number in low-lying coastal zones “depend directly” on the planet’s oceans and frozen resources, the IPCC notes.

In addition, four million people live permanently in the Arctic region, and small island developing states are home to 65 million people.

In a bid to protect them, their surroundings and livelihoods, the IPCC is calling for the introduction of measures to limit global warming “to the lowest possible level”, in line with the internationally agreed 2015 Paris Agreement.

“If we reduce emissions sharply, (the) consequences for people and their livelihoods will still be challenging, but potentially more manageable for those who are most vulnerable”, said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people. But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways – for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and wellbeing, for culture and identity.”

According to the IPCC report, average sea level rise is now 3.6 millimetres a year.

This is more than twice as fast as during the last century and levels could rise more than a metre by 2100 “if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase strongly”.

The result is likely to be more extreme sea level events that occur during high tides and intense storms. “Indications are that with any degree of additional warming, events that occurred once per century in the past, will occur every year by mid-century in many regions, increasing risks for many low-lying coastal cities and small islands”, the report states.

Without major investments in adaptation, these low-lying zones would be exposed to escalating flood risks, and some island nations “are likely to become uninhabitable”.

Glaciers could shrink 80 per cent, by 2100

Highlighting the importance of coordinated, ambitious and urgent action to mitigate the impact of global warming, the IPCC report also warns that glaciers, snow, ice and permafrost are declining “and will continue to do so”.

In Europe, eastern Africa, the tropical Andes and Indonesia, smaller glaciers are projected to lose more than 80 per cent of their current ice mass by 2100, under worst emission scenarios.

This is likely to increase hazards for people, for example through landslides, avalanches, rockfalls and floods, in addition to farmers and hydroelectric power producers downstream.

“Changes in water availability will not just affect people in these high mountain regions, but also communities much further downstream”, said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC’s Working Group I.

melting glaciers

Sea ice getting thinner every month

On sea ice, the IPCC report underscores that the extent of Arctic ice has declined every month, “and it is getting thinner”.

If global warming can be kept to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the Arctic ocean would only be ice-free in September once in every 100 years, the study suggests. At two degrees Celsius, however, this would occur up to one year in three.

“Some people living in the Arctic, especially indigenous peoples, have already adjusted their travelling and hunting activities to the seasonality and safety of land, ice and snow conditions, and some coastal communities have planned for relocation,” the report states.

Permafrost ‘warming and thawing’

Turning to permafrost – ground that has been frozen for many years – the IPCC suggests that it is “warming and thawing and widespread permafrost thaw is projected to occur in the 21st Century”.

Even if global warming is limited to well below two degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels, around a quarter of the permafrost down to three to four metres depth, will thaw by 2100.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase strongly, there is a potential that around 70 per cent this near-surface permafrost could be lost.

In writing the report, more than 100 authors from 36 countries assessed the latest scientific literature on the ocean and cryosphere, basing their findings on some 7,000 scientific publications.

It will provide input for world leaders gathering in forthcoming climate and environment negotiations, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Chile, in December.



And a Guardian report on this issue:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/25/extreme-sea-level-events-will-hit-once-a-year-by-2050

“Extreme sea level events that used to occur once a century will strike every year on many coasts by 2050, no matter whether climate heating emissions are curbed or not, according to a landmark report by the world’s scientists.

The stark assessment of the climate crisis in the world’s oceans and ice caps concludes that many serious impacts are already inevitable, from more intense storms to melting permafrost and dwindling marine life.

But far worse impacts will hit without urgent action to cut fossil fuel emissions, including eventual sea level rise of more than 4 metres in the worst case, an outcome that would redraw the map of the world and harm billions of people.”



Another WordPress blogger has come up with the idea of sequestering carbon dioxide by planting kelp forests in a deserted part of the South Pacific.

Maximum carbon sequestration.

Here is a quote from this site:

“The South Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and South America is at present ocean desert. In fact, it is the world’s largest ocean desert at around 37 million square km. It is far from any landmass and a lack of dust and minerals means there is very little life to be found. Growing a kelp forest ecosystem in this area would transform it from a desert into a teeming mass of life as well as providing Carbon sequestration on a truly massive scale. I suggest that every kelp plant grown in this forest could be free-floating and attached to its own simple bamboo buoy, ( The Peel Technique ).

How would the approach work?. Vast forests of both bamboo and kelp will be required.  Land based bamboo plantations would be used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, produce oxygen and restore degraded lands. The bamboo plantations would also supply the kelp buoy production factories with the bamboo that they require. The bamboo buoys would be used to assist young kelp plants to float in deep ocean waters. The buoys would also carry the minerals that the growing kelp plants require to survive.”



And from the UK Government’s website:

While attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York, International Environment Minister, Zac Goldsmith, announced on 24th September that ten countries have signed up to a UK-led initiative to safeguard the world’s ocean and its wildlife. The initiative was endorsed by the Prime Minister, also at the United Nations General Assembly, and was welcomed by the environmental organisation Greenpeace UK.

The announcement received positive coverage on several international outlets: OceanographicBusiness Leader, Energy Live News, Brits in Kenya, and Seychelles State House Blog, as well as on social media, including a tweet from the Finnish Minister of Environment, Krista Mikkonen, who said: “We must live up to our promise of halting the loss of #biodiversity.”

The 30by30 initiative, which is pushing for at least 30 per cent of the global ocean to be protected in Marine Protected Areas by 2030, has been supported by 10 countries including:

  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • Finland
  • Gabon
  • Kenya
  • Seychelles
  • Vanuatu
  • Portugal
  • Palau, and
  • Belgium

Further details at:

Ten countries join UK’s leading 30by30 initiative to safeguard the world’s ocean



Here is another report on the issue from the Huffington Post:

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/heatwaves-in-the-ocean-have-doubled-in-the-last-30-years_uk_5b75529fe4b02b415d75cf93?guccounter=1

“Heatwaves in the Ocean have doubled in the last thirty years

While the news has been filled with the types of heatwaves that we experience above sea level, the fact is the ocean suffers from the phenomenon as well.

In fact ocean heatwaves have roughly doubled in number over the last three decades and are already looking to become even more common and intense as the planet warms, research has found.

Prolonged periods of extreme heat in the oceans can damage kelp forests and coral reefs, and harm fish and other marine life.

To make matters worse, the oceans both absorb and release heat more slowly than air. This means that most marine heatwaves can last for at least several days — and some for several weeks, Dr Frolicher said.”