Posts tagged: oceans

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S BLOG

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
04 June 2013, 11:44 AM
320 miles of smiles
Earthjustice team members enjoying the coastline.

A traditional road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway provides many “oohs” and “ahhs” along the majestic ocean, and for good reason. The turquoise water and rolling hills encourage exploration around every twist in the road. Yet, through a 320-mile bike journey, I’ve learned that all senses are heightened when on two wheels. Our dynamic team of four women joined Climate Ride, a charitable bike ride, in an effort to fight climate change. Every rider took on the rugged terrain of winding roads with one mission in our hearts: sustainability.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
24 April 2013, 9:48 AM
Climate change may ruin your next seafood night
Photo courtesy of quinn.anya

Seafood lovers hooked on $1 oyster nights may soon have to find a new source of comfort for the work week blues.

Thanks to an increase of carbon in both the atmosphere and our water bodies (which absorb about a third of all carbon emissions), carbon munching critters like crabs, lobsters and shrimp are getting bigger and hungrier, say scientists at the University of North Carolina’s Aquarium Research Center. After analyzing blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay in tanks pumped full of carbon, researchers found that the crabs grew nearly four times faster in high-carbon tanks versus low-carbon tanks.
 
Though bigger crabs sound like a delicious side effect of climate change, they’re not all that they’re cracked up to be, since crabs tend to put all their energy into building larger shells, not meatier flesh. Even worse, super-sized crabs with equally super-sized appetites could also affect the rest of the typical seafood platter, since bigger crabs will no doubt be eating bigger helpings of other seagoing creatures, like oysters.
 
Unfortunately, voracious crabs aren’t the only thing that oysters have to worry about. Because oceans are one of the world’s greatest carbon sinks, taking in 22 million tons of carbon dioxide every day, ocean chemistry is changing rapidly. This is putting a strain on shelled creatures like oysters, shellfish and corals that don't like acid baths because they depend on a pH-balanced lifestyle to build their calcium carbonate shells.
 

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
20 April 2013, 12:59 PM
Investment in biodiversity yields tourism riches
A three-toed sloth in Costa Rica's Cahuita National Park. (Nathan Dappen)

This month, I had the very good fortune to visit Costa Rica, home to some of greatest biodiversity in the world. In this tiny nation, plants and animals from temperate North America and from tropical South America mingle in habitats at different altitudes (including active volcanoes and rain forests at the beach)! I marveled at hundreds of leaping dolphins, huge rain forest trees with rich canopy life, miraculous birds, sloths and anteaters.

Not surprisingly, Costa Rica is an increasingly popular travel destination, especially for nature-oriented visitors. Of course, rampant tourism can ruin natural landscapes and in so doing, wreak havoc with local communities that depend on those landscapes, which is why early on many Costa Ricans made sustainability a primary focus. The country has been preparing itself for two generations, establishing and protecting national parks and other preserves, training young people as scientists and guides, and developing a sustainable travel ethic. It's a model that Mexico could follow, instead of proceeding on a path of destroying some of its most remarkable ecological treasures for short-term gain.

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View Shirley Hao's blog posts
11 April 2013, 5:22 PM
The (at least) 62-year-old mother keeps calm and carries on
Wisdom, back for her shift of chick rearing duties, preens her chick while her mate feeds at sea. March 7, 2013. (J. Klavitter / USFWS)

Over the years, many a leg has flitted from one fashion trend to the next, from flaring bell bottoms to form-fitting skinny jeans. But for the past six decades, one mother has stuck to just one style of leg-wear: a bird band. And it’s helped to tell an incredible story.

When the Laysan albatross known affectionately as “Wisdom” returned to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge last winter, she gracefully flew right into the record books. Banded by a scientist on his first trip to Midway in 1956 as she was tending to her egg, Wisdom is at least 62 years old and far beyond what’s thought to be the average 12–40 year lifespan for a Laysan. In fact, Wisdom is the oldest documented living wild bird today.

And she’s not taking her golden years lying down: in February, she, once again, became the proud mother of a new chick. This 8-pound bird has been flying the Pacific and raising young for longer than many of the scientists observing her have been alive.

View Elijio Arreguin's blog posts
04 April 2013, 11:49 AM
Study predicts a decrease in the size of surf
Photo courtesy of Dunedin NZ (Flickr)

“Surf’s up!”

These two words have sparked countless scenes of surfers worldwide frantically gathering boards, leashes and friends in excited rushes to the ocean in the hopes of catching a few big waves. However, a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, "Projected changes in wave climate from a multi-model ensemble", indicates that climate change may threaten the frequency of such scenes.

Researchers’ findings project that while only 7.1 percent of the world’s ocean area will experience an increase in average wave heights, almost 26 percent will actually experience a decrease in the size of surf.

View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
22 March 2013, 7:27 PM
And ConocoPhillips eager to drill in the Arctic Ocean

Earthjustice received some superb video today from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, of Shell’s beat up Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, as it was lifted onto a huge dry haul ship to be carried to Asia for repairs:

This comes on the heels of a report from the Department of Interior, which summarized  a 60-day investigation into Shell’s 2012 Arctic Ocean drilling season and was highly critical of the oil giant’s operations.

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View Jonathan Wiener's blog posts
08 February 2013, 3:47 PM
But Navy claims it might not be needed
North Atlantic right whale (#1612) with calf. (NOAA)

Would you build a $127 million training facility without first deciding whether to use it? That’s what the U.S. Navy claims it is doing in the waters off Jacksonville, Florida.

The Navy is pushing ahead with plans to build a massive submarine warfare training facility, consisting of 500 square miles of cables, nodes, buoys and other instruments, next to the only known nursery for the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and on top of habitat for sea turtles and other endangered species.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
24 January 2013, 1:02 PM
Plus: Lead-poisoned parrots and climate change fairy dust
The City of Bath. (Photo courtesy of Daz Smith, Flickr)

Fracking may ruin spa time in UK’s historic City of Bath
People have taken part in the restorative waters in the city of Bath for thousands of years, but this centuries-old tradition may no longer be available if fracking companies are allowed to drill near the Mendip Hills, where the Bath water originates, reports the UK Express. Members of the Bath community are concerned that, if allowed, hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which involves drilling deep into the ground using a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to force gas to the surface, may contaminate the area’s pristine waters, or at the very least ruin the pristine image of the city. Up until now, the controversial drilling practice was banned by the government after it was linked to two earthquakes in Lancashire, a popular seaside resort in Britain. But recently government officials were enticed to lift the ban, most likely because fracking offers a new revenue stream that might boost the weak economy. Unfortunately for the fracking industry, the British are just as freaked out by fracking as many Americans, perhaps even more so because the UK lacks the wide-open spaces where U.S.-based fracking operations often take place. Of course, now that fracking is beginning to show its ugly head in iconic, popular tourist attractions like Cooperstown, NY, Americans and Britons now have one more thing in common besides the English language and our love of pubs.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
10 January 2013, 12:02 PM
Plus: New FDA food rules and record-breaking heat waves
A collection of plastic washed up along a beach San Francisco, Calif. (Kevin Krejci / Flickr)

Tiny plastics clog the world’s oceans
By now we all know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—a giant mess of trash in the ocean—but in turns out that the world’s oceans are also full of tiny plastics, reports CNN. These so-called microplastics are used in everyday products like exfoliating face soaps and hand cleansers to give you that just-scrubbed feeling without taking a Brillo Pad™ to your face. But despite their tiny nature, microplastics may be wreaking havoc on marine life that unsuspectingly swallow these plastic bits floating in the ocean. One 2008 study even found that these tiny particles can hang out in the bodies of mussels for almost two months, though scientists don’t know yet if they cause any harm (mostly because of a lack of research on the issue). And, because they stick around the environment for a long time and can’t easily be dredged out, the plastic pollution problem is only going to get worse. According to one researcher, there has been a 100-fold increase in plastic garbage over the last 40 years. Personal product companies like Unilever are responding to the problem by phasing out the use of microplastics as a scrub material in its products. So, you may soon have to find another way to get your scrub on.

FDA takes bite out of food illnesses with proposed rules
After years of deadly outbreaks from contaminated spinach, peanut butter and other foods, the Food and Drug Administration recently proposed sweeping food safety rules to prevent contamination of the nation’s food, reports the LA Times. Each year, a shockingly high number of people fall ill from a food-borne illness—about one in six Americans—and of the people who get sick, 3,000 die. Historically, the FDA’s approach to food safety has been to wait until there’s a problem and then scramble to fix it. Now, in order to stem the tide of foodborne illnesses before they occur, the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act will take a more preventative approach by stepping up federal audits of food facilities and establishing science-based, minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables. Though the Act is the most sweeping reform of FDA’s food safety authority in more than 70 years, the rules, unfortunately, won’t come any time soon since large farms have more than two years to comply with the final rules once they’re published and small farms have even longer. Bon appétit!

View Jessica Ennis's blog posts
08 January 2013, 5:04 PM
Salazar announces 60-day investigation
Kulluk, grounded off the coast of Alaska on Jan. 3, 2012.  (U.S. Coast Guard)

Today, the Department of the Interior announced a 60-day assessment of the 2012 drilling program in the Arctic Ocean.

Earthjustice legislative representative Jessica Ennis issued this statement:

A review of Arctic Ocean drilling is the only reasonable option, given the continuous parade of mistakes in Shell’s operations. However, that review must be thorough, independent and cannot pre-judge the outcome.

Critically, the outcome of the investigation should not be pre-ordained. We are troubled by the administration’s statement announcing the review alongside their commitment to drilling in frontier areas when Shell’s exploration for oil in Arctic federal waters continues on a parade of errors. The 2012 Arctic drilling season was characterized by mistakes. Just about everything that could go wrong, short of an oil spill, has gone wrong during Shell’s program.

Among the mistakes, Shell lost control of its drillship the Noble Discoverer, the same ship that is now under investigation by the Coast Guard Investigative Service. Its other drillship, the Kulluk, began 2013 grounded near a remote Alaskan island after losing its tow lines. Previously, its oil spill containment dome failed its sea trial “crushed like a beer can” in placid waters off Washington state.

These failures are the subject of the investigation just announced.

The secretary should not place an arbitrary 60-day time limit on the review. A robust investigation should begin, without a deadline, and not be complete until the cause of each problem is found. And Arctic Ocean drilling should be halted in the meantime. The administration must take a step back and take a hard look at 2012 operations before making any decisions regarding not only how but whether drilling in the Arctic Ocean should proceed.

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