Offshore wind farms are becoming increasingly important around the world. Europe has thousands of wind turbines off its coasts generating more and more of its power. The first offshore wind farm in the U.S. opened for business last year and more are on the way.
We’ve discussed the problem of microplastics polluting our oceans at great lengths on this program before. Much of the small plastic particles result from the breakdown of plastic litter, such as plastic bags, packaging, and other materials. Another source is microbeads, which are often found in health products such as face scrubs and even some toothpastes. But there is a another source of microplastic pollution that is quite troubling: dirty laundry.
Sea pickles are translucent, tubular creatures that are usually found in tropical ocean waters. Also known as pyrosomes, they are actually made up of many small multicellular organisms that are linked together in a tunic to form a tubelike colony that is closed on one end.
There have been many stories in the media about the ongoing environmental crisis at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Over the past two years, the reef has lost almost half of its coral because of bleaching events. Faced with this situation, the Australian government created the Reef 2050 Plan, a strategy to protect and maintain the reef through the year 2050.
A tipping point is a point in time when a small thing can make a big change happen. The term was popularized in sociology in recent decades, but really comes from physics where is refers to adding a small amount of weight to a balanced object causing it to topple over.
Microbeads are little spheres of plastic less than half a millimeter in diameter that are added to a variety of personal care and cleaning products such as cosmetics, sunscreens and fillers. They give these products a desirable smooth texture. However, they are so small that sewage filtration systems can’t remove them and they end up in rivers and oceans where they are ingested by birds, fish and other marine life.
It’s estimated that five to thirteen million tons of plastic enters our oceans annually, where much of it can linger for hundreds of years. According to a report by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, scientists estimate that there is 165 million tons of plastic swirling about in the oceans right now. And we are on pace to have more plastic than fish (by weight) in the world’s oceans by 2050. That’s some scary stuff.
The end of 2013 marked the first occasional observations of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million. There is nothing magical about that value, but we do tend to focus on round numbers.
Plastics clogging up our landfills and polluting our oceans are a scourge of modern life and we struggle with ways to combat this growing problem. The biggest issue is that most plastics are simply not biodegradable. Polyethylene, the common plastic found in shopping bags and numerous other products, takes between 100 and 400 years to degrade in a landfill.
On several occasions, we have talked about the enormous amount of plastic that litters the world’s oceans. Bits of bottles, bags, toys, fishing nets and other objects collect in gyres, or so-called garbage patches, which have grown and grown over the decades.
Graphene is often called the wonder material. First isolated by scientists in 2004, it is a form of carbon that is just one atom thick, extremely light, two hundred times stronger than steel, highly flexible, and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. Scientists are finding numerous applications for it.
The world’s smallest porpoise is in real trouble. According to scientists, there could be as few as 30 vaquitas remaining on the planet. We highlighted the plight facing this species in detail last month.
According to a new paper published in the journal Nature, global warming has damaged huge sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The authors of the paper warn that the resilience of the reef – which is the world’s largest living structure – is waning rapidly.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, more than one billion international tourists travel the world each year. Tourism has become a powerful and transformative force for many millions of people. But all this travel is not as positive for the planet. To that end, the luxury travel network Virtuoso assembled a short, simple list everyone can follow to reduce the environmental impact of their travel.
When we think of global climate change, what comes to mind? Rising seas? Melting glaciers? Shrinking sea ice? How about diminishing ocean oxygen levels?