Environmental News March 26 - April 16, 2018

Quote for the week

"The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world."
— Gaylord Nelson

Worsening Worldwide Land Degradation Now ‘Critical’ Undermining Well-being of 3.2 Billion People
March 26, 2018
By Global Source for Science News
Land degradation includes deforestation, loss of soil and freshwater, and land abandonment- and the problem has only intensified over the years. It is responsible for the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, and therefore can worsen climate change and induce mass species extinctions. Not only is it environmentally harmful, but it is very costly to try and limit its effects which is why we as humans should work to reverse them.
Read more here.

North Atlantic Right Whales May Be On Edge of Extinction. There’s Been Zero Births This Year
March 27, 2018
By Doug Criss, CNN
The North Atlantic Right Whales are already endangered, so the fact that no calves were sighted this winter is worrisome. Causes include the warming of oceans, boat strikes, and becoming entangled in fishing nets. Their population number is already down to 450 and beachings are only becoming more prominent. Scientists who have long studied the whales speak of previous rebounds, but are discouraged about the likes of that happening next year.
Read more here.

Underwater Noise Pollution Also Disturbs Fish, Study Suggests
March 31, 2018
By CBC News
Aside from the well-known menace of plastic and oil, noise pollution has been found to have negative impacts on fish. This is a phenomenon that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, as it is becoming more of a pressing issue. Every day there are more fishing boats and ships, and the noises their engines emit is directly affecting the hundreds of different species that depend on sound to communicate and survive.
Read more here.

SeaWorld Killer Whale’s Dorsal Fin Injured, Park Officials Say
April 1, 2018
By Chip Skambis
A killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando suffered an injury to her dorsal fin two weeks ago. The park said she was hurt in her interactions with other whales, and could potentially experience permanent changes. It is normal for orcas to display an aggressive behavior, but park officials are unsure of how exactly what happened.
Read more here.

Fiji in “Fight for Our Very Survival” Amid Climate Change, Prime Minister says
April 3, 2018
By CBS News
Fiji is entering a "frightening new era" of extreme weather, the leader of the Pacific island nation said Tuesday after flooding from a cyclone killed at least four people. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama emphasized the importance of following through with the Paris Climate Agreement, from which the United States withdrew from. These events are happening around the world, and more and more people are becoming concerned with the effects climate change has been having.
Read more here.

How to Put an Octopus to Sleep— and Make Cephalopod Research More Humane
April 4, 2018
By Danna Staaf
There has long been debate on how to study the unique group called cephalopods that include octopi and squids. It is crucial for scientists to be able to study these intelligent creatures, as they have provided vital information in the past concerning neuroscience and microbiology. However, there is uncertainty in how to conduct these studies in an ethical and research-effective way. Biologist Robyn Crook examines the effects of anesthesia on cuttlefish and octopi, and found that both alcohol and Magnesium Chloride were effective.
Read more here.

Fabien Cousteau, the New Partner of Seiko Prosper
April 4, 2018
By Swiss Watch Authority
As the first grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Fabien was heavily influenced by his grandfather’s push for ocean conservation. The brand, Seiko, will now work with him through initiatives based on the Prospex diver’s watch collection. In addition, Seiko will help contribute to the work of the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center.
Read more here.

Polar Sea Ice Leads to More Productive Oceans
April 6, 2018
By Randall Hyman
Scientists analyzed fatty chemicals in the digestive glands and stomachs of Antarctic krill to reveal that polar ice is a crucial part of the polar food chain. As polar sea ice melts, some scientists were relieved to know the replacing algal blooms that took the ice’s place would at least store carbon deep in the ocean. Now, there is new research thanks to Antarctica’s Scotia Sea that adds a little bit more complexity to the situation. Krill ecologist Karin Schmidt, goes through the benefits and disadvantages of sea ice and its role throughout climate change.
Read more here.

Recycling Hope for Plastic-hungry Enzyme
April 16, 2018
By Mary Halton
Scientists have engineered an enzyme which can digest some of our most commonly polluting plastics, providing a potential solution to one of the world’s biggest environmental problems. PET, the strong plastic most commonly used, normally takes hundreds of years to break down in nature. With the newly modified enzyme known as PETase, this time period could be reduced to just a few days. This could revolutionize the recycling process, allowing plastics to be re-used more effectively.
Read more here.