Environmental News October 19 - November 3, 2015

Quote for the week

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”
—John James Audubon

Scientists say deep-sea bacteria could neutralize CO2
Date: October 23, 2015
By: Brooks Hays, UPI
Scientists say a unique enzyme-producing bacterium, found deep below the ocean surface, could help neutralize greenhouse gas pollution. On the floor of the deep ocean are hydrothermal vents. Relative to the cold darkness of the deep sea floor, life flourishes around these vents. Here lives Thiomicrospira crunogena, a bacterium that makes an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase.
Read more here.

In Hawaii, dolphins caught in fight over sonar
Date: October 26, 2015
By: Brittany Lyte, Al Jazeera America
On the Fourth of July weekend in 2004, a large dolphin pod appeared in Hanalei Bay, slapping their tails and swimming in circles off the island of Kauai’s North Shore. Marine scientists mobilized a flotilla of kayaks and outrigger canoes to gently shepherd the distressed animals back out to sea. After extensive study, federal marine scientists concluded in a 2006 report for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that military sonar was “a plausible, if not likely, contributing factor” to the unusual near stranding in Hanalei Bay. There was no other likely cause.
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The unfolding Exxon climate change scandal, explained
Date: October 23, 2015
By: Ari Phillips, Fusion
As an oil company, Exxon naturally has another long and convoluted history, one that hinges on its relationship with climate change; a phenomenon primarily driven by the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the burning of the very fossil fuels that make Exxon go “cha-ching.” In recent weeks, a new investigation from InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times has shed unwanted light on just how much Exxon knew about climate change, for how long, and what the company did, didn’t do, and tried to stop from happening.
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Scientists confirm that East Antarctica’s biggest glacier is melting from below
Date: October 26, 2015
By: Chris Mooney
Earlier this year, we learned some worrisome climate news. Although Antarctic scientists have been most concerned about loss of ice in the western part of Antarctica, a study in Nature Geoscience suggested vulnerability in the much larger ice sheet of East Antarctica, as well.
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Warming Oceans May Threaten Krill, A Cornerstone of the Antarctic Ecosystem
Date: October 19, 2015
By: Michelle Innis, The New York Times
Krill, typically about the size of a pinkie and similar in appearance to shrimp, are one of the most abundant animal species on earth, and a cornerstone of the Antarctic ecosystem. They form schools that can be miles long and miles deep, with thousands of crustaceans packed into each cubic foot. Yet recent research has led to dire predictions about how global carbon emissions will significantly reduce the hatch rates of Antarctic krill over the next 100 years.
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Why some scientists are worried about a surprisingly cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic Ocean
Date: September 24, 2015
By: Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
Indeed, last week we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest such stretch yet recorded for the globe’s surface land and oceans, based on temperature records going back to 1880. It’s just the latest evidence that we are, indeed, on course for a record-breaking warm year in 2015. In the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland and Iceland, the ocean surface has seen very cold temperatures for the past eight months.
Read more here.

NOAA biologists use drone to capture images of endangered orcas, track their health
Date: October 21, 2015
By: Phuong Le, USA News
Federal biologists flying a drone have taken thousands of rich images of endangered Puget Sound orcas showing the whales are in good condition this year and that several appear to be pregnant. Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia are using those images to measure and track the health and growth of individual whales over time.
Read more here.

Chemicals In Sunscreen Are Harming Coral Reefs, Says New Study
Date: October 20, 2015
By: Laura Wagner, NPR
New research about sunscreen's damaging effects on coral reefs suggests that you might want to think twice before slathering it on. The ingredient oxybenzone leaches the coral of its nutrients and bleaches it white. It can also disrupt the development of fish and other wildlife.
Read more here.

This 15-Year-Old’s Invention Converts Ocean Currents into Energy—for Cheap
Date: October 26, 2015
By: Aarian Marshall, GOOD
Meet Hannah Herbst, a 15-year-old from Boca Raton, Florida, who just might be the nation’s top young scientist. Earlier this month, Herbst won a $25,000 prize with a very cheap invention: A prototype probe that converts the movement of the ocean’s currents into energy and costs just $12 to make. Out of nine other middle school finalists, Herbst was awarded first place in the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.
Read more here.

Reconnect with flora and fauna
Date: October 31, 2015
By: Dhanusha Gokulan, Khaleej Times
More buildings in the UAE can do with 'inner terrariums' or green spaces that will help people reconnect with their environment, said Celine Cousteau. Celine suggested that builders and government authorities can build butterfly parks and green spaces inside malls to teach children the importance of interacting with the environment and the importance of outside play.
Read more here.

Newborn Orca ‘Baby Boom’ Depends Upon Our Breaching Deadbeat Dams
Date: November 2, 2015
By: Brenda Peterson, Huffington Post
It's rare with any endangered species to rejoice--but the birth of six new orca whale calves this year to the J, K, and L pods has the Pacific Northwest breaching for joy. In any culture, we celebrate long-awaited births with gifts. What can we offer these orca families to commemorate their newborns, this happy "baby boom" after three years of heart-breaking losses of their calves? We can finally make good our government promises by tearing down the Snake River dams and so help nourish orcas with the Chinook salmon they need to thrive.
Read more here.

Why the Paris Climate Summit Will Be a Peace Conference
Date: November 3, 2015
By: Michale T. Klare, Huffington Post
At the end of November, delegations from nearly 200 countries will convene in Paris for what is billed as the most important climate meeting ever held. A failure to cap carbon emissions guarantees another result as well, though one far less discussed. It will, in the long run, bring on not just climate shocks, but also worldwide instability, insurrection, and warfare. In this sense, COP-21 should be considered not just a climate summit but a peace conference -- perhaps the most significant peace convocation in history.
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Maris the beluga whale dies suddenly at Georgia Aquarium
Date: October 23, 2015
By: Faith Karimi, CNN
A beloved female beluga whale has died suddenly at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.
Maris, 21, showed no signs of illness before her death Thursday, the aquarium said in a statement. Fisheries experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimate that beluga whales often live to be 35 to 50 years of age in the wild.
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Only four percent of the ocean is protected, study reveals
Date: October 28, 2015
By: Maddy Crowell, The Christian Science Monitor
Ocean water covers nearly 140 million square miles, or 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. But currently, only four percent is protected. A recent study conducted by Lisa Boonzaier and Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia found that major steps need to be taken to cover even the most basic global targets to protect marine wildlife. A database created by Sea Around Us set a goal of ten percent by 2020 – but it has taken decades for countries to reach the current four percent. The biggest problem? Biodiversity is rapidly falling.
Read more here.

50 interesting facts about the ocean
By: Torben Lonne, DiveIn
The Earth’s oceans are a world of mystery, magic and beauty. It’s this apart from anything else that lures divers into their depths. There is a seemingly endless array of fascinating facts about our oceans. Many of these facts are incredibly interesting, but some will defy your imagination.
Read more here.