Ocean
Red Tide Rolls Into Florida Again

Red Tide Rolls Into Florida Again

The red tide that plagued the West Coast of Florida for more than a year in 2017-18 is back again, and that means no swimming and increased respiratory problems for residents in the Naples-Fort Myers-Sarasota area, not to mention negative impacts to local businesses.  According to CNN, scientists say it is difficult to predict where the tide is heading next, or how long it will last, but the last one — which lasted 16 months — was devastating.

Why This Matters:  Climate change and runoff from agriculture and development are the culprits and this toxic algae problem seems to be a problem that is here to stay.  Locals are worried about their health, wildlife like fish and dolphins, and whether their businesses can survive if this outbreak lasts for long.  In the past, red tides happened but they lasted only a week or two — but the previous one lasted 16 months.

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New Report from Security Think Tank Calls For Greater Transparency in Global Fishing

New Report from Security Think Tank Calls For Greater Transparency in Global Fishing

A new report from the Stimson Center, a global security think tank concludes that globally the fishing industry — particularly fishing vessels that ply waters far from their home (“the distant water fleet”) — is unsustainable and the only way to reign it in is through much greater transparency so that these vessels’ movements and catches can be more closely monitored by governments and NGOs.

Why This Matters: According to the authors, the bottom line is that because distant water fleets have no effective global oversight, they are fishing unsustainably (and possibly even illegally) and that will lead to destabilizing food shortages in parts of the world that can least afford them, like East and West Africa and the Pacific.

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A New Study Shows More Cities Globally Will Be Drowned By Sea Level Rise

A New Study Shows More Cities Globally Will Be Drowned By Sea Level Rise

New research using satellite positioning more accurately determines the elevation of numerous coastal cities — and as a result, previous estimates of the impacts of sea-level rise were far too optimistic and 150 million people are living in areas that will be below the high-tide line by 2050.  This assessment of the impacts on coastal cities is based on today’s population numbers, not counting future population growth or land lost to subsidence or coastal erosion so the actual numbers of people who will be displaced by sea-level rise globally will likely be even higher.

Why This Matters:  Too optimistic may be an understatement.  We must begin to adapt right now.  And physical barriers to sea-level rise can only go so far, particularly when they are based on “overly optimistic” estimates of how much and where the impacts of rising seas will be greatest.  

 

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Vineyard Wind Project Timeline Uncertain, Fishers Pushing For More Study

Vineyard Wind Project Timeline Uncertain, Fishers Pushing For More Study

Greentech Media reported late last week that the approval timeline is unclear for Vineyard Wind, an 800-megawatt wind project off the coast of Massachusetts valued at $2.8 billion that would be the largest thus far in the U.S. — the government is reconsidering its “cumulative impact analysis” on the environment and the delays are causing ripple effects in the broader U.S. offshore wind market.  Emails between the National Marine Fisheries Service of NOAA and fishermen who argue they will be adversely impacted by Vineyard Wind are now public, reveal close ties and some coordination between the Agency and the fishing industry to throw cold water on the wind development, according to E&E News.

Why This Matters:  The industry will need certainty on the approval timeline to be able to fulfill its economic potential. The needs and sacrifices of fishers must be balanced against the greater good of decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels.

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Our Ocean Conference Reels In 370 Ocean Stewardship Commitments Worth $63B

Our Ocean Conference Reels In 370 Ocean Stewardship Commitments Worth $63B

The Our Ocean Conference concluded in Norway with 370 separate pledges for action to conserve the ocean made by governments, NGOs and private corporations, with a value of $63 billion, ABC News reported Climate change commitments received the lion share of the funding at $51 billion, and the private sector providing nearly 80% of the funds.  Concurrently, a Youth Leadership Summit convened 100 young ocean activists from around the globe for a “boot camp” on ocean conservation innovative ideas.

Why This Matters:  The Our Ocean conference is a different type of global meeting — not based on a legal framework or executive agreement, and not limited to governments or as full participants — which seems to be one of the keys to its success.   The Conference also benefits from the exuberance of the youth meeting held in parallel.  It seems to be working — Palau has signed on to host the next year’s conference and Panama will host the year after that.

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Major “Blue Economy” Funding Commitments Announced By U.S. and Norway

Major “Blue Economy” Funding Commitments Announced By U.S. and Norway

Yesterday at the Our Ocean Conference in Norway, the U.S. government announced a series of 23 actions it will undertake to promote sustainable fisheries, combat marine debris, and support marine science, observation, and exploration — together they are valued at $1.21 billion dollars. 

Why This Matters:  The U.S. announcement certainly is big — but the projects were not clearly spelled out in the government’s press release — and the devil could be in the details since they were couched as enhancing the “blue economy.” We hope that when more details are available, these projects will put as much emphasis on sustainability as on development. And because accountability is a major component of the Our Ocean conference, the U.S. will have a hard time backing away from spending the dollars committed.     

 

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