Environment

Ocean Restoration – A Pipe-dream?

Humankind’s rampant overfishing, pollution and other assaults on the world’s oceans can be reversed within a generation, according to a new scientific review.

The international team of researchers that issued the review says that while the effort would cost billions of dollars a year through 2050, it would eventually pay off with benefits of 10 times that amount.

“If you stop killing sea life and protect it, then it does come back,” said team member Callum Roberts of Britain’s University of York.

The review also says climate change must be curbed because of the ocean acidification, loss of oxygen and coral destruction it brings.

It is however, questioned whether the global community has the collective will to achieve a restoration of the world’s oceans. With people like Pres. Trump in power, it seems unlikely that the environment and wildlife will ever receive the care and respect they deserve.

Environment

Wildfires – Australia

Smoke pollution that blanketed Australia for months during the bushfire crisis caused 416 deaths and thousands of hospitalisations, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.Smoke was responsible for 1,124 cardiovascular-related hospital admissions, 2,027 respiratory-related hospital admissions, and 1,305 asthma-related emergency room admissions, according to the study. Most cases were in New South Wales, where thousands of residents were forced to flee their homes.

Environment

River Nile Is Threatened By Waste, Global Warming, Pollution

Egypt’s lifeline since Pharaonic days and the source of 97 percent of its water is under massive strain from pollution and climate change and now the threat of a colossal dam being built far upstream in Ethiopia.

No country is more reliant on the Nile than Egypt, whose teeming population has just passed 100 million people — over 90 percent of whom live along the river’s banks.

Despite its importance, the Nile is still heavily polluted in Egypt by wastewater and rubbish poured directly into it, as well as agricultural runoff and industrial waste, with consequences for biodiversity, especially fishing, and human health, experts say.

Around 150 million tonnes of industrial waste are dumped into it every year, according to the state-run Environmental Affairs Agency.

Climate change spells another threat as rising sea levels are set to push Mediterranean saltwater deep into the fertile Nile river delta, the nation’s breadbasket.

More than 3,000 kilometres (2,000 miles) upstream on the Blue Nile, the main tributary, thousands of workers have toiled for almost a decade to build the $4.5-billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, set to be Africa’s largest.

Downstream countries, mainly Egypt but also drought-plagued Sudan, fear that the dam’s 145-metre (475-foot) high wall will trap their essential water supplies once the giant reservoir, the size of London, starts being filled this summer.

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Nuclear Highway

Workers near Moscow began building a highway over a Soviet-era dump of radioactive material despite protests by environmental advocates who warn the activity will release toxic particles into the air.

Moscow’s mayor insists that there are only “insignificant traces of contamination” over the site. The road is the initial phase of a project to redevelop the former industrial zone in the south of the Russian capital.

But Greenpeace says a state report shows that there are at least 66,000 tons of radioactive waste from a plant there that produced thorium for nuclear reactors.

Environment

Moscow’s Warm Winter

Russia’s capital Moscow, which for the past months has largely been deprived of its traditional seasonal covering of snow, has seen its warmest winter since records began, the state weather service said on Saturday.

The head of Russia’s forecasting centre Roman Vilfand told the TASS news agency that the average temperature in Russia from December to February has been some 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 Fahrenheit) warmer than the previous record of minus 2.8 degrees seen in the winter of 1960-1961.

He said such differences between records were extremely rare. Records began 140 years ago in Russia.

Environment

China Pollution Declines

Pollution levels over China have declined significantly, US space Agency NASA says, partly due to the economic slowdown following the coronavirus outbreak. Satellite images shared by NASA show falling levels of nitrogen dioxide. The gas is emitted by motor vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities.

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Environment

Ice Volcanos

A phenomenon that might seem more likely on an alien world was captured by a photographer from the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A pair of ice “volcanoes” were spouting through the expanding ice shelf of Lake Michigan during a frigid blast from the north. The formations spewed water as waves on the lake passed under the ice shelf, forcing the water up through the cracks in the previously formed cones.

The spewing water froze almost instantly in the bitter chill, causing the ice volcanoes to grow even larger. Lake-goers were warned not to venture near the dangerous hollow structures.

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Environment

Locust Swarms Arrive in South Sudan

Swarms of locusts which are wreaking havoc across East Africa have now arrived in South Sudan, the government said on Tuesday, threatening more misery in one of the world’s most vulnerable nations.

Billions of desert locusts, some in swarms the size of Moscow, have already chomped their way through Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda.

Their breeding has been spurred by one of the wettest rainy seasons in the region in four decades.

Experts have warned the main March-to-May cropping season is at risk. Eggs laid along the locusts’ path are due to hatch and create a second wave of the insects in key agricultural areas.

The arrival of the locusts could be catastrophic in South Sudan, where war followed by drought and floods has already left six million people – 60% of the population – facing severe hunger.

Environment

Radiation Eating Fungus

Scientists say they have begun to experiment with a type of fungus that feeds on radiation around Ukraine’s crippled Chernobyl nuclear power plant and shows promise of protecting humans and equipment from radiation.

While Cryptococcus neoformans has been known to science for more than a century, it was only recently found to have properties that can block radiation.

The fungus contains melanin that absorbs radiation and turns it into chemical energy. It can also decompose radioactive materials such as the hot graphite debris from the Chernobyl blasts.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station recently received samples of the melanin derived from C. neoformans and are testing to see if it can protect against radiation in space.

Environment

Earth’s Magnetic North Pole Moving Towards Siberia at a Fast Pace

Our planet is restless, and its poles are wandering. Of course, the geographic north pole is in the same place it always was, but its magnetic counterpart – indicated by the N on any compass – is roaming towards Siberia at record-breaking speeds that scientists don’t fully comprehend.

It’s worth stating that while the pace is remarkable, the movement itself isn’t. The magnetic north pole is never truly stationary, owing to fluctuations in the flow of molten iron within the core of our planet, which affect how Earth’s magnetic field behaves.

“Since its first formal discovery in 1831, the north magnetic pole has travelled around 1,400 miles (2,250 km),” the NOAA’s National Centres for Environmental Information (NCEI) says. “This wandering has been generally quite slow, allowing scientists to keep track of its position fairly easily.”

That slow wander has quickened of late. In recent decades, the magnetic north pole accelerated to an average speed of 55 kilometres (34 miles) per year.

The most recent data suggest its movement towards Russia may have slowed down to about 40 kilometres (25 miles) annually, but even so, compared to theoretical measurements going back hundreds of years, this is a phenomenon scientists have never witnessed before.

Heatwave – Australia

Tuesday, 17 December, was Australia’s hottest day on record. Ever. The average maximum temperature across the country was 40.9C. Temperatures of 46C and above were recorded in multiple localities in three states (SA, WA, NT) on Wednesday.

Environment

Smoke Pollution – Sydney, Australia

Bushfire smoke smothered Sydney on Tuesday, setting off fire alarms, suspending ferry services and triggering health warnings over choking air pollution.

The Sydney Opera House and harbour bridge were barely discernible through the thick haze enveloping the city, with smoke stinging the eyes and making it difficult to breathe.

The Air Quality Index compiled by the state environment department reached as high as 2,552 in some eastern suburbs — soaring past the “hazardous” threshold of 200. The pollution has been so bad it has set off smoke alarms in office buildings across the CBD, while ash has been washing up on the city’s usually pristine beaches. Flight arrivals at Sydney Airport were delayed by up to 30 minutes due to poor visibility.

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Environment

Enormous Craters Blasted in Seafloor by Nuclear Bombs Mapped for the First Time

Today, all seems quiet in the remote Bikini Atoll, a chain of coral reef islands in the central Pacific. But more than 70 years ago, this region’s seafloor was rocked by powerful atomic bombs detonated by the U.S. Army.

For the first time, scientists have released remarkably detailed maps of this pockmarked seabed, revealing two truly massive craters. This new map shows that the seabed is still scarred by the 22 bombs detonated at Bikini Atoll between 1946 and 1958.

At the time of the tests, comedian Bob Hope joked grimly: “As soon as the war ended, we found the one spot on Earth that had been untouched by war and blew it to hell.”

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Environment

Record Temperature in South Africa

Vioolsdrif, a village in the Northern Cape, has broken a new record for the highest temperature in the country — reaching over 50 degrees Celsius. On Thursday, it reached a new record of 50.1°C and then it broke its own record again on Friday by reaching 53.2°C.

There was an upper high weather system situated over the area that resulted in an increase of temperatures, which is the reason we had a heatwave condition in parts of SA. Planet Earth and Storm Report SA reported that the temperature recorded at the Viooldrif weather station is now the highest yet recorded anywhere in Africa in the modern era.

Environment

Scientists Study Sea Levels 125,000 Years Ago

Sea levels rose 10 metres above present levels during Earth’s last warm period 125,000 years ago, according to new research that offers a glimpse of what may happen under our current climate change trajectory.

The paper, published today in Nature Communications, shows that melting ice from Antarctica was the main driver of sea level rise in the last interglacial period, which lasted about 10,000 years.

Rising sea levels are one of the biggest challenges to humanity posed by climate change, and sound predictions are crucial if we are to adapt.

This research shows that Antarctica, long thought to be the “sleeping giant” of sea level rise, is actually a key player. Its ice sheets can change quickly, and in ways that could have huge implications for coastal communities and infrastructure in future.

Earth’s cycles consist of both cold glacial periods – or ice ages – when large parts of the world are covered in large ice sheets, and warmer interglacial periods when the ice thaws and sea levels rise.

The Earth is presently in an interglacial period which began about 10,000 years ago. But greenhouse gas emissions over the past 200 years have caused climate changes that are faster and more extreme than experienced during the last interglacial. This means past rates of sea level rise provide only low-end predictions of what might happen in future.

Environment

Pollution – Oil Spill, Brazil

Brazil says a Greek ship carrying Venezuelan oil has caused an oil spill that blackened tropical beaches along 2,500 km of its coasts over the last two months. Oil slicks have been appearing for three months off the coast of northeast Brazil and fouling beaches along a 2 500km area of Brazil’s most celebrated shoreline. Crews and volunteers have cleaned up tons of oil on the beaches.

Officials say it not yet possible to quantify the environmental and economic damage from the oil slicks. The government on Friday named a Greek-flagged tanker as the prime suspect behind the oil slicks. The ship Bouboulina took on oil in Venezuela and was headed for Singapore.

Environment

Pollution – New Delhi

Air quality has dropped to its worst recorded level this year in New Delhi and nearby cities, with a thick haze hanging over the Indian capital. Delhi pollution has been described ‘like smoking 50 cigarettes a day’.

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