Environment, Environmental Issues, News, Pollution

Ozone-depleting chemicals still spewed in atmosphere despite international ban

The ozone hole (purple and blue) covered much of Antarctica in 2006. Image: CAROLYN GRAMLING

NASA reports significant quantities of ozone-depleting chemicals are still leaching into the atmosphere despite an international ban signed by all the world’s governments thirty years ago. …

Green Living, News, Pollution

People in Beijing can pay for public transportation in recycling

Image via PangeaToday

People from Beijing can now use one of the city’s 34 newly installed facilities which allows them to pay for public transportation or charge their phone credit with empty plastic bottles. China is the world’s biggest polluter, and will likely stay so for years and years to come. The growth of their economy has been fueled by coal consumption, which is the dirtiest type of energy out there, and the Chinese smog (which could be seen from outer space) is already well known and documented. But we have to give credit where credit is due – not because of the size of the initiative (34 plastic recyclers are not that…

Animals, Biology, News, Pollution

Whales and sharks sightings increase around NY waters, in response to cleaner waters

Photo: Artie Raslich/Gotham Whale

After cleaning the Hudson River, which spills into New York harbor, marine biologists report increased sightings of whales and sharks around the Big Apple’s waters. The cleaner waters now harbor more fish and nutrients, which in turn has led to a surge in numbers. Dolphins and seals are also on the rise. The Hudson River used to be filled with pollution and garbage, but in the past five years the city’s public administration took dramatic action to curb water contamination. As a result, whales and sharks in the area have steadily risen in numbers, attracted by prosperous waters.  Gotham Whale, a wildlife tracking group, counted 29 whales, all humpbacks, in New York waters…

News, Pollution

Mercury content of upper oceans has tripled since Industrial Revolution

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Scientists have finished analyzing water samples taken from 12 oceanographic cruises from the past 8 years. Among other startling discoveries, they report that the mercury content in the upper oceans has tripled since the Industrial Revolution began. Interestingly enough, this is the first time we have an accurate, systematic global distribution of mercury in oceans. While mercury is a naturally occurring element both in waters and in the atmosphere, the high concentrations researchers report can only be attributed to burning coal. The mercury pollution was strongest in the deeper parts Northern Atlantic because surface waters sink to intermediate depths and beyond. Meanwhile, deep waters in the Northern Pacific remained relatively unpolluted, while…

Environmental Issues, News, Pollution

Sobering Aerial footage of the Mount Polley environmental disaster

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The Cariboo Regional District has released troubling video of what can already be called a full-scale environmental disaster following the release of five million cubic meters of effluent from a tailing pond at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine near Likely, B.C., on Monday. Mount Polley is an open pit copper/gold mine with a developing underground project, located in south-central British Columbia.It’s not yet clear what caused the breach. At the moment, the situation is really not stable especially at the base of the debris flow. Campers were evacuated, and people are warned to stay as far away as possible from the area. After the tailings dam broke, slurry…

Environment, News, Pollution

Beijing to shut down all coal-fired power plants and other coal facilities by 2020 to curb air pollution

coal plant China Beijing.

Beijing and the surrounding area will ban coal by the end of 2020, the official Xinhua news agency said on Monday. It’s not much, but it’s a start – about 1% of the Chinese population lives in that area, and over one quarter of the energy they use comes from coal, so banning it is definitely a good signal. Fuel oil, petroleum coke, combustible waste and some biomass fuels will also be prohibited as part of the effort to fight pollution, Xinhua said. Beijing is riddled with pollution-related problems. A recent study concluded that smog in Beijing reduces life expectancy by 15 years. Beijing’s pollution is so severe that it…

Environmental Issues, News, Pollution, Science

Frack now, ask questions later: bio impact of fracking still largely unknown

A typical fracking well. Image: Frontiers of Ecology

Since 2007, shale gas has boomed by 700% in the US and is projected to rise for the next 30 years. While there are states where well fields span across hundreds of hectares, you’d think that the effects of exploitation of this caliber are well researched and documented. In reality, the bio impact of fracking remains largely unknown. …

Animals, Environmental Issues, News, Pollution

Only one sixth of the original Caribbean corals remain, but damage can be reversed

Caribbean Coral Reef

It’s estimated that only a sixth of the original coral reef that covered the Caribbean waters is still alive today, according to a recent report released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). If no major interference occurs, most of the coral in the Caribbean might disappear in the next 20 years. There are some good news, too. The damage done so far can be reversed, if certain steps are made. Titled “Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012″ (full PDF), the report is the result of three years worth of painstaking work…

Animals, Pollution

Bees make blue honey after eating M&Ms

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It’s a tough period to be a bee – even though it’s fairly clear by now that the massive bee wipe-out is caused by pesticides and fungicides, and even though places where such pesticides have been banned report huge increase in bee health, the world is still not taking steps to save the little insects. To put it bluntly, bee numbers are dropping, and they will continue to drop massively unless we actually do something. To add insult to injury, some bees in France have now made blue honey after eating M&Ms from a nearby factory. French beekepers have found themselves in an extremely unfortunate position when their bees produced honey…