Tag Archives | Ecology

Scientists Find Damage to Coral — Essential to Marine Life — Near BP’s Oil-Spill Well

CoralThe Associated Press reports via CommonDreams:

For the first time, federal scientists have found damage to deep sea coral and other marine life on the ocean floor several miles from the blown-out BP well — a strong indication that damage from the spill could be significantly greater than officials had previously acknowledged.

Tests are needed to verify that the coral died from oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, but the chief scientist who led the government-funded expedition said Friday he was convinced it was related.

“What we have at this point is the smoking gun,” said Charles Fisher, a biologist with Penn State University who led the expedition aboard the Ronald Brown, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel. “There is an abundance of circumstantial data that suggests that what happened is related to the recent oil spill,” Fisher said.

For the government, the findings were a departure from earlier statements.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Bad News for Super-Villains: Blotting Out The Sun May Soon Be Banned

Burns and the SunMr. Burns: Smithers, have The Rolling Stones killed.
Smithers: But sir, the UN is responsible…
Burns: Do as I say!

Bad news for super-villains everywhere. Tim Wall writes in Discovery News:

Blotting out the sun has been the dream of many arch-villains, including The Simpson‘s Mr. Burns. Their schemes may soon be foiled by the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity.

Super villains aren’t the only ones who want to shade the Earth from the sun. Blocking some of the sun’s rays could slow climate change by reducing the amount of sunlight warming the Earth, say some researchers, such as Roger Angel of the University of Arizona.

The Convention may consider banning or limiting research into space sunshades. Some question their wisdom. A space sunshade would have a rapid effect on global warming and provide time to develop more permanent measures, they say. The technique has already received serious attention from NASA and other organizations.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Alternative Energy: Turn Your Poo Into Fuel!

Photo: Wessex Water

Photo: Wessex Water

Want an alternative use for the contents of your septic tank?

Mohammed Saddiq has the answer, the poop-mobile! Bristol streets have been the first test run of the methane-powered car which allows an alternative to petroleum fuel. BBC covers the story:

The BBC’s John Maguire is given a tour of the methane-powered car by developer Mohammed Saddiq

A “poo-powered” VW Beetle has taken to the streets of Bristol in an attempt to encourage sustainable motoring.

The Bio-Bug runs on processed methane gas generated as part of the raw sewage treatment process.

Engineers from Wessex Water estimate the waste from 70 homes would generate enough gas to run the car for 10,000 miles (16,100km).

Despite being powered by fuel created from sewage, the car does not smell unpleasant.

“It performs like a normal car – you wouldn’t know it was powered by biogas,” a company spokesman said.

To use biogas as vehicle fuel without affecting vehicle performance or reliability the gas needs to be treated to remove the carbon dioxide content.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Are We Losing Interest in the Gulf Coast Oil Spill?

Interesting post from Jolie O'Dell on Mashable: Oil Spill
We’re losing interest in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill just a few weeks after it became a big media topic — and long before we’ve even made a dent in cleaning up after this mess — if Internet search and discussion trends are to be believed.
An estimated 100 million gallons or more of oil have surged into the Gulf of Mexico. Spread by wind and underwater currents, the pollution has drifted toward coastal areas, coating wildlife and natural environments in thick layers of crude oil.
Yet on Twitter, Google, blogs and even YouTube, we’re already wrapping up our collective discussion of the oil spill and how to repair its damage.
Continue Reading

Nothing Good in This One-Year Projection of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill (Video)

Gulf Coasr Oil Spill ProjectionCyriaque Lamar posted on io9.com this interesting research from the University of Hawaii. Cyriaque Lamar writes:
Researchers at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa have created a simulation of the potential spread of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill over 360 days. Their hypothetical scenario? All sorts of bad. Researchers at Mānoa's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) have created a model that charts the oil's possible path over the course of approximately a year:
Continue Reading

International Young Water Professionals Discuss Water Fears

This week in Australia, the International Young Water Professionals meet to discuss the repercussions of climate change, war, and other factors on our water supply. In the driest continent, 25 countries are represented to voice concerns and contemplate solutions so that our growing populations and destructive habits don’t put an end to our tap water. Phil Mercer of The National covers:

Experts from Oman, Kenya and Austria joined others from across the world to discuss sustainability and how communities in drier regions must adapt to warmer temperatures to safeguard precious supplies into the future.

The meeting dealt with basic issues of survival, said Katerina Ruzicka, a research assistant at the Institute of Water Quality at Vienna’s University of Technology.

“A huge problem we are facing besides climate change is water for food,” Ms Ruzicka said. “We have to feed a growing population and you need water to produce food.

“Somehow we will be able to cope with it because humans do always somehow cope with huge challenges in one way or another.”

Ensuring that supplies continue to flow to the nation’s homes and businesses has been a pressing concern for authorities in Australia.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Gulf of Mexico is Awash in 27,000 Abandoned Wells

An example of an abandoned well.

An example of an abandoned oil well.

File this under: it could get much, much worse, or it’s so bad that we finally want to fix it, once and for all. Your thoughts are welcome. Jeff Donn and Mitch Weiss write in the AP via Google News:

More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one — not industry, not government — is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows.

The oldest of these wells were abandoned in the late 1940s, raising the prospect that many deteriorating sealing jobs are already failing.

The AP investigation uncovered particular concern with 3,500 of the neglected wells — those characterized in federal government records as “temporarily abandoned.”

Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells require oil companies to present plans to reuse or permanently plug such wells within a year, but the AP found that the rule is routinely circumvented, and that more than 1,000 wells have lingered in that unfinished condition for more than a decade.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Land Where Your Unwanted CDs Go to Die

Thank the gods that someone found a use for all those "1000 HOURS FREE!" AOL discs I received in the '90s in the mail. Kyle VanHemert writes on Gizmodo:

CDSea is the work of artist Bruce Munro, who put out the call for unused CDs only a few weeks ago. Unsurprisingly, they poured in by the thousands. But the work was inspired by a moment almost three decades ago, when Munro was in Sydney, Australia.

CD Sea

Continue Reading

Toxins Found in Whales Bode Ill for Humans

WhalingArthur Max writes on the AP:

AGADIR, Morocco — Sperm whales feeding even in the most remote reaches of Earth’s oceans have built up stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals, according to American scientists who say the findings spell danger not only for marine life but for the millions of humans who depend on seafood.

A report released Thursday noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years. From polar areas to equatorial waters, the whales ingested pollutants that may have been produced by humans thousands of miles away, the researchers said.

“These contaminants, I think, are threatening the human food supply. They certainly are threatening the whales and the other animals that live in the ocean,” said biologist Roger Payne, founder and president of Ocean Alliance, the research and conservation group that produced the report.

Read the rest
Continue Reading