‘Beyond Comprehension’: In Just Two Years, Half of All Corals in ‘Forever Damaged’ Great Barrier Reef Have Died
Global warming, researchers warn, “is rapidly emerging as a universal threat to ecological integrity and function.”
Global warming transforms coral reef assemblages
Plastics everywhere was bad enough, but now multiple studies have found that 94 percent of our drinking water and 93 percent of sampled bottled water worldwide are full of plastic particles and chemicals, including BPA, heavy metals, phthalates, pesticides, PCBs and other chemicals, many of which are linked in animal studies as well as some human studies to cancer, premature puberty, reduced immunity, birth defects, endocrine disruption, insulin resistance, and other major diseases. And we have no idea and neither does the FDA, EPA, or any other federal agency, whether this lethal cocktail, which binds together with other toxins, is having an even more profound impact on our health and that of our kids. What we get now from those agencies is “conflicting findings” and “uncertainties” about the potential impact of plastics-related chemicals. What we do know is that governments only test or analyze the impacts of individual chemicals to determine the levels of potentially life-threatening exposure, making it impossible to figure out the combined total load of chemicals from plastics our babies can safely absorb.
Around 8 million tons of plastic waste is dumped in the ocean annually. That equates to emptying a garbage truck of plastic into the sea every minute , most of it single-use products, such as plastic bags, candy wrappers, sachets and soda bottles.
This mismanagement not only pollutes oceans and harms marine wildlife, but also makes life harder for locals, whether they are residents of neighborhoods that regularly flood (owing to drains clogged with plastic), workers at coastal resorts that cater to tourists or fishermen facing dwindling fish stocks. The economic implications are startling. Marine debris cost the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies around $1.3 billion in 2008, and that number is only going up as the problem gets worse.
We’re encouraged that the world is waking up to the crisis of plastic waste in our ocean, and working together to resolve it. News outlets around the world highlighted the shocking video earlier this month of the British diver swimming through plastic waste off the coast of Bali. The recent World Ocean Summit, held in Mexico earlier this month, focused extensively on plastic waste. The sixth International Marine Debris conference convened last week in San Diego and highlighted new and emerging science that will help us tackle this growing problem. Earlier this year, Evian, Coca-Cola and other businesses announced efforts to address packaging waste and improve recyclability of their products.
Plastic production wreaks havoc on people and the planet—from fracking wells and pipelines in Pennsylvania, to air pollution from plastic plants in Scotland.
We are choking the planet in plastic. Everything from wasteful water bottles to grocery shopping bags are polluting our waterways, and endangering marine life and the natural environment. It’s fair to say that even the most casual news consumer has probably encountered a Facebook post, TV report, or radio segment about the garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean.
But what’s less well-known is what is fueling this plastics binge: fracking. As the Guardian recently reported, in less than a decade, tens of billions of dollars have been invested in creating new manufacturing sites around the world to turn fossil fuels into resin pellets used to manufacture plastic products. The companies profiting off this surge in plastics are contributing to a growing climate crisis while generating mountains of plastic garbage.
Research shows that pace of melting in Antarctica and Greenland has accelerated.
Melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are speeding up the already fast pace of sea level rise, new satellite data shows.
At the current rate, the world’s oceans will be on average at least 60cm (2ft) higher by the end of the century, according to research published in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.
Based on 25 years of satellite data, however, the research shows that the pace has quickened. It confirms scientists’ computer simulations and is in line with predictions from the UN, which releases regular climate change reports.
Buckingham Palace outlined new waste plans and said there was a ‘strong desire to tackle the issue’ at the highest levels of the Royal household.
It is thought that the Queen became personally interested in the problem of plastic after working with Sir David Attenborough on a conservation documentary dealing with wildlife in the Commonwealth.
The new measures include gradually phasing out plastic straws in public cafes and banning them altogether in staff dining rooms.
Internal caterers at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh will now only be allowed to use china plates and glasses, or recyclable paper cups.
Large filter feeders, such as baleen whales and basking sharks, could be particularly at risk from ingesting the tiny plastic particles, say scientists.
Whales, some sharks and other marine species such as rays are increasingly at risk from microplastics in the oceans, a new study suggests.
Species such as baleen whales and basking sharks, which feed through filtering seawater for plankton, are ingesting the tiny particles of indigestible plastic which now appear to permeate oceans throughout the world. Some of these species have evolved to swallow hundreds or even thousands of cubic metres of seawater a day, but taking in microplastic can block their ability to absorb nutrients, and may have toxic side-effects.
The new study, published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, advises more research on the megafauna of the oceans, as the effects of microplastics on them is currently not well understood. Scientists have found, for instance through examining the bodies of beached whales, large pieces of plastic in the guts of such creatures, but the effect of microplastics, though less obvious, may be just as harmful.
There are more than 11 billion pieces of plastic debris on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific, according to our new research, which also found that contact with plastic can make corals more than 20 times more susceptible to disease.
In our study, published today in Science, we examined more than 124,000 reef-building corals and found that 89% of corals with trapped plastic had visual signs of disease – a marked increase from the 4% chance of a coral having disease without plastic.
Globally, more than 275 million people live within 30km of coral reefs, relying on them for food, coastal protection, tourism income, and cultural value.
With coral reefs already under pressure from climate change and mass bleaching events, our findings reveal another significant threat to the world’s corals and the ecosystems and livelihoods they support.
Commercial fishermen and environmental groups could file lawsuits against the Trump administration, if it fails to follow a recommendation by one of its own agencies to protect salmon, sturgeon, orca and other endangered species in the Pacific north-west.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently issued a long-awaited opinion on three organophosphate pesticides – chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion.
It did so after a long court fight. Environmental groups sought publication of the opinion while the Trump administration, supported by pesticide manufacturers, pushed for a two-year delay.
The 3,700-page federal report was issued on 29 December. The scientists warned that the widely used pesticides pose a threat, through run-off into rivers and oceans, to dozens of endangered and threatened species.