Breaking Waves: Ocean News

07/07/2020 - 15:52
Ocean Leadership ~ Over the weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to to see, after years of delays, that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was cancelled. The natural gas pipeline would have stretched across West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, bringing power and jobs to many but also threatening vulnerable communities of color and risking environmental harm in ecosystems it would have passed through. Natural gas is a much cleaner option than coal or oil and represents a potential near-term option to mitigate climate change, but it’s not without its own environmental and sociological concerns, especially when considering the overall impacts of pipeline projects like this. I realize that decisions like this are incredibly hard, and while I think Duke Energy and Dominion Energy made the right decision to bring this project to an end, we must focus on solutions (land and ocean-based) that are the least harmful overall, as indicated by appropriate scientific analyses and projections. At COL, we’ve been thinking a lot lately about finding solutions to hard problems — particularly as they relate to COVID recovery and relief. For example, how do we do all we can right now to address immediate needs, like supporting workers who lost jobs and keeping struggling businesses afloat while also putting the framework in place to jump start our economy so that people who have lost jobs can have new ones to return to (possibly in entirely different sectors)? Last week, I published a piece titled “The Ocean is the Key to Economic Recovery” with Johan Bergenas from one of our members institutions, Vulcan. Our goal was to address the many ways the blue economy can help in recovery, from the role of the energy sector (with technologies like offshore wind and ocean hydraulic power) to the maritime transportation sector to the seafood industry (both fisheries and aquaculture). We believe that “by committing to the blue economy as a pillar of America’s post-pandemic economic recovery, we can create certainty for the private sector and the scientific community that there will be a market for ocean-based innovation and research. This in turn will create prosperity and opportunity for all Americans and, by extension, our partners abroad.” Deciding where and how to invest with limited dollars are some of the hard decisions that must be made, and if you have any other thoughts along these lines, we’d love to hear them! Many thanks to the Aspen Institute for publishing this piece! Aqua Plants: UD Research Shows That Submerged Vegetation Helps To Offset Chesapeake Bay Acidification For many years, the world’s oceans have suffered from absorbing human-made carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which has led to the decreasing pH of saltwater, known as ocean acidification, and threatened the health of marine organisms and ecosystems. While this process has been well documented, the acidification process is complicated and poorly understood in coastal waters. The University of Delaware’s Wei-Jun Cai was part of a research group that recently conducted a study of the bay, including in the Susquehanna Flats, in order to understand how the Chesapeake Bay uses a defense mechanism against acidification – known as buffering – to help reduce carbon dioxide and acidification in its waters during the summer time. Read our most recent and past newsletters here: The post Jon White – From the President’s Office: A Pipeline to a Better, Bluer Economy (07-06-2020) appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
07/07/2020 - 13:37
Halting Huawei hurts 5G rollout and Sino-British ties, but stopping a Chinese nuclear power plant in Essex has virtually no fallout Get ready for the “new Huawei” is the word from Westminster, meaning another flare-up in UK-China business and political relations, this time over Chinese involvement in the UK’s nuclear power programme. Ditching state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) would indeed be a political development on a political par with a Huawei exclusion. The 2016 agreement, which imagined CGN’s “progressive entry” into the UK’s “resurgent” nuclear ambitions, was given maximum hype at the time by both Beijing and David Cameron’s government. Continue reading...
07/07/2020 - 13:00
Single classification system could end centuries of disagreement and improve global efforts to tackle biodiversity loss A plan to create the first universally recognised list of species on Earth has prompted hopes of an end to centuries of disagreement and confusion over how to classify the world’s library of life. The 10-point plan aims to finally bring order with an authoritative list of the world’s species and a governance mechanism responsible for its quality. Researchers hope a single recognised list would improve global efforts to tackle biodiversity loss, the trade in endangered wildlife, biosecurity and conservation. Continue reading...
07/07/2020 - 12:30
Exclusive: Australia’s big four banks have loaned $7bn to 33 new or expansionary fossil fuel projects between 2016 and 2019, analysis finds Since the Paris agreement was signed, Australia’s big four banks have financed new fossil fuel projects that would cancel out the national emissions reduction target 21 times over, according to analysis by the activist investor group Market Forces. The analysis, released on Wednesday, shows the banks have loaned $7bn to 33 new or expansionary fossil fuel projects between 2016 and 2019. Continue reading...
07/07/2020 - 11:49
Ocean Leadership ~ Credit: David Burdick/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Webinar: COVID-19, Systemic Racism, and the Responses of HBCUs: A Virtual Town Hall Discussion (29 June 2020)   The Board on Higher Education and Workforce of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine hosted a panel of the presidents of three of the nation’s premier Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to discuss COVID-19, issues of racial injustice, and the role of HBCUs in American higher education. Dr. Makola M. Abdullah (Virginia State University), Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell (Spelman College), and Dr. C. Reynold Verret (Xavier University of Louisiana) joined moderator Dr. Gilda Barabino (Olin College of Engineering) to share their experiences at their respective schools, considerations for the coming academic year, and the transformative role their institutions play in the lives of their students. From Xavier’s Catholic education tradition, to Spelman’s status as a historically women’s college in addition to being an HBC, to VSU’s public land grant origins, panelists were able to highlight the unique perspective their institutions bring to the Black community and American higher education. They discussed what was lost during remote instruction, particularly aspects of in-person teaching that bring significant value to both students and teachers, such as the strong communities built around community service, extracurricular activities, and interpersonal relationships. They shared their plans to accelerate digital learning options and to continue to think creatively as how to best safely serve their communities. Panelists also reflected on how the current social unrest has put HBCUs on center stage because the narrative they have been telling about our nation’s history and systematic racism now has a much larger audience. Dr. Verret explained that “We are in a moment of truth telling in a very graphic way about our history and what it is about…what I see is also that young people of all races or colors are grasping at the notion that basically they were not told the truth.” They also recognized that while they have much to teach their incoming students, they must also take care to listen and learn from their students, many of whom have been on the frontlines of protests across the country. The institutions are building their capacities to continue these conversations about race and equality, help students place current events in the totality of history, and transform words into meaningful change. All emphasized the need to continue to invest in these historic institutions that, since Reconstruction, have served the nation as repositories of information, a crucial venue for difficult conversations, and an embodiment of Black excellence. Oceans Caucus Foundation Webinar: Impacts Of COVID-19 On Zoological Operations, Conservation, Rescue And Research (24 June 2020) The Oceans Caucus Foundation held a webinar to highlight the value of zoo and aquarium facilities to wildlife conservation and the continued struggles this community is facing from the global health crisis of COVID-19. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-5) remarked on the importance of zoos and aquariums, noted his appreciation for their work and community service, and highlighted some of the work he has done on the topic, including with the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 1380). Dr. Chris Dold (SeaWorld), Dr. Tara Riemer (Alaska SeaLife Center), and Mr. Thane Maynard (Cincinnati Zoo) shared their perspectives on the pandemic with moderator Ms. Robin Ganzert (American Humane) and emphasized the need for increased federal support. They explained how, while many businesses have been able to largely cut operating costs since closing to the public, zoos and aquariums did not have that option as they needed to keep feeding and caring for the animals and maintaining their habitats. Panelists talked about the sociocultural value of their exhibits and education programs in promoting conservation but also shared their lesser known domestic and international conservation efforts, both for animals in their parks and in the wild, including international conservation funds, animal rehabilitation and rescue, and research on the ability of species to adapt to climate change. While crucial, these activities are very expensive and rely on visitor revenue for funding. Though some facilities are beginning to reopen in a limited manner, the seasonality of revenue streams and lower visitor numbers mean that some zoos and aquariums may not survive their next off-season and risk permanent closure, displacing many threatened species and ending key conservation programs. Panelists advocated for a much larger directed funding efforts beyond the small business loans that only some facilities could receive and continued attention to the plight of zoos and aquariums around the country. World Resources Institute Webinar: The Case for the Ocean as a Dual Solution to Climate Change and COVID-19 Recovery (2 July 2020) For London’s virtual Climate Action Week, the World Resources Institute and the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) hosted a discussion on the opportunities for ocean solutions for climate change. Based off their report released last year,  The Ocean as a Solution for Climate Change: 5 Opportunities for Action, report authors and Ocean Panel participants shared some of these solutions and how they could play an important role in helping economies recover from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report found that ocean-based solutions can contribute to closing the emissions gap to stay within the limits set by the Paris Climate agreement through five key sectors: scaling up ocean renewables, decarbonizing shipping, protecting and restoring blue carbon ecosystems, increasing consumption and sustainable production of low carbon sources of protein, and growing capability to store carbon in seabed. Mr. Peter Thomson (United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean) emphasized the need to exert political will so that rapid and cooperative action can be taken. Panelists Dr. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (University of Queensland), Mr. Vidar Helgesen (Norway’s Special Envoy for the Ocean and Sherpa for the Prime Minister on the Ocean Panel), Mr. Jitoko Tikolevu (High Commissioner of Fiji to the United Kingdom; Co-chair, Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership), Ms. Angelique Pouponneau (Chief Executive Officer, Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaption Trust), Ms. Johannah Christensen (Managing Director, Global Maritime Forum; Founder, Getting to Zero Coalition), and Ms. Natasha Nanuck (Senior Regulatory Adviser, Ørsted) shared their insights on these sectors with moderator Mr. Kristian Teleki (Head of Secretariat, Ocean Panel). They explained that a green (and blue) recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 will have co-benefits for the environment, global economy, and quality of life by creating jobs, bringing down power prices, reducing operating expenses for transport, and protecting people and infrastructure in cost-effective way. In particular, the panelists highlighted the decarbonization and electrification of domestic shipping happening in countries including Norway as an important stepping stone towards international action. They emphasized that governments and industry must promote strong blue-green policy and collaborate to make innovative technology accessible and cost-competitive. All urged governments and the public to not forget the ocean in a climate-conscious recovery from the virus and assured listeners that economic growth and climate resilience are not mutually exclusive. World Resources Institute Webinar: The Link between Ocean Energy and Mineral Resources (24 June 2020)  The World Resources Institute held a webinar to feature the latest Blue Paper commissioned by the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy: What Role for Ocean-Based Renewable Energy and Deep-Seabed Minerals in a Sustainable Future? Mr. Kristian Teleki (High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy) moderated a discussion with lead authors Dr. Peter Haugan (Institute of Marine Research) and Dr. Lisa Levin (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego), as well as contributing author Dr. Diva Amon (Natural History Museum, London) and advisory network member Mr. Francisco Boshell (International Renewable Energy Agency) on the main findings of the paper. The paper sought to explore the challenges policymakers and communities face in balancing the positive impacts of offshore renewable energy with the potential harm of seabed mining for the minerals required to construct renewable energy infrastructure. Dr. Haugan presented an overview of offshore wind, the most cost-competitive and ready for large-scale installation of the ocean-based renewables, which also include tidal energy and floating solar. He discussed the large potential of offshore wind and the decreasing costs of constructing, operating, and maintaining turbines before explaining the potential environmental impacts from underwater sound and habitat changes associated with those activities. However, taking advantage of opportunities to undertake marine spatial planning and research and development for a less mineral-intensive turbine construction before beginning projects could help mitigate negative impacts. Dr. Levin shared the benefits of deep-seabed mining to facilitate decarbonization, the challenges of operating in largely uncharacterized deep-sea ecosystems, and the current status of mining regulations under the International Seabed Authority (ISA). She emphasized the need for an independent scientific committee in the ISA, an international research agenda for deep-sea habitats, and a more circular economy for the crucial minerals. Panelists discussed the opportunities for floating offshore wind, the need for adaptive management and workforce development, and the challenges of engaging all stakeholders for a more inclusive decision-making process. They agreed that now is the time to transition to clean energy, but continued research is needed to establish ecological baselines and make scientifically sound policy for the extraction of necessary materials from the seabed. Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post Recently Seen Around the (Virtual) Ocean Community (07-06-2020) appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
07/07/2020 - 10:32
Extreme ocean surface waves with a devastating impact on coastal communities and infrastructure in the Arctic may become larger due to climate change, according to a new study.
07/07/2020 - 09:57
Ocean Leadership ~ (Credit: Architect of the Capitol) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  What Passed In May, the House passed another aid package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) Act (H.R.6800), which awaits action in the Senate. Designed to follow up the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) signed into law in March, the HEROES Act includes financial relief to state, local, and tribal governments; extensions to enhanced unemployment benefits; expansion of virus testing and monitoring efforts; and further stimulus checks. The House also passed a transportation infrastructure bill, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act (H.R.2). The bill includes a Shovel-Ready Restoration and Resiliency Grant Program for marine, estuarine, coastal, or Great Lake habitat projects that would create jobs and provide ecological benefits as well as a Living Shorelines Grant Program that provides grants for climate-resilient projects that protect coastal communities using natural materials and systems. The House Armed Services Committee unanimously approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 (NDAA; H.R. 6395), which authorizes activities for the Department of Defense and the national security activities of the Department of Energy. The bill includes an amendment submitted by Representative Mikie Sherrill that would reauthorize and revitalize the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP). In the Senate, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (S. 3591) was introduced and passed out of the Committee on Environment and Public Works. In addition to providing funding for water management infrastructure across the country, the bipartisan bill contains provisions relating to coastal storm damage reduction, bay and watershed environmental restoration, flood protection, harmful algal bloom research, and aquatic invasive species research. What’s New Several bills were introduced in the House to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through conservation jobs and additional federal funding. The Pandemic Fishery Disaster Response Act (H.R. 7167) was introduced to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (P.L. 94-265) to add a pandemic as a potential cause of a fishery resource disaster in order to provide an additional source of funding for the struggling fishing industry. The Research Investment to Secure the Economy (RISE) Act (H.R. 7308) would provide $26 billion in emergency funding for federal science agencies to support research universities, independent institutions, and national laboratories working on federally funded research during the pandemic. The Shovel-Ready Restoration Grants for Coastlines and Fisheries Act of 2020 (H.R. 7387) calls for funding for resilience-building projects that could help coastal communities regain jobs lost to the coronavirus pandemic. Both chambers also continued work on other legislative initiatives. The Endless Frontier Act was introduced in the House and Senate (S. 3832, H.R. 6978). This bipartisan legislation aims to solidify the United States’ leadership in scientific and technological innovation by investing in research and development of key technology areas including artificial intelligence and machine learning; high performance computing; robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing; and more. The bill also proposes an expansion and renaming of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to become the National Science and Technology Foundation (NTSF) and the establishment of a Technology Directorate within NTSF to advance technology in these focus areas. In the House, the Hudson River Climate Change Protection Act (H.R. 7220) was introduced to require the Army Corps of Engineers to study the impacts of sea-level rise, low-frequency precipitation events, and coastal hurricanes on the infrastructure of coastal communities; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Improvements Act of 2020 (H.R. 6636) was introduced to expand coverage of NOAA’s sexual harassment prevention and response policy; and the Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2020 (H.R. 6738) was introduced to strengthen federal response to reef emergencies, direct grants for reef restoration, and provide authorization for the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. In the Senate, a bill to establish the Interagency Working Group on Coastal Blue Carbon was introduced (S. 3939). What’s Next Both chambers are expected to undertake subcommittee markups of their respective FY 21 appropriations bills, with the House beginning this week. The Senate is expected to continue floor consideration of their NDAA (S. 4049) when they return from recess at the end of this month, and the House is expected to consider their NDAA (H.R. 6395) later this summer. Both chambers continue to debate the need for further stimulus and relief legislation. Related Coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership February and March’s Congressional Wrap Up January’s Congressional Wrap Up December’s Congressional Wrap Up Living Shorelines: Effective, Functional, And Cheap Repair, Replacement, And Resilience: Setting The Course For Water Infrastructure Projects Ensuring Resilient Blue Infrastructure Shoring Up Support For America’s Working Waterfront Algal Blooms Harmful To Health, Economy, And Summer Fun Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post April, May, and June’s Congressional Wrap Up appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
07/07/2020 - 09:17
Exclusive: Campaigners say £3bn scheme fails to comply with Paris accord and is just ‘a fig-leaf for polluters’ Boris Johnson’s much-vaunted green recovery plans are inadequate and “clearly unlawful” as they do not match up to the government’s legal obligations under the Paris climate agreement and the UK’s own net zero emissions target, green campaigners have said. On Tuesday, a letter threatening court action was sent to the prime minister and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, by the pressure group Plan B, which successfully took the government to the appeal court this year over its green light for the expansion of Heathrow airport. Continue reading...
07/07/2020 - 07:39
Microplastic fiber pollution in the ocean impacts larval lobsters at each stage of their development, according to new research. A study reports that the fibers affect the animals' feeding and respiration, and they could even prevent some larvae from reaching adulthood.
07/07/2020 - 05:00
Businesses include oil and gas drillers and coal mine operators, an analysis by Documented and the Guardian finds More than 5,600 companies in the fossil fuel industry have taken a minimum of $3bn in coronavirus aid from the US federal government, according to an analysis by Documented and the Guardian of newly released data. The businesses include oil and gas drillers and coal mine operators, as well as refiners, pipeline companies and firms that provide services to the industry. Continue reading...