Breaking Waves: Ocean News

06/14/2021 - 15:36
California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah face extreme heat, worsening drought and raising risk of wildfires Dangerously hot temperatures across the US south-west will continue to climb this week, reaching higher than 120F (49C) in some areas, exacerbating the region’s already-dire drought conditions and increasing the risk of new fire ignitions. Extreme heat will be felt across much of Utah, along with southern and central California, Nevada, and Arizona. Continue reading...
06/14/2021 - 12:30
While the G7 calls for a ‘green revolution’ to deal with an ‘existential crisis’, it is no clearer if Scott Morrison will formally embrace a net zero target In an Australian context, the climate message from the weekend G7 summit is clear: the world’s biggest and richest democracies are acknowledging what the science demands and pledging to act in a way they haven’t before. The contrast with the debate in Canberra is growing. The commitments from the G7 have come later than they should have. Activists are understandably sceptical about whether their actions will rise to meet the leaders’ words, and critical of the failure to announce long-promised climate funding to help developing countries. Caution ahead of the major UN summit in Glasgow in November, known as Cop26, is justified and necessary. Continue reading...
06/14/2021 - 11:53
Laurence Tubiana, a key player in 2015 Paris summit, says UK and others must explain how they will achieve climate goals Rich countries must come forward with detailed plans on how they hope to meet their climate targets, and Boris Johnson must forge much closer relationships with developing countries to bring about the breakthrough needed on the climate crisis this year, one of the architects of the Paris agreement has said. The G7 summit, which ended on Sunday in Cornwall, achieved much less than campaigners had hoped, with no significant new cash forthcoming for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, on the frontlines of climate breakdown. Continue reading...
06/14/2021 - 10:38
Biodiversity pledge is part of formal response to landmark review of economic importance of nature The UK government has committed to leaving the environment in “a better state than we found it” in response to a landmark review of the economic importance of nature. Major transport and energy infrastructure projects in England will need to provide a net-gain for biodiversity, and the government said it would ensure all new bilateral aid spending did not harm the natural world as part of an effort to ensure a “nature-positive” future. Continue reading...
06/14/2021 - 08:55
(Credit: Jason Mallett, Ocean Leadership Staff) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Cassandra Wilson, Ocean Leadership Staff  What’s Passed The Endless Frontier Act (S. 1260) — which would establish a new directorate for technology and innovation at the National Science Foundation (NSF), authorize funding to support the STEM workforce pipeline and research institutions, create programs to facilitate technology commercialization, and establish regional technology hubs, among other actions — was considered on the Senate floor in May. This legislation passed the Senate on June 8 as part of the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (S. 1260) and now heads to the House for a vote. While the Act has been lauded for its investments in science and innovation, it includes controversial provisions for ensuring national research security. In the House, the National Science Foundation for the Future Act (H.R. 2225) passed out the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology. This legislation is the House counterpart to the Endless Frontier Act and would also establish a new directorate, this one focused on science and engineering solutions to support a solutions-driven approach to research. The full committee on Science, Space, and Technology must pass the bill before it can head to the House floor for a vote. What’s New In the House, Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-2) and Garret Graves (LA-6) introduced the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R. 3075). If enacted, this legislation would address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices and human rights abuses in the fishing industry by expanding the Seafood Import Monitoring Program to cover all fish species and products, increasing program data requirements to include documentation of labor conditions, establishing seafood traceability and labelling requirements, improving seafood import monitoring, strengthening U.S. authority to revoke port access to vessels associated with IUU fishing, and authorizing funding for new automatic identification systems on vessels. Similar to a resolution introduced in the House in April (H.Res. 361), lawmakers in the Senate introduced a resolution (S.Res. 220) emphasizing the national importance of becoming a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). What’s Next The Biden administration released its detailed budget request on May 28. This request acts as an important reference for Congress to better understand the administration’s priorities for FY 2022, and congressional appropriators are in the process of holding budget hearings with agency leaders to learn more about the Biden administration’s budget request as they draft their FY 2022 spending bills. The House hopes to begin marking up their annual spending bills in June, proceeding to floor action in July. Related Resources From The Consortium For Ocean Leadership April’s Congressional Wrap Up March’s Congressional Wrap Up Senate Questions NSF Director On Agency Budget And Priorities CSIS Webinar “Strategic Perspectives on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing” President’s Budget Request For FY 2022 Released Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter!
06/14/2021 - 08:51
(Credit: David Burdick, NOAA Flickr) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Cassandra Wilson, Ocean Leadership Staff  What It Was The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on “Defining A National ‘OceanShot’: Accelerating Ocean And Great Lakes Science And Technology.” Why It Matters As the ocean continues to face impacts from climate change, marine pollution, marine species loss, and other stressors, the United Nations announced the U.N. Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Ocean Decade) to bring ocean science to the forefront and to strengthen global ocean and coastal management. As part of the United States’ involvement, the U.S. National Committee for the Ocean Decade asked the ocean science community to identify “ocean-shots,” similar in concept to a moonshot idea, that will cross disciplines of marine science, technology, and policy to advance the nation’s understanding of the marine environment by leaps and bounds — and allow us to accomplish the ocean version of putting a human on the moon. The committee held this hearing to learn more about what a transformative “ocean-shot” could look like and the role Congress can play in supporting advances in ocean science and technology that could enable such action. Key Points Committee members sought to better understand the nation’s goals for the Ocean Decade and how Congress can help achieve them and advance the broader ocean science and technology enterprise. Witnesses identified potential issues an “ocean-shot” could relate to, including ocean exploration, diversity in ocean sciences, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. They also described science and technology gaps that have created barriers to predicting, mitigating, and adapting to natural and anthropogenic ocean issues, such as ocean acidification and harmful algal blooms: insufficient ocean mapping, observing, and monitoring data and platforms; science and technology funding; and marine biological data. Mr. Craig McLean (Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, Acting Chief Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) highlighted that 53 percent of domestic waters, including the Great Lakes, and 81 percent of international waters remain unmapped. He called for more observations from ships, Argo floats, and autonomous underwater platforms, among other ocean and Great Lakes observing technologies, to better inform scientific models. Mr. McLean stated he hopes to solve some of the ocean’s mysteries through fully mapping, exploring, and characterizing the ocean by the end of the Ocean Decade. Given advancements in technology, he estimated this would cost approximately $3 billion. To improve biological forecasting, Dr. Margaret Leinen (Vice Chancellor, Marine Sciences; Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego) recommended expanding this goal to include data collection around marine biological processes and linkages in addition to physical ocean mapping. Similarly, Dr. Michael Crosby (President & CEO, Mote Marine Laboratory) called for the ocean science community to also address ongoing challenges in the marine environment, such as coral bleaching, ocean acidification, and sea level rise. While witnesses agreed mapping the entire ocean is critical to growing the world’s understanding of the marine environment, they identified additional priorities for advancing the ocean science and technology enterprise, including bolstering the blue economy, increasing diversity in ocean sciences, creating a climate-literate workforce, fostering multisectoral and international partnerships, and improving ocean data accessibility. Witnesses also emphasized the need for mariculture, highlighting growing concerns over global food security. In response to questions about offshore aquaculture, Dr. Crosby shared that while the nation lags behind other countries in implementing it, offshore aquaculture technology has significantly advanced over the past decade. In response to questions about the cost of a potential “ocean-shot,” Mr. McLean shared there is no budget yet, but the National Oceanographic Partnership Program could be used as a tool to fund U.S. Ocean Decade efforts. Building on this, Mr. McLean and Dr. Robert Ballard (President, Ocean Exploration Trust; Explorer-at-Large, National Geographic Society) recommended Congress use NOPP to facilitate partnerships between federal and nonfederal entities. Dr. Leinen called for Congress to help establish and fund federal partnerships with academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and commercial entities. When asked how a potential Advanced Research Projects Agency–Oceans (ARPA-O) could help the nation achieve an “ocean-shot,” Mr. McLean stated an ARPA-O would allow for greater risk taking in ocean sciences and stated combining ARPA-O with NOPP would allow the nation to meet its Ocean Decade goals. Quotable “The Decade of Ocean Science provides an unprecedented opportunity for building partnerships, advancing the science, and sharing knowledge. The synergies between our goals and the goals of the Decade will set the stage for further developments in the realm of ocean science and technology that will help us achieve our “ocean-shot” of fully knowing and understanding our ocean.” – Mr. Craig McLean (Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, Acting Chief Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) “The biggest gap in our understanding of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes science is our lack of ability to predict the consequences of the major changes that are affecting this essential aquatic environment. For example, while we know the impacts of harmful algal blooms on coastal ecosystems and tourism, we don’t know what triggers them or whether we can predict them.” – Dr. Margaret Leinen (Vice Chancellor, Marine Sciences; Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography) “The oceans are not just important to our coastal communities; they are important to our inland communities as well, as they sustain all life on our planet. The oceans regulate the Earth’s weather and climate system and sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere: oceans are a major part of the solution to the climate crisis.” – Subcommittee Chair Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) “Just as the ‘Moonshot’ led to many new and unexpected technology innovations, a well-coordinated ‘Oceanshot’ could spur breakthroughs in technology that benefit more than just marine science. The potential benefits could touch all aspects of society such as the economy, national security, public health, and more.” – Subcommittee Ranking Member Stephanie Bice (OK-5) Related Resources From The Consortium For Ocean Leadership Maximizing Ocean Momentum: Propelling NOAA Into The Future Seas-ing The Opportunity To Improve Ocean Health The Ocean: A Source And A Solution Letter In Support Of The COAST Research Act Of 2021 Coalition Letter In Support Of Domestic Seafood Production Through Aquaculture Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter!
06/14/2021 - 06:24
EDF subsidiary reportedly warned of ‘imminent radiological threat’ at Taishan nuclear power plant A French nuclear company has said it is working to resolve a “performance issue” at a plant it part-owns in China’s southern Guangdong province after an earlier report of a potential leak there. Framatome, a subsidiary of the energy giant EDF, told Agence France-Presse news agency that it was “supporting resolution of a performance issue” at the plant. “According to the data available, the plant is operating within the safety parameters,” it said, adding that an extraordinary meeting of the power plant’s board had been called “to present all the data and the necessary decisions”. Continue reading...
06/14/2021 - 05:45
As the world moves towards electric cars and renewable grids, demand for lithium is wreaking havoc in northern Chile The Atacama salt flat is a majestic, high-altitude expanse of gradations of white and grey, peppered with red lagoons and ringed by towering volcanoes. It took me a moment to get my bearings on my first visit, standing on this windswept plateau of 3,000 sq km (1,200 sq miles). A vertiginous drive had taken me and two other researchers through a sandstorm, a rainstorm and the peaks and valleys of this mountainous region of northern Chile. The sun bore down on us intensely – the Atacama desert boasts the Earth’s highest levels of solar radiation, and only parts of Antarctica are drier. I had come to the salt flat to research an emerging environmental dilemma. In order to stave off the worst of the accelerating climate crisis, we need to rapidly reduce carbon emissions. To do so, energy systems around the world must transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Lithium batteries play a key role in this transition: they power electric vehicles and store energy on renewable grids, helping to cut emissions from transportation and energy sectors. Underneath the Atacama salt flat lies most of the world’s lithium reserves; Chile currently supplies almost a quarter of the global market. But extracting lithium from this unique landscape comes at a grave environmental and social cost. Continue reading...
06/14/2021 - 01:00
Underreporting by water companies and failure to hold them to account have resulted in ecological damage, analysis shows Water companies are being allowed to unlawfully discharge raw sewage into rivers at a scale at least 10 times greater than Environment Agency prosecutions indicate, according to analysis to be presented to the government. The number of prosecutions of English water companies for unlawful spills from sewage treatment plants in 10 years are just a tiny fraction of the scale of potentially illegal discharges, the research presented to the environment minister, Rebecca Pow, this week will suggest. Continue reading...
06/14/2021 - 01:00
I was promised one would be installed by BP Pulse but can’t get it done At the beginning of April, I ordered a new £28,000 Renault Zoe electric car from my local dealer. As part of the deal, a company called BP Pulse was supposed to come and install a charger at my home. I have been trying ever since to get it installed. The dealer has put in the request twice, but nothing has happened. As I need to get this before the car arrives, I took up the battle but am no nearer to getting it done. Continue reading...