Seven ways the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe could stop runaway climate change.

Popular CultureApril 9, 20180

One of the big ironies of superhero comics and movies is that these beings of immense power, though committed to saving the world, do so by punching things pretty hard. Even when far more obvious solutions to world shaking challenges are presented, the question is not “what will do the most good for the most people” but “can I punch at it really, really hard?” Superman could have done far more for his adoptive home world if he used his limitless strength to turn a crank on an alternator.

Weinersmith knows what’s up.

Heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe don’t fair much better. While off avenging, sorcering, and civil warring, they’ve managed to overlook some fairly self-evident solutions to the most pressing global crisis of our time. So how could Earth’s Mightiest Heroes bring an end to runaway climate change?

1. Tony Stark creates unlimited free energy.

We can get the obvious one out of the way, first. Stark’s Arc Reactor is, for all intents and purposes, a free energy machine. Miniaturization means Arc Reactors could be used to power anything, from cars to aircraft carriers to entire cities. Switching the world’s power grid and transportation network to Arc tech would result in an immediate reduction in CO2 emissions and halt the accumulating damage of continuous energy growth as demand for technology increases around the world.

Ok, that’s the obvious one that has to be mentioned in order to avoid insufferable Twitter comments. Now on the the good stuff.

2. Use Pym Particles to sequester CO2 in the Quantum Realm. 

Pym Particles are particles that “shirk the spaces between atoms” allowing an object bombarded with these particles to shrink continuously while maintaining its mass, unless it’s a tank on a key-chain, for some reason. Comic books are ridiculous, ok?

Unfortunately, the shrinking power of Pym Particles is limitless, and once an object shrinks to the point where it’s smaller than an atom, somehow, it enters the Quantum Realm, where the laws of Newtonian physics no longer apply, time is meaningless, and you can never escape (except when you can). Shrink into the Quantum Realm and you shrink forever. That really seems like the ideal place to sequester CO2 , doesn’t it?

The big problem with carbon sequestration is that it’s not always a permanent solution. Sequestered CO2 in trees is only sequestered so long as no one cuts those trees down and burns them. The carbon is still out there in the world, waiting to be re-mobilized into the environment. But! If we could sequester carbon by bombarding it with Pym Particles and sending it to the Quantum Realm, it would shrink forever, permanently looked away in a world of very poorly interpreted quantum physics. That seems safe.

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Smart phones are worse than you think, SeaWorld takes a dive, this week in deep-sea mining, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: April 9, 2018

Monday Morning Salvage0

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

GIF by Anthony Antonellis

The Levee (A featured project that emerged from Oceandotcomm)

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Thoughts on the Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act

Conservation, fisheries, marine science, Natural Science, Science, sharks, SustainabilityApril 5, 20180

A few weeks ago, H.R. 5248, The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act, was introduced into Congress. The purpose of this bill is to “encourage a science-based approach to significantly reduce the overfishing and unsustainable trade of sharks, rays and skates around the world and prevent shark finning,” according to a press release from Mote Marine Lab. 

Though the devil is always in the details, and I’ll get into those below, here is a general overview of how this would work. The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act would direct NOAA Fisheries to evaluate the fisheries management practices of other shark and ray fishing nations. This is similar in principle to other things NOAA is already doing, and a similar role for NOAA was included in the 2010 Shark Conservation Act (but has yet to be implemented).

Nations that have sustainable fisheries management practices comparable to ours (or certain fisheries associated with those nations, even if other fisheries are less well managed) will get a formal certification of their sustainable management practices, and nothing will change for them. Nations (or fisheries) that are found to not have sustainable fisheries management practices comparable to ours will not be allowed to have those products imported into the US and sold in our markets until their management practices improve. In the meantime, they’ll have access to NOAA’s existing capacity building resources and expertise to improve their own practices.

I support much of what this bill is trying to do, but I have some significant concerns about some of the current phrasing and plan for implementation.

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Invisible squid and fish with glowing eye spikes: Thursday Afternoon Dredging, April 5th, 2018

Thursday Afternoon Dredging0

Cuttings (short and sweet): 

Spoils (long reads and deep dives):

Please add your own cuttings and spoils in the comments!

If you appreciate my shark research and conservation outreach, please consider supporting me on Patreon! Any amount is appreciated, and supporters get exclusive rewards!

Hagfish, chill Puffins, swamp monsters, the mining boat floats, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: April 2, 2018

Monday Morning SalvageApril 2, 20180

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

  • Want to help stem the tide of misinformation online and off? Do you have it all figured out and just need resources to implement your world-saving solution? The Rita Allen Foundation is looking for Solutions to Curb the Spread of Misinformation.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

The Levee (A featured project that emerged from Oceandotcomm)

Beware the Feu Follet, by Russell Arnott

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Giant whales and collapsing cod stocks: Thursday Afternoon Dredging, March 29th, 2018

Thursday Afternoon DredgingMarch 29, 20180

Cuttings (short and sweet): 

Spoils (long reads and deep dives):

Please add your own cuttings and spoils in the comments!

If you appreciate my shark research and conservation outreach, please consider supporting me on Patreon! Any amount is appreciated, and supporters get exclusive rewards!

Try your hand at celestial navigation with an open-source, Glowforge-ready astrolabe!

EducationMarch 28, 20180

I have a bit of a soft spot for classic navigational instruments. In an age where more people interact with maps than ever before and yet spend much less time plotting their own course, being able to look up at the sky and discern your place in the world is a powerful skill. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly easy to make your own navigational instruments. Unless, of course, you have your own laser cutter.

I recently got a Glowforge, so honestly, you should have seen this coming.

Say hello to the Mariner’s Astrolabe!

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Frisky Anglerfish, Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors, Make for the Planet Borneo, Sea Cucumber Mafia, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: March 26, 2018

Monday Morning SalvageMarch 26, 20180

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

The Levee (A featured project that emerged from Oceandotcomm)

LUMCON by boat

Photo by Melissa Miller

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Migrating mullet and expanding garbage patches: Thursday Afternoon Dredging, March 22, 2018

Thursday Afternoon DredgingMarch 22, 2018

Cuttings (short and sweet): 

Spoils (long reads and deep dives):

Please add your own cuttings and spoils in the comments!

If you appreciate my shark research and conservation outreach, please consider supporting me on Patreon! Any amount is appreciated, and supporters get exclusive rewards!

In South Louisiana, Seafood Means Hope

#OceanOptimism, fisheries, marine science, Natural Science, ScienceMarch 19, 2018

This blog post and photo slideshow was created during OCEANDOTCOMM, an ocean science communication event, and supported by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) The theme of OCEANDOTCOMM was Coastal Optimism. Photos were contributed by our lead photographer, Rafeed Hussain/Ocean Conservancy, with additions from other OCEANDOTCOMM attendees, including Melissa Miller, Samantha Oester, Susan Von Thun, Solomon David, Rebecca Helm, and Alexander Havens.

A sign at the Bait House in Chauvin, Louisiana. Photo by Rafeed Hussain / Ocean Conservancy

In many ways, South Louisiana is seafood- a trip here isn’t complete without eating some gumbo, oysters, or crawfish. Only one state (Alaska) lands more seafood than Louisiana’s 1.2 billion pounds a year (as of 2016). As of 2008, one in 70 jobs in the whole state is tied to fishing or related industries. According to the Louisiana Seafood Marketing and Promotion Board, “when you choose Louisiana seafood, you’re ensuring that your purchase benefits an American community and a way of life.”

When we visited Terrebonne Parish, home to nearly 20 percent of all commercial fishing license holders in Louisiana, we found that fishing means more to the people of this community than food and jobs. Here in South Louisiana, fishing is a vital part of the vibrant local culture and community pride. In a region that’s been devastated by hurricanes and oil spills, fishing is also a source of something more important: hope.

Below, you’ll hear what fishing means to South Louisiana’s fishing communities through the voices of a former shrimper, the owner of a grocery store that has served the town of Chauvin for more than a century, and representatives of a local Native American tribe. You’ll also get a glimpse into this beautiful part of the world through a photo slideshow. Together, this paints a picture of communities that have overcome unimaginable struggle, but still look forward to the future, in no small part because of the riches of the sea.

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