Flotsam: big news from the bottom of the sea
Amidst the protests and climate strikes, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate and it is mostly bad news for the ocean. Really bad news. 93% of all planetary warming has been absorbed by the oceans. The oceans are hotter, more acidic, more stratified, and there’s less oxygen in them.
The full report is over 1000 pages, but everyone should read the 45 page summary for policymakers.
Here’s the good news: we know what we have to do. There’s no magic, new technology that’s going to bail us out. There’s no fantasy silver bullet that fixes everything. There’s just work, hard, thankless, unforgiving work. We have to massively cut greenhouse gas emissions, protect and restore ocean habitats that store carbon, and increase ocean resilience by strongly protecting huge swaths of the world’s oceans, closing unsustainable fisheries, and reducing nutrient and plastic pollution.
And if we can pull that off, the UN High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy reports the ocean-based climate action can mitigate 1/5 of global warming impacts.
Meanwhile, here’s the Trump-appointed head of NOAA Fisheries refusing to say if climate change is affecting the oceans or US fisheries.
Jetsam: what bubbled up this week
Walruses attacked and sunk a Russian naval vessel in the high arctic. Walruses. The small landing craft was ferrying crew from the MV Altai to a nearby island when the female walrus charged the small inflatable. Fortunately, everyone escaped unscathed.
According to the Russian Defence Ministry, a drone was operating nearby, which means there better be a video of this, somewhere.
Scientists and Maine Lobstermen have been at each other’s throats for the last few months over new gear requirements to limit whale entanglement, with both sides accusing the other of over or underplaying claims of harm. On September 16, Snake Eyes, a well-known right whale, was found dead and entangled in fishing gear five miles south of Long Island.
One hundred eighteen years ago, the Hudson set out from the port of Duluth with a load of wheat and flax, only to be caught in a vicious gale and vanish into the frigid waters. This month, wreck hunters found the ship, speared bow-first into the lake bed, more than 800-feet beneath the surface of Lake Superior.
The first order has been placed for a commercial cargo ship built with wind-assisted propulsion. These ventifoils are vertically mounted airfoils that act like wings, providing forward lift as the ship moves through the water, reducing fuel cost and emissions. Windships aren’t new, but the awkward vertical wings have never been successfully deployed on a ship this size.
And Marine Biologist Dr. Stacy Jupiter earned a MacArthur Award this week for her work with coastal communities in Melanesia.
Lagan: science news that’s peer-reviewed
Ocean Acidification is the gruesome alter ego of climate change in the ocean. As seawater absorbs more carbon dioxide, it becomes more acidic, and that is bad news for anything that has to build a skeleton out of calcium carbonate. When it comes to ocean acidification, resilience may be the name of the game. In “selectively bred oysters can alter their biomineralization pathways, promoting resilience to environmental acidification,” the authors reveal that aquacultured oysters selected for fast growth and disease resistance are particularly adept at coping with increasing acidity, which is good news if you’re an oyster farmer, but probably not very reassuring for wild oysters.
Driftwood: what we’re reading on dead trees
This week I’m reading Bayou of Pigs by Stewart Bell. Full disclosure, I just started reading this one, but holy mola is it a story. Take a trip back to the 1980’s, when fanatical white suprmacists plotted to overthrow the newly independent Island of Dominica and establish a white ethnostate in the Caribbean. It’s exactly as horrible as you think it is and twice as incompetant. Fortunately, they never made it out of Louisiana and the FBI raid that brought them down became known as the Bayou of Pigs invasion.
Thank cod we didn’t have Twitter back then.
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