Breaking Waves: Ocean News

05/18/2018 - 15:34
Ocean Leadership ~ NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science is recruiting for our Deputy Director. Located in Silver Spring, Maryland, this position will be responsible for overseeing the operations of a national marine science research organization. The Deputy Director is being recruited as a ZP-5 (equivalent to a GS-15) Environmental Scientist or Physical Scientist. The position is advertised under two authorities and which may be found on USAjobs.gov using the announcement numbers below. MAP announcement NOS-NCCOS-2018-0021, which is open to current or former federal employees and other specific groups. DE/CR announcement NOS-NCCOS-2018-0022 , which is open to all U.S. citizens. The post Deputy Director, NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (May 29) appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
05/18/2018 - 10:40
Readers respond for and against George Monbiot, including Tony Juniper of WWF The natural world is an incredible wonder that inspires us all, but despite our love of wildlife and wild places, there is no doubt that it is facing catastrophic decline, here and abroad. George Monbiot (The UK government wants to put a price on nature – but that will destroy it, 15 May) suggests that in efforts to save the natural world there are grave dangers in putting a “price on nature”. Yet one reason we are failing to do what is necessary is because nature is still seen as “nice to have”, rather than essential in sustaining our health, wealth and security. Many companies, economists and governments regard environmental destruction as a regrettable but inevitable consequence of economic growth – the “price of progress”. If we don’t change this mindset, then there will be little prospect for the revolution in ideas that is needed to avoid a mass extinction event and disastrous climatic changes.  Continue reading...
05/18/2018 - 10:39
Renewably generated hydrogen could supply energy storage at scales many times beyond which even the largest battery systems could attain, writes Mike Koefman; while John Ellis says it’s time for joined-up thinking on our future energy strategy There is truth in Professor Underwood’s assertion (Letters, 16 May) that nothing can surpass the “round trip” efficiency of lithium-ion batteries from, for example, solar input to final user’s output. But in focusing on this undoubted advantage he omits the overriding issue of energy storage at very much larger scales. It is this concern which has driven the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (not in the “gas industry’s pocket”, by the way) to take a serious look at hydrogen, which used to be a substantial component of our former “town gas”, derived rather filthily from coal, but which can now can be derived very cleanly from solar and wind power, directed through the water-splitting magic of modern electrolytic machinery. Such renewably generated hydrogen could supply energy storage at scales many times beyond which even the largest battery systems could attain, and could do so both in the UK and in diverse economies throughout the world. Batteries will always be needed for specific uses, but in order to displace the carbon-laden fossil fuels which now imperil climate, ocean and the whole biosphere something rather different must be adopted – something storable at all scales, transmissible, fully functional as a fuel, and climate-neutral. Only hydrogen fills this particular bill.Mike KoefmanDirector, Planet Hydrogen, Manchester • Professor Underwood correctly asserts that the efficiency of a Li-ion and heat pump system in terms of heat generation is far better than electrolysing water to make hydrogen. But the purpose of storing hydrogen was, it seems, to smooth out the supply of electricity from renewables in dead periods, not generate heat per se. Electricity generation is usually provided by turbines which are driven by steam at high temperatures. I may be wrong, but I thought heat pumps did not generally reach much above 80C and would not be suitable for electricity generation. Continue reading...
05/18/2018 - 10:04
The area is so far flung that the nearest humans are often those aboard the International Space Station. But even that hasn’t saved it from the scourge of microplastics Name: Point Nemo. Age: First discovered in 1992 by survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela. Continue reading...
05/18/2018 - 08:18
Sea otters, an African forest elephant and endangered Francois’ langurs are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world Continue reading...
05/18/2018 - 06:53
Three undergraduates are embarking on the direct action as part of an ongoing campaign to stop the university investing in fossil fuels Three students at the Cambridge University have gone on hunger strike as part of an increasingly bitter campaign to stop the university investing in fossil fuel companies. The move by the three undergraduates is part of an ongoing divestment campaign at the university that has been supported by hundreds of academics and scientists – including Sir David King, until recently the UK’s permanent special representative for climate change, Thomas Blundell, the former president of the UK Science Council and the author Robert Macfarlane. Continue reading...
05/18/2018 - 06:00
When Douglas Coupland saw debris from the Japanese earthquake washing up in Canada, he became fascinated by the centrality of plastic in our lives – and began to pick it up In 1999, I was in a Tokyo department store walking down a household cleaning products aisle and had what you might call an ecstatic moment when the pastel-tinted plastic bottles on both sides of the aisle temporarily froze my reptile cortex: pink, yellow, baby blue, turquoise — so many cute-looking bottles filled with so many toxic substances, all labeled with bold katakana lettering. I bought 125 bottles and took them back to my hotel room where I emptied them down the toilet. Yes, I can hear you judging me as an ecological criminal, but then let me ask you this: if I’d added some dead skin flakes or some shit to these chemicals, would that then have made it OK to deliver them into the Tokyo harbour? Continue reading...
05/18/2018 - 05:00
Industry insiders and local environmentalists fear agricultural development has become untenable, threatening the valley’s future The rise of Napa began with an upset. Warren Winiarski would know – his wine, a cabernet sauvignon, was a firm underdog at a legendary 1976 blind tasting in Paris, which pitted the best of France against the little-known California region.His winery, Stag’s Leap, shocked the wine world by taking top honors. “It broke the glass ceiling that France had imposed on everyone,” he recalls. “People’s aspirations were liberated.”Today Winiarski, 89, is speaking not of liberation, but of limits. A growing coalition of industry veterans and longtime residents fear that Napa has become a victim of its own success, pointing to the ecological transformation of the valley floor from dense oak woodland to a sea of vine-wrapped trellises. And they are posing a thorny question: has a unique agricultural region reached a tipping point at which agriculture itself becomes the threat? Continue reading...
05/18/2018 - 00:00
Major UK producer of plastic bottles for drinks and oils is aiming to hit new target within four months A major producer of plastic bottles in the UK is to increase its recycled content to more than 50% within four months. Princes, which produces 7% of plastic bottles used in the UK, says it has started the process to increase the amount of recycled plastic in all its bottles and will finish by September. Continue reading...
05/17/2018 - 23:30
Langstone Harbour, Hampshire: As they break down rubbish on the strandline, the tiny crustaceans may however be contributing to the spread of secondary microplastics With my back to the sea, I paced out a five-metre-wide transect and began methodically surveying the shore, working my way up the exposed shingle towards the high-tide mark. I was taking part in the Big Seaweed Search – a citizen science project that aims to investigate whether sea temperature rise, ocean acidification and the spread of non-native species is affecting the distribution and abundance of 14 indicator seaweeds. The seaweed was growing in an uninterrupted three-metre-wide band that arced around the bay. Long skeins of pea-green gutweed were interwoven with flattened, tawny-coloured fronds of bladderwrack and spiralwrack, and an unfamiliar species that had tiny, spherical air bladders clustered along its wiry branches. According to my field guide, it was Japanese wireweed, an invasive alien. Continue reading...