Breaking Waves: Ocean News

01/20/2021 - 01:25
After studying how microplastics damage the oceans, schoolgirl Lizzie wants the government to stop sending waste to developing countries A petition by a nine-year-old schoolgirl calling on Boris Johnson to stop shipments of plastic waste to developing countries has received more than 70,000 signatures in less than a week. Lizzie A*, who is studying plastic pollution in year 4, said she began the petition because sending Britain’s unsorted plastic waste to poorer nations is “unfair” and wrong. She took action last week after her mother, Esther, showed her a piece in the Guardian’s Seascape series, revealing the UK will continue to ship plastic waste to developing countries despite an EU ban on the practice from this month. Continue reading...
01/20/2021 - 01:00
Lockdown may have given us more respect for the wild plants, and the work they do, in our urban areas Weeds have a public image problem – unloved, trodden on, dug up and sprayed with herbicides. But during lockdown, the weeds in towns and cities have given a contact with nature, no matter how humble their roots. These are, after all, wild plants growing under our feet and they deserve respect. A study of native British weeds showed that many were highly valuable flowers for bees and butterflies, producing nectar and pollen and also providing them early in the year. Plants such as dandelion and daisy were good for bees and the weed pellitory-of-the-wall, growing in cracks in pavements, is food for the red admiral butterfly. The buddleia bush, growing on walls and almost any waste ground, is a magnet for many butterflies. Continue reading...
01/19/2021 - 23:47
Weather forecast to ease by Australia Day after ‘big burst of summer heat’ A burst of heat is set to sear much of Australia ahead of the Australia Day long weekend, sending temperatures soaring and sparking bushfire concerns. The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a severe heatwave to settle across much of the south-east of the country, with temperatures set to be up to 15C above average. Continue reading...
01/19/2021 - 16:46
Warm winter weather and strong gusts have led to an early start for 2021’s fires, following a record-breaking year of blazes in 2020 Unusually warm and dry conditions coupled with powerful wind gusts have ignited a spate of winter wildfires that call into question the idea that California has a “fire season” at all any more. Residents of several communities in the Santa Cruz mountains were ordered to evacuate by the local sheriff’s office Tuesday morning as California’s fire agency, Cal Fire, responded to more than a dozen new vegetation fires across the area. Some of the fires were ignited when power lines were toppled by high winds; others were wind-driven reignitions of areas that burned in 2020, Cal Fire said. By midday Tuesday, six fires in the area were still burning. Continue reading...
01/19/2021 - 13:58
Met Office issues amber weather warning as South Yorkshire also declares major incident Greater Manchester has become the latest area to declare a major incident as swathes of central and northern England brace for the arrival of Storm Christoph. South Yorkshire has also declared a major incident in preparation for potential flooding. The Met Office issued an amber weather warning for rain between Tuesday and Thursday for an area covering Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield and stretching down to Peterborough. Continue reading...
01/19/2021 - 13:46
Ocean Leadership ~ (Credit: Architect of the Capitol) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Cassandra Wilson, Ocean Leadership Staff  What Passed After passing multiple continuing resolutions to extend fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending levels into the beginning of FY 2021, Congress passed and the president signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (H.R. 133), an FY 2021 omnibus spending package that includes $900 billion for COVID-19 relief measures, such as direct payments, loan forgiveness, and unemployment payments. The passage of the omnibus package averted a government shutdown and established FY 2021 funding levels for government agencies and programs. After convening a conference committee to resolve differences between each chamber’s bill, the House and Senate also passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 (H.R. 6395). The president vetoed the legislation; however, Congress reconvened to override the veto to ultimately pass the NDAA. This legislation authorizes FY 2021 appropriations for the Department of Defense as well as defense-related programs and activities within the Department of Energy and includes a reauthorization of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP). NOPP, which was established as part of the FY 1997 NDAA, facilitates interagency and public-private partnerships among members of the oceanographic community to advance shared goals related to national security, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability. Congress additionally passed several important ocean bills that the president then signed. The Save Our Seas (SOS) Act 2.0 (P.L. 116-224) combats the marine debris problem by decreasing domestic waste production, improving domestic waste management and response, and increasing international engagement to address marine debris. The Digital Coast Act (P.L. 116-223) formally establishes and modifies NOAA’s Digital Coast program, which effectively and efficiently integrates coastal data with coastal management decision-making processes and improves multisector capacity to manage coasts. Additionally, the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps Act (P.L. 116-259) will revise NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps provisions, including establishing new requirements for commissioned grades and operational strength numbers, obligated service, training and physical fitness, education loan assistance, and other areas. The president also signed the National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2020 (P.L. 116-221). This legislation reauthorizes the National Sea Grant College Program — which supports university-based efforts to research, conserve, and protect U.S. marine resources — until FY 2024. The bill authorizes funds for university research related to invasive marine species; harmful algal blooms; sustainable aquaculture; and oyster disease, restoration, and related human health risks. Additionally, the bill authorizes funds for university fishery activities and the program’s strategic plan initiatives as well as continues the longstanding Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowships. The president signed two more bills passed by the Senate: the Coordinated Ocean Observations and Research Act (P.L. 271), which reauthorizes the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System (ICOOS) Act through FY 2025, allows NOAA to deploy sensors in vulnerable coastal states, and establishes a National Water Center under the National Weather Service; and the Great Lakes Environmental Sensitivity Index Act (P.L. 116-274), which requires NOAA to update its environmental sensitivity index products for each coastal area of the Great Lakes at least every seven years. Congress also passed the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (S. 906), but the bill was vetoed by the president. The act sought to address driftnet fishing through expanding large-scale driftnet fishing regulations to include a prohibition on gillnets with a mesh size of 14-inches or greater, requiring the Department of Commerce to facilitate the gear transition. Two ocean bills passed the House toward the end of the year but were not passed by the Senate by the end of the 116th Congress. The Partnering and Leveraging Assistance to Stop Trash for International Cleaner Seas (PLASTICS) Act (H.R. 4636) would have authorized the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to advance international efforts to reduce marine plastic pollution through nongovernmental and private partnerships and seeks to establish an investment program to promote technology innovation and better waste management practices in developing countries. The Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2020 (H.R. 7954) would have authorized an annual appropriation of $20 million from 2021-2025 for a Department of Treasury program that allows countries indebted to the United States to reduce or restructure their debt by completing coral reef conservation actions. Both bills would have to be reintroduced in the 117th Congress and the legislative process restarted for either bill to become law. What’s New Lawmakers introduced several bills before the end of the 116th Congress, covering topics ranging from marine mammal conservation (the Marine Mammal Climate Change Protection Act (H.R. 8795)) and biodiversity (H.Res. 1247 — Expressing the need for the Federal Government to establish a National Biodiversity Strategy for protecting biodiversity for current and future generations) to ocean exploration (the National Ocean Exploration Act (S. 5024)), marine plastic pollution (the Unify Nations in Trash Elimination (UNITE) for Our Oceans Act (S.5030)) and disaster preparation and response (the Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support (FLOODS) Act (H.R. 8882)). None passed their chamber but could be reintroduced in the 117th Congress. What’s Next At the close of the 116th congress, any bills the president has not signed would need to be reintroduced to restart the legislative process. Related Resources From The Consortium For Ocean Leadership October’s Congressional Wrap Up August and September’s Congressional Wrap Up July’s Congressional Wrap Up NOAA Digital Coast: Panel Praises The Power Of Partnerships Letter of Support For Save Our Seas Act 2.0 From The President’s Office: Whale Of A Year Ends With A Spout Of Good Ocean News Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post November and December’s Congressional Wrap Up appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
01/19/2021 - 12:54
Withdrawal a blow to Boris Johnson’s desire for UK to achieve first zero-emission long-haul flight Shell has pulled out of a joint venture with British Airways and Velocys to build a flagship sustainable jet fuels plant in the UK – in a blow to Boris Johnson’s claims that Britain could deliver the world’s first zero-emission long-haul flight. The oil firm was named last year as one of the top companies set to “turbocharge government plans” for sustainable aviation fuels, the centrepiece of the so-called “jet zero” plan to decarbonise flights. Continue reading...
01/19/2021 - 12:23
Sales of electric cars rose by 43% while overall car sales slumped by a fifth last year Global sales of electric cars accelerated fast in 2020, rising by 43% to more than 3m, despite overall car sales slumping by a fifth during the coronavirus pandemic. Tesla was the brand selling the most electric cars, delivering almost 500,000, followed by Volkswagen. Sales of electric cars more than doubled in Europe, pushing the region past China as the world’s biggest market for them, according to data published on Tuesday by EV-volumes.com, a Sweden-based consultancy. Continue reading...
01/19/2021 - 12:20
Results from a 2016 research cruise show ocean acidification has interfered with shell development of zooplankton that are a critical part of the marine food web.
01/19/2021 - 11:43
The Messina Strait, a submarine bridge separating the island of Sicily from the Italian Peninsula, is the area with the largest marine litter density worldwide -- more than a million objects per square kilometre in some parts, according to a new review paper.