Tag Archives: Global warming

Documentary review: ‘Into Eternity’

24 Nov

review by NoFishLeft

From the 17e till 27e of November 2010 the IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival) is held in Amsterdam. Last night I went to ‘into eternity’ a beautiful aesthetic, surreal, somewhat disturbing documentary about the legacy of nuclear waste.

In a desolated landscape in finland, the government is working on a 3 billion euro costing hiding place for nuclear waste. A place to protect our future generations from the toxic we produce. This immense tomb called ‘Onkalo’ (hiding place) will be build out of solid rock 500 meters under the ground, a place that supposedly should be save from any possible threats like earthquakes, volcanoes, wars or human economic instability. This mind-blowing project takes more than 100 years to build and will be finished in the 22th century.

Madsen the director of the film examines the possible implications and questions that rise when building a colossus tomb like this. He focus on how to build, protect and secure a structure that has to remains for at least 100.000 years. Is it even possible to build a structure that remains for more than 100.000 years? Is humanity capable to make this and how to warn future generations for this deathly tomb?

This intriguing documentary examines a very width range of questions about possible human evolutions. All breaks at the point that 100.000 years is far beyond imaging even for our brightest minds. In the end we can only assume what will happen in the future. Civilizations will fall, new ones will rise maybe on total different key pillars than our civilization now. How to warn these new possible human civilization in the far future? with language, symbols or maybe something as the painting the scream? How to warn them instead of creating curiosity of any future visitors that might seen it as a religious tomb. The engineers confess that the biggest threat will possibly lie in what they call ‘human intrusion.’

Where will the human race be in a 100, 1000 or even 10.000 years from now? The simple questions asked in this film and the honest answers by lawmakers, theologians, engineers makes this film powerful yet very disturbing. One of the serious options proposed is to try to forget this place, erase it from our human history, but than you have to be sure the structure and  roaming earth has no flaws for the coming 100.000 years

Through focusing on this immense project this documentary really shows us the bigger picture of the unsolved problem we have with nuclear waste, a growing and inevitable problem. Our nuclear reactors maybe safer than ever, but the problem of nuclear waste grows. ‘Onkalo’ at this moment is the most high tech, safest way to store the toxic waste. But it will only store 1% of the current nuclear waste there is.

With the coming prognoses of more countries embracing nuclear power again it rise some very important unanswered questions. Politicians, policy makers and lobbyists who running a successful campaign for nuclear energy keeping the waste problem out of the debate. The world looks mostly focused on the safety of it nuclear reactors instead of focusing and bringing real solution on the inevitable toxic waste that comes along with it.

Madsen didn’t made this film as an activist, he isn’t, and that’s what makes the documentary even more powerful. His background as a conceptual artist makes this documentary a stunning aesthetic film. The visual shots fits perfect with the unreal upsetting reality of the film. In a poetic style he’s telling our far future generations about this ‘Onkalo’.

This documentary is a must see for everybody who thinks about nuclear energy as a real solution for our coming energy crisis. We can not make proper decisions with out asking ourselves some serious and needed questions about the waste it brings. You can’t talk about nuclear power, without talking about the big problem that nuclear waste brings for future generations.

Production year: 2010
Runtime: 75 mins
Directors: Michael Madsen

Whale Poop Pumps Up Ocean Health

17 Oct

ScienceDaily (Oct. 12, 2010) — Whale feces — should you be forced to consider such matters — probably conjures images of, well, whale-scale hunks of crud, heavy lumps that sink to the bottom. But most whales actually deposit waste that floats at the surface of the ocean, “very liquidy, a flocculent plume,” says University of Vermont whale biologist, Joe Roman.

A conceptual model of the whale pump. In the common concept of the biological pump, zooplankton feed in the euphotic zone and export nutrients via sinking fecal pellets, and vertical migration. Fish typically release nutrients at the same depth at which they feed. Excretion for marine mammals, tethered to the surface for respiration, is expected to be shallower in the water column than where they feed. (Credit: Peter Roopnarine, Joe Roman, James J. McCarthy. The Whale Pump: Marine Mammals Enhance Primary Productivity in a Coastal Basin. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (10): e13255 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013255)

And this liquid fecal matter, rich in nutrients, has a huge positive influence on the productivity of ocean fisheries, Roman and his colleague, James McCarthy from Harvard University, have discovered.

Their discovery, published Oct. 11 in the journal PLoS ONE, is what Roman calls a “whale pump.”

Whales, they found, carry nutrients such as nitrogen from the depths where they feed back to the surface via their feces. This functions as an upward biological pump, reversing the assumption of some scientists that whales accelerate the loss of nutrients to the bottom.

And this nitrogen input in the Gulf of Maine is “more than the input of all rivers combined,” they write, some 23,000 metric tons each year.

Nitrogen limits

It is well known that microbes, plankton, and fish recycle nutrients in ocean waters, but whales and other marine mammals have largely been ignored in this cycle. Yet this study shows that whales historically played a central role in the productivity of ocean ecosystems — and continue to do so despite diminished populations.

Despite the problems of coastal eutrophication — like the infamous “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico caused by excess nitrogen washing down the Mississippi River — many places in the ocean of the Northern Hemisphere have a limited nitrogen supply.

Including where Roman and McCarthy completed their study: the once fish-rich Gulf of Maine in the western North Atlantic. There, phytoplankton, the base of the food chain, has a brake on its productivity when nitrogen is used up in the otherwise productive summer months. (In other parts of the ocean, other elements are limiting, like iron in some regions of the Southern oceans.)

“We think whales form a really important direct influence on the production of plants at the base of this food web,” says McCarthy.

“We found that whales increase primary productivity,” Roman says, allowing more phytoplankton to grow, which then “pushes up the secondary productivity,” he says, of the critters that rely on the plankton. The result: “bigger fisheries and higher abundances throughout regions where whales occur in high densities,” Roman says.

“In areas where whales were once more numerous than they are today, we suggest that they were more productive,” say McCarthy.

The numbers of whales that swam the oceans before human harvests began is a question of some controversy. “Conservative estimates are that large whales have been cut to 25 percent,” says Roman, “though the work done on whale genetics shows that we’re probably closer to 10 percent,” of historical levels. To cover the range of possibilities, Roman and McCarthy’s study considered several scenarios, estimating current whale stocks as 10, 25, or 50 percent of historical levels.

“Anyway you look at it, whales played a much bigger role in ecosystems in the past than they do now,” says Roman, a conservation biologist in the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and the author of a book on whales.

“And everything that we do to enhance recovery and restoration of the great whales to something like pre-harvest levels works against other deleterious effects that humans are causing in the oceans,” says McCarthy, like the decline of overall ocean productivity as climate change drives up water temperatures, which, in turn, causes a decline in nutrients for phytoplankton.

Save the whales, save the fishermen

A further implication of the new study is that ongoing calls by some governments to relax international whaling restrictions are ill-considered. Culls and bounty programs would reduce nitrogen and “decrease overall productivity,” Roman and McCarthy note.

“For a long time, and still today, Japan and other countries have policies to justify the harvest of marine mammals,” says Roman. These countries argue that whales compete with their commercial fisheries.

“Our study flips that idea on its head,” Roman says, “Not only is that competition small or non-existent, but actually the whales present can increase nutrients and help fisheries and the health of systems wherever they are found. By restoring populations we have a chance to glimpse how amazingly productive these ecosystems were in the past.”

Science Daily

Egypt must go green to save Red Sea

17 Oct

The Red Sea’s ecosystem is under threat from pollution and Egyptians refusing to accept there is an environmental problem

Coral reefs in the Red Sea north of Jeddah Coral reefs in the Red Sea are under threat from oil spills and plastic waste. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images

The Red Sea is facing a crisis that could see much of its wonderful marine life cease to exist. Continued polluting of the water, constant oil spillage from offshore rigs and a lack of awareness in Egypt and around the region about the importance of maintaining vital ecosystems all contribute to the threat.

A few travellers passing through Cairo earlier this month sent me an email describing their disappointment at the diving they experienced off Egypt’s top resort, Sharm el-Sheikh. What they saw was “completely a different scene” from their first visit in 2004. “The coral was turning grey and dying,” they said.

Over and over I have heard stories from divers about the decaying state of the Red Sea’s coral reefs. It is unfortunate, but true. No longer is the Red Sea a pristine location to witness the spectacle of marine life and coral reefs. One of the main causes is the constant pouring of waste from hotels along the coastal areas, but the tourism industry more generally has done further harm by pumping chemicals and other waste products into the sea. Resolving these problems is proving extremely difficult.

Not only are coral reefs under threat, but other marine life, too. Offshore oil rigs have been in the Red Sea waters for decades, but little has been done to ensure the equipment is up to date. These rigs stream a constant pool of oil into the sea. Ahmed el-Droubi of the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Agency (Hepca) told me earlier this year that much of the dolphin population has migrated further and further south as a result.

read whole article at the Guardian.co.uk

Tens Of Thousands Of Walruses Crowd Ashore In Alaska Due To Melting Sea Ice (VIDEO)

2 Oct
The AP recently reported on tens of thousands of walruses that have been forced ashore in northwest Alaska because their usual habitat, sea ice, has melted.

This footage from the USGS, via National Geographic, shows an astonishing aerial perspective of the walruses, crowded together on the beach. The situation is especially dangerous because walruses are easily spooked, and the younger ones can be trampled to death in a resulting stampede. Because of this, the area has been declared as a no-fly zone.

According to National Geographic, this is the first time this many walruses have taken to the beach in this particular area, though similar incidents have occurred in other parts of Alaska and Russia in years past.

Deep Sea Oil Drilling Ban Rejected By European Nations

23 Sep

Sad news, despite the latest horror scenario in the Gulf and the lurking dangers of Global Warming, governments still not take there responsibility for a healthy future for the people and the planet.

article HuffingtonPost

OSLO, Norway — Oil-producing countries on Thursday rejected a German proposal for a moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Northeast Atlantic that reflected environmental concerns after the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

At a meeting of environment ministers and officials from 15 European countries and the European Union, Germany suggested that offshore nations consider a temporary halt to the “drilling of new complex deep-water oil exploration wells.”

Greenpeace activists said offshore oil nations including Norway, Denmark and Britain opposed the draft at the two-day meeting in Norway’s west coast city of Bergen. Stefan Krug, a spokesman for Greenpeace Germany, called it “a shame” that host Norway was “not able to agree to adequate and urgent measures.”

Norwegian Environment Ministry spokesman Gard Nybro-Nielsen confirmed the German proposal was off the table.

Oil and gas resources in the North Sea have made Norway one of the richest countries in the world, but those resources are running out. Feeling the pressure, Norway is also exploring in the Barents Sea in the Arctic.

Extreme Heat Bleaches Coral, and Threat Is Seen

21 Sep

article by the NYtimes

This year’s extreme heat is putting the world’s coral reefs under such severe stress that scientists fear widespread die-offs, endangering not only the richest ecosystems in the ocean but also fisheries that feed millions of people.

From Thailand to Texas, corals are reacting to the heat stress by bleaching, or shedding their color and going into survival mode. Many have already died, and more are expected to do so in coming months. Computer forecasts of water temperature suggest that corals in the Caribbean may undergo drastic bleaching in the next few weeks.

What is unfolding this year is only the second known global bleaching of coral reefs. Scientists are holding out hope that this year will not be as bad, over all, as 1998, the hottest year in the historical record, when an estimated 16 percent of the world’s shallow-water reefs died. But in some places, including Thailand, the situation is looking worse than in 1998.

Scientists say the trouble with the reefs is linked to climate change. For years they have warned that corals, highly sensitive to excess heat, would serve as an early indicator of the ecological distress on the planet caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases.

“I am significantly depressed by the whole situation,” said Clive Wilkinson, director of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, an organization in Australia that is tracking this year’s disaster.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the first eight months of 2010 matched 1998 as the hottest January to August period on record. High ocean temperatures are taxing the organisms most sensitive to them, the shallow-water corals that create some of the world’s most vibrant and colorful seascapes.

read whole article @ NYtimes

Arctic Sea Ice Melts To Near-Record Level

16 Sep

article Discovery News

Arctic sea ice melted over the summer to cover the third smallest area on record, US researchers said on Wednesday, warning global warming could leave the region ice free in the month of September 2030.

Last week, at the end of the spring and summer “melt season” in the Arctic, sea ice covered 1.8 million square miles, the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center said in an annual report.

“This is only the third time in the satellite record that ice extent has fallen below 1.93 million square miles, and all those occurrences have been within the past four years,” the report said.

A separate report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that in August, too, Arctic sea ice coverage was down sharply, covering an average of 2.3 million square miles, or 22 percent below the average extent from 1979 to 2000.

The August coverage was the second lowest for Arctic sea ice since records began in 1979. Only 2007 saw a smaller area of the northern sea covered in ice in August, NOAA said.

read whole article @DiscoveryNews