Scary news about our oceans.
Ocean ecosystems are in even worse shape than previously thought, according to a new report released last week. Scientists are now predicting that unless we take immediate action, coral reefs and entire marine species are doomed to disappear within a generation.
Why is this happening? The report’s authors, convened at the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), point to several contributing factors: rising water temperatures, melting sea ice, ocean acidification, over fishing, water pollution, hypoxia (low oxygen) and habitat loss.
The panel warned that similar conditions were present during past mass extinctions in Earth’s history. But while scientists have been concerned about the state of the oceans for some time (and even about a sixth mass extinction), this new report has them shocked. “It was a more dire report than any of us thought …When you put (all the issues) together, it’s a pretty bleak situation,” co-author Carl Lundin said.
While tackling the issues facing our oceans seems overwhelming, the IPSO researchers have laid out a game plan for turning around the grim predictions. This includes mapping and reducing ocean pollutants, making sharp reductions in greenhouse emissions, and putting an end to exploitative fishing.
You can help do your part today by getting involved with our ocean conservation charities: Oceana, Ocean Conservancy and Surfrider Foundation.
Start by making a pledge to clean a local waterway, recycle, or commit to sustainable seafood with Oceana’s “Be an Ocean Hero” summer pledge. Get the facts about what’s happening in the Arctic and what melting sea ice and acidification will mean for the whole planet through Ocean Conservancy’s online Arctic resource. And make a difference in the health of the world’s oceans and marine life by ditching plastics with help from the Surfrider Foundation.
Do you have your own story to share about personal or community-level efforts to save our oceans? Share them on our Facebook page! See you there.
Green energy: harnessing the heat.
There’s another renewable alternative energy source that’s been getting more attention, and it produces almost no pollution and provides energy around the clock -- unlike wind or solar power. At a recent alternative energy summit one geologist put it plainly: “…the top one percent of the planet has enough energy to power and heat civilization for approximately six billion years.”
People are talking about geothermal energy, a form of energy that’s achieved by harnessing the earth’s core and mantle heat to produce power. The center of the earth is hot -- 6,000 degrees Celsius hot – so that’s a lot of power potential!
With figures like that it’s a wonder we aren’t using more geothermal already, but the good news is that projects are in the works worldwide to tap into this clean, renewable resource. While geothermal has kept a relatively slow pace of 3% annual growth for the last decade, some 350 new projects are set to add up to 9,000 megawatts of new capacity by 2015, nearly doubling the current global capacity.
Part of this growth is spurred by improvements in enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technology. EGS enables more efficient energy recovery in less permeable sections of the Earth’s crust. A recent Geological Survey report estimates that EGS could multiply geothermal power potential 13-fold over other available sources in the U.S. The U.S. is already the world leader in geothermal power, and thanks to recent government incentives more than 120 new projects are underway in 14 states. But even without pro-geothermal policies in place it is estimated that global investment in geothermal will more than double by 2020.
Learn more about how geothermal works from EarthShare member Union of Concerned Scientists, and check out this online factsheet from Natural Resources Defense Council. Then read the Union of Concerned Scientist’s “Faces of Renewable Energy” series to find out why geophysics professor David Blackwell thinks that geothermal is the rising star of renewables!
More great reasons to do your EarthShare.
We are thrilled to announce EarthShare’s newest member groups! Representing a broad spectrum of issues that include restoring America’s waterways, pollinator conservation, and sustainable transportation, these organizations are a welcome addition to the EarthShare nationwide network of environmental and conservation charities. Meet them here!
Carbonfund.org is leading the fight toward a ‘ZeroCarbon’ world by supporting renewable energy, carbon credits, energy efficiency, and reforestation carbon-offset projects. Check out their handy carbon calculators to get a quick glimpse of how you can start offsetting your own carbon footprint.
EARTH University Foundation supports the educational vision of EARTH University, an international institution that promotes science, technology and entrepreneurship while focusing on essential human values, leadership and a commitment to social and environmental service.
Environment America works to combine the research and innovative ideas from state-based environmental advocacy organizations across the country to win real results for the environment. Learn more about the issues and the results from Environment America’s hard-hitting advocacy work here.
The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) works to promote greener transport solutions, while improving urban livability and economic opportunity to cities around the world. Transportation has a tremendous impact on public health and the health of our environment – find out the key issues at the heart of ITDP’s mission here.
Xerces Society works to protect wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Xerces staff focuses on four strategic program areas throughout the United States: pollinator conservation, aquatic conservation, endangered species, and conservation education.