pollution tagged posts

Warming Gases hidden in Plastic Waste

It’s your classic movie eureka moment.
Young researcher Sarah-Jeanne Royer set out to measure methane gas coming from biological activity in sea water. Instead, in a “happy accident” she found that the plastic bottles holding the samples were a bigger source of this powerful warming molecule than the bugs in the water.

Now she’s published further details in a study into the potential warming impact of gases seeping from plastic waste. “It was a totally unexpected discovery,” Dr Royer told BBC News.

“Some members of the lab were experimenting with high density polyethylene bottles looking at methane biological production, but the concentrations were much higher than expected.”

“So we realised that the emissions were not just coming from the biology but from the bottle that we were using for...

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Scientists accidentally created Mutant Enzyme that eats Plastic Waste

They found the first ones in Japan. Hidden in the soil at a plastics recycling plant, researchers unearthed a microbe that had evolved to eat the soda bottles dominating its habitat, after you and I throw them away. That discovery was announced in 2016, and scientists have now gone one better. While examining how the Japanese bug breaks down plastic, they accidentally created a mutant enzyme that outperforms the natural bacteria, and further tweaks could offer a vital solution to humanity’s colossal plastics problem.

“Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research and our discovery here is no exception,” says structural biologist John McGeehan from the University of Portsmouth in the UK.

“This unanticipated discovery suggests that there is room to further im...

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Ocean Pollution: Simple, Everyday Ways You Can Help Make a Difference

This is crazy: Just over 100 years ago, Thomas Huxley, who, by the way was a great biologist, said the oceans are so plentiful, they’re inexhaustible. Fast forward to today, and I’m sorry to report Thomas Huxley was mistaken.

In fact…your ocean is in more trouble than ever before.

This article is going to share with you the current state of your ocean (warning: it’s worrying) and what you can do to help protect the reason you’re alive today. Spoiler Alert: it’s simpler than you may think.

Please read it here

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Teaching the Next Generation to Fight Ocean Plastic Pollution

Students looking at ocean

The 5 Gyres Institute’s pilot program takes high school students on ocean expeditions to show them how to collect and analyze plastic trash – with the goal of inspiring careers as scientists, policymakers and advocates.

On a bright, clear morning last week, the water was calm and flat at the Newport Beach marina in Southern California. It was the perfect day for seeing marine life in the Pacific Ocean – and for collecting plastic, according to Marcus Eriksen, cofounder and research director of the 5 Gyres Institute, a Los Angeles-based ocean conservation nonprofit.

As Eriksen stood on the top deck of the Newport Legacy, a whale watching boat, 50 students and a few teachers from Animo Venice Charter High School climbed on board the lower deck...

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Pacific’s commitment to the global Agenda 2030

Vakkaru Island

The recent international Ocean’s conference in New York culminated with a strong global commitment to “conserve and sustainably use our oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”

Oceans generate around half of all oxygen or “every second breathe” we take. How we move forward to protect, conserve and sustainably use this precious resource will affect all 7.5 billion people on earth. All our lives depend on it.

The geography of the Pacific region makes SDG 14 on “Life below Water” essential to all development in the Pacific...

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Oil surveys in Gulf would injure 30 million marine mammals

whale in gulf

Seismic surveys for oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico would cause harm to marine mammals, according to the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups. CBD issued its statement in response to a final environmental impact statement at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

 Its release comes as President Donald Trump seeks to expand offshore drilling in federal waters.

CBD said the analysis found as many as 31.9 million marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico would be injured and harassed by oil and gas seismic surveys.

The number includes 80 percent of the Gulf’s endangered sperm whale population, estimated at 763 animals. Sperm whales would experience as many as 760,000 harassing exposures to airgun blasting over the next decade.

“Oil industry airgun ...

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Oceans smothered by plastic

Plastic in our oceans

Mangrove swamps are normally buzzing with life, as multitudes of colourful crabs and other creatures scurry about on the muddy forest floor.  But when marine scientist Dr Brent Newman visited Durban harbour last week, he was astonished to find not a single crab in a section of mangroves near the Bluff Yacht Club.

The reason? The biologically-rich environment has been smothered by a thick layer of plastic and other floating litter, making it impossible for crabs to burrow down into the mud.

“The mangroves were full of plastic, obliterating habitat for crabs. We could not find even one,” the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) scientist told a panel discussion at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

Marine biology lecturer Dr David Glassom said recent studies by ...

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A million bottles a minute!

Plastic waste

A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change. New figures obtained by the Guardian reveal the surge in usage of plastic bottles, more than half a trillion of which will be sold annually by the end of the decade. The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second, is driven by an apparently insatiable desire for bottled water and the spread of a western, urbanised “on the go” culture to China and the Asia Pacific region.

More than 480bn plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from about 300bn a decade ago. If placed end to end, they would extend more than halfway to the sun...

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