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Startup Carbon Engineering has opened a prototype plant in Squamish, British Columbia, that captures carbon dioxide emissions.

Humans release more than 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, thanks largely to the burning of fossil fuels. This number has been rising steadily for more than 100 years.

As the climate situation becomes increasingly dire, scientists, environmentalists, business people and politicians have been seeking solutions. Many of these solutions involve lowering carbon emissions—using greener fuels, driving less. But a growing number of solutions are less about lowering emissions and more about capturing them. One power plant in Iceland has figured out how to turn carbon into stone. A California company claims to have technology to sequester carbon in cement. Other emerging methods involve trapping carbon underground or in water.

A report mapping the benefits of ocean ecosystems aims to assist governments and businesses in making informed decisions when using marine and coastal resources.

The Atlas of Ocean Wealth, published last week, compiles data and qualitative information on the benefits of coral reefs, marshes, mangroves, seagrass meadows and oyster reefs. It finds that fish catches are declining, ocean temperatures are warming, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather events are threatening coastal habitats.

Hidden values of open ocean

Monday, 27 June 2016

What is the value of the open ocean? While commercial fisheries may be one of the most obvious sources of economic value the ocean provides, they are not the only one.

Now a team of scientists from NOAA Fisheries and the University of California San Diego (Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Department of Economics) has for the first time attached a dollar value to several of the leading "ecosystem services" - or natural benefits - provided by the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, an immense region stretching west from the west coasts of North and South America.

It’s an attractive idea. Magnets could be used to pull oil from spills out of the water, with the help of iron oxide nanoparticles.

The stickiness of oil makes it difficult to remove from marine plants and animals once it is leaked by tankers and offshore rigs, so finding a way to quickly remove spills is essential for protecting ocean environments.

Now Yi Du at the University of Wollongong, Australia, and his team have found a way to do this, using tiny particles of iron oxide that bind tightly to droplets of oil.

Energy from the ocean, or "blue energy," is arguably the most underexploited power source, according to researchers in a new study.

Although the oceans contain enough energy to meet all of the world's energy needs, currently there is no effective way to harvest it economically and with reasonable efficiency.

The main problem is that ocean waves are irregular and pass by at low frequencies, whereas most energy harvesters operate best with waves that have regular amplitudes and high frequencies. Unfortunately, the calming lull of slow, unpredictable waves beating against the shore that we tend to find so peaceful is not ideal for energy harvesting.

Ten years ago, the newly-designated Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument was the biggest marine reserve in the world.

Since then, this uninhabited area of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands has been overshadowed by nine even larger protected areas. That could change, however, if environmental groups in Hawaii have their way and President Obama decides to expand Papah?naumoku?kea from its current 140,000 square miles to 625,507 square miles–an area four times the size of California.

The rate at which vertebrate species are dying far exceeds the norm

(Extract from article published in Mail Guardian - see link below)

Life on Earth is in trouble. That much we know. But how bad have things become – and how fast are events moving?
How soon, indeed, before the Earth’s biological treasures are trashed, in what will be the sixth great mass extinction event?

This is what Gerardo Caballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and his colleagues have assessed, in a paper that came out on Friday. These are extraordinarily difficult questions. There are many millions of species, many elusive and rare, and inhabiting remote and dangerous places. There are too few skilled biologists in the field to keep track of them all.

Picture: The marine Tylosaurus and the flying Pteranodon died out in the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction.Photo: Photo: Arthur Dorety/Corbis

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