The Beacon

Blog Tags: Carbon Emissions

A Carbon Footprint that Isn’t Shrimpy

shrimp cocktail

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

According to new estimates, farmed shrimp from Asia may have one of the highest carbon footprints of any food.

More than half of all shrimp farms are located in Asia, primarily in areas that used to be mangrove forests. Mangroves are trees that grow in salt water, and they are important for marine ecosystems because they provide nutrients and shelter for many fish, turtle, and wading bird species. Mangrove forests are also important because they serve as a carbon sink, removing and storing more than 1,000 pounds of CO2) per acre each year.

But around the world, mangrove forests are being cut down to build shrimp farms. These farms are also often short-lived. The intensive farming methods pollute the environment, and disease spreads easily among the shrimp, which means that shrimp farmers must frequently clear new areas to stay in business.


Continue reading...

Guest Post: In the Eyes of the Polar Bear

Image courtesy Emily Goldstein.

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Emily Goldstein was a finalist in Oceana’s first annual Ocean Heroes contest in 2009 for her work to convince thousands of people and dozens of large companies to reduce their energy use, saving 16 million pounds of CO2.

Polar bears stand for everything that is wild and free, ruling over the Arctic as the creature we all associate with the North Pole. They are the apex predators in the Arctic, admired for their power and majesty. But the polar bear has recently become well-known for another, more deadly reason: they have become victims of climate change. Their world of ice is melting away, threatening their very existence.

In November I traveled to a remote town in northern Canada to talk with scientists about the polar bear’s perilous situation. Churchill is a village near the Hudson Bay, where ice first begins to form each year. This was my third visit there, but each time I go I feel even more privileged to be able to experience the world of the bears. The first time I looked into the eyes of a polar bear, I knew that I had to do something to save these amazing creatures from extinction. 


Continue reading...

COP16: Targeting Ocean Acidification

Oceana marine scientist Ellycia Harrould Kolieb is at the COP16 climate negotiations in Cancun.

On Tuesday I spoke at a side event on ocean acidification hosted by IUCN. The panel covered the science, research activities and policy developments surrounding ocean acidification.

On this panel, I spoke about the scientific issues that will need to be addressed in order to effectively incorporate acidification into the UNFCCC process. These are discussions that will need to be informed at the policy level by scientific evidence, and at this stage there is still more work needed to clarify some of these issues on the scientific front.


Continue reading...

Oceana Arrives at COP16

Oceana marine scientist Ellycia Harrould Kolieb is at the COP16 climate negotiations in Cancun for the next few weeks.

Here we are again at the international climate change negotiations, this time in Cancun, Mexico. The weather is nice, but it is yet to be seen if the negotiations will be equally sunny. This is the 16th conference of the parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and we had hoped that by now the international community would be a bit further along at coming to a binding agreement.

Despite the lack of optimism around a meaningful agreement coming out of this meeting, positive steps can (and should) be made to move the process along, hopefully allowing for an agreement to be made next year in South Africa. This meeting has the potential to provide a clear path forward that can lead to a legally binding agreement, one that will require countries to meet their pledges and truly reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.


Continue reading...

New Oceana Report: Shipping Solutions

We’ve told you this before, but in case you need a reminder: If global shipping were a country, it would be the sixth largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. Only the United States, China, Russia, India and Japan emit more carbon dioxide than the world’s shipping fleet. Nevertheless, this country-sized amount of carbon dioxide remains unregulated.

Like all modes of transportation that use fossil fuels, ships produce carbon dioxide emissions that significantly contribute to global climate change and ocean acidification. Besides carbon dioxide, ships also release a handful of other pollutants that contribute to environmental degradation. More than three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to ocean-going ships, a number that can be greatly reduced if emission regulations were set.

Oceana recently released a new report called Shipping Solutions - just in time for the Sustainable Shipping meeting in October. At the meeting, Oceana’s senior campaign director Jackie Savitz spoke to a room full of shipping industry executives to call for increased shipping emission regulations, and present the many different ways these reductions can be achieved.


Continue reading...

Do One Green Thing: Transportation

This is the fifth in a series of posts about how to green your life, step by step. Instead of burning out on fossil fuels, Will advises taking it easy on yourself and the planet.

Like the final chapter of Mindy Pennybacker’s book Do One Green Thing, my final entry of this blog series is about transportation, which is responsible for 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This is by far the hardest area to tackle when going green. Technology and demand are helping to drive energy alternatives, but at the moment, for an average Joe like myself, it is tough to replace oil.

For an individual, breaking the addiction to fossil fuels can be overwhelming if you try to do it all at once. However, as I have learned from Do One Green Thing, change is possible, but easiest—and most sustainable— in moderation.

Here are some simple steps:

*Did you know that not driving one day a week can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by about 400 pounds a year?


Continue reading...

Climate Bill Wilts; Planet Gets Hotter

For those of us who had been holding out hope for a comprehensive bill that would curb U.S. climate emissions and promote renewable energy, disappointment and frustration have officially set in.

The Senate has scrapped plans for an attempt to push through a climate bill this summer.

This is especially disturbing because the proposals being considered were designed to meet the industry halfway by using market-based solutions that allow companies to reduce emissions in the way that they believe is most cost-effective. This approach diverges from the approaches used before in the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, for example. But industry still shot it down. 

Sadly, this is a classic example of “political reality” versus “real reality”.


Continue reading...

Senate Rejects 'Dirty Air Act'

Today, the Senate stood up for our environment, clean air and scientific decision-making by beating back a resolution from Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would have undercut the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.  

As oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, this resolution would have given Big Oil free reign to continue polluting while tying EPA’s hands from taking any action. 


Continue reading...

New Study: Ocean Acidification Occurring Rapidly

Some sobering news for the oceans this Earth Day. A new congressionally requested study by the National Research Council concludes that “the chemistry of the ocean is changing at an unprecedented rate and magnitude due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions” and that “the rate of change exceeds any known to have occurred for at least the past hundreds of thousands of years.”

The study finds that the oceans have absorbed about one-third of total carbon dioxide emissions over the past 200 years - which has made the oceans more acidic - and the acidity will continue to rise because CO2 emissions are rising too rapidly for the oceans to cope.

Ocean acidification, says the report, can disrupt important physiological processes in marine creatures, such as shell and skeleton building, internal fluid and tissue pH maintenance and carbon fixation in photosynthesis.

And while we don’t yet know the ultimate consequences for ecosystems, we do know that coral reefs, fisheries, protected species and other valuable natural resources are at risk.

The bottom line here is that ocean acidification will continue unless anthropogenic CO2 emissions are substantially curbed -- Take action today by telling your representative to support further research on ocean acidification.

Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb is a climate scientist at Oceana.


Continue reading...

Where Are They Now?: Emily Goldstein

emily goldstein

This is the third in a series of posts about the 2009 Ocean Heroes finalists.

Today we’re catching up with 19-year-old Emily Goldstein, who was an ocean hero finalist because she convinced thousands of people and dozens of large companies to reduce their energy use, saving 16 million pounds of CO2.

She has also given dozens of talks to large groups about climate change and ocean pollution, and in 2008 she donated over 1,000 hours to make the ocean healthier. Emily is planning an ocean awareness day in Louisville, KY, when she’ll set sail on the Ohio River on a boat of recycled bottles.

Emily is a rock star; I’m not sure when she sleeps. Here she is:

“I'm a freshman at the University of Louisville. I'm getting a dual biology/ecology degree, and then I hope to get my PhD in wildlife conservation.  It's my dream to work in the field doing research on how to save marine wildlife.

I have been a busy little environmentalist this year. I have been trying to get someone to fund my ocean awareness day, but I guess the economy has made it hard for everyone to raise money.  I haven't given up on it, though, and I will make it happen eventually. 


Continue reading...

Browse by Date