The Beacon

Blog Tags: Climate Change

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.


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Belize's Reef Fails Health Class

Last week in Belize, reef scientists, conservationists and managers gathered at the Belize Reef Summit to discuss the impacts of increasing ocean temperatures and ocean acidification.

Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. The 2010 Belize Reef Report Card, which was released at the meeting, reveals that 60% of this protected reef is in poor to critical condition with only 8% considered in good condition. This staggering statistic is unfortunately the case for many coral reefs worldwide.  

On the final day of the summit, hundreds of Belizeans and international supporters gathered on an island on the Barrier Reef off of Belize City to create a living work of art to raise awareness about the effect of climate change on the oceans. This striking photograph was a call for world leaders to take strong action against climate change and ocean acidification at COP 16, the UN Climate Talks in Cancun that begin November 29th.


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Kill The Drill, Not The Bill

Oil

Oil in Barataria Bay, LA in June. Oceana/Suzannah Evans

Some call the U.S. Senate "the place good ideas go to die." Those of us that live and breathe energy policy have already witnessed the death of the climate bill this year. Now, we are sitting at the bedside of the Senate's oil spill response bill. And in spite of what the President called the worst environmental disaster in US history, the "Spill Bill" is on life support as Congress winds to a close.

In the wake of BP's unparalleled Gulf of Mexico disaster some lawmakers recognized the urgent need to overhaul offshore drilling regulations. In July, the House of Representatives passed a bill to tighten safety requirements and make companies pay for damages. Since then, all eyes have been on the Senate to reciprocate. Yet seven months after the blowout, with just a few weeks left in this Congress, we are still waiting.

There is no shortage of facts about the perils of offshore drilling.


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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.


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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?


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CoolClimate Art Winners Announced

“No Pollution Please” by Christos Lamprianidis

More than 1,000 artists from around the world -- from Bucharest to Nebraska -- submitted their work to the CoolClimate Art Contest, the first online art competition designed to generate iconic images that address the impact of climate change.

A panel of notable art experts and celebrities selected the 20 semi-finalists that were featured on The Huffington Post, and the public voted to determine the Top 5 winners. The judging panel included Jackson Browne, Chevy Chase, Philippe Cousteau and Van Jones, among others.

Pictured here is the winner, “No Pollution Please” by Christos Lamprianidis of Greece. You can check out all the entries, as well as winners and finalists, at the CoolClimate deviantART web site. And if you’re inspired, you can still submit your creation to the CoolClimate project to connect with other artists and share with the public.


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Blog Action Day: The (Offshore) Winds of Change

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year’s theme couldn’t be more relevant to us and all you fantastic ocean activists: water.

Water is also an especially poignant theme given the timing. Next Wednesday is the six-month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill dominated the news -- and this blog -- for several months, and nobody’s sure what the long-term effects will be on gulf ecosystems.

And yet, just a few days ago, the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling several weeks earlier than planned, and several months before the release of studies about the effects of the oil spill on the gulf.

As Oceana’s pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz said of the decision, “This is an incredibly disconcerting and unjustified move, that could open the door for the next great oil disaster. Oil spills are common. The question is not whether there will be another spill but when.”

But not all the news the past few months has been negative. Yes, the gulf has endured the worst environmental crisis in our nation’s history, but there are signs of hope. Momentum on offshore wind power is building, for one thing.


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Walruses Forced Ashore by Melting Sea Ice

As DailyKos and the New York Times reported yesterday, melting sea ice has forced more than 10,000 walruses ashore in the Alaskan Arctic. Normally they rest on ice floes in the summer, periodically diving for food.

And this isn’t the first time. In fact, this is the third time in the last four years that the walruses have alarmingly turned into landlubbers.

The future isn’t looking good for this ice-loving lumberer, unless we take action to stop climate change and protect the Arctic from further catastrophic warming.


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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”.


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From today’s Washington Post:

"People's outrage is focused on BP," [Anthony] Leiserowitz said. The spill "hasn't been automatically connected to some sense that there's something more fundamental wrong with our relationship with the natural world," he said.

 [Leiserowitz tracks public opinion on environmental issues at Yale University.]


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