Aug 252008

Credit where credit is due. In 2006 President Bush turned the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands into Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument, which formed the largest marine wildlife reserve in the world. It looks like he wasn’t done. Bush has just proposed protecting more islands, atolls, reefs, and trenches from fishing and deep sea mining.

His list includes portions of the Northern Mariana Islands, Rose Atoll in American Samoa and various islands and reefs in the Central Pacific, including Palmyra Atoll, Kingman Reef, Johnston Atoll, Jarvis Island, Howland Island, Baker Island, and Wake Island. These areas could become protected as national monuments or marine sanctuaries.

Aug 252008

KPBS has posted a nice audio slide show of the UVeta project in Baja Sur. Water in Baja Sur’s remote areas is frequently from open wells, where the chance of contamination is high. Florence Cassassuce with Engineers without Borders came up with a way to use existing technology to make the water much safer – Ultraviolet light and a bucket.

UV destroys DNA of microbes so they can’t reproduce. This concept has been used for municipal treatment for a while, and over the last few years in higher cost travel items like the SteriPEN. But unlike most portable UV systems the UVeta can clean a lot of water at at a time and is very cheap – They worked with Tijuana producers to reduce the cost of the UVeta to $30.

More information:
The UVeta Project’s home site
UVeta story from La Prensa San Diego
CNN Heroes video

Aug 132008

A Scripps researcher has a paper out called Ecological extinction and evolution in the brave new ocean. The findings are not for the faint:

Human activities are cumulatively driving the health of the world’s oceans down a rapid spiral, and only prompt and wholesale changes will slow or perhaps ultimately reverse the catastrophic problems they are facing.

…habitat destruction, overfishing, ocean warming, increased acidification and massive nutrient runoff as culprits in a grand transformation of once complex ocean ecosystems. Areas that had featured intricate marine food webs with large animals are being converted into simplistic ecosystems dominated by microbes, toxic algal blooms, jellyfish and disease.

To stop the degradation of the oceans, Jackson identifies overexploitation, pollution and climate change as the three main “drivers” that must be addressed.

The oceans are going through a major collapse that will impact our lives in many ways.

How to help

  • Before buying or ordering seafood, check the Seafood Watch.
  • Avoid eating meat or food from factory farms if possible (runoff promotes toxic growth).
  • Use UV shirts in the ocean instead of sunscreen (it damages coral)
  • Clean up trash or chemicals on streets that flow into storm drains (plastic is a killer)
  • Switch to biodegradable soaps & cleaning products, avoid fertilizers, eliminate oil leaks, don’t dump chemicals or medication down the drain.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint (pollution, warming, and ocean acidification).
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium has a number of ways you can help in their Take Action section.