Breaking Waves: Ocean News

11/12/2019 - 11:12
Ocean Leadership ~ (Credit: Architect of the Capitol) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  What Passed With an approaching deadline to finish appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2020, the Senate passed an appropriations package (H.R. 3055) containing their Commerce-Justice-Science (S. 2584); Agriculture (S. 2522); Interior-Environment (S. 2580); and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (S. 2520) bills for FY 2020. The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology favorably reported legislation to protect scientific integrity in U.S. federal agencies, which now awaits a floor vote. If enacted, the Scientific Integrity Act (H.R. 1709) would require federal science agencies to adopt and enforce a scientific integrity policy or to formalize and strengthen their existing policies. The bill also includes requirements prohibiting scientific misconduct and barring agencies from impeding the release and communication of scientific or technical findings. What’s New The Ocean, Coastal, and Estuarine Acidification Necessitates (OCEAN) Research Act (S. 2699), which would reauthorize the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring (FORAM) Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11), was introduced in the Senate. The bill aims to strengthen research and monitoring of acidification processes in ocean and coastal areas and engages coastal communities and the seafood industry in this effort. Several bills addressing resiliency strategies in the face of climate change were introduced in the House, including measures directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to integrate climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience-building into policy and preparedness plans (H.R. 4823); instructing the Department of Homeland Security to conduct research and address the effects of climate change on national security (H.R. 4737); and calling for establishment of a Global Climate Change Resilience Strategy (H.R. 4732). Additionally, the Climate-Ready Fisheries Act of 2019 (H.R. 4679) would help prepare fishing communities and industry for current and anticipated impacts of climate change by examining current policy, identifying knowledge gaps, and providing recommendations for fisheries management. In introducing legislation, some representatives turned their attention to issues regarding pollution and marine debris. The Partnering and Leveraging Assistance to Stop Trash for International Cleaner Seas (PLASTICS) Act (H.R. 4636) would advance efforts to improve waste management systems and reduce plastic waste by encouraging domestic and international cooperation between federal government and the private sector. The Ocean Pollution Reduction Act II (H.R. 4611) would simplify regulations for discharge of pollutants in San Diego, California, wastewater treatment plants to balance environmental protections with securing the city’s water supply. Also introduced in the House, the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act (H.R. 4887) aims to support the emerging offshore wind industry by extending tax credits for offshore wind facilities. COL also considered the topic of offshore wind last month at our 2019 Industry Forum, “Navigating Development of U.S. Offshore Wind: Sustainability and Co-Existence Through Science,” which examined the importance of collaboration, innovation, and localization, underpinned by science, for a substantial U.S. offshore wind industry. What’s Next Both chambers continue pushing to avoid a government shutdown by November 21, either by passing another long- or short-term continuing resolution to continue FY 2019 funding levels even further into FY 2020 or by passing the full set of spending bills, which will then need to be signed into law by the president. To do this, the House and Senate will need to conference on the four bills passed by both chambers, Commerce-Justice-Science (S.2584, H.R. 3055), Agriculture (S. 2522, H.R. 3164); Interior-Environment (S. 2580, H.R. 3052); and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (S. 2520, H.R. 3163), as well as pass their remaining bills — two for the House and eight for the Senate — so they also can be then be reconciled in conference and sent to the president. House and Senate conferees have not yet agreed on a final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) measure for FY 2020 and will seek to resolve key differences in weeks to come. If this does not happen, the Senate introduced a “stripped-down” NDAA (S. 2731) containing the U.S. military’s must-pass provisions as a back-up plan. Related Coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership As New Fiscal Year Begins, Congress Keeps Moving On Appropriations CJS Appropriations Bill Supports Broad Increases to Science Funding Ocean Acidification Bills Coast To Committee August and September’s Congressional Wrap Up July’s Congressional Wrap Up May And June’s Congressional Wrap Up March and April’s Congressional Wrap Up Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post October’s Congressional Wrap Up appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
11/12/2019 - 11:09
Ocean Leadership ~ (Click to enlarge) The U.S. Coast Guard Healy Class Icebreaker HEALY sits in the ice, about 100 miles north of Barrow, Alaska, in order to allow scientists onboard to take core samples from the floor of the Arctic Ocean on June 18, 2005. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard/DoD) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  What It Was The United States Committee on the Maritime Transport System (CMTS) and the Congressional Arctic Caucus held a briefing titled “A Ten-Year Projection of Maritime Activity in the U.S Arctic Region, 2020-2030,” to present their new report of the same name. Why It Matters The Arctic region presents environmental, economic, and national security opportunities as well as challenges for the United States and other polar countries. As the area experiences temperature increases at more than twice the rate of the global average and uses of the region are changing, the CMTS updated their 2015 report on Arctic maritime operations to reexamine vessel activity. The report is key because predicting vessel traffic is integral to waterway safety. Key Points To inform federal partners for civilian operations and get a better sense of this maritime domain, the report sought to accomplish three objectives: determine drivers of activity, summarize past and present vessel activity, and make traffic projections for the coming decade. Research focused on characterizing maritime transportation in the region north of the Bering Strait around the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, but did not seek to make budget or policy recommendations. CMTS identified four main drivers of activity: natural resources, planned infrastructure development, additions to the global Arctic fleet, and seasonal rerouting of vessel traffic. CMTS staff explained that, as demand grows and access to natural resources in the Arctic gets easier, vessels transporting or supporting operations such as oil and gas extraction, mining, and liquefied natural gas extraction will increase in volume. Likewise, infrastructure projects, including community relocation, port development, offshore wind construction, and reconstruction of roads and airports could increase demand for construction materials that must be shipped in. Also, the addition of vessels to the existing Arctic fleet, including Polar Security Cutters and recreational cruise ships, and greater use of the Bering Strait’s Northern Sea Route or Northwest Passage to reroute vessels for decreased transit time would increase traffic. Using automatic identification system (AIS) data and other historical data sets, researchers sought to characterize vessel activity by who, where, and when operations and navigation were occurring. They determined that vessel composition was becoming less regionally focused and more indicative of global maritime transporting systems, with an increased number of international users and a mixture of vessel types, from cargo and tugs to research, tourism, and tankers. The number one country of registration for vessels in the study area was the United States, followed by Russia. Additionally, the navigation season is getting increasingly longer, increasing by 10 days each year between 2016 and 2018. The report also projected what traffic may look like in the region until 2030. All the tested scenarios combining potential sources of growth predicted increased and sustained growth in vessel traffic, largely due to natural resource activities and seasonally rerouted vessels from other transoceanic routes. Despite these findings, the report also suggested the Arctic may experience a period of slower growth of vessel activity in the coming decade. They identified several factors as potentially limiting to growth: lack of infrastructure and investment as well as regulatory and operational uncertainty. CMTS staff explained they found spikes in growth when there was investment in infrastructure and noted that even with current traffic levels, ports are already limiting entrance due to lack of space. Additional analysis is needed based on reliance on AIS data, which do not include small subsistence hunting and other vessels or distinguish clearly between all types of activity. Related Coverage from Consortium for Ocean Leadership Setting Sail on Maritime Security Arctic Discussion Circle The Arctic: A New Maritime Frontier How Ordinary Ship Traffic Could Help Map The Uncharted Arctic Ocean Seafloor Member Highlight: Alien Waters: Neighboring Seas Are Flowing into a Warming Arctic Ocean Unusual Weather Accelerates Arctic Sea Ice Loss Erosion May Transform The Arctic Food Chain Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post Future Gridlock in Arctic Waters? appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
11/12/2019 - 09:42
PM chairs Cobra meeting after being criticised for not declaring national emergency Boris Johnson has been accused of displaying an “utterly outrageous” lack of concern about the severe floods that have devastated hundreds of homes and caused more than 1,200 properties to be evacuated in northern England. Under increasing pressure over the issue, the prime minister chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee Cobra on Tuesday after he was criticised by Jeremy Corbyn for not declaring a national emergency. Continue reading...
11/12/2019 - 08:12
Pentagon officials view climate breakdown as an existential threat to human society – and are already taking action We have heard from the scientists on climate change, with their meticulous data on ecosystem degradation and species loss. We have heard from the climate deniers, with their desperate attempts to deploy countervailing arguments. Both groups have mobilized substantial blocs of voters in pivotal countries, producing gridlock in global efforts to slow the pace of global warming. It is time, then, to hear from another group of informed and influential professionals: senior military officers. Military leaders have not said much in public about global warming, in part because they’re reluctant to become involved in partisan political issues (as climate has become) and partly because top government officials—in the United States, at least—have actively discouraged such involvement. Nevertheless, senior officers are fully aware of warming’s deleterious effects and have devised a thorough analysis of its strategic implications. As I demonstrate in my new book, All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change, senior American officers believe that global warming is already threatening the survival of many poor, resource-deprived countries and poses a significant risk to even the wealthiest of nations. Continue reading...
11/12/2019 - 07:13
Thousands of visitors who flock to La Pelosa in Sardinia pose threat to its ecosystem Visitors will soon have to pay to enjoy one of Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches as local authorities try to mitigate the damage done by overcrowding. La Pelosa, a white sandy beach in Stintino, north-west Sardinia, has been described as a slice of heaven, attracting thousands of visitors each summer. However, environmental studies show that excessive numbers of beachgoers threaten the beach’s ecosystem, prompting Antonio Diana, the mayor of Stintino, to introduce entry tickets and set a cap on visitor numbers to 1,500 a day from next summer. Continue reading...
11/12/2019 - 06:41
‘This is our climate emergency’ say residents as fire chiefs warn dangerous conditions to return More than 100 fires continue to rage across eastern Australia, dozens of them running out of control, but the nation escaped its predicted “catastrophic” fire day without further loss of life. However, fire chiefs have warned that despite cooler conditions expected on Wednesday and Thursday, dangerous fire conditions will return late in the week. Continue reading...
11/12/2019 - 05:46
Never mind how many electric cars are sold there – Norway has to change tack and end prospecting for new oil reserves • David Boyd is the UN special rapporteur on the environment and human rights On my official UN visit to Norway in September, I found inspiring examples of leadership on climate change. I encountered a nearly emissions-free electricity system, the highest share of zero-emission vehicle sales in the world (almost half of all new cars sold are fully electric), and billions of dollars being invested in a Green Climate Fund that provides support to developing countries, as well as a burgeoning Climate and Forest Initiative. However, Norway continues to explore for oil and gas at a time when the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that meeting the vital 1.5C target in the Paris agreement requires that the majority of existing fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned. Continue reading...
11/12/2019 - 04:07
Plan intends to make all grands prix fully sustainable by 2025 ‘If F1 can do it then surely anyone can,’ says Green Party Formula One has pledged to deliver on an ambitious programme to address the global climate emergency by going carbon neutral within 11 years. The sport has committed to a plan that not only ensures it has a net carbon impact of zero by 2030 but will also adopt policies to make all grands prix fully sustainable by 2025. Both are bold targets that will not be easily met for a sport which produces 256,000 tons of CO2 each season while transporting 10 teams and equipment to 21 races and with the global calendar set to expand. Continue reading...
11/12/2019 - 03:03
Energy minister to face further questioning over highly inflated travel figures as well as the grasslands saga Angus Taylor will face a further grilling when parliament returns over the origins of a doctored document he says informed a letter blasting the City of Sydney over its travel spending. An estimates spillover hearing on Monday heard his department had prepared a draft that did not include the highly inflated figures and the minister representing him at the hearing refused to answer questions about where they came from. Continue reading...
11/12/2019 - 02:00
Tribal leaders to testify before Congress in battle against Trump administration’s assault on environmental protections Tribal leaders, fishermen and environmentalists from Alaska will testify before Congress on Wednesday in an effort to save America’s biggest national forest – the latest battle against the Trump administration’s assault on environmental protections. The Tongass national forest, one of the world’s last intact temperate rainforests which plays a crucial role in fighting the climate crisis, is under threat of logging as Alaska seeks exemption from the Roadless Rule, which protects millions of acres of pristine forests across the US. The Tongass is considered the “crown jewel” of the national forest system, sequestering huge amounts of carbon dioxide to keep the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere. Continue reading...