Fish, sharks, whales and other marine species are in imminent danger of an “unprecedented” and catastrophic extinction event at the hands of humankind, and are disappearing at a far faster rate than anyone had predicted, a study of the world’s oceans has found.
Mass extinction of species will be “inevitable” if current trends continue, researchers said.
Overfishing, pollution, run-off of fertilisers from farming and the acidification of the seas caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions are combining to put marine creatures in extreme danger, according to the report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (Ipso), prepared at the first international workshop to consider all of the cumulative stresses affecting the oceans at Oxford University.
The international panel of marine experts said there was a “high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”. They said the challenges facing the oceans created “the conditions associated with every previous major extinction of species in Earth’s history”.
“The findings are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, scientific director of Ipso. “As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised.
As if you need another reason to feel guilty about chowing down on Thanksgiving Day, consider this: researchers at the University of Manchester in England figure that a turkey-n-trimmings feast for eight produces approximately 44 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. About 60% of that planet-warming gas comes from the life cycle of the turkey, alone. And that doesn’t include drinks.
Leave it to the Brits to rain on our traditions. But it was brought to my attention by the Washington-based Center for Food Safety, which wants Americans to lay off food produced by “industrial agriculture” for the sake of the planet, if not their health.
“Choosing the type of food we eat – organic versus conventional meats and veggies, makes a great difference in greenhouse gas emissions,” says Debi Barker, the center’s international director. About 14 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are connected to industrial agriculture methods, she contends, with much of those related to the use of chemical fertilizer on crops. By one estimate, half of all methane emissions – another powerful greenhouse gas – come from concentrated animal feeding operations, she adds.
“Our take on that is to empower ourselves,” Barker says. “If you’re buying organic, you’re really taking a bite out of climate.”
Secretary Chu Announces Six Projects to Convert Captured CO2 Emissions from Industrial Sources into Useful Products
$106 Million Recovery Act Investment will Reduce CO2 Emissions and Mitigate Climate Change
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today the selections of six projects that aim to find ways of converting captured carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial sources into useful products such as fuel, plastics, cement, and fertilizers. Funded with $106 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -matched with $156 million in private cost-share -today’s selections demonstrate the potential opportunity to use CO2 as an inexpensive raw material that can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions while producing useful by-products that Americans can use.
“These innovative projects convert carbon pollution from a climate threat to an economic resource,” said Secretary Chu. “This is part of our broad commitment to unleash the American innovation machine and build the thriving, clean energy economy of the future.”
Converting captured CO2 into products such as chemicals, carbonates, plastics, fuels, building materials, and other commodities is an important aspect of carbon capture and storage technology. Converting CO2 into other useful forms can help reduce carbon emissions in areas where long-term storage of CO2 is not practical. It is anticipated that large volumes of CO2 will be available as fossil fuel-based power plants and other CO2-emitting industries are equipped with CO2 emissions control technologies to comply with regulatory requirements.
The projects announced today were initially selected for a first phase funding in October 2009 as part of a $1.4 billion effort to capture CO2 from industrial sources for storage or beneficial use. Over the succeeding months, the project teams have performed experiments on innovative concepts and produced preliminary designs for pilot plants to study the feasibility of capturing and using CO2 exhausted from industrial processes. The selected projects now enter a second phase in which researchers design, construct, and operate their innovations at pilot-scale and evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of applying them commercially.
The projects selected to demonstrate the beneficial use of CO2 include:
Phycal, LLC (Highland Heights, Ohio)-Phycal will complete development of an integrated system designed to produce liquid biocrude fuel from microalgae cultivated with captured CO2. The algal biocrude can be blended with other fuels for power generation or processed into a variety of renewable drop-in replacement fuels such as jet fuel and biodiesel. Phycal will design, build, and operate a CO2-to-algae-to-biofuels facility at a nominal thirty acre site in Central O’ahu (near Wahiawa and Kapolei), Hawaii. Hawaii Electric Company will qualify the biocrude for boiler use, and Tesoro will supply CO2 and evaluate fuel products. (DOE Share: $24,243,509)