The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports that the amounts of atmospheric greenhouse gases reached a new high in 2013, driven by rapidly rising levels of carbon dioxide.Reef stricken: corals, fisheries and tourism will all be damaged by ocean acidification. Photo credit: Ritiks via Wikimedia Commons
The news is consistent with trends in fossil fuel consumption. But what comes as more of a surprise is the WMO’s revelation that the current rate of ocean acidification, which greenhouse gases (GHGs) help to cause, appears unprecedented in at least the last 300 million years.
The details of growing GHG levels are in the annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, published by the WMO—the United Nations specialist agency that plays a leading role in international efforts to monitor and protect the environment.
They show that between 1990 and 2013 there was a 34 percent increase in radiative forcing—the warming effect on our climate—because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide.
The Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations—not emissions—of greenhouse gases. Emissions are what go into the atmosphere, while concentrations are what stay there after the complex system of interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere (the entire global ecological system) and the oceans.
About a quarter of total emissions are taken up by the oceans and another quarter by the biosphere, cutting levels of atmospheric CO2.
In 2013, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was 142 percent higher than before the Industrial Revolution started, in about 1750. Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide had risen by 253 percent and 121 percent respectively.
The observations from WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch network showed that CO2 levels increased more from 2012 to 2013 than during any other year since 1984. Scientists think this may be related to reduced CO2 absorption by the Earth’s biosphere, as well as by the steady increase in emissions.
Although the oceans lessen the increase in CO2 that would otherwise happen in the atmosphere, they do so at a price to marine life and to fishing communities—and also to tourism. The Bulletin says the oceans appear to be acidifying faster than at any time in at least the last 300 million years.
“We know without any doubt that our climate is changing and our weather is becoming more extreme due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels,” said the WMO’s secretary-general, Michel Jarraud.
Running out of time
“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years. We are running out of time. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.
“The Bulletin provides a scientific base for decision-making. We have the knowledge and we have the tools for action to try to keep temperature increases within 2°C to give our planet a chance and to give our children and grandchildren a future. Pleading ignorance can no longer be an excuse for not acting.”
Wendy Watson-Wright, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, said: “It is high time the ocean, as the primary driver of the planet’s climate and attenuator of climate change, becomes a central part of climate change discussions.
“If global warming is not a strong enough reason to cut CO2 emissions, ocean acidification should be, since its effects are already being felt and will increase for many decades to come.”
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 396.0 parts per million (ppm) in 2013. At the current rate of increase, the global annual average concentration is set to cross the symbolic 400 ppm threshold within the next two years.
Methane, in the short term, is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2—34 times more potent over a century, but 84 times more over 20 years.
Atmospheric methane reached a new high of about 1,824 parts per billion (ppb) in 2013, because of increased emissions from human sources. Since 2007, it has started increasing again, after a temporary period of levelling-off.
Nitrous oxide’s atmospheric concentration in 2013 was about 325.9 ppb. Its impact on climate, over a century, is 298 times greater than equal emissions of CO2. It also plays an important role in the destruction of the ozone layer that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet solar radiation.
The oceans currently absorb a quarter of anthropogenic CO2 emissions—about 4kg of CO2 per day per person. Acidification will continue to accelerate at least until mid-century, according to projections from Earth system models.
World’s Endangered Forests Need Your Help
“Out of Fashion” is Rainforest Action Network‘s (RAN) latest major effort to preserve the world’s endangered forests and we need your help to win. With this campaign, RAN is bringing attention to a growing global threat to forests, animals and Indigenous communities—a threat that has been hiding in plain sight for years: dissolving pulp. Dissolving pulp is a highly influential commodity in today’s marketplace. And the increased demand for this product is accelerating deforestation and exacerbating human rights abuses across the globe.The increased demand for dissolving pulp is accelerating deforestation and exacerbating human rights abuses across the globe. Photo credit: Rainforest Action Network
Big name fashion brands are complicit in the pulping of pristine forests—seizing Indigenous land, driving species loss and threatening the climate—all to manufacture a product that makes its way into the clothes we wear every day.
Over the next few days, RAN will introduce you to this destructive industry—and how Rainforest Action Network is planning to take it on.
Dissolving Pulp and Fashion
In our first blog, “Introducing: Out of Fashion,” we introduced the threat of dissolving wood pulp and how this product makes its way out of the forest and into your closet. Dissolving pulp makes this journey disguised as rayon, viscose, and modal, fabrics used in the latest fashions from many of today’s most popular brands.
So, how do trees actually make their way into the clothes you’re wearing?
It’s a complicated process: forests are cut, then pulped into a toxic sludge or “soluble compound.” This sludge is what is known as dissolving pulp and it is produced using a wide variety of toxic chemicals including dioxin, chlorine, volatile organic compounds and adsorbable organic halides. These chemicals are known to bioaccumulate—meaning they collect and increase in negative impact within the bodies of human beings and all living creatures. This toxic sludge is then forced through spinnerets, and becomes viscose staple fiber (VSF). The VSF is then spun into yarn, woven into fabric, sewn into garments, and then marketed by brands and sold in outlets all over the world—from luxury stores to suburban shopping malls to big box stores. That is how pristine rainforests find their way into our closets.
So, what fabrics actually contain dissolving pulp? What should you look for on the label?
This fiber goes by many names, so it’s important to check the label when looking for your next outfit. These include: rayon, viscose, Lyocell and modal. While clothes might feel like silk or cotton, remember to double check and see if they contain rayon or these other potentially rainforest-damaging fabrics. And even if you personally are avoiding these fabrics, remember that not everybody is. That’s why RAN is calling on the industry to change as a whole—and that’s why we need your voice on this petition.
Why would people actually turn precious rainforests into high-fashion apparel in the first place?
These fabrics are becoming attractive options due to the rising cost and (ironically) environmental concerns associated with cotton. Due to recent flooding and droughts, cotton crops have suffered significantly in recent years. As a response, clothing brands will even list these rainforest-destroying fabrics such as rayon as “natural” or “renewable” textiles.
One of the most amazing things is the ubiquity of these products. From cheap clothing to high-end luxury brands, rayon and viscose are everywhere, and at every price point. Companies that use these products range from Forever 21 to Prada, from Abercrombie to Louis Vuitton—and everyone in between. It’s critical that companies that are profiting from this destruction take responsibility for their supply chain.
In the next blog, we’ll dive into what clothing companies can do and actions you as the consumer can take to protect forests and human rights from irresponsible clothing and the expansion of the dissolving pulp market. But don’t wait—take action now to demand that your clothes are free of deforestation and human rights abuses here.
Not sure if this will help world fishing resources or not:
Japan's fishing industry has seen its workforce plummet to record lows since Fukushima
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Wall Street Journal] by Jun Hongo - September 9, 2014
The population of Japanese people engaged in marine fisheries dropped to a record low 181,253, which was an 18% decrease from five years ago, according to the Statistics of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report by the farm ministry released last week.
The report illustrates the impact of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear crisis, which took a toll on the fishery industry in the Tohoku region.
Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures saw the population of their fishermen drop by 38% in five years to 14,074. The decline in Fukushima prefecture was the sharpest: There are only 409 people living off the business today, which is a 77% drop from five years ago.
The number of commercial fishing boats also dropped 17.5% to 153,034 from 185,465 five years earlier.
Some other reasons for the declining number of fishermen in Japan include new regulations, fewer fishery resources around the country and cheaper imports from overseas, according to the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, known as Zengyoren.
The report showed the quickly aging population of those engaged in marine fishery.
According to the report, more than 25% of the fishermen in Japan are between 45 and 54 years old, followed by 22% who are 65 to 74 years old. The percentage of those who are 75 years old or older grew to 13% this year from 7% 10 years ago. Only 3% of fishermen in Japan are aged between 15 and 24 today.
Of the 89,485 privately managed fishery businesses in the country, only 14,811, or 17%, say they have someone who can be a successor in the trade, suggesting many sons and daughters of fishermen have moved to other occupations.
High tech stuff:
Vessel Monitoring System Program
Proposed Rule for Requirements Related to Approved Vessel Monitoring System Units
As part of NOAA’s Vessel Monitoring System Program, some commercial fishermen operating in federal fisheries are required to carry and operate onboard mobile transceiver units that report vessel location and other data to NOAA Fisheries. The purpose is to track vessel location for fisheries management and enforcement. In order to create a reliable and secure system, and to facilitate dependable mechanisms for fishermen to meet their responsibility to transfer data, NOAA Fisheries established technical and other requirements that mobile transceiver units and the associated communications services must meet.
All mobile transceiver units and communications services used in the vessel monitoring system must be type-approved for use—meaning the mobile transceiver unit and service must meet and remain in compliance with the type-approval requirements.
Currently, the type-approval specifications (requirements) are published in the Federal Register (73 FR 5813). These specifications provide the requirements related to: technical requirements of the unit, satellite communications, and data security, delivery, and latency. The specifications also address roles and responsibilities for the type-approval process, change control, customer service, billing, and litigation support.
A proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on September 9, 2014, that will codify the type-approval specifications, revise latency standards, and establish initial type-approval, renewal, revocation, and appeals processes for industry and constituents. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by October 24, 2014.
- Proposed Rule to Implement VMS Specification Requirements, Septembe...
- Type-Approval Processes: