Save Our Oceans: COP21 Climate Negotiators put Ocean Protection back in the COP 21 Climate Agreement!

Demand Ocean Protection is included within the COP21 Climate Agreement

Ocean Protection has been removed from the COP 21 Climate Agreement, its protection is fundamental in mitigating climate change and global biodiversity loss. Allowing removal of Oceans from the Agreement provides nations that don't care “a charter” to continue raping and destroying vital ocean biodiversity globally. We must fight to save what is left; if your care then NOW is your time to ACT. Support this campaign and within seconds of clicking SEND your message will be delivered to the COP21 negotiators in Paris.


Message to all CLIMATE NEGOTIATORS at COP21 Paris

Subject: SAVE OUR OCEANS: COP21 Climate Negotiators put Ocean Protectionback in the COP 21 Climate Agreement!

 

It is staggering that Ocean protection is to be removed from the COP21 Climate Agreement.

Oceans and their biodiversity are fundamental to managing climate change, stabilising planetary climate systems and providing a sustainable future food supply for mankind. There is no greater cause than to protect our Oceans; simply because they transcend political geographic boundaries does not mean you should not care and leave to somebody else, there is nobody else, please think again and fight for their and our survival by including them in the Agreement.

Thank you.

 

Yours sincerely, [Your Name]

 

Please go to Gaia: Defenders of Biodirversity to sign the letter

 

International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions Highlighting Sea-Dumped Chemical Weapons

International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions

Deadly Depths

Underwater munitions pollute the marine environment with toxic chemicals. We have learned that there is a “need to clean” both chemical and conventional weapons based on potential human health impacts, as well as environmental implications through depleting fish stocks (CHEMSEA Findings Report 2013, Search and Assessment of Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons and Porter, JW, Barton J and Torres 2011, Ecological, Radiological and Toxicological Effects of Naval Bombardment on Coral Reefs of Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico).

Terrence Long

Underwater Munitions are “Point Source Emitters of Pollution”. This means that in most cases, if we remove the source: we remove the problem. Off-the-shelf-technology developed by private sector, oil and gas industry, and military's unmanned systems programs, already exists to detect, map, recover and dispose of underwater munitions and the toxic waste they create. The International Dialogues on Underwater Munitions (IDUM's) mission is to promote the creation of an internationally binding treaty on all classes (biological, chemical, conventional, and radiological) of underwater munitions, to lead to the cleanup of our Oceans worldwide. IDUM hosts and attends international forums to facilitate collaboration with international leaders and organizations to better understand the socio-economic impact on both human health and environment from years of decaying underwater munitions. IDUM cooperates with researchers, industry, and government to foster collaborative solutions that further the clean-up of our oceans. We believe through international diplomacy via national and international programs, dialogue, conferences, workshops, committees, senate hearings, and commissions, we can come together globally to clean our One Ocea

IDUM is considered the international group of experts in Policy, Science, Technology and Responses to Underwater Munitions. We have been extremely effective in furthering international discussion, and creating a united appeal to international governments, as well as creating an International Technology Advisory Board on Sea Dumped Munitions. In support of our efforts, IDUM has been recognized in proceedings for Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Third Review Conference of State Parties, 2014 Noble Peace Prize winner and United Nations (Secretary General Report Sixty-eight session on Sustainable development) for our contributions within the Resolution on sea dumped chemical munitions.

IDUM takes action:

IDUM mobilizes working groups for policy science and technology of sea dumped munitions, and has hosted five (5) international dialogues. We have participated as an observer for Helsinki Commission Heads of Delegations for Protection of the Baltic Sea, as well as provided consultations within HELCOM MUNI Ad Hoc Working Groups on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons. IDUM has also been a “Special Invited Guest” of the OSPAR Commission for the Protection of the North-East Atlantic Oceans, and participates as Co- Directors for CHEMSEA – Search and Assessment of Chemical Weapons, Baltic Sea and NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) – MODUM Project.

IDUM is on the Scientific Committee Polish Naval Academy for Marine Security Yearbook and board of directors for International Centre for Chemical Safety and Security (ICCSS). Most recently, IDUM has been invited to centralize our cooperation with global peace and security organizations at The Hague. Our Chairman, Mr. T. P. Long, will manage the office in The Hague and cooperate with the international community of The Hague (including States Parties and the United Nations) to represent your concerns in an open and transparent process.

Mission Statement

The International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions (IDUM) is a non-governmental organization/Society founded in 2004 by Mr. Terrence P. Long following his appearance at a Canadian Senate Hearing with the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. The IDUM's mission is to promote the creation of an internationally binding treaty on all classes (biological, chemical, conventional, and radiological) of underwater munitions. This treaty would encourage countries to collaborate on underwater munitions policy, research, science, and responses including environmentally-friendly remediation in affected regions. The IDUM is an internationally recognized body where all stakeholders (diplomats, government departments including external affairs, environmental protection and fishery departments, industry, fishermen, salvage divers, oil and gas, militaries and others) can come together in an open and transparent forum to discuss underwater munitions, seek solutions, and promote international teamwork on their issues related to underwater munitions. The IDUM promotes constructive engagement with all stakeholders rather than disengagement so that we may learn from one another's situation and determine how we can best respond in the future with everyone's considerations. What we have learned is that off-the-shelf-technology, developed by the oil and gas industry and military's unmanned systems programs, does exist to address underwater munitions sites. And there is a “Need to clean” based on the potential human health and environmental impact on our health care systems and fish stocks. Underwater munitions in some form or another will continue to pollute the marine environment over time. It’s just a question of “When”. Underwater Munitions are “Point Source Emitters of Pollution”. In most cases, remove the source and you remove the problem.

Chairman's Message

“The IDUM is collaborating with international leaders and organizations to better understand the socio-economic impact on both human health and environment from years of decaying underwater munitions. The organization is facilitating this through international diplomacy via national and international programs, dialogues, conferences, workshops, committees, senate hearings, and international commissions. Most notable are the international efforts of the Government of Lithuania that resulted in the unanimous passing of the United Nations Resolution on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons in December 2010 at the United Nations. Internationally, we must organize and continue our work together to collect, process, and provide information on underwater munitions to the Secretary General of the United Nations. Any tangible approach would require a multilateral response from all stakeholders including institutional capacity-building and the creation of an International Donor Trust Fund.” Visit the IDUM Website

 

 

 

NOTICE OF INTENT TO FINALIZE THE TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR THE PROPOSED OCEAN THERMAL ENERGY CONVERSION PROJECT

REQUEST FOR COMMENTS AND NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING

The Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) is providing Notice to the Public of the publication of the Draft Terms of Reference (ToR) for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a proposed Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) Project on the north shore of Grand Cayman. The public is invited to review and comment on the To R which has been developed in collaboration with the EAB, which includes representatives from the Department of Environment, Planning Authority. Port Authority, and the Electricity Regulatory Authority.

The prolect Proponent. OTEC international. LLC (OTI) ie undertaking an EIA for its proposed phased installation of 25 megawatts (MWe) of power. The Initial phase would be a 6.25Mwe floating power platform (FPP). The result of the ElA will be an Environmental Statement (ES) which will help to inform the decision-making process. Download PDF

Yo u r input will be considered in the finalization of the To R document which is available oniine at www.doe.ky or hard copies can be reviewed at the following locations:

1. Government Administration Building. 133 Elgin Avenue, George Town

2. George Town Public Library. 68 Edward Street

3. North Side Post Office. 896 North Side Road

Comments on the draft TOR may be submitted:

1) in writing during the public meeting.

2) electronically via e-mail to doe@gov.ky

3) mailed to Department of Environment, P.0. Box 10202. Grand Cayman, KY1-1002

4) hand delivered, in writing, to Department of Environment, Environmental Centre, 580 North Sound Road, George Town , Grand Cayman.

A public meeting will be held on Tuesday 23 September 2014 at the North Side Civic

centre to provide an opportunity for OTI and the EIA Consultant to outline the project and to invite comments and questions from the Public on the draft ToR. Representatives from OTI, the EIA Consultant and the EAB will be available to provide information and receive comments concerning the ToR . The presentation will commence at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a question and answer session at 8:00 p.m.

The period for written comments on the draft ToR opens on Friday 12 September for a duration of 21 days and will officially close at midnight on Friday 3 October 2014.

 

 

Wednesday’s rainfall a ‘once in a 200-year’ weather event, climatologists say

Several weather records were broken Wednesday after 13.27 inches of rain fell at Islip Town's Long Island MacArthur Airport in what the Northeast Regional Climate Center calls a 24-hour 200-year storm event.

That means that “rainfall of this magnitude is only expected to occur once in a 200-year period,” according to the center's website.

At play was a complex weather system that the National Weather Service had been monitoring for days, warning of the threat of flash flooding, in which an upper level disturbance, a low pressure area at the surface and very moist environment all combined over the area, said Tim Morrin, weather service meteorologist in Upton.

The “bull's-eye” of the heaviest rainfall that deluged an area of western Suffolk was right near MacArthur Airport, he said.

“A very small micro-scale event took place” in that area, one that is yet to be explained, he said, but that will likely be researched extensively, with follow-up papers written. Such a phenomenon is “impossible to forecast,” he said, as “there's not enough skill in the computer models to pinpoint that kind of extreme” on such a small scale.

As for hourly rainfall, 5.34 inches fell from 5 to 6 a.m. Wednesday at the airport in Ronkonkoma, followed by another 4.37 inches from 6 to 7 a.m., according to the Climate Center. They may have come back-to-back, but each is considered a 500-year event, said Jessica Spaccio, a climatologist with the center, which is at Cornell University.

Records were also broken, and, “when we break a state record, that's pretty exciting,” Spaccio said

According to a preliminary report from the weather service, the previous New York State record for precipitation in a 24-hour period was broken. That was set Aug. 27 to 28, 2011, in Tannersville when 11.6 inches fell during what the service referred to as Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene.

With half the month still to go, Wednesday's rainfall also resulted in a record for the month of August, previously 13.78 inches set in 1990, the weather service said. The airport's August rainfall now stands at 13.88 inches, said the weather service, which has maintained official records for the airport for the past 30 years.

While Long Island has been considered “abnormally dry” this year by the U.S. Drought Monitor, the 13.27 inches at the airport in just about one day exceeded normal rainfall for June, July and August combined — 11.68 inches — based on precipitation records from 1981 to 2010, according to the Climate Center.

Wednesday's rainfall also broke the airport's all-time daily rainfall record, which was 6.74 inches set Aug. 24, 1990, Spaccio said.

And as for the record rainfall for Aug. 13 — beating that was a piece of cake, with the previous record for that day 0.91 inches, set in 2013, the weather service said.

As for hourly rainfall amounts — top honors now go to Wednesday from 5 to 6 a.m. when 5.34 inches fell at the airport, followed by 4.37 inches the very next hour, Spaccio said. The highest previous amount was 2.64 inches, which fell in one hour on July 18, 2007. That's based on data maintained since July 1996, she said. More

 

2028: The End of the World As We Know It?

“There is nothing radical in what we’re discussing,” journalist and climate change activist Bill McKibben said before a crowd of nearly 1,000 at the University of California Los Angeles last night. “The radicals work for the oil companies.”

Bill McKibben

Taken on its own, a statement like that would likely sound hyperbolic to most Americans—fodder for a sound bite on Fox News. Anyone who saw McKibben’s lecture in full, however, would know he was not exaggerating.

McKibben was in Los Angeles as part of his nationwide “Do the Math” tour. Based on a recent article of his in Rolling Stone, (“The one with Justin Bieber on the cover,” McKibben joked) the event is essentially a lecture circuit based on a single premise: climate change is simple math—and the numbers do not look good. If immediate action isn’t taken by global leaders: “It’s game-over for the planet.”

The math, McKibben explained, works like this. Global leaders recently came to an international agreement based on the scientific understanding that a global temperature raise of 2°C would have “catastrophic” consequences for the future of humanity. In order to raise global temperatures to this catastrophic threshold, the world would have to release 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Here’s the problem: Fossil fuel companies currently have 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide in their fuel reserves—and their business model depends on that fuel being sold and burned. At current rates of consumption, the world will have blown through its 565-gigaton threshold in 16 years.

To prevent the end of the world as we know it, it will require no less than the death of the most profitable industry in the history of humankind.

“As of tonight,” McKibben said, “we’re going after the fossil fuel industry.”

Obviously no easy task. The oil industry commands annual profits of $137 billion and the political power to match. As McKibben noted, “Oil companies follow the laws because they get to write them.”

However, there are some numbers on McKibben’s side. Recent polling data shows 74 percent of Americans now believe in climate change, and 68 percent view it as dangerous. The problem environmental activists are facing is in converting those favorable polling numbers into grassroots action.

Enter “Do the Math.”

Using McKibben’s popularity as an author, organizers are turning what would otherwise be a lecture circuit into a political machine. Before rolling into town, Do the Math smartly organizes with local environmental groups. Prior to McKibben’s lecture, these groups are allowed to take the stage and talk about local initiatives that need fighting. Contact information is gathered to keep the audience updated on those efforts. Instead of simply listening to McKibben, as they perhaps intended, the audience has suddenly become part of their local environmental movement.

It’s a smart strategy, and an essential one—because the problem of climate change is almost exclusively a political in nature. Between renewable energy and more efficient engineering, the technology already exists to stave off catastrophic global warming. Though its application is lagging in the United States, it is being employed on a mass scale in other countries. In socially-stratified China, with its billion-plus population and tremendous wealth inequalities, 25 percent of the country still manages to use solar arrays to heat its water. Germany—Europe’s economic powerhouse—in less than a decade, has managed to get upwards of half of its energy from sustainable sources.

The same can happen here in America—provided we have the will to make it happen. McKibben says the key to realizing that goal is to battle the lifeblood of the fossil fuel industry—its bottom line.

To start, he’s calling for an immediate global divestment from fossil fuel companies. “We’re asking that people who believe in the problem of climate change to stop profiting from it. Just like with divestment movement in South Africa over apartheid, we need to eliminate the oil companies veneer of respectability.”

In conjunction with the divestment regimen, continued protests against unsustainable energy projects will also be crucial. McKibben will be in Washington, D.C. on November 18 to lead a mass rally against climate change and the Keystone Pipeline. “We can no longer just assume that President Obama is going to do everything he promised during his campaign. We need to push him.”

“I don’t know if we’re going to win. But I do know we’re going to fight.” More

 

Small Caribbean Island Shows Bold Ocean Leadership: Barbuda Overhauls Reef and Fisheries Management for Sustainability

On August 12th, Barbuda Council signed into law a sweeping set of new ocean management regulations that zone their coastal waters, strengthen fisheries management, and establish a network of marine sanctuaries.

This comes after seventeen months of extensive community consultation and scientific research supported by the Waitt Institute. With these new policies, the small island of Barbuda has become a Caribbean ocean conservation leader and global role model. The regulations establish five marine sanctuaries, collectively protecting 33% (139 km2) of the coastal area, to enable fish populations to rebuild and habitats to recover. To restore the coral reefs, catching parrotfish and sea urchins has been completely prohibited, as those herbivores are critical to keeping algae levels on reefs low so coral can thrive. Barbuda is the first Caribbean island to put either of these bold and important measures in place.

“This will definitely benefit the people of Barbuda, and Antigua as well. No part of this is meant to hurt fishers. It’s the reverse – ensuring that they have a livelihood that will last in perpetuity,” said Arthur Nibbs, Chairman of the Barbuda Council and Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Fisheries.

Caribbean-wide, communities are seeing declines in the health of coastal ecosystems and fish populations. This negatively impacts economies, food security, and cultures. Visionary action like that shown in Barbuda is needed to manage the ocean sustainably, profitably, and enjoyably, for this and future generations. The coastal zones and fishing regulations reflect stakeholders’ priorities and are the outcome of a community-driven, science-based, and consensus-seeking process aiming to balance current and future needs to use ocean resources. More

 

Time to ask why

Young people have the most to gain from solving the climate crisis — and the sooner the better.

They didn't cause the issue, but they'll have to live with it for decades. And for far too long, they and their interests have been ignored by leaders who refuse to protect the planet.

On September 23, this is going to change when exceptional young people get a chance to put their questions to the world's decision-makers — to speak for their generation at the U.N. Climate Summit in New York City.

Today, we begin searching for the people who will ask their leaders the tough questions about global warming. We're collecting videos of young people ages 13-21 posing tough Why? or Why not? questions about the climate crisis. We'll choose the best to attend the Summit and demand serious answers from the world's leaders.

If you're between the ages of 13 and 21, submit a video. If not, encourage someone you know to submit a video of their own.


Why do we continue burning fossil fuels that cause climate change? Why not switch to clean, renewable energy?

The answers are out there, but we won't get them unless we stand together and demand them — and refuse to be ignored.

Thanks for your continued support,

Al Gore
Founder and Chairman

SUBMIT A VIDEO

 

Geneva beckons Rolph Payet – Seychelles environment and energy minister lands top UN post

(Seychelles News Agency) – Seychelles Minister for Environment and Energy, Professor Rolph Payet has been appointed the new Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.


Announcing the appointment in a press statement this afternoon, State House said Payet will contribute to the implementation of the mandates and missions of those three conventions including the formulation of their overall strategies and policies.

“He will also act in an advisory capacity to the UNEP Executive Director and the Presidents and the Bureaus of the conventions as well as their subsidiary bodies,” reads the statement.

The environment minister’s role will also include coordinating the preparation of the meetings and implement the substantive work programme of the conventions, including providing assistance to parties, in particular developing country parties and those with economies in transition.

He will also lead the development of strategies and policies and undertake fund raising and donor reporting, the strategic interagency work of the Secretariat in close coordination with UNEP and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

Responding to SNA in an email following this afternoon’s announcement, Payet said he is deeply honoured of such confidence in him to lead the conventions.

“I am equally happy that I have been chosen, coming from a Small Island Developing States, during this year dedicated to SIDS. My appointment represents the hard work of President James Michel and the government of Seychelles to continuously push so that Seychelles remains a leader in environment on the international scene. I will miss my work and even though I will be away from Seychelles I will continue to work for the benefit of my country,” he said.

Payet will take up his new post in October this year and he will be based in Geneva.

He will replace Kerstin Stendahl from Finland, who has been serving as interim since April this year following the retirement of US national Jim Willis as the Executive Director of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

The first convention is aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the effects of hazardous wastes.

This convention was adopted in 1989 and it entered into force in 1992.

The Rotterdam Convention, which entered into force ten years ago, also deals with the disposal of waste especially pesticides and industrial chemicals.

The third one, the Stockholm Convention which also came into force 10 years ago is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods. The latter or POPs is said to have serious consequences on humans and wildlife.

Seychelles president hails Payet’s appointment as “a memorable achievement.”

Seychelles President James Michel has hailed Payet’s appointment which he describes as “a memorable achievement.”

In a congratulatory message sent to the minister, Michel has wished him success in his new role and expressed his full cooperation and support in his tasks and challenges that lie ahead.

“Your appointment to this high office is a well-deserved recognition of your scientific and academic capabilities and crowns a professional life devoted to the environment and to the cause of Small Island Developing States. It also brings immense pride and satisfaction to Seychelles,” said Michel in the statement.

Michel said he would announce a new minister for environment and energy at a later date.

Payet and the environment cause

The 46 year old leaves vacant the portfolio of Environment and Energy which he assumed in March 2012.

Before that he was Special Advisor to the president on numerous environmental matters including sustainable development, biodiversity, climate change, energy and international environment policy

Payet who holds a Phd in Environmental Science from Linnaeus University of which is now an Associate Professor, is described as a leader in the protection of the environment on the international scene.

He has been at the forefront of several international discussions on issues affecting small islands developing states such as climate change, sustainable development, biodiversity and other environmental issues.

In recent years, he has been invited to participate or as a guest speaker on numerous international conference committees and panels including the United Nations General Assembly.

He has also contributed widely towards several publications on environmental issues.

Payet’s work in advancing environment, islands, ocean, biodiversity and climate issues at the global level has earned him numerous international awards and recognition.

In January 2007, he was recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and in November that same year he shared in the IPCC Nobel Peace Prize as one of the authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Locally, Payet has also helped to set up Seychelles first university, the University of Seychelles which was set up in September 2009. He is currently the pro chancellor of the university. More

 

 

Has the era of the ‘climate change refugee’ begun?

A far-flung scattering of islands in a turquoise sea, Tuvalu is one of the planets' smallest and most remote nations, just west of the International Date Line, just south of the equator.

Funafuti, Tuvalu

Tuvalu's coastline consists of white and sandy beaches, green palm trees and mangroves. It is hard to imagine that anybody would want to leave this small island nation, located between Australia and Hawaii, voluntarily. But Tuvalu has become the epicenter of a landmark refugee ruling that could mark the beginning of a wave of similar cases: On June 4, a family was granted residency by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal in New Zealand after claiming to be threatened by climate change in its home country, Tuvalu. The news was first reported by the New Zealand Herald on Sunday.

The small Pacific island nation sits just two meters above sea level. If the current sea level rise continues, experts believe the island might disappear in approximately 30 to 50 years. Tuvalu shares this existential threat with many other island nations and coastal regions, which have struggled for years to raise international awareness about their tragic plight. Predictions for climate change-induced displacement range widely from 150 to 300 million people by 2050, with low-income countries having the far largest burden of disaster-induced migration, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

Those threatened by sea-level rise, droughts or other natural catastrophes face an epochal problem: Victims of climate change are not recognized as refugees by the International Refugee Convention. In the Tuvalu case, Sigeo Alesana and his family reportedly left the island nation in 2007 and moved to New Zealand, where they lost their legal status in 2009. The family was not able to obtain work visas and had to apply for refugee and protected persons status in 2012. Although the claims were dismissed in March 2013 and an appeal was turned down, the family's case was finally approved. The case was closely followed by immigration and environmental lawyers all over the world.

Sigeo Alesana and his wife claimed before the tribunal that climate change had made life in Tuvalu more difficult due to much more frequently occurring inundations, that caused coastal erosion and made it difficult to grow crops. The tribunal explicitly mentioned climate change in its assessment saying that Alesana's children were particularly “vulnerable to natural disasters and the adverse impact of climate change.”

“I don't see it as delivering any kind of 'verdict' on climate change as such,” says Vernon Rive, a Senior Lecturer in Law at AUT Law School in Auckland. The New Zealand decision is very specific because the family based its application for residency on three arguments, Rive says. First, the family members claimed to be refugees; second, they argued to be “protected people“, and third, the family said its case fell under “exceptional humanitarian grounds.” Each of these arguments is based on an existing convention regarding refugees, but the family only succeeded because it claimed “exceptional humanitarian grounds,” which is a wording recognized in New Zealand's immigration legislation but not by many other governments.

In its judgment the New Zealand tribunal surprisingly acknowledged the humanitarian consequences of climate change among other factors, such as the presence of an elderly mother who required care. In its conclusion, however, the tribunal refrained from singling out climate change and stated that other factors would already have been sufficient to grant residency to the family. In other words: The tribunal avoided a clear decision on whether climate change can or cannot be reason enough for refugees to be granted residency. The mere fact that the tribunal mentioned the impacts of global warming as a contributing factor to the ruling is nevertheless remarkable. “What this decision will not do is open the gates to all people from places such as Kiribati, Tuvalu and Bangladesh who may suffer hardship because of the impacts of climate change,” Rive says.

While the tribunal's decision may not have the same impact everywhere, it could send a strong signal to a number of nations, such as Sweden and Finland, that often grant asylum to people affected by natural disasters. According to French climate change migration expert François Gemenne, governments need to get to grips with the reality of climate change refugees, irrespective of legal conventions. “I believe that bilateral or regional arrangements are going to become necessary,” says Gemenne, suggesting a raft of agreements will need to be put into place, between nations and among geopolitical blocs, that will ensure the protection of those displaced by rising waters.

But will there eventually be open doors for the victims of climate change? Some of the countries endangered by climate change fear that their citizens could effectively become “second class” citizens abroad. As a consequence, the island nation Kiribati – itself at risk from climate change – has set up a “Migration with Dignity” program which involves training its citizens as highly-skilled workers who are needed and welcomed in other countries if and when the residents of Kiribati are forced to move.

The recent New Zealand ruling could give smaller nations stronger leverage on the international stage. But do the world's leading statesmen, beset by a host of other crises, care? Michael Gerrard, Director for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, puts current progress in perspective: “The world community has not even begun to grapple with what is to come,” he tells WorldViews in an e-mail. More

 

New Study Reveals Whales as Marine Ecosystem Engineers

Baleen and sperm whales, known collectively as the great whales, include the largest animals in the history of life on Earth.

Though large in size, whales have long been considered too rare to make much of a difference in the ocean, and the focus of much marine ecological research has been on smaller organisms, such as algae and planktonic animals. While these small organisms are essential to life in the sea, they are not the whole story. As great whales recover from centuries of overhunting, scientists are beginning to appreciate their roles as ecosystem engineers of the ocean.

A recent synthesis, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, evaluates decades of research on the ecological role of great whales. The authors, led by Joe Roman at the University of Vermont, suggest that the influence of these animals has been substantially undervalued because, until now, scientists have underestimated the degree to which the decline in whale population has altered marine ecosystems.

Commercial whaling dramatically reduced the abundance of great whales—by at least 66 percent and perhaps as high as 90 percent, according to some estimates—but recovery is possible, and potentially critical for ocean resiliency.

Among their many ecological functions, whales recycle nutrients and enhance primary productivity, locally and on a regional scale. Whales mix the water column, and after feeding at depth, release surface plumes of fecal material. This “whale pump” supplies iron and nitrogen—essentially fertilizers—to primary producers in the surface ocean. Further, the migrations of baleen whales between highly productive, high-latitude feeding and low-latitude calving grounds are among the longest annual movements of mammals. By fasting in these winter calving grounds near the equator, humpback whales, for example, release nitrogen in the form of urea into comparatively nutrient-poor areas—transporting nutrients nearly 10,000 kilometers on the “great whale conveyor belt.”

Sometimes, commercial fishermen have seen whales as competition. But this new paper summarizes a strong body of evidence that indicates the opposite can be true: whale recovery “could lead to higher rates of productivity in locations where whales aggregate to feed and give birth,” supporting more robust fisheries.

Whales, as one of the longer-lived species in marine systems, can ease the impact of perturbations inclimate, predation and productivity. The continued recovery of great whales may help buffer marine ecosystems from destabilizing stresses and could lead to higher rates of productivity in locations where whales aggregate to feed and give birth.

And when they die, many whale carcasses sink to dark depths of the ocean—delivering massive pulses of organic material to a realm that is typically nutrient and energy impoverished. A 40-ton gray whale, for example, provides more than 2,000 times the background carbon flux that would typically rain down on the area underlying the carcass in an entire year.

“Whales appear to harbor a specialized suite of animals in the deep sea, with many species requiring whale falls to complete their life cycles and persist in the ocean,” said Craig Smith, co-author and Oceanography Professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. “When whales were removed from the ocean by whalers, these whale-fall specialists lost their essential habitat.” More

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I question if it would be possible for humans to work with marine mamals and other sea creatures to 'manage' the oceans for the benefit of the marine environment, the inhabitants of the oceans as well as the living beings on the planet. It would certainly be beneficial to all concerned and would possible go some way towards mitigating climate change. Editor