save our blue planet

Let's save our blue planet by saving the ocean. Every little step counts.

Pew: Cartoon crash course about ocean terminologies — 23. August 2016 The oceans are changing too fast for marine life to keep up | Die Meere ändern sich zu schnell, als das ihre Bewohner mithalten können — 19. August 2016 The oceans are changing too fast for marine life to keep up | Die Meere ändern sich zu schnell, als das ihre Bewohner mithalten können

Regarding those who point out that there where periods with much higher (not human-caused) carbon dioxide levels than today, implying it is only natural and no reason to change anything, I found this article that was originally published on The Conversation on October 13, 2015.

Yes, rising carbon dioxide levels happened in the past, but either so slow that nature could adapt, or as rapidly as now, but then coupled with a mass extinction event (Source). The sharks survived the last times (as below mentioned they wouldn’t now), and I think (and hope) mankind would survive, but: how would we live in the world we would find ourselves in after?

Bezüglich denen, die aufzeigen, dass es Perioden mit viel höheren (nicht vom Menschen verursachten) CO2-Pegeln als heute gab, damit unterstellend, dass es nur natürlich ist und es keinen Grund gibt irgendetwas zu ändern, habe ich diesen Artikel gefunden, der ursprünglich am 13. Oktober 2015 auf The Conversation veröffentlicht wurde.

Ja, in der Vergangenheit passierten steigende CO2-Pegel, aber entweder so langsam dass die Natur sich anpassen konnte, oder so schnell wie heute, aber dann  mit einem Massenaussterben gekoppelt (Quelle). Die Haie überlebten es die letzten Male (wie unten erwähnt würden sie das jetzt nicht mehr), und ich denke (und hoffe) die Menschheit würde überleben, aber: wie würden wir leben in der Welt, in der wir uns danach befinden würden?

The oceans are changing too fast for marine life to keep up

Ivan Nagelkerken, University of Adelaide

Some of the ocean’s top predators, such as tuna and sharks, are likely to feel the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels more heavily compared other marine species.

That’s just one of the results of a study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Over the past five years we’ve seen a significant increase in research on ocean acidification and warming seas, and their effect on marine life. I and my colleague Sean Connell looked at these studies to see if we could find any overarching patterns.

We found that overall, unfortunately, the news is not good for marine life, and if we do nothing to halt climate change we could lose habitats such as coral reefs and see the weakening of food chains which support our fisheries.

Acidifying and warming oceans

Humans have been adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere largely through burning fossil fuels. Under a worst-case scenario, without doing anything to stop increasing emissions, we’d expect concentrations of carbon dioxide to reach around 1,000 parts per million by the end of the century.

This increase in greenhouse gases is “acidifying” the oceans. It’s happening now. Carbon dioxide concentrations have reached around 400 parts per million, compared with around 270 parts per million before the industrial revolution.

This extra carbon dioxide, when it dissolves into the seas, is reducing the pH of the oceans – that is, making them more acidic.

Many ocean creatures, particularly those that build habitats such as corals and shellfish, make skeletons out of calcium carbonate, which they get from ions dissolved in sea water.

When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, it makes these calcium carbonate ions harder for marine life to collect and turn into skeletons. It’s like a person going on a diet without calcium.

At first this results in marine life producing brittle skeletons, but can ultimately lead to the skeletons dissolving.

A calcium-free diet

Many studies have looked at what will happen to these lifeforms that produce skeletons, but we wanted to look at how rising carbon dioxide would affect the ocean at a broader scale.

We analysed more than 600 experiments on ocean acidification and warming seas.

Overall it seems warming temperatures and acidifying oceans will have a negative effect on species and ecosystems. This means reduced growth, abundance, and diversity of marine species.

We also found these results were mostly consistent across latitudes – they weren’t just limited to tropical oceans.

The oceans will warm as they acidify, so it’s important to look at these two changes together. Previous analyses typically looked at specific life stages or different ecosystems.

It’s likely that acidification will interact with warming to have a worse effect. For instance, if you would see a 20% reduction in calcification rates because of rising temperatures, and a 25% reduction in calcification because of acidification, then the combined reduction might be 60%. We see these effects regularly in the studies we looked at.

Of course not every species will show the same response. We expect some species to be able to acclimate or adapt to changes, particularly over longer time periods perhaps like a couple of decades. For example, a recent study on a coral living in a tropical lagoon found it has some capacity to adapt. We found that more generalist species like microorganisms seem to be doing particularly well under climate change, and also some fish species at the bottom of the food chain may show increases in their populations.

Changing whole ecosystems

Most worrying are not only the changes to individual species but also whole ecosystems.

We found that reef habitats are vulnerable: coral reefs, but also temperate reefs built by molluscs such as oysters and mussels. A lot of shallow temperate waters used to have oysters reefs, but there are few natural reefs remaining.

There are also cold-water reefs formed by other species of coral, which grow slowly over thousands of years in the cooler temperatures. In our analysis we found that acidification could cause these habitats to show reduced growth. These habitats are often located in deep waters and are very sensitive to human impacts.

We also found that these changes affect whole ocean food webs.

We found that warmer temperatures mean more phytoplankton – the tiny plant-like lifeforms that form the basis of many ocean food chains. This means more food for grazing species that feed on phytoplankton.

Warmer temperatures also mean faster metabolisms, which require more food. However this didn’t translate into higher growth rates in grazing species. That’s fatal because the next level up in the food chain (the species that eat the grazing animals) would have less food, but still need more food because of faster metabolisms.

This effect is expected to become stronger as you go up the food chain, so predatory species like tuna, sharks, and groupers will be the species that would feel the strongest effects.

These species are also threatened by overfishing, which adds another level of stress. Overfishing alters important food web interactions (e.g. top-down control of prey species) and may also reduce the gene pool of potentially strong individuals or species that could form the next generation of more resilient animals. And this is on top of other threats such as pollution and eutrophication.

Therein lies an opportunity. We cannot change climate change (or ocean acidification) in the short term. But if we can mitigate the effects of overfishing and other human stressors we can potentially buy some time for various species to adapt to climate change.

Species can genetically adapt to changes over geological timescales of thousands of years – as we can see from modern species’ survival over many ups and downs in the climate. But the changes we have wrought on the oceans will take place over decades – not even one generation of a long-lived sea turtle or shark.

With such fast changes, many species in the ocean will likely be unable to adapt.

The Conversation

Ivan Nagelkerken, Associate Professor, Marine Biology, University of Adelaide

Read the original article.

6 amazing plastic bans from around the world – and Germany? — 11. August 2016

6 amazing plastic bans from around the world – and Germany?

Good news! Plastics bans across the world have been hitting the headlines lately.From the US to India and Morocco, governing bodies are taking control of the plastic pollution problem, bringing in either complete bans on plastic, or bans on specific forms like polystyrene.

Source: 6 amazing plastic bans from around the world

In Europe, we try to reduce the plastic waste, too, to protect the ocean from waste pollution. Especially the colorful plastic shopping bags the cashier throws at you for free. Every European uses 200 of them each year, most of them only once. But since the EU leaves it to their members how to do it, Germany uses its standard methods: personal commitment of the firms (freiwillige Selbstverpflichtung, that means they make a non-binding promise of their own to prevent a law) and money. Instead of banning these bags, the customer can use them further but in some markets he has to buy them first. Many markets offer canvas shopping bags, too, but they are more expensive. Guess what will happen?

I’m afraid it will end like with plastic bottles: instead of banning single-serving water bottles Germany put a deposit on them, just like on reusable PET bottles. And what happened? The quota of reusable water bottles decreased, of course. Many customers don’t differentiate between the two and use the lightweight single-serving bottle rather that the heavier reusable bottle, since it is all the same anyway.

Take the pledge and use no plastic shopping bags anymore – with time it becomes second nature to take your own bag with you (even if you have to interrupt the cashier in its routine to prevent getting another bag). And be proud about yourself for every disposible bag you don’t have used.

Every step counts.

Cold deep water: hope for corals? | Kaltes tiefes Wasser: Hoffnung für Korallen? – Oceana — 31. July 2016
Greenpeace about microbeads | Greenpeace über Mikroperlen — 23. July 2016

Greenpeace about microbeads | Greenpeace über Mikroperlen

Did you know that microbeads are used in cosmetics not only to exfoliate (which I can comprehend, even if they should use other, natural particles), but also simply for color and texture? Manufacturers seem to think that customers like their liquid soap, shower gel or shampoo smooth and thick (viscid), even if it has got no cleaning benefit and only environmental drawbacks. We use a special, ph-neutral liquid soap together with a reusable foam soap dispenser and it works fabulously. Sadly, my daughter likes glitter in her pink shower gel (girls 😉 ), I don’t know how to make that myself.

Greenpeace addresses the problem of microplastic in cosmetics here more detailed than I did and also describes the loopholes manufacturers use to deceive us. Unfortunately, the mentioned guide to avoid cosmetics in question seems to work only in UK and Australia.

Wusstest Du, dass Mikroperlen in Kosmetik nicht nur zum Peelen benutzt werden (was ich nachvollziehen kann, auch wenn sie andere, natürliche Partikel benutzen sollten), sondern auch einfach für die Farbgebung und Textur? Die Hersteller scheinen zu denken, dass der Kunde seine Flüssigseife, Duschgel oder Shampoo glatt und zähflüssig mag, auch wenn das keinerlei Reinigungs-Nutzen sondern nur Umwelt-Nachteile hat. Wir nutzen eine spezielle, ph-neutrale Flüssigseife zusammen mit einem nachfüllbaren Schaum-Seifenspender und es geht wunderbar. Leider mag meine Tochter Glitter in ihrem pinken Duschgel (Mädchen 😉 ), Ich weiß nicht, wie ich das selbst machen kann.

Greenpeace spricht das Problem von Mikroplastik in Kosmetikprodukten hier detaillierter an als ich es getan habe, und beschreibt auch die Hintertürchen, die die Hersteller nutzen um uns zu täuschen. Hier auch etwas dazu auf Deutsch. Bedauerlicherweise scheint der erwähnte Leitfaden zum Vermeiden von fragwürdiger Kosmetik nur in Großbritannien und Australien zu gelten.

Sources of Ocean’s Plastic Waste | Quellen der Meeres-Vermüllung — 18. December 2015

Sources of Ocean’s Plastic Waste | Quellen der Meeres-Vermüllung

Over half of the material leaked into the ocean comes from China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand (Source). But that doesn’t mean that we others can slack off in our efforts to prevent plastic waste in the oceans – every step counts.

China, Indonesien, Vietnam, Thailand und die Philippinen sind die Quelle von mehr als der Hälfte des Plastikmülls in den Weltmeeren (Quelle). Das heißt jedoch nicht, dass wir anderen in unsere Anstrengungen, Kunststoff-Müll in den Meeren zu vermeiden, nachlässig werden dürfen – jeder Schritt zählt.


How Ocean Pollution Affects Humans | Wie die Verschmutzung der Meere den Menschen schadet — 17. December 2015
How Boyan Slat tests automatic ocean-plastic-cleanup | So testet Boyan Slat die vollautomatische Plastikbefreiung der Weltmeere — 16. December 2015
There’s a population crisis all right. But probably not the one you think | Es gibt eine Bevölkerungskrise – aber nicht die, die du meinst | The Guardian — 12. December 2015
4 ways to get people to care about the ocean | 4 Wege, damit die Menschen sich um den Ozean kümmern | TED.ideas — 18. November 2015