Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Why are the oceans becoming more acid....and why should we care ?

When carbon dioxide (CO2) ( produced by burning fossil fuels, industrial pollution and other human interventions) is absorbed by seawater, chemical reactions occur that reduce seawater pH, and literally destroy vital minerals like calcium carbonate. These chemical reactions are termed "ocean acidification" or "OA" for short. Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for the skeletons and shells of many marine organisms. In areas where most of the aquatic life congregates in the ocean, the seawater is supersaturated with calcium carbonate minerals. This means there are abundant building blocks for calcifying organisms to build their skeletons and shells. However, continued ocean acidification is causing many parts of the ocean to become undersaturated with these minerals, which affects the ability of many organisms to produce and maintain their shells.
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the pH of surface ocean waters has fallen by 0.1 pH units. Since the pH scale, like the Richter scale, is logarithmic, this change represents approximately a 30 percent increase in acidity. Future predictions indicate that the oceans will continue to absorb carbon dioxide and become even more acidic. Estimates of future carbon dioxide levels, based on business as usual emission scenarios, indicate that by the end of this century the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150 percent more acidic, resulting in a pH that the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20 million years.

The Biological Impacts

Ocean acidification is expected to impact ocean species to varying degrees. Photosynthetic algae and seagrasses may benefit from higher CO2 conditions in the ocean, as they require CO2 to live just like plants on land. On the other hand, studies have shown that a more acidic environment has a dramatic effect on calcifying species, including oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep sea corals, and calcareous plankton and many others.  Each year, more shelled species become at risk, and to clarify, an immediate effect on humans would be the loss of shrimp, crabs and lobsters. When shelled organisms are at risk, the entire food chain is at risk. Other, larger forms of sea-life live from consuming these species. When those larger species can't find food, they disappear and the even larger fish that relied on those creatures for food also become extinct and so on up the food chain until it reaches humans.
Today, more than a billion people worldwide rely on food from the ocean as their primary source of protein. In the future, the reliance on the oceans as a source of food for the world will become greater.
Many jobs and economies in the U.S. and all around the world depend on the fish and shellfish in our oceans. Many species of fish have already been driven to the brink of extinction by over-fishing and depleting supplies. A solution to the acidification of the oceans is by simply reducing carbon-dioxide  in our atmosphere. The same solution for global warming.

Pteropod image showing acidification results


The pteropod, or “sea butterfly”, is a tiny sea creature about the size of a small pea. Pteropods are eaten by organisms ranging in size from tiny krill to whales and are a major food source for North Pacific juvenile salmon. The photos below show what happens to a pteropod’s shell when placed in sea water with pH and carbonate levels projected for the year 2100. The shell slowly dissolves after 45 days.  Photo credit: David Liittschwager/National Geographic Stock. Used with permission. All rights reserved. National Geographic Images.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Celebrities who are bravely changing the world for the better

Mark Ruffalo participates in the People's Climate March in New York City, Sep. 21, 2014 . The march, which calls for drastic political and economic changes to slow global warming, has been organized by a coalition of unions, activists, politicians and scientists. 

Ruffalo is known in the community of environmentalists because of his support of other green campaigns like The Solutions Project, which is pushing for a transition towards using 100% clean energy for everyone. He is a member of Artists Against Fracking and is working on a film about a big oil spill.
He was awarded The Humanitarian Award for his work with Water Defense at the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio is well known for his environmental activism and has been an active supporter of many charities for decades. At age 24, Leonardo established the Leonardo DiCaprio foundation to help protect nature and wildlife around the globe, as well as raise funds for ocean and forest conservation, and climate change. He helped raise funds to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake and drives eco-friendly cars. DiCaprio has also produced many environmental educational movies such as ‘The 11th Hour.’The United Nations named DiCaprio a U.N. Messenger of Peace with special focus on climate change.

George Clooney

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2013 file photo, actor George Clooney attends the premiere of "Gravity" at the AMC Lincoln Square Theaters, in New York. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced on the Golden Globe Awards website that Clooney will be the next recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award. The Golden Globe Awards will be held on Jan. 11, 2015. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Hollywood hunk George Clooney is known mostly for his big roles, but he also played an important part in anti-war activism and humanitarian work. Since 2008, Clooney has served as one of the United Nations Messengers of Peace. He has been advocating for Darfur, as well as organized the Hope for Haiti telethon to raise funds for victims.
Clooney was arrested in 2012 during a protest outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington D.C where he was protesting the war in Darfur.

Angelina Jolie

US actress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie (R) embraces Neema Namadamu of the DRC during the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. Namadamu is the founder of Maman Shujaa, a women-led initiative that uses digital media to amplify the voices of women demanding peace in eastern Congo. The conference was the fruit of a two-year campaign by Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who have visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bosnia to meet victims of rape during wars. London, June 11, 2014. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AFP/Getty Images)

Angelina Jolie is a well known human rights activist who started her good deeds back in Cambodia when filming “Tomb Raider” in 2000. Jolie became a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador and then promoted to the position of a Special Envoy. As a Goodwill Ambassador, Jolie is well known for fighting to end violence against children and women in conflict zones, a cause close to her heart as seen in her directorial feature debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”
After meeting Brad Pitt on the set of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” in 2005, the two established the  Jolie-Pitt Foundation and through this charity they have donated millions of dollars to humanitarian causes around the world.

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt and his wife Angelina Jolie at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London, June 13, 2014.             (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2007 Brad Pitt founded The Make It Right Foundation, a non-profit providing affordable and sustainable homes to communities around the world. The idea came about when Pitt and a group of experts came together to build homes for families in need, after the devastation of New Orleans’ hurricane Katrina.
Working alongside non-profit Global Green, Pitt is pushing for the concept of green housing to be made available nationally as a housing model. He already met with President Barack Obama and politicians to help get federal funding and received an award from the U.S. Green Building in recognition for his housing concept.
Pitt and Jolie gave all of the $2 million fee of their wedding-photos-exclusive to their Jolie-Pitt Foundation.

Christian Bale

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in "The Dark Knight."  (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Stephen Vaughan, File) 

Christian Bale is an exceptionally talented Academy Award winning actor  known for being able to play a whole range of challenging roles, but his human rights work deserves even more accolades.
When Bale was visiting China for the premiere of his film “The Flowers of War,” he made an 8 hour cursory trip from Beijing to meet a “personal hero.” Bale wanted to thank and shake the hand of the blind civil rights lawyer, Chen Guangcheng. He was on his way to Chen’s, but plainclothes security guards outside Gangchen’s village would not let Bale pass . They shooed away the actor and the CNN reporters who were with him, but not without the group catching the whole scene on video, as seen in the report below.

Matt Damon 
Chairperson and co-founder of the Schwab Foundation Hilde Schwab (L) holds to US actor and co-founder of, Matt Damon, a World Economic Forum's Crystal Award during a ceremony on the eve of the opening of the forum in Davos, Jan. 21, 2014.  (Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images)

Matt Damon is super protective of clean water. He founded H2O Africa, a charity providing clean water to African communities and in 2009, Damon joined forces with WaterPartners and created to provide access to clean water in all continents.
Alongside George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, and Jerry Weintraub, he founded Not On Our Watch, a human rights charity to help stop genocides around the world and provide humanitarian assistance and protection. Damon and Ben Affleck also took part in Don Cheadle’s poker fundraiser Ante Up For Africa.

Don Cheadle
Paul Koretz, Don Cheadle and Gorge Clooney attend a bill signing as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs California Assembly Bill 2941 into law at the Burbank Hilton Hotel. The bill enabled the University of California and the state pension systems, CalPERS and CalSTRS, to divest from investments in Sudan, Burbank, CA, Sept.  25, 2006. (John M. Heller/Getty Images)

The Academy Award nominated actor got involved in human rights issues while shooting ” Hotel Rwanda” in 2004, where he played a hotel manager during the time of the Rwandan Genocide. Since then, Cheadle has campaigned for the end of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and even co-authored a book titled “Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond.”
In 2010, Cheadle co-authored another book called”The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa’s Worst Human Rights Crimes.” His work earned him the BET Humanitarian Award for the cause of the people of Darfur and Rwanda, as well as a shared Summit Peace Award by Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome which he shared with George Clooney.

Keanu Reeves

This photo released by Lionsgate shows Keanu Reeves as John Wick in a scene from the film, "John Wick."  (AP Photo/Lionsgate, David Lee)

Modest but generous, Keanu Reeves doesn’t like to stick his name onto charities, although he’s a big donor to many of them. He once said that he has a private foundation he uses to donate money to children’s hospitals.
Keanu is also known to have donated a lot of money to leukemia research because one of his sister’s suffers from the disease.

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron is the founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project. In 2009, Theron became a United Nations Messenger of Peace, focussing on HIV prevention and the elimination of violence against women. She appeared in South African campaigns combatting violence against women and was the voice for the  Rape Crisis Center in Cape Town.
Theron also helped design and signed a pair of shoes for the Stuart Weitzman charity shoe auction benefiting ovarian cancer awareness and research.

Sean Penn
Sean Penn carries belongings of a shelter camp resident as they are prepared to be relocated to a new camp. Petionville, Haiti, Apr. 10, 2010.  (Lee Celano/Getty Images)

The Hollywood actor has been notable for his criticism of president George W. Bush and his stance on the War on Iraq.
Penn was also closely involved with relief efforts during hurricane Katrina. He traveled to New Orleans and helped rescue people who were affected. Then in 2010, during the Haiti earthquake, Penn again traveled to the ravaged country and helped man rescue tents on site.

Emma Watson

Emma Watson attends the British Fashion Awards at London Coliseum on December 1, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Emma Watson is one of those stars who asks her fans to skip her birthday and Christmas presents and instead donate to UNICEF’s charity fund. Watson also arranged TV appearances with her Harry Potter co-stars to bring awareness to the UK charity Children in NeedWatson is also known for donating personal and handmade items for auction to collect funds for Wild Trout Trust, DIFFA/Dallas, Blue Peter’s Mission Nutrition and Sense, a charity for the deaf-blind.
Watson is also a strong advocate for sustainable fashion. She has designed eco capsule collections for People Tree, a fair trade sustainable clothing brand, and has collaborated with luxury Italian designer Alberta Ferretti.

Colin and Livia Firth
Actor Colin Firth and his wife Livia arrive on the red carpet for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. Hollywood, California, Feb. 26, 2012.  (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Colin Firth has been a member of Survival International for many years and has campaigned for the rights of indigenous tribal people. He is also a member of the Refugee Council and has campaigned to stop the deportation of a large group of Congolese asylum seekers.
Colin and his wife Livia, an italian film producer and director, are big advocates of the sustainable movement. The couple has opened an eco-friendly shop in their London neighborhood of Chiswick, called Eco-Age. They sell organic and zero-waste products for the home, as well as boutique green-fashion. Livia also runs a consultancy firm providing advice on energy-efficient living.
Livia created the Green Carpet Challenge where Hollywood stars are encouraged to don sustainable couture by A-List designers to their red carpet appearances.

Robert Redford
Robert Redford as Dan Rather. (Lisa Tomasetti/Sony Pictures Classics)

Hollywood actor and director Robert Redford is a passionate advocate of environmental protection. He has been engaged in the climate fight for decades, ever since he first organized a conference for Russian and American climate scientists in the 1980s.
Redford is an avid environmentalist and is a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Redford also established The Redford Center with his son James, which aims to create films focusing on social and environmental issues like his recent: “Watershed,” which is an effort to help restore the Colorado River Basin.

Sharon Stone
Sharon Stone conducts an auction during the amfAR 21st Annual Cinema Against AIDS, during the 67th Cannes Film Festival, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Cap d'Antibes, southern France, May 22, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI        (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

Sharon Stone is well known for her activism and philanthropist work through her work in promoting peace in the Middle East for many years.
Sharon has been spokesperson and Global Fundraising Chairman for the American Foundation for Aids Research (amfAR) since the 90’s. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Himalayan Foundation, the Cultural Chair of online peace movement YaLa — Young Leaders, a Board Member for A Better LA, and founder of Planet Hope.

Richard Gere
Richard Gere presents Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize, US Capitol, Washington DC, Jan. 29, 2013. ( Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Richard Gere has been an outspoken supporter of human rights issues since the 80s. In 1986, Gere went on a fact-finding mission in Nicaragua and Honduras where thousands of people were getting killed in armed conflicts. He then became interested in Buddhism, and has associated with the faith ever since.
After establishing The Gere Foundation, the actor has been providing relief assistance for Tibetans who have suffered from the repression of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) since the 50s. Gere also co-founded Tibet House US in 1987, which is the cultural center for the Dalai Lama.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Hundreds of top scientists warn against Trump’s climate change stance

Hundreds of top scientists warned on Tuesday against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s vow to pull the United States out of the Paris climate-warming accord if elected in November.

The 375 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, including 30 Nobel Prize winners, said in an open letter that a U.S. abandonment of the agreement would make it far harder to develop global strategies to lessen the impact of global warming.

“Thus it is of great concern that the Republican nominee for President has advocated U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord,” the letter said.

“A ‘Parexit’ would send a clear signal to the rest of the world: ‘The United States does not care about the global problem of human-caused climate change. You are on your own.’”

Among the signers are biologist E.O. Wilson, physicists Stephen Hawking and Claude Canizares, astrophysicist Simon D.M. White, and Nobel winners Thomas Steitz, Michael Levitt and William Daniel Phillips.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private society of scholars who advise the United States on science and technological matters. The signers of the letter said they did so as individuals and not on behalf of the Academy or their institutions.

In Paris last December, almost 200 countries agreed to slash greenhouse gases and keep global temperature rises to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. The United States and China, the two largest producers of carbon emissions, ratified the accord this month.

Trump will speak at a natural gas industry conference in Pennsylvania on Thursday. A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump has dismissed manmade climate change as a hoax invented by the Chinese and says he will abandon the Paris agreement if elected.

He has vowed to reverse much of the work the administration of President Barack Obama has done to address climate change, including rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The Republican Party platform also questions the legality of Obama’s executive order ratifying the Paris deal.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is a strong supporter of the Paris accord.