The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been hampered by the huge amount of garbage that is floating in the ocean. Before major news outlets began covering every aspect of the search, ocean garbage patches never made global headlines. People searching for the missing plane were bewildered to see hundreds of objects off the Australian coast that turned out to be cargo container parts, plastic shopping bags, or discarded fishing equipment. About 90 percent of the debris in ocean garbage patches is plastic. All of this plastic has a disastrous effect on marine animals. Sea turtles and California gray whales are big unintentional consumers of plastic. This can lead to starvation or malnutrition when plastic builds up in the animal’s stomach causing the animal to feel full.
The rise of wind power in the United States is putting a big dent in carbon emissions. Wind generation avoided 95.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2013, which is equivalent to taking 16.9 million cars off the road. That equates to a 4.4 percent cut to power sector emissions. It was also found that the expansion of wind energy has helped reduce water consumption by 36.5 billion gallons, or about 116 gallons of water per U.S. resident. Elizabeth Salerno, American Wind Energy Association’s vice president for industry data and analysis said, “Every time a megawatt of wind power is generated, something else is not generated.” Two big factors could help boost the continued growth of wind power: the extension of the production tax credit, which gives a financial incentive for wind development, and possible changes to the EPA’s emission standards for existing power facilities.
Even four years after the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, several species of wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico are still struggling to recover. Bottlenose dolphins and sea turtles are dying in record numbers, and the evidence is stronger than ever that their demise is connected to the BP oil spill. Ongoing research shows that dolphins swimming in oiled areas are underweight, anemic, and showing signs of liver and lung diseases. Over 900 bottlenose dolphins have been found dead or stranded in the oil spill area since April 2010. Sea turtles are also being hit hard as a result of the oil spill. About 500 dead sea turtles have been found in the spill area every year since 2011. The full extent of the repercussions from the 2010 oil spill are still yet to be known.
A new report from climate and energy scientists has shown that expanding access to reliable energy offers better route to address global challenges. “Climate change can’t be solved on the backs of the world’s poorest people. They key to solving for both climate and poverty is helping nations build innovative energy systems that can deliver cheap, clean and reliable power.” The report is the first of the Climate Pragmatism project, led by Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes in partnership with The Breakthrough Institute. Given the pivotal relationship between abundant energy access and human development, climate change must be addressed within the context of poor nations gaining access to modern energy.
Head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim urged campaigners and scientists to work together to form a coherent plan in the fight against climate change. He predicts that battles over water and food will arise within the next five to 10 years as a result of warming climates. “Is there enough basic science research going into renewable energy? Not even close. Are there ways of taking discoveries made in universities and quickly moving them into industry? No. Are there ways of testing those innovations? Are there people thinking about scaling [up] those innovations?” Kim said that there were four areas where the bank could help in the fight against global warming: finding a price for carbon; removing fuel subsidies; investing in cleaner cities; and developing climate-smart agriculture.