Nature – Images

Interesting Images

From a distance, the beach scene at Alabama’s Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge looked appealing: blue sky, soft sand and a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. But as one approaches closer one can see the fatal noose around the turtle’s neck attached to the washed-up beach chair.

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Environment

Plastic Pollution

The plastic that humans unwittingly ingest has now been detected in stool samples from people in diverse locations around the world.

Writing in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, lead researcher Philipp Schwabl of the Medical University of Vienna says that none of the stool samples they examined was free of microplastics.

The test subjects showed signs of possible plastic exposure from food wrappers and bottles. Most had also consumed ocean-going fish, which are known to eat plastic.

Antibiotic Pollution

As much as 80 percent of the antibiotics entering the River Thames in human waste must be stopped to avoid the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, a new study says.

Researchers from Britain’s Center for Ecology & Hydrology warns that rivers are now reservoirs for the superbugs, which can spread quickly to people in water, soil, air, food and animals.

The study results came after England’s chief medical officer warned that microbes resistant to antibiotics could pose a more immediate risk to humans than climate change, with their potential to kill at least 10 million people a year worldwide.

Environment

Noxious Cloud of Carbon Monoxide Pollution Spills Out of the Burning Amazon

NASA has detected a gargantuan cloud of noxious carbon monoxide (CO) rising from the Amazon blaze into the atmosphere.

The plume first appears as a greenish blob over Brazil before rapidly spreading out past the eastern and western coasts of South America, gradually darkening from green to yellow to red. This color shift signifies an increase in CO concentration in the atmosphere from about 100 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) to 160 ppbv in less than two weeks.

Environment

Smoke from Burning Amazon Turns São Paulo Afternoon into Midnight

There’s so much smoke from wildfires in the Amazon rainforest that São Paulo plunged into darkness on Monday afternoon (Aug. 19), with day turning into night. The atmosphere was a reminder that forest fires in the Amazon have surged 82% this year compared with the same period last year (from January to August).

That smoke, combined with clouds and a cold front (it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere), led to the midnight-like darkness in São Paulo. The fires are largely burning in northern Brazil and have prompted the Brazilian state of Amazonas to declare a state of emergency.

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Environment

Plastic Pollution goes Airborne

Tiny bits of microplastics have been discovered in recent months in rainwater and snowfall from Colorado to the Arctic.

They join similar plastic pollution that has shown up in groundwater, rivers and lakes, and at the deepest depths of the sea.

Scientists from the Northwest Passage Project, taking ice core samples this summer in Arctic Canada, say they also found visible plastic beads and filaments of various shapes and sizes in the ice.

Earlier studies have found that plastic has fallen from the sky in Europe’s Pyrenees Mountains, a region near Hong Kong, the Iranian capital of Tehran and Paris.

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Wildlife

Plastic instead of Coral

A team of divers cleaning up the waters off Greece’s Andros Island said they found a “gulf full of plastic coral.”

Waving on the ocean floor like a forest of kelp, the plastic debris probably wound up there eight years ago when a nearby makeshift landfill collapsed into the sea.

It was “like the paradise of the Caribbean Sea, where you find coral reefs everywhere of every color. It was the exact same thing, but instead of coral, it was bags,” said diver Arabella Ross with the group Aegean Rebreath.

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Wildlife

Coral Reefs Suffering – Florida, USA

Climate change is killing the world’s coral reefs. But it’s not the only factor turning them into white, dead husks. According to a new study, all the chemicals humans are dumping into the ocean are making it easier for the hotter weather to do its deadly work.

Published in the journal Marine Biology, a paper based on 30 years of data concluded that nutrient pollution, stemming from fertilizer and improperly treated sewage, is responsible for coral death in Florida. “Our results provide compelling evidence that nitrogen loading from the Florida Keys and greater Everglades ecosystem caused by humans, rather than warming temperatures, is the primary driver of coral reef degradation.”

When the symbiotic relationship between coral and algae becomes stressed—due to temperature fluctuations or contamination—algae will leave the coral’s tissue, taking with it a major food source.

Once abandoned, coral turns white or very pale, and becomes more susceptible to disease.

Coral bleaching is not an immediate death sentence, though: A healthy coral can survive a bleaching event if water temperatures return to normal quickly. Many of the marine invertebrates do, however, lose their battle with bleaching.

Environment

“Plasticrust”

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Researchers say they have found a strange new combination of rock and plastic forming on Portugal’s Atlantic island of Madeira.

Researcher Ignacio Gestoso says the new hybrid geology was first observed on the island’s volcanic shore in 2016, the apparent result of waterborne plastic pollution being slammed into rocks by wave action.

The new “plasticrust” looks like melted plastic encrusted on the rocks, according to Gestoso and colleagues at the island’s Marine and Environmental Research Center. They say the plastic is mainly polyethylene, a mixture of polymers and ethylene used in single-use packaging, bottles and food containers.

Heatwave in Europe

Europe’s record-breaking heatwave is forecast to intensify further on Thursday with authorities on high alert as temperatures threaten to exceed 40 degrees Celsius in some parts of the continent.

The stifling heat prompted traffic restrictions in France, sparked forest fires in Spain, and fanned debate in Germany over public nudity as sweltering residents stripped down.

Meteorologists blame a blast of hot air from northern Africa for the heat this week, which has already set new records in Europe for June. According to reports, the high temperatures have already claimed the lives of three people.

Exceptional for arriving so early in summer, the heatwave will on Thursday and Friday likely send mercury above 40C in France, Spain and Greece.

Paris Bans 60% of Cars Due To Heatwave and Pollution Levels

Paris imposed a ban on older and less efficient cars on Wednesday and is due to stay in place within the A86 second ring-road – which encompasses Paris and 79 towns around it – as long as the hot weather lasts, the city council said.

Data firm AAA Data said that nearly five million vehicles registered in the Ile-de-France area around Paris were covered, about 60 percent of total, a record number to be restricted. The city was not immediately available to comment on those estimates.

Traffic was lighter in Paris, but not significantly so. Several drivers said they were ignoring the restrictions as the fines for breaking them – just 68 euros ($77) for cars and 135 euros for vans – were so low.

French authorities also stepped up restrictions on water use on Thursday as swathes of western Europe remained in the grip of an intense heatwave.

Paris’ driving ban was imposed under the new “Crit’Air” colored stickers system, which classifies cars by age and pollution levels.

Only electric or hydrogen vehicles, petrol cars registered after Jan. 2006 and diesel cars registered from Jan. 2011 – corresponding to Crit’Air levels 1 and 2 out of 5 – were allowed on the roads.

Wildlife

Sewage Spill Wipes out Thousands of Fish – Texas, USA

One-hundred thousand gallons of sewage spilled into a Williamson County’s Bushy Creek, wiping out several thousand fish from the ecosystem. The sewage killed everything in the water, according to local reports. Texas Parks and Wildlife said it was Monday’s storms that knocked out power at the wastewater treatment plant. Now several thousand game and non-game fish have been wiped out from Brushy Creek.

Environment

Everest clean-up

Nepali climbers have retrieved four bodies and collected some 11 tonnes of decades-old garbage from Mount Everest and its approach below the base camp as part of a drive to clean up the world’s highest mountain.

Climbers returning from the 8,850-metre mountain say its slopes are littered with human excrement, used oxygen bottles, torn tents, ropes, broken ladders, cans and plastic wrappers left behind by climbers, an embarrassment for a country that earns valuable revenue from Everest expeditions.

The garbage, along with the bodies of some of the 300 people who have died over the years on Everest’s slopes, are buried under the snow during winter, but become visible when the snow melts in summer.

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Plastic Pollution

Humans on Earth eat at least 50,000 particles of microplastic on average each year and inhale a comparable amount as well, according to new research that looked at data from 26 previous studies. Some experts estimate the level being absorbed by people is actually much higher.

The plastic pollution is entering the human food chain and environment due to the disintegration of plastic bags, bottles and other litter, which has now reached virtually every corner of the planet.

Another study cautions that pathogens and other organisms have been found to grow on microplastics in fresh water, posing a potential threat to the health of humans and wildlife.

Environment

Philippines returns waste to Canada

cargo ship carrying tonnes of rubbish dumped in the Philippines by Canada more than five years ago, has left the Southeast Asian country, as nations in the region increasingly reject serving as dumpsites for wealthier states.

The 69 shipping containers of rotting waste were loaded onto the M/V Bavaria at Subic Bay port in the early hours of Friday, before embarking on a 20-day journey to Vancouver, in southwestern Canada.

The waste was transported to the Philippines in 103 containers in 2013 to 2014, and falsely declared as recyclable plastic scraps. Several containers of the rubbish had been disposed of, including in a landfill, leaving 69 containers of electrical and household waste, including used diapers, rotting in two Philippine ports.

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Environment

Scientists Went to One of the World’s Most Remote Island Atolls. They Found 414 Million Pieces of Plastic

The amount of plastic pollution previously thought to exist around the world may be a dramatic underestimate — because the vast majority of plastic pollution may actually be below the surface.

That’s the takeaway from a survey of plastic pollution on the beaches of Australia’s Cocos Islands, made up of two coral atolls.

An estimated 414 million pieces of debris are now littering the remote islands, and the vast majority of that waste is buried below the surface, according to a new study. But even that is likely an underestimate, a group of researchers reported May 16 in the journal Scientific Reports.

What’s more, because most of this plastic is buried below the surface, and most global surveys don’t look below the surface, the amount of plastic pollution worldwide may be way more than we previously thought, they reported.

The scientists surveyed seven of the 27 islands, which made up 88 percent of the total landmass of the islands, and estimated that they were littered with 262 tons (238 metric tons) of plastic. A quarter of those pieces of debris were single-use or disposable items such as straws, bags and toothbrushes (about 373,000 of them), The researchers also identified some 977,000 shoes.

Roughly 93% of the debris found, most of it tiny micro-debris, was actually buried below the surface. But because they only dug 3.94 inches (10 centimeters) into the sand, and couldn’t access some beaches that are known to have a lot of debris, these numbers are likely conservative.

The amount of debris buried up to about 4 inches (10 cm) below the surface of the beach is 26 times higher than the amount visible on its surface, the researchers wrote.

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Environment

Extent of Plastic Pollution in Durban, South Africa after Floods – Images

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Global Pollutants

Researchers using chemical-sampling wristbands have found that people on three continents are being contaminated by more than a dozen of the same environmental pollutants.

None of the wristbands returned from volunteers in the United States, Africa and South America had identical chemical exposures, but more than half had picked up the same 14 chemicals.

“Whether you are a farmworker in Senegal or a preschooler in Oregon, you might be exposed to those same 14 chemicals,” said lead researcher and environmental chemist Holly Dixon of Oregon State University.

She said some of the detected chemicals “weren’t on our radar, yet they represent an enormous exposure.”

Wildlife

Another Dead Whale Full of Plastic – This Time, in Italy

Yet another whale carcass has washed up with a stomach full of plastic. This time, it was a female sperm whale with 49 lbs. (22 kilograms) of plastic in her stomach. She washed up on a beach in Porto Cervo, a popular tourist destination in Sardinia, Italy.

She was pregnant and had almost certainly aborted before (she) beached. The fetus was in an advanced state of decomposition.

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Wildlife

Dead Whale Washes Ashore with Shocking 88 lbs. of Plastic in Its Stomach

A young Cuvier’s beaked whale washed up dead on a beach in Compostela Valley in the Philippines, its stomach filled with 88 pounds (40 kilograms) of plastic bags.

Workers from the D’Bone Collector Museum Inc. in Davao City in the Philippines recovered the whale — a male — on Saturday (March 16) and later performed a necropsy. They found its stomach was packed with plastic bags — 16 rice sacks, four banana-plantation-style bags and some shopping bags. His stomach “had the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale”.

This isn’t the first time a whale full of plastic has washed ashore. A dead sperm whale washed up in Indonesia last November with 100 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags and even a couple of flip-flops inside its stomach. The Cuvier’s whale in the Philippines held seven times more plastic than that sperm whale

Around 8.8 million tons (8 million metric tons) of plastic get dumped into the ocean every year, according to a 2015 report by the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy. In particular, about 60 percent of it comes from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

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