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Focus Areas

The Waves of Change program focuses on six areas that most effect the world's oceans today.

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Climate change top ocean stressor: Study Last Updated on 2015-07-17 10:04:35       Climate change is the largest human-caused stressor on the world's oceans, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. Of the areas observed in the study, about two-thirds of ocean and 77 percent of waters in national exclusive economic zones experienced increased harm from human activity, based on a comparison of data between 2008 and 2013. Almost all of those detrimental effects on marine ecosystems came from climate change, rather than other practices such as fishing, pollution and agricultural runoff. "The many stressors associated with climate change (anomalously high sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification and increasing ultraviolet radiation) dominate humanity's footprint on the open ocean, but commercial fishing and shipping also cover large areas of the oceans and contribute significantly to overall impact," said... More »
Humanity is ending its Goldlilocks geological era Last Updated on 2015-01-29 15:06:36 In the space of one lifetime, human interference is bringing the conditions of the Holocene - the only ones in which we know we can flourish - to an end, writes Geoffrey Lean. It has been a Goldilocks geological era. The last 11,700 years have not been too hot, or too cold, too wet or too dry and have witnessed an earth well provided with freshwater and a great array of biomes and life. They have provided almost a planetary ceasefire after a long history of abrupt swings between very much more hostile hot and cold conditions. So it is not surprising that it has been in the Holocene (the term comes from the Greek words for "whole" and "new") that human civilisation was born, grew and spread. We entered it as a few hunter-gatherers, but have now grown so dominant that scientists believe that we are ourselves bringing the Goldilocks era to an end, with unknown –... More »
Tracking Fishy Behavior, From Space Last Updated on 2014-11-16 20:10:18                     Fishing boats in the Phoenix Islands (Christopher Pala) by Christoper Pala A new program aims to allow anybody to watch for poachers using satellite imagery and ship positioning systems. But whether it will actually send illegal fishing crews to court is an open question.Since the first hook caught the first fish perhaps 40,000 years ago, technology has raced with increasing speed to extract more and more fish from the oceans. Most big fish are long gone and fishing vessels are inexorably hauling in the rest—sometimes legally, sometimes not. But on Friday, American non-profits SkyTruth and Oceana, supported by Google, unveiled a prototype program called Global Fishing Watch that will eventually allow anyone with a computer to observe which vessel is fishing where—and perhaps infer whether... More »
This Dutch Wunderkind Now Has the Funds to Build His Ocean Cleanup Machine Last Updated on 2014-09-25 18:23:33 Dutch wunderkind Boyan Slat turned 20 this year. He also closed on $2 million in crowdfunding to build cleanup contraptions designed to intercept and remove plastic refuse from the ocean. The world’s oceans contain millions of tons of garbage, much of it plastic debris that collects in gyres that span hundreds of miles. Slat, an aeronautical engineer and founder of the Ocean Cleanup, has been contemplating how best to attack this problem since the age of 16.   The solution he came up with, as I wrote in an earlier post, is to deploy several V-shaped floating barriers that will be moored to the seabed and strategically placed in the path of major ocean currents. The 30-mile-long arms of the Vs, he says, will catch buoyant garbage and trash floating 3 meters below the surface while allowing sea life to pass underneath. In June, Slat, together with a team of about 70... More »
Oceanic Coal Pollution, Epic Rate Last Updated on 2014-08-12 11:58:26 Each year, the lion's share of mercury poison comes from burning more than 8.3 billion tons of coal to provide energy for electricity grids. Join Earth Dr Reese Halter from Los Angeles in another segment of SOS as he tells us about our oceans brimming with mercury poisoning. As a result of this insatiable addiction to coal, mercury toxicity has tripled in our oceans to over 80,000 tons of poison. Eighty-four percent of fish tested are laced with methyl-mercury, say scientists from the Biodiversity Research Institute in Maine. In December of 2013 Shanghai's concentration of tiny toxic PM 2.5 particles was 602.5 micrograms per cubic meter, an extremely hazardous level that shattered all previous records for poisonous air pollution. By the way, that compares to the World Heath Organization's acceptable safety standard of air quality of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.... More »