This summer, David de Rothschild will be setting sail from San Francisco in a boat made from recycled plastics. Dubbed the Plastiki, an homage to Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki, the ship will be bound for the Pacific Garbage Patch, a flotilla of garbage caught in marine currents in the Central North Pacific Ocean.
The purpose of de Rothschild’s journey is to call attention both to the Garbage Patch and to plastic itself — not merely as a form of human waste but as a valuable resource that can and should be used again and again.
Though de Rothschild’s journey will take place far south of Arctic Kingdom’s usual stomping grounds, the health of the Arctic waters we dive in is inextricably connected to the seas of the world below. By simultaneously cutting back on our own consumption and becoming more aware of the potential uses and re-uses of the ‘waste’ products in our lives, we can all help protect and preserve the world’s oceans, from pole to pole.
No, it wasn’t aliens this time, either. And it wasn’t the Blob of sci-fi movie fame, released from it’s icy tomb to terrorize an unsuspecting public once again (sorry, Hollywood).
But enough of my speculating. Scientists have determined once and for all the identity of Alaska’s mysterious blob. Let’s check in:
Test results released Thursday showed the blob wasn’t oil, but a plant – a massive bloom of algae. While that may seem less dangerous, a lot of people are still uneasy. It’s something the mostly Inupiat Eskimo residents along Alaska’s northern coast say they could never remember seeing before. Read the rest of this entry »
Mutiny ruins everyone's day. Image via mariner.org
A new book is looking into the final days of Henry Hudson, the famed explorer believed to have been set adrift by his crew during a search for the Northwest Passage.
It has been 400 years since English explorer Henry Hudson mapped the northeast coast of North America, leaving a wake of rivers and towns named in his honor, yet what happened to the famed explorer remains a mystery.
Hudson was never heard from again after a mutiny by his crew during a later voyage through northern Canada. That he died in the area in 1611 is a certainty, and he may have even been killed in cold blood, according to new research.
The anger among Hudson’s crew over his decision to continue exploring after the harsh winter could have easily fueled a murderous mutiny, suggests Peter Mancall, a professor of history at the University of Southern California.
“The full story of Hudson’s saga reveals one of the darker chapters of the European age of discovery,” said Mancall, who explores the 1610 voyage in his new book “Fatal Journey: The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson” (Basic Books; 2009).
New Scientist Video: Researcher Alun Hubbard discusses the break up of the ice
The biggest glacier in the Arctic is on the verge of losing a chunk of ice the size of Manhattan. A group of scientists and climate change activists who are closely monitoring the Petermann glacier’s ice tongue believe the rapid flow of ice is in part due to warm ocean currents moving up along the coast of Greenland, fuelled by global warming.
In an attempt to highlight rapidly melting summer sea-ice in the Arctic, an expedition will attempt to sail through the Northeast Passage of the Russian Arctic in a single summer, a trip that took over two years to complete when first attempted in 1839.
The expedition, led by the Swedish/Norwegian polar explorer Ola Skinnarmo will receive assistance from WWF in documenting the incredible pace of change in the region.
“The Arctic is melting fast. The summer sea ice extent has decreased by 40 percent since the 70s and may be completely gone within a generation,” says Neil Hamilton, director for the WWF International’s Arctic Programme.
This past Friday, the US House of Representatives voted 219-212 in favor of a bill that will cut back on the industrial pollutants behind global warming.
The House-passed bill requires that large U.S. companies, including utilities, oil refiners, manufacturers and others, reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases associated with global warming by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.
They would do so by phasing in the use of cleaner alternative energy than high-polluting oil and coal.
“The scientists are telling us there’s an overwhelming consensus … global warming is real and it’s moving very rapidly,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, the chief sponsor of the legislation.
In urging passage, Waxman also said the legislation would create jobs and help move the United States from its reliance on foreign oil.
You won’t see walrus dancing to pop songs on an Arctic Kingdom expedition. But I guarantee that seeing these massive, gregarious creatures in their natural habitat makes for a sight more impressive than even the finest in semi-aquatic choreography. (See Thomas’ post below for some recent highlights).
Polar bear encounters on the North Slope oil fields have risen to record levels the last two years, a sign that increasing numbers of the white giants may be prowling on land because the sea ice they prefer is shrinking, scientists said.
Oil field sightings along the southern Beaufort Sea coast jumped to 321 in 2007 and 313 in 2008, said Craig Perham, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist in Anchorage.
That’s more than double the 15-year average of 138.
It’s also a sharp rise from 232, the previous high in 2005.