I am saddened by the damage and loss of life but am truly surprised you are so shocked by the extent and severity.
Haven’t you noticed hurricanes, cyclones and other storms have become more powerful in recent years? And that extreme weather events like record flooding, droughts and heat waves are happening more frequently? In 2012 extreme weather records were broken all over the US. In 2011 there were 14 separate billion-dollar-plus weather disasters in the US including flooding, hurricanes and tornados.
Ban single-use plastic: bags, bottles, cups etc, scientists say
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 10, 2012 (IPS)
Plastic trash is altering the very ecology of the world’s oceans. Insects called “sea skaters”, a relative of pond water striders, are now laying their eggs on the abundant fingernail-sized pieces of plastic floating in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean instead of relying on a passing seabird feather or bit of driftwood.
With an average of 10 bits of plastic per cubic metre of seawater, there are now plenty of places for sea skaters to lay eggs in a remote region known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, 1,500 kilometres west of North America. Not surprisingly, egg densities have soared, a new study has found.
“We’re seeing changes in this marine insect that can be directly attributed to the plastic,” says Miriam Goldstein, study co-author and graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
This is the first proof that plastics in the open ocean are affecting marine invertebrates (animals without a backbone), which will have consequences for the entire marine food web.
“We simply don’t have the data to know what those consequences will be. It is a very remote region of the ocean, hard to get to and expensive to conduct research,” Goldstein told IPS.
The North Pacific Gyre is one of five large systems of rotating currents in the world’s oceans. It has become better known in recent years as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. It has at least 100 times more plastic today than it did in 1972, according to the study published this week in the journal Biology Letters.
“There were no hard surfaces before in the North Pacific Gyre other than the occasional feather and piece of wood,” says Miriam Goldstein, study co-author and a graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
“The ocean looks pretty normal out there in the gyre. There is no floating island of trash as some people imagine,” Goldstein told IPS. Continue reading →
I was born just over a week ago and more than 100 people have died in the US and Caribbean region as a result. For the rest of today please take care as I will continue to bring strong winds, heavy rains and snowfall from North Carolina to well into Canada. Some of the worst flooding hit Haiti in the hours after I’d passed by.
There are estimates that I might cause $20 billion in damages in the US in addition to the $2+ billion in costs in the Caribbean. That’s a lot of money — enough to give every human on the planet $3. But it is only a fraction of the $600 billion the oil and gas industry is spending this year alone [2012 Harvard study, pg 8] in exploration and new production. That $600 billion investment in fossil fuels will bring far greater storms than I.
High wind warnings are posted from Northern Michigan to Lake Okeechobee, Florida, and from Chicago to Maine. All-time low pressure records have been set at Atlantic City, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, and Wilmington Delaware. The rain is coming down in sheets along the east coast, where heavy rain stretches from Virginia to Pennsylvania and New York. Virginia Beach, VA has seen 9.26″, Dover, DE has seen 6.36″ and Ocean City, MD has seen 6.31.
Storm warnings are posted for Tuesday on Lake Michigan near Chicago, where sustained 55 – 60 mph winds and waves of 20 – 25 feet are expected. Storm warnings are posted on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and high winds from Sandy blowing off of Lake Erie caused damage to signs in Port Clinton, Ohio this afternoon. Check out this webcam view of a very angry Lake Erie. High wind warnings extend from northern Michigan to Central Florida.
Earlier I called myself a hybrid storm: part nature, part human. That’s not quite right. Humans and Hurricanes are part of nature. We both thrive on this planet thanks to sunlight, water and carbon dioxide (CO2). Hurricanes and tropical storms have been around for millions of years. In the last 50 years things have changed. The oceans are warmer. This week the waters off the US east coast were 3 degrees C warmer than normal.
Hard to believe I was born only a week ago south of Jamaica. I grew very quickly over the hot Carribbean sea and last Wednesday swept into Jamaica west of Kingston with winds of 130 kph. Damage was extensive cutting power to half the country. One person died.