Connect with us

Energy and Transportation

How Satellites and Big Data Help Save the Oceans

Published

on

Over the past century, rampant overfishing, severe pollution, and runaway coastal development have taken a huge toll on the world’s oceans. Now, however, two major advances in global ocean governance are quietly unfolding, offering hope that the early decades of the 21st century will mark a turning point in which humanity can begin to repair the global seas.

By Douglas McCauley

Yet a key question remains: Will the new availability of sophisticated, satellite-based technologies, coupled with the democratization of online data about the health of our environment, help ensure that these positive advancements live up to their potential to protect the oceans?

The first encouraging policy development is the explosive movement by countries around the world to set up massive marine protected areas of unprecedented size. The biggest of these newly proposed mega-marine protected areas, the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve, is three-and-a-half times larger than the United Kingdom, and more than 100,000 times larger than the historical median size for an ocean protected area. The 19 mega-marine protected areas created or announced in the last six years would comprise an area larger than all the protected ocean areas created previously. Several huge marine reserves currently being considered would add an additional 775,000 square miles of ocean protection.

The second key development is that the United Nations is now drawing up a treaty that would, for the first time, manage biodiversity across the high seas — the region outside the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of individual nations. The forthcoming United Nations high seas treaty would be setting new rules for a swath of the ocean 22 times larger than the United States. These new regulations are focused on preserving marine biodiversity, establishing international ocean reserves, evaluating processes for sharing marine genetic resources, and effectively carrying out environmental impact assessments.

In the absence of systems to monitor boundaries, large marine protected areas will be nothing more than huge paper parks.

We are a international collaborative media cooperative that believes that we can come together to solve some of the most important problems of our time through open and civil dialogue. We believe in people empowered solutions media is the best way and have created a first class platform to bring it about.

Discover how you or your organization can become a collaborator in creation.

These bold new policies suggest that decision-makers are finally committed to taking the kind of aggressive actions needed to stay a step ahead of industrialization in the oceans — something we failed to do when industrialization occurred on land. This issue extends well beyond industrial-scale fishing. Recent innovation and technological development have now made it possible to take the industries of farming, mining, power generation, and even data center management underwater. The scope and significance of this mass acceleration of new uses of the ocean cannot be overstated. In 2014, for example, the world began eating more fish from farms than from the wild — a marine reprise of our historic shift on land from hunting wild food to farming. Mining claims have already been staked to roughly 400,000 square miles of deep-sea ecosystems.

The campaigns to vastly expand marine protected areas and significantly improve international governance of the oceans are extremely exciting. But both of these important policy movements have an Achilles heel: Laws only matter if you can ensure that people actually follow them. These new policies cover such vast areas that they render boat, plane, and other traditional forms of ocean observation as obsolete as sextants. In the absence of systems to watch their boundaries, large marine protected areas will be nothing more than huge paper parks. Likewise, our efforts to control the exploitation of high-seas biodiversity via the new U.N. treaty will only be effective if we aren’t blind to what is happening in this large and distant part of the ocean.

But just as technological innovation is fueling a rapid acceleration of development in the ocean, high-tech solutions may also hold the key to ensuring that a marine industrial revolution advances responsibly and intelligently. These advances, when put in the hands not just of governments but also of researchers, citizen-scientists and environmental groups, promise a new era in which we can actively observe and responsibly plan out what’s going on in the world’s seas.

A vital solution lies in the use of satellite-interfacing sensors and data processing tools that are beginning to allow us to watch how ships use the oceans as easily as we track Uber taxis cruising around a city. Like airplanes, more and more ships now carry sensors that publicly transmit their position so they don’t crash into each other. We can make use of these same streams of safety data to detect where industrial fishing is concentrated, to watch as seabed mining exploration begins, and to observe how cargo ships overlap with whale migration pathways.

Seaweed aquaculture emerging in the Taiwan Strait. View gallery.
Photo: Planet Lab

Instead of the oceans being a black hole of data, our new challenge is figuring out ways to intelligently and efficiently sift through the billions of data points now pouring in. Fortunately, smart new algorithms can help pick out specific kinds of vessel behavior from this sea of big data. Ships leave unique behavioral fingerprints. For example, purse seine fishing boats make circles around fish schools when setting their nets, while long-line fishing boats travel linearly up and back along the gear they set.

In a recent report in the journal Science, colleagues at the non-profit Global Fishing Watch and I monitored progress as the nation of Kiribati closed a section of its ocean the size of California to fishing. After six months of observation, we happily saw that all vessels, save one, left to fish elsewhere. Our group also mapped out the activity of purse seine fishing boats on the high seas of the Pacific — generating the first publicly accessible view of where fishing activity occurs in the very region that the UN high seas convention may consider setting up international protected areas.

A key question ahead is whether governments will realize the value of this new data and act on calls from the scientific community to require that more vessels carry these observation sensors and use them properly. We estimate that approximately 70 percent of all large fishing vessels worldwide are already equipped with these publicly accessible tracking systems. Some captains, unfortunately, misuse the tool by turning it off after leaving port or failing to enter proper vessel identification information into the system. All such noncompliance issues are readily detectable by big data processing.

Imaging satellites can function like space-based red light cameras that snap pictures of law-breakers at sea.

If political will can be mustered to close these loopholes, these observation technologies could shed an immense amount of light on our now-dark oceans.

Orbiting in space alongside these ship-tracking satellites is another rapidly growing fleet of nanosatellites that constantly take high-resolution pictures of the earth. This technology promises to be an important additional piece in the ocean-observation puzzle. The goal of the groups tending to these flocks of tiny electronic eyes is to be able to take a high-resolution snapshot of the entire earth, every day. These new imaging satellites may soon allow marine ecologists, ocean conservation groups, and marine park managers to begin to search in near real-time for ships in protected areas, to monitor weekly (even daily) losses of coastal mangrove forests, and to document abuses to coral reefs, such as dredging. With foresight, the intelligence derived from the vessel tracking systems may eventually be interlinked with these imaging satellites to enable them to function like space-based red light cameras that snap pictures of law breaking at sea as it happens.

Not all next-generation ocean observation has to be based in outer space. An exciting array of new marine-monitoring technologies is increasingly available that also could be useful. Aerial drones are beginning to be used to patrol coastal waters. Fleets of drone ships may follow suit and could help monitor both the health of ocean resources, as well as the behavior of those that harvest them. Shore- and aircraft-based radar and acoustic recorders that listen for boat noise could also be deployed.

Essential to effectively monitoring and controlling the industrialization of the oceans is democratization of this new ocean-observation data. Good intelligence on what was happening at sea used to only be the purview of vessel captains.

 

HED

The good news is the world’s oceans have not experienced the extinctions that have occurred on land. But as ecologist Douglas McCauley explains in a Yale Environment 360 interview, marine life now face numerous threats even more serious than overfishing.

Now, anyone can keep tabs on the most remote parts of the ocean on their phones. Global Fishing Watch, for example, is releasing a product this year that will let anyone view and interact with data on fishing from across the global oceans for free. Planet Labs, a startup that manages the largest constellation of earth-observing nanosatellites, recently released a constantly updated, free library of imagery for all of California – including its estuaries, bays, kelp forests, and nearshore waters.

The challenge ahead, as we enter this new era of improved ocean stewardship and attempt to govern increasingly bigger regions of the ocean, is to ensure that our new policies are actually enforced. The stakes here are high. We have to make these emerging protected areas and treaties work, and we must do it soon, if we intend to help the oceans continue to dish out large helpings of food, energy, and wonder.

Source: Yale University e360

Get Mobilized and Make Love Go Viral!
Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Editorials

The Green Jobs Advantage: How Climate-friendly Investments Are Better Job Creators

Published

on

This paper compares job creation per dollar from various types of green investments vs. unsustainable investments. It also explores how to promote good jobs that have fair wages, job security, opportunities for career growth, safe working conditions, and are accessible for all.

Source: World Resource Institute

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of jobs to be lost globally and has exacerbated inequality. At the same time, addressing climate change is an urgent challenge. Too many governments have funneled money to unsustainable sectors as part of their COVID-19 recovery efforts even though this is not the best job creator and will exacerbate climate change.

This analysis of studies from around the world finds that green investments generally create more jobs per US$1 million than unsustainable investments. It compares near-term job creation effects from clean energy vs. fossil fuels, public transportation vs. roads, electric vehicles vs. internal combustion engine vehicles, and nature-based solutions vs. oil and gas production.

For example, on average:

  • Investing in solar PV creates 1.5 times as many jobs as fossil fuels per $1 million.
  • Building efficiency creates 2.8 times as many jobs as fossil fuels per $1 million.
  • Mass transit creates 1.4 times as many jobs as road construction per $1 million.
  • Ecosystem restoration creates 3.7 times as many jobs as oil & gas production per $1 million.

The paper also explores job quality in green sectors. In developing countries, green jobs can offer good wages when they are formal, but too many are informal and temporary, limiting access to work security, safety and social protections. In developed countries, new green jobs can provide avenues to the middle class, but may have wages and benefits that aren’t as high as those in traditional sectors where, in many cases, workers have been able to fight for job quality through decades of collective action.

Government investment should come with conditions that ensure fair wages and benefits, work security, safe working conditions, opportunities for training and advancement, the right to organize, and accessibility to all.

This paper is jointly published by WRI, the International Trade Union Confederation, and New Climate Economy.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [1.11 MB]

Get Mobilized and Make Love Go Viral!
Continue Reading

Editorials

“If there is gas collusion in Chile, then distribution should be done by a public company”: Sector workers

Published

on

Chile. “If there is gas collusion, then distribution should be done by a public company”: Sector workers

This post is also available in: Spanish

Patricio Tapia and Solange Bustos (Image by Andrés Figueroa Cornejo)

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), as well as Natural Gas (NG) is imported to Chile mainly from Argentina and the United States through the sea. It arrives in the country at two regasification plants: the one in Quintero and the one in Mejillones, where it is processed and introduced into cylinders for domestic consumption. However, only three companies monopolise gas distribution, of which Metrogas, owned by Gasco S.A., has more than half of the market.

By Andrés Figueroa Cornejo

After recently issuing a study of high social impact, the Economic Prosecutor’s Office (FNE) detected serious irregularities in the gas distribution industry, among whose assertions is that the retail price of each cylinder of liquefied gas should be 15% lower than the current one, and the price of natural gas paid by Metrogas users should be 20% cheaper.

The National Economic Prosecutor, Ricardo Riesco, said, “This study confirms that the gas market is not sufficiently competitive and our recommendations seek to change this situation as soon as possible for the benefit of consumers, because we are convinced that prices can be significantly lower in the future if regulation is adjusted”.

The Preliminary Report of its sixth Market Study, where the FNE addressed the gas market in Chile in the period between 2010 and 2020, focused on the social groups that use liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas.

To develop the study, the FNE collected unpublished data on the gas market in the country and was advised by academics Juan Pablo Montero, from the Catholic University of Chile, and Eduardo Saavedra, from the Alberto Hurtado University, as well as Oxford University economist Christopher Decker.

The FNE calculated that, due to the concentration of the LPG market, private wholesale distributors of this energy increased their annual profits by up to 55% more than those obtained in 2014, which is equivalent to US$ 261 million “extra” annual profits.

On the other hand, the Prosecutor’s Office detected that an exception contained in the last reform to the Gas Services Law, in June 2017, allowed Metrogas, through Agesa, a company not subject to regulation, to increase the price of its NG distribution service to consumers.

This resulted, since February 2017, in an increase of up to 20% in the price of residential natural gas paid by Metrogas customers, equivalent to US$ 87 million per year.

The case of Gasco S.A.

The Gasco corporation, harshly treated by the National Economic Prosecutor’s Office along with Lipigas and Abastible, and company that takes the majority share of the business, said that the proposal of the entity, “could end up seriously damaging the quality of service and also the price of gas in the country”, without offering any explanation of how and why it shot up prices.

On the other hand, Patricio Tapia Gómez and Solange Bustos, leaders of the Sindicato Nacional Interempresa de Trabajadores del Gas, were the ones who led the 21-day strike of the Gasco LPG Workers’ Union, from 19 December 2017 to 8 January 2018. It was a historic strike because it was the first and only one so far in the more than 160 years of existence of the company.

The president of the company, then and now, is Matías Pérez Cruz, a staunch pinochetista, anti-unionist, fan of the neo-fascist presidential candidate José Antonio Kast, and who became infamous on 6 February 2019 when a video went viral showing him expelling three women in an arrogant and violent manner from what he called “his garden”, on the shores of Lake Ranco.

Now, the leaders pointed out that, “Unlike the state’s public health system, when a person stops paying the gas bill, the company immediately shuts off the supply. What happens then? When private gas corporations cut off the gas for non-payment, they simply cease to be “strategic companies”. In other words, they lose their status as an “essential company” that provides a “basic service of public utility”. Where the market rules, there are no more “strategic basic services”, because in the case of gas, it is a product that only those who have the means to buy it can buy. Its supply is not guaranteed as a social right. Moreover, if someone cannot buy gas from a private company “A”, they can buy it from company “B”, because in Chile there is supposed to be free competition”.

Patricio Tapia and Solange Bustos, who come from Gasco, explained that, “Gasco is divided into two companies: Gasco S.A., which corresponds to the administrative body, and Gasco GLP, which is the operational or production part. Chile lacks its own gas to supply the domestic market. The productive part is the workers who mix the raw materials coming from abroad via ships arriving at the Quintero plant, fill the cylinders with this mixture, and distribute the cylinders to customers in trucks and vehicles. The cost of the gas that arrives at the port in frozen form, Gasco S.A. buys at a price infinitely lower than the gas it then sells to other firms and to consumers in general”.

The union representatives, given the situation of the collusion of gas prices, which operates as a true monopoly, indicated that they are preparing a proposal at the national level, “where they seriously study and according to the criteria of basic services as social rights, the establishment of a public company in the area that transfers specialised workers who today work for private companies in terrible conditions, to this eventual public industry; and that representatives of users’ committees, who can be elected and revocable, supervise any possible irregularities that may arise, always under the principle of the common good”.

Likewise, the leaders expressed that the Gasco company is a scandalous part of the gas collusion, as made visible by the investigation carried out by the FNE, exposing the illegal and fraudulent ways it uses to obtain its multi-million profits at the expense of the social majorities and consumers, in the midst of an unprecedented economic, social and health crisis. Likewise, the company headed by Pérez Cruz has made a large part of its profits by exploiting workers and systematically destroying trade union organisation, they said.

Tapia and Bustos said that after their historic strike, and as an exemplary punishment, the company took away the most important benefits they had won, such as “the Gas Workers’ Welfare Corporation (Cobegas), which had two funds: a pension fund that granted former employees a pension complementary to the legal pension, and a Medical Service Fund that functioned as Medical Insurance, which was not conditioned by pre-existing conditions, was not deductible and to which retirees could belong until their death and their widows could continue with the insurance”. They added that, “today, members who are Gasco workers are obliged to join the company’s complementary insurance, which does have deductibles and age limits, and some of its coverage is lower, and retirees cannot belong to it. The president of Cobegas, Lorena Matamala, who is a leader of Gasco’s Union 3, personally called on workers to switch to the company’s health insurance in order to exterminate Cobegas’ insurance. Both insurances were financed by a contribution from the company and a contribution from the worker-member. For example, the company contributed 1.4% of the taxable remuneration to the health insurance. All of this ended.

“Gasco’s anti-union practices add up to a whole chapter of infamy against the interests of the workers”, the leaders declared.

Source: Pressenza
Get Mobilized and Make Love Go Viral!
Continue Reading

Energy and Transportation

Greens leader slams Green infighting

Published

on

The former leader of the Green party in British Columbia has endorsed the federal Liberals’ plan for combatting climate change.

Andrew Weaver says the Liberal plan is “both bold and thoughtful” and is the only credible plan put forward by any federal party.

The endorsement is another blow for federal Green Leader Annamie Paul, who has struggled with internecine feuding and a lack of financial resources to run a national campaign.

Paul admitted earlier this week that the party will not field a full slate of 338 candidates across the country.

She’s not commenting directly on Weaver’s endorsement but insists the Liberal climate plan is “smoke and mirrors.”

Weaver posted his video endorsement of the Liberal climate plan on social media Thursday; it was eagerly circulated by Liberals, including Leader Justin Trudeau, who made much of the fact that Weaver is a climate scientist.

In the video, Weaver lauds the Liberal plan for including, among other measures, “a world-leading price on carbon pollution” and rapid zero-emissions vehicle deployment “which is even strong policy that one we developed here in B.C.”

“This is a plan that reflects the urgency and scale of the crisis,” he says.

“I’m extremely impressed at how ambitious the Liberal Party of Canada’s plan is and I’m confident that this is the right path for Canada.”

Trudeau retweeted Weaver’s video, saying it “means a lot” given all he’s accomplished as a climate scientist and former Green leader in B.C.

Before joining the B.C. legislature in 2013, Weaver was the Canada Research Chair in climate modelling and analysis at the University of Victoria and a lead author on several United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientific assessments. He didn’t run for re-election last year.

At a news conference Thursday in the Toronto Centre riding where she’s trying for the third time to win a seat for herself in the House of Commons, Paul said she hadn’t seen Weaver’s video and couldn’t comment on it.

But she argued that even if the Liberals were to implement every measure in their climate plan, Canada would not meet the Liberals’ original target to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, much less their new, more ambitious target of 40 to 45 per cent.

“The fact of the matter is that you cannot continue to build new pipelines like TMX, support other pipeline projects like Coastal GasLink, greenlight project after project for new oil and gas exploration, continue to support fracking of gas in this country and continue to support the fossil fuel industry to the tune of billions of dollars and hope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

Paul muddled her message, however, misspeaking as she declared: “If you want a real plan the only option in this election for you is the Liberals.”

Weaver stressed in an interview that he’s not endorsing the Liberal party per se, he’s endorsing the Liberal climate plan which he called “first rate” and “absolutely exceptional.”

“I’ve always been focused on policy, not partisanship,” he said.

Weaver said he hopes Paul wins a seat and believes she’s “the best thing to happen” to the federal Green party. But he said he doesn’t believe her party grasps the seriousness of the climate crisis.

“The federal Greens do not have a climate plan, to be perfectly blunt,” Weaver said.

“If the federal Greens truly believe that climate change was the defining issue of our time then they wouldn’t be imploding over infighting over views of a Mideast crisis for which nobody really cares what the views of one or two MPs in a Canadian Parliament are,” he added.

In June, Fredericton Green MP Jenica Atwin crossed the floor to the Liberals after criticizing Paul’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That triggered weeks of infighting and attempts by the party’s executive to put Paul’s leadership to a confidence vote by grassroots members.

Source: The Globe and Mail, Canada

Get Mobilized and Make Love Go Viral!
Continue Reading
INTERVIEWS10 hours ago

The Undertow with Mark Metz : How Corruption in the Energy Sector Sabotages Sustainability

INTERVIEWS10 hours ago

GAIA TALKS: The Earth Speaks: Mohamed Ismail from Egyptians Abroad For Democracy Worldwide

Paradigm Change1 day ago

People Power Now

Paradigm Change2 days ago

An Empowered World: People, we are Ready!

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Conscious capitalism and Raising the Bar of Human Possibility

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Open Collaboration on an Epic Scale: The Future is Cooperatively Decentralized

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming Energy and Transportation

Paradigm Change3 days ago

An information upgrade whose time is now

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming agriculture and food systems for optimal planetary and personal health

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming Planetary Public health

INTERVIEWS6 days ago

Wa’echun Hour: Personal Power and Decolonization

Featured1 week ago

Truths or Consequences: Failing State or Shining Light?: The USA Role in the Twenty-first Century

Featured1 week ago

The Undertow: The Corrosion of Corruption: Cleaning up the Chaos with Heidi Cuda

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The time is NOW to Rethink: James Arbib of Re-Think X

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Savor This: Allan Savory on Real World Solutions Now

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Ecologic Economics and Steady State Economies with Brian Czech

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The unlimited potential of space solar Power with John Mankins

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Understanding the real transition to clean and renewable energy with Professor Chris Rhodes

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The Father of the Environmental Justice Movement

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Sustainable Growth on a Finite Planet is Not Possible

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Help!!! We’re drowning in a sea of Plastic: A conversation with Dr. Julie Peller

The Web of Life2 weeks ago

It is time for a better relationship with our beautiful, blue planet.

Editorials2 weeks ago

As the Golden Globes lose their luster, can we create a better version of Hollywood?

Featured3 weeks ago

How Our Grassroots Energy Projects Are Taking Back Power From Utility Companies

Arts3 weeks ago

How The Pentagon and CIA Have Shaped Thousands of Hollywood Movies into Super Effective Propaganda

Arts3 weeks ago

How The Pentagon and CIA Have Shaped Thousands of Hollywood Movies into Super Effective Propaganda

The Web of Life2 weeks ago

It is time for a better relationship with our beautiful, blue planet.

Featured3 weeks ago

How Our Grassroots Energy Projects Are Taking Back Power From Utility Companies

Featured1 week ago

The Undertow: The Corrosion of Corruption: Cleaning up the Chaos with Heidi Cuda

Editorials2 weeks ago

As the Golden Globes lose their luster, can we create a better version of Hollywood?

Featured1 week ago

Truths or Consequences: Failing State or Shining Light?: The USA Role in the Twenty-first Century

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Ecologic Economics and Steady State Economies with Brian Czech

INTERVIEWS6 days ago

Wa’echun Hour: Personal Power and Decolonization

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Savor This: Allan Savory on Real World Solutions Now

Food4 weeks ago

How Climate Change Narratives are Used Against Us

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The time is NOW to Rethink: James Arbib of Re-Think X

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Sustainable Growth on a Finite Planet is Not Possible

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming Energy and Transportation

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Conscious capitalism and Raising the Bar of Human Possibility

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Help!!! We’re drowning in a sea of Plastic: A conversation with Dr. Julie Peller

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Open Collaboration on an Epic Scale: The Future is Cooperatively Decentralized

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Understanding the real transition to clean and renewable energy with Professor Chris Rhodes

Paradigm Change2 days ago

An Empowered World: People, we are Ready!

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The unlimited potential of space solar Power with John Mankins

Paradigm Change1 day ago

People Power Now

Paradigm Change3 days ago

An information upgrade whose time is now

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The Father of the Environmental Justice Movement

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming Planetary Public health

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming agriculture and food systems for optimal planetary and personal health

INTERVIEWS10 hours ago

GAIA TALKS: The Earth Speaks: Mohamed Ismail from Egyptians Abroad For Democracy Worldwide

Trending

Translate »