UN finally realizes the oceans need protection…

There’s a glimmer of hope for this planet’s oceans, as the UN seems to be drawing near to an agreement to help regulate what needs to be kept in the seas, instead of focusing just on how much is taken out.  It’s a promising step, but c’mon, if the global community were good at enforcing stuff like this, then why are the Sea Shepherds being kept so busy in the southern ocean this year going after illegal fishing operations?  Well, I guess it’s a step in the right direciton.

Read more at Scientific American.

Sea Shepherds get the money to build their dream ship!

news-150126-1-244487-sailing-1-1000wThe Sea Shepherd group has just received the money they need (from the Dutch Postcode Lottery), over eight million Euros, to pay for the design and construction of their ‘dream ship’ to patrol the Southern Ocean in an attempt to curtail illegal fishing.  Very cool!  Note the image here is just conceptual though.  If you’ve ever watched Whale Wars, especially the latest Season 6, you’d know that they’re pushing some heavily-used second-hand equipment to, and past, the limit, in their efforts to stop Japan’s illegal whale hunt, and also illegal fishing of toothfish.   Being able to build a ship that is purpose-designed for the harsh Southern Ocean conditions, and tailored towards their specific needs (launching RHIBs and helicopters in rough seas), is a huge boon to that organization.  Congratulations, Sea Shepherds…and keep up the good work!

How Big is the Ocean?

With a surface area of around 360 million square kilometers and a volume of around 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of water, the ocean on Earth is truly massive.  This short video below has a bunch of great stats like that, check it out!

Who’s paying for the pipeline spill cleanup work?

So, a pipeline broke in Arkansas, spilling about 12,000 barrels of a form of heavy crude oil being piped in from Canada.  I’m learning a bit about this industry by following the spill.  For example, I’ve learned that there’s something called the ‘Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund‘ that was established to ensure that if there’s an accident like this, the money will be available to pay for the cleanup. The bulk of the money for this comes from a per-barrel tax that the oil industry pays on oil produced in, or imported to, the US.  It seems like a nice program.  One would think.

So, this pipeline spill.  Turns out that what it was carrying either was from tar sands, or is very similar to that (bitumen, to be exact).  Point being, despite the environmental damage being similar to crude oil (or perhaps even worse, depends on who you ask), this form of crude oil is exempt from the barrel tax designed to pay for cleanups such as the one this same oil is currently responsible for!  Amazing.  The Keystone XL pipeline would also fall under this exemption, despite posing no small environmental risk.

(via Treehugger and ThinkProgress)

Video of the spill:

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