Composite figure: Byron Moore
When it comes to reducing garbage in the world’s oceans, the political angle is just as important as the scientific, to judge by industry’s behavior. On Aug. 18, Seattle voters passed by a 53-47 margin a referendum to overturn a 20-cent fee approved last year by the city council for using plastic bags at supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores.
Continue reading Fish and Paint Chips Part II: The Politics of Ocean Trash
Recent research has the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concerned that the huge quantities of metal, plastic, paint chips and other man-made debris floating at sea, hundreds and even thousands of miles from land, may be working their way into the American diet. NOAA, a part of the Commerce Department, largely exists to track weather patterns and hurricanes, and its entry into the public health sphere serves as an indication of how severe the problem has become. It is not too much to suggest that millions of seafood lovers might be ingesting the very chemicals that land-based health and safety regulations are designed to keep out of reach.
Garbage swirling in the Great Pacific Gyre. Photo by flickr / cesarharada.com
Continue reading Fish and Paint Chips Part I: The Science of Trash
When it comes to the pace of regulating deadly shipping emissions, not everyone is content to adopt a wait and see (or “follow the IMO”) attitude. As it has done before, California recently passed its own regulation in the absence of federal standards. Since July 1, any ship longer than 400 feet or heavier than 10,000 gross tons has been required to limit its sulfur fuel content to 5,000 ppm, dropping to 1,000 ppm in 2012, within 24 miles of the state’s coastline.
Photo by flickr / biofriendly
Continue reading No Safe Harbor: The Shipping Industry’s Pollution Problem Part III: Off The Hook
Photo by flckr / tillwe
Although the original shipping emissions standards established in the MARPOL treaty went into effect in 2005, they were written in 1997, and getting the more stringent 2008 revisions past the onerous IMO regulatory process was a battle that exhausted the few environmental groups that even engaged in the first place. Furthermore, the rules still do not address CO2 or other global warming risks, and some observers fear it is now too late to make a push to change the rules again.
Continue reading No Safe Harbor: The Shipping Industry’s Pollution Problem Part II: A Lack of Authority