Bluefin Tuna in Trouble

2010 is turning out to be a dud of a year for the bluefin tuna.  The tuna is subject to serious overfishing, but was not protected in a vote earlier this year.  At the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in March, the group voted down an initiative to protect the bluefin tuna from overfishing, after significant lobbying from Japan, which imports a significant amount of the tuna for sushi.

Courtesy Scrape TV

Now, at peak spawning time for the tuna, the oil spill near the Louisiana coast is threatening their numbers once more.  According to a New York Times article, the Gulf of Mexico is the only spawning ground for the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Luckily, the White House has stepped in to help in the crisis.

What an ash hole!

Eyjafjallajokull erupting

Eyjafjallajokull ash plume. Credit to AP.

Who knew volcanoes could be such a pain?  We all know what an annoyance Eyjafjallajokull (say it with me – ay-yah-FYAH-tlah-yer-kuh-duhl) has been to Europeans.  Now, new reports fear that a neighbor volcano in Iceland, Katla, could erupt because of the activity.  According to the AP, Katla is buried under twice the ice as Eyjafjallajokull, but would be a ten times stronger eruption with more ash and taller plumes – pretty scary considering Eyjafjallajokull is spitting magma chunks the size of cars into the air.  The scientists who’ve been watching Katla say it’s not showing any signs of activity yet.  But it’s only 12 miles away and has erupted the last three times Eyjafjallajokull has erupted.

But if it does erupt, it doesn’t have to cause the same air traffic nightmare as Eyjafjallajokull did.  The WSJ published an article yesterday that describes how Alaskan Airlines prepares for potential ash clouds from Mount St. Helens.  The protocol includes mapping clouds to find clean airway channels in which they can fly and shrink-wrapping grounded planes in the case of serious ash clouds.  To be fair, Mount St. Helens was only a tenth of the size of Eyjafjallajokull.

The Soup

I remember when I was in elementary school and environmentalism started becoming really big – an ad on Nickelodeon telling us to turn off the water while we brush our teeth, reading books about it in school.  My mom was not pleased when I once put a brick in the back of the toilet to make it a “low-flow” toilet without telling her.

One of the other things I remember was the claim that you should cut the rings of a six-pack so that animals in the ocean don’t get stuck in them.  I did it for years until a few weeks ago, when I thought to myself, surely my plastic rings aren’t getting into the water anymore.

WRONG!

An article came out this week about a garbage patch in the Atlantic that rivals the Pacific one found a few years back.  Check out this foul cloud of teeny bits of plastic researchers found in the Atlantic:

Scientists scoop water from a concentration of plastic in the Atlantic

Scientists scoop water from a concentration of plastic in the Atlantic (Courtesy 5 Gyres – via HuffPo)

It makes sense when you think about how much plastic people use throughout the course of their days.  The bad news is that plastic is not easily degradable.  It is photodegradable, meaning light breaks it into smaller pieces, which explains why floating debris in the ocean is so small.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t go away.  This high school student isolated bacteria that could help to degrade the plastic, but as of now, there’s really no accepted method to completely break it down.

Bottom line: reduce, reuse, recycle your plastics

Aw, Rats!

Non-breaking news alert – we’re broke.

Across the board the city is having to do some serious cutting to make a passable budget by this summer.  I cover the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for my urban political writing class, and trolling the stats on nyc.gov the past couple of weeks has produced some interesting facts on pest control:

Rat Runs Under Girls Feet

Photo Courtesy New York Times

– From 2009 to 2010, the Department performed roughly 50% fewer exterminations.

– The number of buildings failing inspections because of rats went up 6%.

– Community Boards Bronx 1-5 all requested additional help with pest abatement in the 2011 budget.

and…….

– The Department wants to cut pest control workers from 84 down to 27 in 2011 – a 68% cut.

I’m sorry.  I realize that no one wants to have to make cuts, but this seems like a really bad idea.  I’m sure rats love the idea, though, and are reminiscing ’bout the good ol’ days:

The union that represents the pest control workers suggested as an alternative that they fine the properties that need the abatement.  I understand the thinking, but I think it will be a difficult task considering the biggest hot spots are vacant lots, foreclosed homes, and city-owned properties.

Commissioner Thomas Farley said they were going to strategically target the areas with the most rats.  AKA they’ll only be able to cover the worst hit lots and properties.

It might be a good time to adopt a cat…..