Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE

 

The last time the ocean was as acidic as it is now was 50 million years ago and the change occurred over millennia, not over decades.  We now know that the oceans cannot take infinite abuse.

The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is a 2 year competition worth $2 million dollars for team to create radical breakthroughs in measurement technology, namely ocean acidification (pH levels). The point of the competition is to accurately measure acidification for the first time. This alerts people to the fact that we’ve got a problem that is so important that someone is willing to put up private resources as a reward. One of the goals of this prize is to bring more instruments to the problem. There has been an ongoing dearth of data on the state of the health of the oceans. This is an opportunity to start fresh with new tools to share with the public what is really going on.

Measuring the pH in the oceans efficiently and effectively is no easy task. It isn’t only a challenge of accurate measurement but also the depth with which the sensors are able to sink and still perform.

Check out the source link at xprize.org for a video and to find out which team won the prize!

The ocean is critical for the planet and all living species. If competitions like this bring passionate endeavoring people together to make leaps, then what an amazing thing it would be for more such innovation-driven events to emerge.

A Sponge for Oil Spills

A group of researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory have developed a sponge that will collect oil from bodies of water, which could improve how harbors and ports are cleaned, as well as how oil spills are managed.

“The Oleo Sponge offers a set of possibilities that, as far as we know, are unprecedented,” said co-inventor Seth Darling, a scientist with Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials and a fellow of the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering.

At tests at a giant seawater tank in New Jersey called Ohmsett, the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility, the Oleo Sponge successfully collected diesel and crude oil from both below and on the water surface.

“The material is extremely sturdy. We’ve run dozens to hundreds of tests, wringing it out each time, and we have yet to see it break down at all,” according to Darling.

The team is actively looking to commercialize the material; those interested in licensing the technology or collaborating with the laboratory on further development may contact partners@anl.gov.

For more info and a video demonstration visit Argonne’s website here!

The Death Toll of Air Pollution

Pollution is no joke and the whole world involved is listening.

Pollution and environmental risks are responsible for 1.7 million deaths of children below the age of five, according to two World Health Organization (WHO) reports released Monday.

The reports reveal that 570,000 of children’s deaths each year are attributed to respiratory infections, like pneumonia, caused by both indoor and outdoor air pollution, as well as second-hand smoke. Additionally, 270,000 children a year die in their first month from conditions due to air pollution and lack of sanitation, according to the WHO.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one — particularly for young children,” Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, said in a press release. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

Chan has previously called pollution “one of the most pernicious threats” to health around the world — far greater than the threat of HIV/AIDS or Ebola, BBC reports.

In addition to the deaths, the WHO found that 11–14% of younger children worldwide report asthma symptoms and nearly half (an estimated 44%) of those cases result from the environmental factors.

(Visit the source article on Fortune for more information!)

(Photo credit: Witch Kiki)

Offshore Wind

When engineers faced resistance from residents in Denmark over plans to build wind turbines on the Nordic country’s flat farmland, they found a better locale: the sea. The offshore wind farm, the world’s first, had just 11 turbines and could power about 3,000 homes.

That project now looks like a minnow compared with the whales that sprawl for miles across the seas of Northern Europe.

Off this venerable British port city, a Danish company, Dong Energy, is installing 32 turbines that stretch 600 feet high. Each turbine produces more power than that first facility.

It is precisely the size, both of the projects and the profits they can bring, that has grabbed the attention of financial institutions, money managers and private equity funds, like the investment bank Goldman Sachs, as well as wealthy individuals like the owner of the Danish toymaker Lego. As the technology has improved and demand for renewable energy has risen, costs have fallen.

Visit source link for full article!

Se@Drone

In Delft, Netherlands a team by the name of “Se@Drone” is developing an unmanned surface and underwater drone duo that can pick up trash off the bottom of the sea floor! The surface drone holds the underwater drone during travel and releases it with a winch as a life-line. Once the underwater drone finds trash on the sea floor 4 sides can close around the waste.

Check out SeaDroneNL’s facebook page for more infomation!

( Link: https://www.facebook.com/SeaDroneNL/ )

Undersea Oil Spill Device

At the age of 18, Karan Jerath of Friendswood, Texas won the top prize for Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (IISEF) for inventing a device that shuts down undersea oil spills.

Jerath was also one of the five students selected for the Intel and Indo-US Science and Technology Forum Visit to India Award. Jerath designed a sturdy device that can collect the oil, gas and water spewing from a broken well on the seafloor.

“Sensors inside the 350-ton device would measure the temperature, pressure and density of the mix of gases and fluids erupting from a well,” Karan said. “A computer would then calculate how valves in the gadget should be adjusted so that the gas and oil can be collected. That should stop a spill in its tracks. The device could help prevent an ecological catastrophe. It also would reduce cleanup costs.”

 (Source: Huffington Post)

Edible 6-Pack Rings

edible6packringSaltwater Brewery out of Florida has come up with a possible solution to the extreme waste of plastic we find in the ocean from beer rings. Make the rings not only biodegradable but edible!

They say that the United States consumes roughly 6.3 Billion gallons of beer each year, 50% in cans, which means a significant amount of the plastic 6-pack rings end up in the ocean. Sea life, whether it be birds or aquatic life get trapped in the plastic try eating it but are unable to digest so it gets stuck in their stomachs. Some people think that the idea of cutting or ripping the plastic rings will solve the problem, but the animals can still take them in not knowing the plastic material is harmful.

Imagine if the cost to manufacture edible plastic rings dropped because more companies opted to use them? It could mean a significant drop in plastics finding their way into the ocean.

Watch a video here to find out more about Saltwater Brewery‘s vision for cutting down on plastics in the ocean!

Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

pioppino_mushroomsPaul Stamets of British Columbia is a mycologist who has discovered some fascinating results in his research on the fungi we call mushrooms!

Pioppino mushrooms have been shown to induce tumor regression, reversing cancer in lab mice. Oddly enough, this same species also controlled blood sugar in diabetic mice.

There are mushrooms which can clean up the oil from oil spills, beehive-like Agarikon dangles that can provide a defense against weaponized smallpox. It is amazing to think about what potential tools we can find to reverse the damage we’ve done to the planet–and they are all naturally occurring in nature.

Stamets also has written a book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.  He believes that these particular mushrooms can serve as revolutionary tools in the fields of medicine, forestry, pesticides and pollution control. To find out more information check out this link to a full on article with Stamets.

3 New SeaDrones: Explorer, Inspector & Developer

screenshot_20161118-030546(Above) The three types of SeaDrones developed by SeaDronePro. (Below) SeaDrone live in Baja, California.

screenshot_20161118-031902

Aquaculture makes for a significant portion of the world’s diet. Fish farms have to be attended to however and up until this point it was a matter of diving to inspect, surface, take notes on paper (probably waterproof) and then those would be transcribed. All in all, a longer process with more resources than necessary expended. These drones are capable of inspecting nets, moorings and monitoring fish farms. There are 3 types each run from around $3000 to $4000 to purchase.

Check out SeaDronePro‘s website for in-depth videos on what they’ve got brewing!

#BreakFreeFromPlastic

tagaytayaccord_640x320For Stiv Wilson, it started off when he noticed a patch of flotsam waste off of the Oregon coast. Then, after researching more into “Ocean Plastic” he was inspired to help put together “The 5 Gyres Project” mounting the task with a few other visionaries they accrued various findings (Check out his website for more figures!). After no time at all had plastic bags no longer distributed in Oregon state as well as putting a huge halt on plastic microbeads found in beauty and cosmetic products.

“[…the] result was a collective vision and set of principles that we’re calling The Tagaytay Accord, as well as a series of proposed collaborative projects we plan to launch in 2017. This fall, we announced this movement effort and asked other groups to join us. Within days, more than 500 organizations signed on, and agreed to build this movement together. We’re calling this movement #BreakFreeFromPlastic.”

-Stiv Wilson, (StoryofStuff.org)

It is clear the the efforts worldwide are not only in regards to recovery from ecological damage that has been done to the planet but also in the prevention of further environmental destruction. Cutting back on what is harmful to the ecosystem is as important as cleaning up the mess we’ve already made. And, of course, how we dispose, reuse and recycle our waste. Aiming to break a vicious cycle!