Trump’s Reported VP Pick Predictably Poor on Global Warming, Evolution: The Washington Post has the details. But essentially, Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, is “not a big believer in man-made climate change.” Meaning, he is a little believer in science. He also wants children to decide with their own minds if a supernatural ape made all of the animals or natural processes that have been identified and proved by science. From the mouth of the governor, and possibly the next VP of the US:
“I believe with all my heart that God created the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that is in them …. How he did that, I’ll ask him about some day.”
A New Technology To Mitigate Noise Pollution In Oceans: Noise pollution is a quintessentially urban problem. Our local soundscape, for instance, is defined by the polar opposites of Seattle, where background clamor can exceed 50 decibels, and the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula, which is the quietest place in the Lower 48. It is not, however, solely a terrestrial concern. Increasingly, marine areas are affected by noise pollution from shipping, construction, and other human activities. In Puget Sound, construction of marine piles (concrete or steel pipes driven into the sediments to support piers) is a major contributor, sending “pings” through the water as loud as 210 decibels. The unique acoustics of the underwater environment shape the persistence and impact of noise pollution, as well: due to the increased density of water relative to air, sounds travel further and stay loud longer. For marine life, sounds as quiet as 120 decibels and cause behavioral changes, while 180 decibels can cause permanent injury. What’s to be done? For starters, Seattle company Marine Construction Technologies has tackled the problem by designed a pile-driving technology that can reduce noise pollution by 20 decibels. Crosscut has more here.
Ray Hilborn On Marine Reserve Planning: As detailed previously, UW fisheries biologist Ray Hilborn was recently accused by Greenpeace of improperly disclosing industry funding sources before being formally defended by the school. Now, an editorial on marine conservation policy Hilborn published in the prestigious science journal Nature this week provides some insight into why his research and opinions may have made him a target of the NGO’s ire in the first place. In the editorial, Hilborn argues that marine protected areas (zones where fishing is either banned or heavily regulated) are an insufficient tool to protect oceanic biodiversity. Instead, science-informed fisheries management—such as restricting certain kinds of equipment—“can offer much more protection than cordoning off even 30% of an area.” Greenpeace, on the other hand, has made MPAs a major thrust of their marine conservation campaigns, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars over lobbying for MPAs globally.
It Will Take Another Three Centuries To Describe Amazonian Tree Diversity: A recent survey of more than 530,000 specimens of trees from the Amazon rainforest stored in the world’s herbariums found a grand total of 11,676 species known to science, according to research published in the journal Nature this month. (For perspective, the contiguous United States can claim 680 or so). Additionally, the team determined there are likely at least 4000 more species yet to be scientifically described, a task that will take another 300 years as extrapolated from current levels of collecting effort. However, this prediction is likely to be affected by two depressing trends: the decline of taxonomy as a scientific discipline, and high rates of deforestation that will drive species to extinction before we even know they exist. Meanwhile, being an environmental activist in the developing world is more dangerous than ever. Happy Friday.