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Weekly Environmental news update December 2019

Weekly E.C.O. roundup
Your weekly roundup of the top eco stories from the last 7 days

There are four days until the General Election and 16 days until Christmas. The parties are starting and the still-need-to-buy-presents panic is starting to creep in for some of us. Despite the hubbub of the festive season and potential confusion around who to vote for, there are some serious news articles from this week we want to share.

Ocean ‘DEAD ZONES’ rise due to lack of oxygen in our seas.

IUCN has completed the biggest survey of it’s kind to find that climate change and nutrient pollution are causing areas of ocean to be left with little to no oxygen. In the 1960s 45 areas were classified as ‘dead zones’ this has now risen to 700 areas. Animals that are immediately under threat are tuna, marlin and sharks. They are heading for shallower waters where less gas is dissolved, but this can lead to overfishing in the future and vulnerability of the species.

The main culprit has always been chemical run-off disrupting the levels of oxygen by introducing nitrogen and phosphorus into our seas. This is due to farming and industry pollution. However, ‘As more carbon dioxide is released enhancing the greenhouse effect, much of the heat is absorbed by the oceans. In turn, this warmer water can hold less oxygen. The scientists estimate that between 1960 and 2010, the amount of the gas dissolved in the oceans declined by 2%.’

We implore you to read the rest of the article here to learn more.

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Victoria Falls at risk of drying up

Sticking to the water theme, A natural wonder of the world Africa’s Victoria Falls which borders Zambia and Zimbabwe is under threat due to climate change. ‘The average flow over the falls in 2019 is down by almost 50 per cent, according to Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Environment, Climate and Tourism’. Both countries are heavily reliant on hydropower generated from dams within the water system connected to the falls. The lack of water has caused electricity black-outs and this is due to climate change.

This will not only be a huge decline in tourist numbers which contribute to income for both Zambia and Zimbabwe, but droughts will leave a strain on crops and farming rising the risk of food shortages as well as power shortages for the local community.

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Government redacts fracking document

The Government have redacted 37 of the 48 page report which revealed tactics on convincing the public to accept shale gas plans. The report was written in 2016 and was initially refused to be published by Whitehall, Greenpeace then won a Freedom of Information tribunal lasting 22 months. The report was published to reveal a ‘wall of black ink’ with 77% redacted.

Shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said: “This report clearly shows that the Tories have bent over backwards to serve the interests of big business, especially the oil and gas industry. The Conservatives have taken money from oil executives, trashed the rights of communities and enabled fracking companies to threaten their local environment. The fact they have tried to cover this up by redacting pages of critical information – like with their talks with the US over selling off parts of our NHS – further illustrates this government’s contempt for the public.”

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It is possible to prevent deaths ‘within weeks’ by cutting air pollution

More that 90% of the world’s population are breathing toxic air. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have called it a ‘silent public health emergency’. Studies have concluded important evidence to support the reduction of illness after levels of toxic air were reduced. Heart attacks, asthma, numbers of premature babies and children missing school drastically reduced when air was cleaner and less polluted. Governments need to adopt and enforce WHO’s guidelines for air pollution immediately said Prof Dean Schraufnagel, at the University of Illinois at Chicago and lead author of the report.

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Indian Ocean Dipole is causing droughts and bush fires at the same time

The Indian Ocean Dipole, similar to El Niño, is the strongest in six years. This warmer seas in the western parts, with completely opposite effect in the east. Flooding and landslides in East Africa have been fatal and driven many from their homes. Whereas over in Australia bush fires have risen due to hot, dry weather.

A positive Indian Ocean Dipole leaves East Africa with more rain, a negative would leave the western region with more rain. Assuming emissions continue to go up, they projected that the frequency of extreme positive dipole events would increase this century from one every 17.3 years to one every 6.3 years.

Map showing the effects of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole

Grace has quit the 9-5 lifestyle in London to study marine conservation in Thailand. She will subsequently work as a scuba diving instructor with emphasis on teaching students about marine conservation and anthropogenic impacts to our oceans. Her favourite eco product is Oliva Olive Oil Soap.


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