Daily Camera (Boulder)
Earthweek: Diary of a Changing World
Week ending Friday, February 17, 2023
The United Nations secretary-general told the body’s Security Council that rising sea levels due to climate change threaten a “mass exodus on a biblical scale.” António Guterres said the fastest rising tides in at least 3,000 years are bringing a “torrent of trouble” to almost a billion people around the world. He cautioned that some nations could simply disappear beneath the sea. Experts have warned that rising tides and temperatures are likely to force hundreds of millions of people to migrate as their homes become uninhabitable.
Aftershocks continued to rock devastated parts of Turkey and Syria, where tens of thousands were killed during the previous week’s two catastrophic temblors. • At least four people were killed by a quake in Indonesia’s Papua province. • Tremors were also felt in New Zealand, India’s Assam state, Romania, northern Honduras and Hawaii.
Researchers are sounding the alarm over plans to launch industrial-scale seabed mining for the first time in international waters later this year. A new report by scientists from the University of Exeter and Greenpeace Research Laboratories says that such activities pose a “significant risk to ocean ecosystems” and could result in “long-lasting and irreversible” consequences. Of particular concern are the undersea noises mining would generate up to 24 hours a day and the potential harm they could bring to about 25 cetacean species, such as whales and dolphins. “Like many animals, cetaceans are already facing multiple stressors, including climate change,” said Exeter’s Kirsten Thompson.
Sea ice surrounding Antarctica has shrunk to the lowest extent since observations began in 1979, and scientists say it is likely to dwindle even further before the southern summer’s melting season ends in the next two weeks. While the region’s sea ice varies a lot from year to year, scientists say it is becoming apparent that the dramatic losses during the last six years indicate that the record levels of heat being stored in the oceans can now be linked to the unprecedented Antarctic melt.
In the latest finding about wildlife cognitive ability, Japanese researchers say they have found that a common fish can recognize itself in photos. A team from Osaka Metropolitan University writes in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the Labroides dimidiatus, commonly known as a cleaner fish, demonstrated the ability, but only when it could see its face and not just its body. The species had already been proven to recognize itself in mirrors. “This study is the first to demonstrate that fish have an internal sense of self,” concluded study lead author Masanori Kohda.
An Oxford Universityled study warns that Norwegian Arctic ice has become contaminated with “alarming levels” of toxic PFAS, or “forever chemicals” that do not break down naturally and have been linked to cancer, liver disease and other serious health problems. The study says that when melted, the contaminated ice represents a major threat to the region’s wildlife. It adds the chemical cocktails could harm the entire food web, including plankton, fish, seals and polar bears. PFAS are a group of about 12,000 compounds used to make thousands of products, including those that resist water, stains and heat.
Remnants of Cyclone Gabrielle unleashed catastrophic flooding that killed at least five people in New Zealand. A national state of emergency was declared after thousands were trapped on rooftops and landslides destroyed homes. • Cyclones Freddy and Dingani churned the open waters of the Indian Ocean.