Endangered whale shark species swimming in ocean which is one of the topics covered in this week's eco-friendly news series.
Jun 3, 2024
weekly eco news

Shipping Routes Threaten Endangered Whale Sharks and Advertising Bans on Fossil Fuel Products - 28th Issue

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Satellite Data reveals aggressive glacial melt in Antarctica

Glacial structure melting with several gaping holes where steams of water are present.

New data from the ICEYE satellites reveal that the ice beneath Antactica’s Thwaites Glacier is melting at an aggressive rate due to the extensive interaction of ocean water and the glacier.

The satellites, which are orbiting polar regions, constantly monitor changes on the earth and give refined data on the rise, bending, and fall of the Thwaites Glacier. Based on new research from this data, we might need to adjust our predictions of the level of sea rise.

Climate change results in warmer seawater being pushed to the polar regions, and it melts the glacial basal ice vigorously. As pressure builds up, the accumulated water pushes the glacier upwards and downwards as tides recede.

It is important to understand what is happening beneath glaciers because this unforeseen accelerated melting can devastatingly impact the lives of people living in coastal regions, especially since the rise in sea level will be higher.

Innovative Particleboard Binder Replaces Toxic Traditional Urea Formaldehyde

close-up cross sectioning of traditional particleboard.

NILO, a startup based in New Zealand has developed technology that produces safer alternative binders for particleboards using recycled plastic.

Particleboards are made from pressed extruded wood chips combined with a binder. Traditionally, the urea-formaldehyde (UF) adhesive has been used as the binder; however, the industry is moving away from this toxic resin because of its link to cancer and other health issues.

NILO Binder is made from plastic that is typically non-recyclable and would otherwise end up in landfills or the ocean and decompose into microplastics. NILO says it can use up to 60% of the 400 million tons of plastic produced yearly to make its binder, therefore significantly reducing plastic waste pollution.

The production of this new binder has a carbon footprint that is 30% less than that of UF production, which is equivalent to removing 4 million vehicles from the road. NILO Binder is a safer, eco-friendly alternative. 

Collisions With Shipping Vessels Threaten Endangered Whale Sharks

Emerging research reveals that global shipping lanes pass through whale shark feeding grounds and collisions are putting the endangered species at risk.

Whale sharks feed in special sites called constellations and their peak emergence in feeding grounds coincides with peak shipping seasons exposing them to a greater risk of collision. This risk is even higher now because the global merchant fleet stands at 100,000; double the size it was 16 years ago. 

The increase in maritime activities and resulting possible collisions together with the fact that whale sharks hunt in large groups, could hurt the dwindling population of this species.

It is possible to avert this threat with minimal effect on the shipping industry by reducing ship speed in whale shark feeding grounds so that ship propeller blades do not hurt and kill marine mammals. 

A better cost-effective method would be to slightly change shipping lanes such that fast merchant ships miss the feeding whale sharks altogether. Increasing awareness, more research, and effective maritime traffic management could save whale sharks and other marine life.

Edinburgh Council Bans Adverts of High-Carbon Products & Services

Downtown Edinburgh filled with crowds of people and colorful historical store fronts.

The Scottish capital, Edinburgh, has placed a ban on advertising high-carbon products and services like SUVs and airplanes because they undermine the council’s net-zero 2030 goals. 

The ban restricts the promotion of events and advertising on the council’s advertising spaces by high-carbon producing companies like airlines and airports, fossil fuel companies, and Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) except electric and hydrogen cars if these are not SUVs and cruise holidays. 

To become net-zero by 2030, Edinburgh must cut down on carbon emissions and ensure residual emissions are balanced by removal through nature. This climate crackdown demonstrates the city’s commitment to climate justice despite the possible consequential reduction in advertising revenue by almost 10% or 200,000 yearly.

These bans are promising because they are actively encouraging the advertising industry to become more responsible in promoting low-carbon behaviors.

NewMoo startup produces plant-grown liquid casein for animal-free-cheese

close-up of cheese production in factory.

A molecular farming startup, NewMoo, is developing liquid casein grown in plants, and it would play the same role as milk in cheese. This liquid casein has multiple dairy proteins produced from one plant.

Molecular farming is the use of plants like soy and potatoes to produce proteins that are commercially used and are predominantly applied in the pharmaceutical industry. NewMoo uses soy to express animal proteins, and its liquid casein base allows people to experience the same feel and taste as animal cheese. 

Although the plants are genetically engineered, NewMoo is confident the final product will not be labeled as “GMO” because they have no DNA residue.