The environmental impact of oysters, in one photo

The water in both tanks came from the same source. The one on the right has bivalves. Not only do oysters naturally filter the waters in which they live, they can even protect humans from destructive hurricanes. For more, read about New York’s efforts to bring back oyster populations in the once-toxic Hudson River.

Delicious AND helpful. Who knew?

(photo via Steve Vilnit on Twitter)

The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. Scaling to 46 years, humans have been here 4 hours, the industrial revolution began 1 minute ago, and in that time we’ve destroyed more than half the world’s forests.
—  Greenpeace

*According to scientists at the World Bank, animal agriculture produces 51% of all man-made greenhouses gases, which is more than all forms of transportation combined and tripled.
*Animal agriculture uses 1/3 of all raw materials and 1/3 of all fossil fuels worldwide.
*Animal agriculture is the world’s leading driver of deforestation, the number one cause of water scarcity, and is directly linked 70% of all human illnesses.
*Animal agriculture uses 70% of all agricultural land on the planet, but produces only 6-11% of the world’s food.

For sources and more information, please visithttp://www.veganfuturenow.com/why-vegan/

DANG. That’ll get the message across. The movement is gaining momentum!

Well, this is depressing

Plastic in our oceans might not present the immediate danger to humanity that toxic waste or fracking does, but the problem has officially reached terrifying proportions. An alarming new study released Wednesday reveals that the ocean is cluttered with 270,000 tons of plastic that is broken up to more than five trillion pieces. 

And it’s having a lethal effect on the world’s oceans.

Pollution linked to lethal sea turtle tumors

Pollution in urban and farm runoff in Hawaii is causing tumors in endangered sea turtles, a new study finds.

The study, published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed open-access journal PeerJ, shows that nitrogen in the runoff ends up in algae that the turtles eat, promoting the formation of tumors on the animals’ eyes, flippers and internal organs.

Scientists at Duke University, the University of Hawaii and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducted the study to better understand the causes behind the tumor-forming disease Fibropapillomatosis, which is the leading known cause of death in green turtles, said Kyle Van Houtan, adjunct associate professor at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

"We’re drawing direct lines from human nutrient inputs to the reef ecosystem, and how it affects wildlife," said Van Houtan, who is also a scientist in NOAA’s Turtle Research Program.

Caption: This image shows a sea turtle with tumors caused by fibropapillomatosis.Credit: Chris Stankis

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Photos Highlight Massive Island of Plastic Trash in the Maldives

Alison Teal walking through “Trash Island,” a giant landfill in the Maldives that gets up to 400 tons of trash per day. (All photos: Sarah Lee) 

Filmmaker Alison Teal was in the process of literally exposing herself to a national TV audience when she found new inspiration: exposing the serious and complex trash-pollution issues affecting the Maldives, and turning plastic garbage into something useful.

Teal’s photo shoot of the landfill called “Trash Island” and other islands in the Maldives are head-turning in their contrast to the usual postcard-perfect photos associated with the archipelago. Seeing her walk amid mountains of empty water bottles and other trash with her surfboard, it’s almost apocalyptic.  

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Full scale of plastic in the world’s oceans revealed for first time

More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout the food chain, new research has found.

Data collected by scientists from the US, France, Chile, Australia and New Zealand suggests a minimum of 5.25tn plastic particles in the oceans, most of them “micro plastics” measuring less than 5mm.

The volume of plastic pieces, largely deriving from products such as food and drink packaging and clothing, was calculated from data taken from 24 expeditions over a six-year period to 2013. The research, published in the journal PLOS One, is the first study to look at plastics of all sizes in the world’s oceans.

Large pieces of plastic can strangle animals such as seals, while smaller pieces are ingested by fish and then fed up the food chain, all the way to humans.

This is problematic due to the chemicals contained within plastics, as well as the pollutants that plastic attract once they are in the marine environment.

Plastic pieces in the ocean damage wildlife and enter the food chain when ingested by fish. Photograph: Bryce Groark/Alamy

Pollution Causing Tumors in Endangered Sea Turtles

Pollution from urban and farm runoff in Hawaii is causing tumors in endangered sea turtles, a new study found.

The study, published Tuesday in the journalPeerJ, shows that nitrogen in the runoff ends up in algae that the turtles eat, causing the animals to sprout tumors on their eyes, flippers and internal organs.

"We’re drawing direct lines from human nutrient inputs to the reef ecosystem, and how it affects wildlife," Kyle Van Houtan of Duke University said in a statement.

The disease behind the turtle tumors is called Fibropapillomatosis, and is thought to be prevalent in areas with high levels of nitrogen runoff. Now, researchers want to test the theory that algae can store excess nitrogen that finds its way into Hawaiian waters, and thereby turtles’ stomachs.

"In this paper we drill down on whether excess nitrogen inputs are causing a nutrient cascade in the system that’s ending up in these tumors in green turtles," explained Van Houtan.

Researchers found during their study that algae can store nitrogen in the form of the amino acid arginine, which was found in unusually high levels both in the algae in highly polluted waters and in the tumors of diseased turtles. One non-native red algae species in particular, Hypnea musciformis, had especially high levels of arginine compared to other species sampled. And since this invasive species grows more successfully than native algae, it can make up as much as 90 percent of the turtles’ diet.

Do to these combined factors, the turtles have approximately 14 times more arginine in their systems than they would if they were eating native algae species in less-polluted waters. What’s more, these algae-eating herbivores have to eat twice as much of the invasive algae to get the same amount of calories that they would if they were consuming native species of algae, acting as a sort of “one-two punch for promoting this disease,” the study noted.

How the virus causes the disease is still unclear, but researchers nonetheless hope their findings help scientists better understand how to protect not only sea turtles, but also other marine plants and animals that face similar threats from pollution.