Biomass by sea and by land

Posted Posted in TopStory, Uncategorized

The ocean provides for us. It provides the air we breathe from photosynthesizing algae, the seafood we buy and sell, and the recreational tourism and educational opportunities which are boundless for business owners and educational networks. How much time do we spend thinking about, or informing others, about what the ocean gives us? Did you know the ocean may one day provide a sustainable form of renewable energy? There is incredible research being conducted and many results already shared in the scientific community about garnering alternative energy sources from the ocean, especially that of using algae as a biofuel.

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The horizons of funding, studying, and collaborating about sustainable and renewable energy sources have grown consistently within the last two decades. Researchers from many esteemed universities such as MIT, Kansas State University, UC San Diego, Texas A&M, and Colorado State University, plus many more, are actively seeking solutions to meet the demand of finding these energy sources and establishing sustainable supply chains from extraction to sale.

 

“New research could help with the large-scale cultivation and manufacturing of oil-rich algae in oceans for biofuel.” (ScienceDaily)

 

“Photosynthetic marine algae are attractive targets for the production of biofuels and bio-products because they have the ability to capture and fix carbon dioxide using solar energy and they grow in seawater, thereby minimizing fresh water usage.” (ScienceDirect)

What the research referenced above explains is crucial to how we stand up for the protection of ocean health, whether we live on the coastline or not. Amazing amounts of biomass exist in our world’s oceans, just as a forest does. These varieties of biomass are the frontier of renewable energy research and practice. In fact, scientists and educators from our state’s very own Colorado State University are part of a regional alliance called Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR). Focused on researching how forest biomass can serve as feedstock for biofuels, BANR looks at ways beetle-killed tree biomass can contribute to a sustainable regional renewable energy industry.

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BANR is funded by the US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Coordinated Agricultural Projects through Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (USDA-NIFA AFRI CAP) grants. Say that 3x fast! These are currently 7 funded grant projects across the US. How proud we can be of CSU leading collaboration of this national and global initiative in our own backyard! 

 

So – what’s the connection between oceans and forests, you may ask? Why bother writing about the two in the same blog post about sustainable energy? I’m glad you asked!  If you look back to the first paragraph of this post, I think you can easily replace oceans with forest, and algae with trees, and seafood with timber, and so on. Our seas and our lands are bound intrinsically to humans as a resource – what we do to explore, learn from, and sustain them is up to us.

 

If you are an interested in attending a conference this May in Seattle about Biofuels and Energy Literacy, please see more at:  NARA Conference, SeaTac, May 3-4,2016  

More information about the excellent projects and organizations referenced in this post can be found at the following:

Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies 

USDA-NIFA AFRI CAP grant programs

 

 

Sarah Burgess is currently working as a Research Naturalist for University Wisconsin-Extension, and looks forward to transitioning back to the Rockies later this summer. Her thoughts and musings can be followed at BurgessAdventures.

Gift to the Planet

Posted Posted in Got Ocean?, TopStory

It’s the last week before Christmas – one of many holidays celebrated by people on Earth this time of year. There’s also Hanukkah, Kwanza, and 11 other multicultural celebrations in the month of December alone. With these holidays, many traditions are observed and practiced between family, friends and communities. Today, I’d like to focus on a few parts of a well-known tradition of gift-giving, and wrapping said gifts.

Who doesn’t love to open a gift? And, doesn’t it add that much more giddiness when the gift is disguised by wrapping, a box, or a bag? Unless you’re a toddler, you’re probably going to find much more joy in the gift under all the disguise. 

But, what about all that wrapping paper and ribbon – is it necessary to exhibit what our gift is about? Does the type or color or design of paper really add to the experience for the person we’re gifting? Maybe…but I lean towards no.

Could we challenge ourselves to find alternative, reusable wrapping and remove yet another single-use material from our lives? Can we make small changes that stack up to big change for our Planet, our environment, our Ocean? YES and YES.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste can increase by as much as 25%.  Food scraps, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all add up to 1 million tons per week to a landfill (EPA). Many of you are aware of what garbage looks like before, during, and after it goes to the landfill. Think overstuffed bins ready for curbside pickup with a wind gust blowing litter away and eventually into a storm drain which leads to the ocean.

About 38,000 miles of ribbon is used each year, and likely thrown out after a single-use. If this was saved, it would be enough ribbon to tie a bow around the Earth (CalRecycle)!

Ribbon around the Earth
Credit: EasyExpat Blog

The amount of waste we can avoid by making small changes is amazing to think about and act on. Below is a smorgasbord of ideas – pick one, pick many – you can try this holiday season, then work on making the idea a habit year-round. Isn’t generating less waste the least we can give back to the Planet this season and every season?

  • Look for alternative types of “wrapping” around your house – newspaper, magazines, brown paper bags, saved packaging from mail-order products, reusable bags, and baskets are all great ways to give a gift with an extra use on the side.
  • If you buy wrapping paper, please seek responsibly made material, such as paper from a sustainably managed forest, 100% recycled paper, or thicker/heavier gift wrap that is molded easily to be flattened and used again in the future. Cloth wrapping paper is also a great alternative! Don’t forget to recycle unwanted/unusable paper afterwards.
  • Invest in and collect gift bags and responsibly made, durable gift wrap ribbon. Then, make sure your family, friends, and guests know they can leave it with you if they don’t choose to save and use again for themselves.
  • Avoid using ribbon all together – get creative with a simple sprig of evergreen or berries, or snatch up a pinecone to use in your design.
  • As always, use your reusable shopping bags when you’re out and about looking for those special gifts. Many stores give you a small discount for providing your own bag, and depending where you live, this may already be a mandatory practice. Every time you refuse a single-use plastic bag at the store, you’re contributing one less that could eventually end up HERE.

Be kind to your wallets by reusing.

Be kind to each other by taking action.

Be kind to our Oceans on Planet Earth by changing your habits.

 

 

Written by Sarah Burgess. Sarah fervently supports many ideas to conserve our Planet and take care of the Oceans – the best way to do this is by adventuring. Read more at BurgessAdventures

Water and Sustainable Development #SilentOilSpills

Posted Posted in TopStory

 

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Dear Partners and COCO Supporters,

This past Sunday we celebrated World Water Day by taking action against #SilentOilSpills.

Call To Action

It’s perfect that this year’s theme is  ‘Water and Sustainable Development‘. The theme is about how water links to all sustainable development areas that we need to consider in order to create the future we want.  For example, the Silent Oil Spills campaign is raising awareness about the impacts of petroleum motor oil, and how everyone can be part of the solution, from how they shop (choose recyclable and biodegradable motor oils) to how they drive (a properly maintained vehicle keeps oil off the roadways). Petroleum-based motor oils and industrial lubricants are contaminating our water supply and causing irreversible damage to our environment, and to us.

As our partners we are asking you to help spread our message and bring awareness to this issue. Below are a few things you can do!

1.     Like us on Facebook:

2.     Follow us on Twitter

3.     Use the hashtags #silentoilspills and #timeforanoilchange

4.     Sign our petition! http://ow.ly/DwsBT

5.     Send out messages to your social networks!

Example Messages:

“More than 40% of water pollution in the U.S. is from used motor oil. More used motor oil is illegally dumped every year than the oil lost in the BP Gulf Coast Spill. It’s time we do something about it.”

The greatest source of petroleum pollution in the ocean is transported there through rivers and streams, largely from the improper disposal of used motor oils down drains and from urban street runoff.

  •  500 million gallons of used petroleum lubricating oil reaches the world’s oceans each year through routine ship maintenance and improper disposal of used oils.
  •  The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that sewage treatment plants discharge twice as much oil into coastal waters as do tanker accidents.

Visit www.timeforanoilchange.org/ to learn more. We know that together we can make a positive impact!

Sincerely,

Your Friends at Time for an Oil Change

 

 

Sustainable Seafood: Fish for the Future by COCO

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

Sustainable Seafood: Fish for the Future

The Ocean serves many purposes. It regulates our climate, provides us with recreational opportunities, is the major source of the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat. However, our oceans are in serious trouble.

 

The global catch of wild fish leveled out 15 years ago and since then 85 percent of the world’s fisheries are either declining or being harvested at capacity. Demand for fish is also increasing and it is now over seven times what it was in 1950.

 

There are a variety of destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling and long lining that are devastating the marine environment.  Our oceans are being fished at alarming rates and scientists estimate that most of the world’s major fishery species have been reduced in numbers by 75-95 percent.  We as consumers can make a difference by choosing seafood that has been sustainably harvested.  Our seafood choices offer a daily opportunity to contribute to the oceans health.

 

5 Fish to Avoid*

  • Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna
  • Skates and Rays
  • Chilean Sea Bass 
  • Orange Roughy
  • Sharks
 
*There is a lot of complexity around which fish to avoid. Be an informed consumer and learn about the issues on what YOU can do.  Do plenty of research with all the resources available to you and make your own educated decision. These are our recommendations.

 

 ·What You Can Do·

 

  1. Use all available resources to make smart choices about seafood.
  2. Ask where your seafood comes from before you make a choice. 
  3. Avoid unsustainable seafood at markets and restaurants. 
  4. Teach others about the importance of being a conscious consumer.
  5. Show your support for local businesses that incorporate sustainable seafood practices. 

 

 


·Resources·

Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Food Watch-information for consumers and businesses

Fish Choice– connects buyers and sellers of sustainable seafood

GreenPeace Seafood- store ratings for sustainable seafood

Fish Watch– NOAA’s seafood watch

SeaChoice– Making smart seafood decisions for today and tomorrow

Marine Stewardship Council– Certifies sustainable seafood

Blue Ocean Institute Sea Food Choices– searchable guide for seafood

 

Seafood Watch provides action cardsfish factsconsumer information, and seafood recommendations.

Seafood Watch, an organization involved with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, has been working since 1999 to make the vision of a healthy abundant ocean a reality, showing us that overfishing developed over a long period of time and we are just starting to solve it.

 

 

Click on the Map to see the sustainable seafood guide closest to where you live!


View Sustainable Seafood Guides in a larger map