Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!

From Blue Climate Solutions and the productive and carbon storing ecosystems of South Florida!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Seagrass Field Trip

10 Dec 2010 -- The seagrass meadows of Biscayne Bay, Florida, was the focus of an international outing on Wednesday (Dec. 7).

Marine managers and conservationists from the Americas and Caribbean were joined by The Ocean Foundation, and Blue Climate Solutions in exploring the ecosystem services of Florida’s seagrass ecosystems.

Topics discussed during the field trip included the impacts of boat groundings, restoration efforts, and the importance of seagrass related ecosystem services including seagrass conservation as part of the solution to climate change.

When healthy, seagrass meadows fix carbon through photosynthesis and sediment trapping, thereby mitigating greenhouse gas pollution and climate change. Seagrass meadows, along with mangrove forests and saltwater marshlands are known as Blue Carbon ecosystems.

The outing was organized as part of the 4th annual meeting of the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative (WHIMSI). WHMSI is a groundbreaking collective effort to enhance the conservation of the Western Hemisphere's migratory species by strengthening cooperation among States, international initiatives and civil society. For more information see:

Lush seagrass habitat visited during the outing (someone said the water was 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it was not, birr!).

Biscayne National Park provided transport.

Healthy seagrass meadows are vital for marine biodiversity (including Dolphins).

Mangroves of Boca Chita.

Boca Chita lighthouse.

Mangrove restoration at Dinner Key Marina.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The buzz around blue carbon

From the World Bank Blog (a great post by Marea Hatziolos) -

The buzz around blue carbon

Submitted by Marea E. Hatziolos on Sun, 12/05/2010 - 17:49

The delegates and observers at the COP16 in Cancun are getting an earful about Blue Carbon—shorthand for atmospheric carbon sequestered in the earth’s coastal and nearshore environments. Oceans Day at Cancun will feature a session on Blue Carbon, and briefs, and blogs by ocean advocates are circulating on the net and at side events. The reason for the buzz is that coastal wetlands, including tidal salt marshes, estuaries and river deltas, mangroves and sea grass beds are highly efficient at taking up CO2 from the atmosphere and converting it into organic material—then storing it in the soil. In fact, the root systems and sediment layers which build up as this organic material is generated, broken down and deposited, are up to ten times more rich in carbon than the biomass above the surface.

This makes coastal wetlands even better at sequestering carbon than tropical forests. And, unlike their counterparts on land whose net growth peaks when the forest matures, wetland vegetation continues to grow and sequester carbon in the soil as long as sediments are deposited and the environment remains healthy. This is why Blue Carbon is being brought into the international dialogue on carbon emission offsets and the domain of REDD+ eligible activities. A statement, signed by 55 marine and environmental stakeholders from 19 countries has been presented to the COP for action.

Like peat lands, tidal salt marshes and estuaries can turn from natural sinks to net emitters of greenhouse gasses when they are drained, burned or converted for agriculture, and the soil becomes exposed to air. Mangroves wetlands that are starved of sediment and freshwaters flows through damming of rivers, or converted into shrimp ponds or paddy or beachfront property for five star hotels no longer store carbon. Instead they emit methane, a GHG four times as potent as carbon dioxide, and highly explosive. Less than two weeks ago, a luxury hotel built on top of a mangrove wetlands not far from the where the COP 16 is deliberating in Cancun, suffered a massive explosion and loss of life.

Across the Ocean and several continents away in the Bay of Bengal, mangroves play another, more vital role. Battered by cyclones and storm surge, Bangladesh invested in shoring up its exposed coastline through a massive mangrove aforestation program. This proved to be providential. When Super Cyclone Sidr stuck in 2007—the strongest named cyclone on record in the Bay of Bengal—the loss of life was around 4-5,000 people. One year later, in Myanmar, Cyclone Nargis whipped across the Ayerwaddy Delta at similar wind speeds, but without the native mangrove forests to act as a shield—these having been cleared over decades to make room for rice paddy—over 140,000 people lost their lives in the storm surge.

Seagrass beds, which are often found adjacent to mangroves in sheltered bays along warm water coasts, also store large amounts of carbon in their root systems and in the soil they bind. This is in addition to stabilizing sediment and providing food for sea turtles, manatees and other important herbivores at the base of the food chain. So, besides stripping CO2 from the atmosphere, coastal wetlands provide a myriad of co-benefits to society that need to be recognized, valued and accounted for. While protection of these natural assets should be the first order of business, restoring degraded wetlands can pay huge dividends in terms of recovering natural carbon sinks, reducing emissions and building resilience into vulnerable coastal communities.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Overfishing and Climate Change

More on "fish" or "whale carbon"...

(good stuff)

Where overfishing and climate change meet

Sunday, December 5, 2010 Bryan Wallace, PhD

It is often said that to be responsible stewards of the oceans (or other natural systems), we need to be conscious of both what we take out and what we put in.

Among the myriad threats to the world’s oceans, overfishing is likely the most influential extractive activity, while influx of carbon-dioxide is disrupting basic ocean chemistry.

Are these two impacts related in any way? Have impacts of one exacerbated impacts of the other? What if we could kill these two birds with one stone?

To put a finer point on it, could all the biomass fished out of oceans be weakening the oceans’ collective abilities to soak up CO2 from the atmosphere and help to maintain global climate stability?

Some researchers think so. In a recent study entitled “The impact of whaling on the ocean carbon cycle: why bigger was better,” marine scientists estimated the total amount of carbon lost via global whaling activities targeting the baleen whales, the largest animals on the planet.

The idea is this: animal bodies are made of carbon, some of which comes from CO2 that is naturally absorbed by the ocean from the atmosphere. Bigger animals require more carbon, and thus are larger carbon ‘sinks’ than smaller animals. Larger populations of bigger animals, therefore, tie up even more carbon.

When these big animals die, they eventually sink through the abyss to the ocean floor, where incredibly diverse and largely unknown critters gorge on the rotting flesh that falls from above. This ‘marine snow’ is vital to benthic (i.e. ocean bottom) ecosystems, and the carbon transfers from tissues of dead animals to live ones – the ocean carbon cycle in action.

Harvesting marine animals breaks a crucial link in this process by removing important CO2 sponges that are sources for other marine animals. With these big sponges gone, ocean water has to absorb the carbon, thus speeding the ocean acidification process. So fishing could be making climate change impacts worse, especially when the biggest ocean animals with the most potential as carbon sinks are eliminated from the marine carbon cycle.

In addition to whales, what other animals that could play a key role in regulating the air-ocean carbon exchange are being reduced by human exploitation? Big ticket items like tuna, swordfish, and sharks serve enormous global consumptive demand, but are also among the ocean’s largest animals. This means that depletions in their numbers disrupt marine food webs and ecosystem function, but could also represent significant quantities of 'lost' carbon.

This could be another powerful argument in favor of sensible, science-based limits on exploitation of these big-bodied species. The big roles that healthy marine megafauna populations play in carbon storage might be just the creative thinking needed to more effectively mitigate impacts of human-induced climate change.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Marine Conservation Climate Hope for Cancún

Distinguished Marine Conservation Scientists Offer Climate Hope for Cancún

03 Dec. 2010 | Miami, FL -- A scientist's statement calling attention to ocean's role in  climate change was released today. The Sant Feliu De Guíxols Ocean Carbon Declaration was drawn up during the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation, held in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Spain, on 26 September 2010. Signed by twenty-nine Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation and Advisors, from twelve countries, its release coincides with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP16), currently ongoing in Cancún, Mexico.

The declaration draws attention to the role of the oceans in the planet’s carbon cycle and, in particular, their ability to store carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas pollution. The declaration highlights how certain coastal and marine ecosystems, such as mangrove and kelp forests, seagrass meadows and saltwater marshlands, naturally help absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Also highlighted, for the open oceans, is a promising potential role for large marine life, such as whales, sharks and finfish, as effective carbon sinks.

Policymakers are recommended to adopt the following initiatives:

1) Include coastal marine ecosystem conservation and restoration in strategies for climate change mitigation.

2) Fund targeted research to improve our understanding of the contribution of coastal and open ocean marine ecosystems to the carbon cycle and to the effective removal of carbon from the atmosphere.

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

See also:

For the document click here - Declaration, or follow the link below.

Pew fellows add their voice on oceans’ critical importance in carbon cycle (bluecarbonportal)

Post revised Dec 9, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Call for Blue Carbon in Cancún at COP16

02 Dec. 2010 | Miami, FL -- The Blue Climate Coalition has issued an open statement to the delegates of COP16, calling for blue carbon to be included in international climate change treaties.

The Coalition was represented by fifty-five marine and environmental stakeholders from nineteen countries who signed-on. The statement highlights the role that certain coastal and marine ecosystems – such as mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, saltwater marshlands, and kelp forests – can play as part of the solution to climate change. When healthy, these ecosystems store atmospheric carbon and thereby help mitigate climate change.

The Statement also suggests a potential exiting similar blue carbon role for marine vertebrates – including whales and fin fish – as carbon sinks, based on promising new research.

The Coalition’s recommendations to the Parties of the Conference include:

1) Include the conservation and restoration of mangrove, saltwater marsh, seagrass, and kelp ecosystems in your strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation;

2) Establish a global Blue Carbon Fund for the protection and management of these important coastal ecosystems;

3) Include blue carbon sinks in national REDD+ strategies and greenhouse gas accounting; and

4) Support coordinated scientific research to better quantify blue carbon’s role in climate mitigation, including the development of protocols and methodologies for monitoring, reporting, and verification of coastal and marine carbon sinks.

The Blue Climate Coalition was formed in November 2009 to help advance coastal and marine conservation as part of the solution to climate change.  Over 100 conservation groups and environmental stakeholders, and over 150 scientists together from 43 countries, have joined the Coalition’s call to support blue carbon solutions for climate change.

-Steven, Blue Climate Solutions
See also:

Blue Carbon Solutions for Climate Change, Open Statement to the Delegates of COP16 by the Blue Climate Coalition. 6 pp, Nov 30, 2010. (first document listed)

In Cancun, everyone’s talking about Blue Carbon

Call for inclusion of Blue Carbon @COP16

Sunday, November 28, 2010

TÛRANOR PlanetSolar - An Exciting Alternative Blue Climate Solution

28 Nov. 2010 | Miami, FL -- The world's largest solar-powered boat was in Miami Beach this weekend, stopping on its way to Cancún, Mexico, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP16).

The vessel TÛRANOR, part of the Swiss-based project, PlanetSolar, measures close to 102 feet in length and 50 feet in width, and is powered exclusively by solar energy. It will highlight the application of readily available renewable energy (solar power) in Cancún.

After Cancún, TÛRANOR will continue its quest to be the first to circumnavigate the globe in a “solar” boat.

I don’t think you can get much more clean and energy efficient on the water (my sailboat is jealous). We wish them the best of luck.

Raphaël Domjan, founder of the PlanetSolar project, addresses the crowd on Miami Beach.

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

P.S. The name TÛRANOR is derived from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Saga and translates into "The Power of the Sun."

P.S. (2) Can it keep beer cold?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cancun's vanishing mangroves hold climate promise

Expect a push for mangroves at COP16 -

Wed, Nov 24 2010 By Patrick Rucker

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - This famous beach resort, which will next week host international climate change talks, was itself born from the destruction of a potent resource to fight global warming.

Thick mangrove forests lined the canals and waterways here before developers dredged the land to make way for the upscale hotels that now draw several million tourists every year.

In the 40 years since Cancun was founded, countless acres of mangrove forests up and down Mexico's Caribbean Coast have been lost -- and the destruction continues.

Now many scientists say that mangrove forests can help slow climate change, and are desperate to save them.

"We still have a lot to learn but the potential is huge for mangroves," said Gail Chmura, a climate change researcher at McGill University in Montreal who studies how much carbon is stored in these knobby, tidal forests.

As they process sunlight into food, mangroves suck an uncommon amount of industrial carbon out of the atmosphere and bury it deep within their underground network of roots.

As nations looks desperately for "carbon sinks" that can capture and store carbon linked to climate change, mangroves are increasingly seen as a resource worth saving.

The United Nations may soon pay countries to set aside mangroves and sea plants that sock away carbon and those same reserves could mean long-term cash under a global carbon cap and trade scheme.

With that plan, polluters would buy, sell and swap their right to burn carbon fuels under new emissions rules.

Breathing life into that carbon market is a key goal of climate talks among almost 200 nations meeting in Cancun from November 29 to December 10. The meeting is a follow-up to the December 2009 Copenhagen summit which disappointed many nations by falling short of a binding treaty to slow global warming.


Climate experts argue that the long-term benefits of conservation will outweigh the short-term gains of development at every turn. In Mexico and around the world, though, the arguments for development usually win.

"There is more profit in tourism than conservation," said Alfredo Arellano, the local director of the Commission for Protected Areas who notes that Mexico loses nearly 25,000 acres or 1 percent of its mangroves annually.

Hotels and beach resorts have been spreading across the areas surrounding Cancun since planners began turning a desolate sandbar into a tourist hot-spot in 1970.

The resort area is now a top destination for U.S. sun-seekers drawn to its white-sand beaches and raucous party scene. Tourism officials expect the area to absorb more than $4 billion in foreign cash this year.

The flow of tourist dollars is simply more bankable than the possible, future income from saving the mangroves.

"Carbon markets are too underdeveloped to create an appetite for conservation," Arellano said. "I hope that changes before it's too late."

Besides their power to sponge up carbon, mangroves serve as fish nurseries and buffers for devastating ocean storms -- a worth that ecologists say is lost in a short-term tally of the land's value.

In Southeast Asia, home to a third of the world's remaining mangroves, shrimp farmers covet the rich, silty estuaries where those forests thrive.

A Thai farmer can rely on government subsidies to pocket $1,220 a year by converting 2.5 acres of mangrove into a shrimp farm but the land will be so depleted after five years that it will cost more than $9,000 to restore, according to a report sponsored by the United Nations. The knock-on expense of lost fish habitat and a vulnerable coastline will top $12,000 a year, the study concludes.

"We are only now getting a glimpse of the true value of the world's natural systems," said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the U.N. Environment Programme which is calculating the bottom-line worth of many fragile ecosystems.

While mangroves in Asia have been chipped for scrap wood and West African mangroves are commonly burned to extract salt from seawater, the marine forests of Mexico are routinely flattened for tourism.

Cancun is now home to about 600,000 people, and officials are seeking bids for an international airport about 100 km (60 miles) to the south near the seaside town of Tulum where mangroves are still abundant.

Rene Gonzalez, a local guide, often takes visitors from that quaint tourist town deep into the adjacent Sian Ka'an nature reserve that covers 1.3 million acres of brackish marsh, grassland and estuaries.

"Thirty five years ago, Cancun looked exactly like the biosphere is today," Gonzalez said of Sian Ka'an, a United Nations' World Heritage Site.

Gonzalez says he has lived in eastern Mexico long enough to know that tensions between conservation and development almost always end in tree stumps and asphalt.

"It's working its way down," Gonzalez said of development, while zooming around in a flat-bottomed boat through Mayan trading routes carves through the mangroves. "It won't take forty years for them to make another Cancun."

(Additional reporting by Jose Cortazar; Editing by Kieran Murray)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blue Carbon Message Presented

23 Nov. 2010 -- Thanks again to all who signed our Blue Climate Coalition letters, which advance the blue works and blue carbon concepts - basically healthy coasts and oceans as critical economic infrastructure and as part of the solution to climate change. The letters were delivered to:

The White House – aimed to keep interest alive for blue carbon and offer a range of policy options to the Executive Branch, regarding both domestic and foreign policy.

The Global Environment Facility – aimed to stir interest in blue carbon with this major international climate change funding body.

Senators Kerry and Lieberman – Coalition thank you letters for their action of including options for blue carbon in US climate change legislation (American Power Act, discussion draft).

Seventy-four conservation groups and marine stakeholders, from seventeen countries, signed-on!

Blue Carbon ecosystems - critical components of coastal and island economies and important carbon sinks.

Related press release:

Blue Works: Marine Restoration Advanced to Help Stimulate the Economy and as Part of the Solution to Climate Change

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 19, 2010 -- A large international coalition today issued communications in support of marine conservation and restoration options for creating jobs and stimulating the U.S. economy, and as part of the solution to climate change.

The ‘Blue Climate Coalition,’ comprised of seventy-four conservation groups and marine stakeholders, from seventeen countries, issued recommendations to President Obama and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The coalition represents a wide range of interests - environmental leaders including the Pew Environment Group, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Greenpeace USA, and The Ocean Foundation; restoration groups including Restore America's Estuaries, Seagrass Recovery, and Mangrove Action Project; science and technology interests; and many others.

President Obama was asked to include the conservation and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems in his plans for economic recovery, and in policies for climate change mitigation.

When healthy, certain marine ecosystems, such as mangrove forests, saltwater marshlands, and seagrass meadows store atmospheric carbon and thereby naturally help mitigate climate change. They also support coastal communities through tourism and commercial and recreational fisheries.

The coalition asked Monique Barbut, GEF chair, to include coastal and marine ecosystem conservation and restoration in GEF funded climate change mitigation projects, and to support the research and development of this approach, recently termed ‘blue carbon’ by the conservation community.

Thank-you letters were also issued to Senator’s Kerry and Lieberman for including options for marine conservation as potential climate mitigation projects in the American Power Act.

“Healthy coastal and marine ecosystems represent critical economic infrastructure for many Americans and around the globe,” said Steven J. Lutz, Executive Director of Blue Climate Solutions, the Miami based group that organized the coalition effort. “A healthy environment can play a central role in driving the economy, as well as addressing greenhouse gas pollution and global climate change.”

“Sadly, we are loosing these important ecosystems at an alarming rate, with 59,000 acres of coastal wetlands lost each year in the Eastern United States alone,” said Lutz. “Such loss threatens the way of life and economic well being of millions of Americans. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to help ensure a strong economic future while doing something good for ourselves and the environment.”

Blue Climate Coalition letter delivered to the Global Environment Facility.

The Coalition letters are available at:

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blue Carbon Around the World

On October 10, 2010, people all over the world joined in what’s been described as the biggest day of environmental activism in history. Groups from 188 developed and developing nations participated in more than 7,000 activities as part of’s annual “Global Work Party” to mobilize action on climate change and address greenhouse gas pollution.

The 10/10/10 Global Work Party was not only intended to publicize the need to combat climate change but also to do something about it.

Events around the world included the planting of vegetable gardens, cycling instead of driving, installing solar panels, climate change lectures and rallies, and the cleaning up of local environments.

Blue carbon ‘solutions’ included – Groups involved in the restoration and conservation of many coastal and marine habitats actually also helped restore the oceans natural carbon function and mitigate climate change!

When healthy, certain marine ecosystems such as seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and saltwater marshlands absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and thereby help mitigate the threat of climate change. These ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems are extremely effective at storing carbon – mangroves and coastal wetlands store 50 times more carbon than tropical forests by area. Conversely, the continued loss of these ecosystems decreases the ocean’s existing carbon stock and its capacity to mitigate climate change.

The conservation and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems can play a significant role in our actions to address climate change. Groups around the world – from Belize to Thailand – planted mangroves, conserved wetlands, and restored seagrass meadows and associated marine  habitats.

Blue carbon habitats, many of which are threatened, are also vital for marine biodiversity and the economies of many coastal communities - through tourism revenue and countless commercial and recreational fisheries.

The Global Work Party may be over, but our efforts are not. The following is a sample of blue carbon events that occurred around the world as part of the 10/10/10 Global Work Party for action on climate change. They represent marine conservation’s potential future as a positive and viable part of the solution to climate change.

Let’s make it happen! –

Belize, Caye Caulker – Mangrove planting
Mangroves were planted at Caye Caulker (north island) as part of the 10/10/10 global day of action on climate change. The event was a joint action by Caye Caulker Ocean Academy students and environmentalists and biologists from the Forest and Marine Reserves Association of Caye Caulker (FAMRACC). Other activities included environmental data collection and coastal restoration (beach clean-up).

Canada, Victoria – Seagrass meadow restoration and conservation
Seagrass meadows were restored by volunteers as part of efforts for action on climate change. The role that healthy seagrass meadows play in storing atmospheric carbon, and thereby helping to mitigate climate change, was highlighted in lectures during the event – the ‘Mudboots Party.’ Groups involved included Sierra Club BC, Seagrass Conservation Working Group, and Mayne Island Conservancy. Rockfish Divers supplied a dive boat in support of the event.

Fiji, Navua – Mangrove planting
Mangroves were planted by local students as part of a day of action on climate change organized by the Pacific Youth Climate Change Network.

Ghana, Sekondi – Mangrove planting and habitat restoration
The ‘Mangrove Conservation Festival’ was held as action for climate change mitigation on 10/10/10. Mangrove seedlings were planted and mangrove habitat was cleaned of debris by local students, officials, and business leaders. The event was organized by the Coastal Resources Center (CRC-Ghana) in collaboration with Crisis Action Solutions (CASOLS) and supported by Friends of the Nation (FoN) at the Essei Lagoon, Bakano in Sekondi, Ghana.

Indonesia, Jaboi, Pulau Weh – Mangrove planting
Mangrove seedlings were planted as part of the “Mangrove: Save the Reef, Save the Planet” event to highlight climate action on 10/10/10.

Maldives Marine conservation (underwater clean-up)
An underwater clean-up was held as part of the Global Work Party for action on climate change. Plastic was and other debris removed from the seas and reefs. The event was organized by the Feydhoo Youth Community and received support from the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF).

Nauru Marine conservation (underwater clean-up)
Divers took the plunge to clean-up marine habitats including coral reefs as part of a week long event of action on climate change on the smallest island nation of the world, Nauru (8.1 square miles). The “10/10/10 Reefers” event was organized by the Nauru National Youth Council (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Philippines, various locations – Seagrass conservation
The ‘Seagrass Initiative Information Campaign’ was launched by the Bayer Young Environmental Envoys in the Philippines to promote the cause of climate action and marine sustainability (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Philippines, Lapu-Lapu, Cebu – Coastal wetland conservation
Coastal wetland conservation and protection from marine debris was called for as part of action on climate change at the Olango Island Bird Sanctuary.

Philippines, Sagay City, Negros Occ. – Mangrove planting
A day of mangrove planting for local children (Eco-Kids) was organized by the Museo Sang Bata Sa as a message for action to address climate change – it’s fun to plant mangroves!

Spain, Formentera – Seagrass conservation
Seagrass conservation was highlighted in efforts to raise climate awareness. Pierre-Yves Cousteau and Diletta Carmellini, of Cousteau Divers, are pictured in one of Spain’s Posidonia ocenica seagrass prairies. The site was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999 (image by Manu San Felix).

Sri Lanka, Kiula – Mangrove planting and wetland conservation
Several schools were mobilized for mangrove planting and wetland conservation. 250 mangrove plants and 100 pandanus plants were planted as part of the solution to climate change and to urge politicians to pass clean energy policies.

Timor-Leste, Dili, Bidau Santana – Mangrove planting
Government officials joined hundreds in the planting of mangrove trees as part of the call for action on climate change.

Thailand, Upper Andaman Coast – Mangrove planting and conservation
A two day youth environmental seminar was held as part of the Global Work Party for action on climate change. Participants also planted mangrove seedlings for coastal projection. The event, the Second Annual Youth Network Seminar, was co-organized by Mangrove Action Project (MAP)-Asia Regional Office. Other groups involved included IUCN, Andaman Discoveries, Wetlands International, and Thailand Environment Institute. Sixty youth from coastal villages participated and learned about sustainable resource management, climate change and the importance of mangrove forests.

Tonga Mangrove planting and conservation
Mangroves were planted and coastal debris removed as part of events advancing action on climate change. The event was organized by the Tonga National Youth Congress.

USA, Miami, FL – Coastal habitat restoration and conservation
Volunteers helped restore coastal habitat and conservationists held a climate and clean energy rally on Miami Beach as part of an extended weekend of action for climate change. Invasive species were removed as part of the restoration efforts at Oleta State River Park - Florida’s largest urban park, and includes extensive mangrove habitat. The value of a healthy marine environment was incorporated into the climate rally.

Those involved the Miami's 10/10/10 events included Urban Paradise Guild, Branches Florida City, 1Sky, Konbit Haiti, Surfrider, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Blue Climate Solutions, 1Sky, Greenpeace, Emerge Miami, Oceana, ECOMB, Top Green Magazine, Repower America, Florida International University Students for Environmental Action, and many others.

USA, Fort Myers, FL – Mangrove planting
Florida Gulf Coast University students and faculty planted mangroves in Fort Myers, FL, as part of the Global Work Party for action on climate change. Mangroves were planted as an “investment in offsetting the carbon dioxide produced by the campus.” Over 80 students and faculty members participated.

Many thanks to the Mangrove Action Project, Tonga National Youth Congress, Rainbow Warriors International, and Bill Mckibben of for help in compiling this review.

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

Additional information:

Blue Climate Solutions, Mangrove Action Project, and Urban Paradise Guild are also members of the Blue Climate Coalition, an international partnership of over 70 groups and 150 marine scientists from 33 countries drawn together in advancing blue carbon policies. Coalition actions have included the issuing of key support statements to the US White House, Congress, and government agencies. We are currently looking for support and additional groups for our next round of Coalition letters (contact: steven.lutz {at}

UNEP report: “Blue Carbon - The Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon”, available at:

IUCN report: “The Management of Natural Coastal Carbon Sinks”, available at:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Save a Whale - Save the Planet

17 Oct 2010 | Miami FL -- Many thanks to Samantha Whitcraft, of Oceanic Defense, and Cynthia Aguilar, of, for hosting a fantastic oceans event last night.

The “One Person Can Make A Difference For Our Oceans” celebration-fundraiser, was a great opportunity to meet leading environmental advocates working together to protect our oceans.

The event was held at Florida Room of the Delano Hotel on Miami Beach. Featured speakers included Samantha, Cynthia, Shelby Proie of, and Captain Pete Bethune - a marine conservation VIP - featured on Animal Planet’s Whale Wars series, captain of Earthrace, and formerly with Sea Shepard Society.

Pete was in town for an ocean education and activation weekend, which included a dolphin conservation rally and a Community Forum at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS).

Whale carbon discussed with Captain Pete Bethune, of Animal Planet’s Whale Wars series (right). Steven Lutz, of Blue Climate Solutions (left).

I had an opportunity to chat with Pete at the Community Forum and at last night’s celebration-fundraiser. We discussed the value of whale conservation as climate change mitigation. Pete is heavily involved in the conservation of whales and it looks like his work may also help counter climate change:

Whale Carbon - New research, from Canada and the US, points to the potential role that the conservation of whales and large fish can play as part of the solution to climate change.

The researchers found that carbon naturally accumulates in the bodies of whales, and that this carbon is sequestered - out of the atmosphere - for the life time of the animal. Individual whales can store a lot of carbon, amounts only exceeded by the largest trees. Those that die natural deaths - not whaled - transport their carbon to the ocean depths, away from the atmosphere, and thereby helping to mitigate climate change.

The over fishing of whales and large fish reduces the amount of carbon stored in these populations and lessens the ocean’s capacity to mitigate climate change. Conversely, if we restore whale populations we are also restoring the ocean’s natural carbon function. According to the researchers:

Rebuilding the blue whale population of the southern hemisphere would sequester the same carbon as preserving 43,000 hectares (166 square miles) of temperate forest, about the size of Los Angeles.

The Southern Ocean blue whale population has been reportedly reduced by more than 99 percent. Re-establishing this population may also mitigate climate change (Image: Mike Baird, Wikimedia Commons).

It may be very early days for whale carbon related policies - however the concept has potential broad implications for the management of marine resources and the global carbon market, currently worth an estimated $170 billion.

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

For more information see:

Whales and Large Fish Mitigate Carbon Emissions (Blue Carbon Blog)

Ocean Education and Activation Weekend (Oceanic Defense Blog)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Whale Pump

More on the contributions of whales (feces) and primary productivity.

Two questions come to mind: (1) does all whale feces float and for how long?; and (2) can we learn anything regarding oceanic carbon function from this?

Whales Help Fertilize Ocean With Floating Dung

by Joe Palca / NPR / October 11, 2010

A dwarf minke whale swims near the Great Barrier Reef. Scientists say whale dung can help feed hungry fish near the surface of the ocean (Kike Calvo/AP).

Whales may have a new group of cheerleaders. They've always been popular with marine conservationists, but new research suggests that the fishing industry may also want to adopt the slogan "Save the Whales."

The reason starts with algae. Algae range in size from single-celled organisms to giant kelp plants. Some live near the surface of the ocean, and these algae need nitrogen to grow.

"They need other nutrients as well, but in the system we looked at, the limiting nutrient tends to be nitrogen," says Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont. "That's the first nutrient they use up."

Roman says once the algae use up the nitrogen, they eventually die and sink to the bottom, taking the nitrogen with them. Sometime fish eat the algae, but then they poop, and the nitrogen sinks to the bottom in the fish poop.

"Whales, on the other hand, often feed at depth," says Roman. "So they feed low in the water column. And they're consistently seen pooping at the surface."

How does Roman know whales poop at the surface? Because he went out and watched.

"And we were following the whales and collecting feces whenever there was poop at the surface," he says.

This diagram shows how nutrients from whale dung move through the ocean ecosystem (Courtesy of the University of Vermont).

Droppings That Float

The difference between whale poop and fish poop is that whale poop tends to float, or at least stay near the surface.

This is significant, because when Roman took the whale poop back to his lab, he found it was rich in nitrogen. So the whales were bringing that essential nutrient that had sunk to the bottom back to the surface.

"So, essentially, by defecating at the surface, they are fertilizing their own areas where they are feeding," he says.

Not only were there more algae, there were also increased numbers of fish. That's because fish thrive on algae.

Worthy Whales

Roman says the finding that whales may be helping to feed their fishy friends comes as something of a surprise.

"Often whales are seen by some communities as competitors," says Roman. "Here, we're showing that whales can actually provide a service."

This isn't the first time scientists have suspected that whales and large fish play a role in moving nutrients from one part of the ocean to another.

"The real question is whether this is a net gain in the system, or what the whales are really doing is just speeding up the cycling," says Andrew Pershing, a research scientist at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the University of Maine.

Winds or storms can move nutrients from the bottom of the ocean to the surface. Nobody knows yet how much of a difference the whales really make.

"It's a lot like an accounting problem," says Pershing. "Are you just sort of trading money around within your local economy, or is there actually a net increase in the GDP?"

In this case it's not money we're talking about, but manure — or nitrogen, if you want to get technical. Pershing says Roman's work is bound to get scientists thinking more about the role of large marine mammals in ocean ecosystems.

See also:

Whale Poop Pumps Up Ocean Health (ScienceDaily):

Journal Reference:

Peter Roopnarine, Joe Roman, James J. McCarthy. The Whale Pump: Marine Mammals Enhance Primary Productivity in a Coastal Basin. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (10): e1325. (available on-line)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10/10/10 - ain’t no power like the power of the people

10/10/10 - ain’t no power like the power of the people

October 11th, 2010 11:37 am ET | R.J. Peters

On October 10th, 2010 in approximately 188 countries with over 6,000 events world-wide, young and old alike gathered in solidarity to demand Comprehensive Climate Legislation on this day. Why?

Because over three years ago leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other signs of climate change. A series of studies were instituted as a result. These studies showed [the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 ppm (parts per million)].[1] We are currently up to 393 ppm according to a couple of Greenpeace representatives. And we do seem to be having more than our fair share of natural disasters this year. Rewind to:

Back in July of 2010, hopes for a comprehensive Climate Bill literally fell apart when Democrats announced they were giving up as the Republicans flat out refused to support any such legislation—and then threatened with a filibuster.

So, fast-forward to October when along with Greenpeace,, Top Green Magazine,, Blue Climate Solutions and several independents organized to send a message to Congress.

Enough! It’s time for Climate Legislation. And locally over 50 people gathered on South Miami Beach chanting, “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the people won’t stop.” (Among other chants) And I had an opportunity to speak with several reps; one was Renee Hickman a lead organizer for Greenpeace.

I asked Ms. Hickman the purpose of the event. Her response was immediate. “We’re here today to demand that our politicians, our leaders and candidates get to work protecting people and not polluters.” And how are you going to do that, I asked. She informed me that there would be several photos of this day’s event and the photos would be uploaded to the 350 website to show our feelings and to let the politicians know how we feel about what’s going on.

I’m pretty sure if you visit the or the Greenpeace website you’ll see those pictures and possibly a petition to send to your congressmen and I strongly urge you to do just that.

So, I then found a couple of reps from Top Green Magazine.

Tony Lopez of Top Green Magazine told me he was there ‘to inform and create consciousness’ regarding the environment. The main goal of Top Green, he informed me, was to ban plastic bags. He went on to tell me plastic bags are not biodegradable, they are photo-degradable. Essentially, that means they don’t break down completely; rather they decompose into smaller polymers over an extended period of time—they never really recycle. And this plastic or polymer debris winds up in our oceans. Once there, this disassociated plastic material is mistaken for Plankton by sea life and wind up being consumed, thereby compromising animal DNA and causing countless types of disease. And we wind up eating these animals. You are what you eat, I thought to myself.

Tony went on to tell me people use plastic bags at a rate of 1 million per minute. He also told me according the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) one ton of plastic bags cost $4000 to recycle—then it’s resold into the market-place for ~ $32. He also said that due to the cost of recycling < .05% actually gets recycled. The rest is simply discarded and wind up in our oceans. And aside from killing sea life, these minute particles of polymer rob O2 from our oceans. This in turn can cause dead zones.

I asked Tony what he’d offer as an alternative and he was quite forthcoming, ‘Biodegradable or reusable bags.’ He and his partner Lisbeth Hernandez receive donations of old clothes in good condition that they in-turn craft into reusable bags. And they employ the elderly to help make these eco-friendly bags. Then, Lisbeth showed me some of the jewelry she makes with plastic, silver and crystals. Pretty nifty I thought. And it’s a different approach, one that works, to conventional recycling.

In the near future, Tony plans to collect 15,000 signatures in order to ban the use of plastic bags in our local stores. If you’d like more information on that upcoming project, you can contact him directly at Top Green Magazine.

So, then I made my way over to one of the reps. Her name is Janna Lafferty. She told me Oceana specifically, out of all the environmental groups, represents our oceans. Statistically broken down that’s about 2% out of 100% of all eco-groups. Oceana was there to support for a global work party—10/10/10. (see picture) I also made my way over to the campaign organizer for Oceana—Katie Parrish.

Part of the goal, I was told, was to ban off-shore drilling and replace it with off-shore wind. Oceana lobbies our Senators & legislators in favor of wind generation in lieu of off-shore drilling—additionally the creation of green jobs; they get my vote any day. Oceana also wanted to thank Senator Bill Nelson of the 35th district here in Florida for his work in support of the ban on off-shore drilling. Kudos to you Bill.

I had one poignant question for the Oceana organizer. ‘Do you believe the BP Liberty Island Project is an Island or deepwater off-shore drilling?’ She laughed and said, ‘It’s a man-made deepwater drill, yeah, I mean it’s a man-made island, it’s not a real actual island.’ So, I asked, if the oil spills, where’s it going to go? ‘Right into the ocean’ she said with completely serious intensity.

At that point we were asked to form the 10/10/10 logo for a photo—while on the way over, I met a man named Steven Lutz. He’s an executive director with Blue Climate Solutions based out of Washington DC. He was there to advance a new concept called ‘Blue Carbon’. This concept is based on the restoration and conservation of coastal eco-systems—involving mangroves, sea-grasses and salt-water marshlands. These fragile eco-systems store carbon or C02 far more effectively than our terrestrial forests he told me. And from my work with Algae, I can tell you, he’s absolutely right. He went on to tell me 11 senators are also signed on behind the movement, including Bill Nelson of Florida—kudos again Bill.

As I was making my way off the beach, I serendipitously ran into Andrea Cuccaro with In a battery of questions I had for her, one she answered that made my heart sink. I asked why she’s here. Her answer? ‘We’re here because our leaders have failed to pass a strong climate change bill.’

Now, I have had a chance to check out the website and they offer many more than viable solutions to our energy needs. 1Sky is diligent about getting attention focused on these alternative solutions.

And I think the future leaders of America were on the beach today, looking after our sand and surf in solidarity, sending a strong and potent message to all parts of the world—that no matter how insignificant their efforts may seem today, tomorrow belongs to those who put forth the effort to protect human heritage.

There comes a time when the patterns of Big Business must end and be replaced by energized young people with sincere and daunting talents emerging to protect and cherish our lands. Such was the case today. And so:

I want to say thank you to the dedicated young men and women who were at the 10/10/10 rally in Miami Beach today. I want to especially thank Renee Hickman of Greenpeace for alerting me to the event.

I rode away as I came on my 99.5% green electric NiZn bike, I couldn’t help but think alternative energy isn’t limited to the machines or methods we employ; it lies primarily in the hearts, souls and minds of the youth we will leave behind. Let’s leave them a clean planet folks. And thank you Bill McKibben of for sponsoring this event.

Thanks for the plug Peter! -Steven