How to tackle the lawless oceans?


When it comes to fishing, most of the ocean is lawless. Fish in the high seas — the half of the world’s oceans which do not fall under the boundaries of any nation — are being plundered relentlessly by fishing fleets that observe virtually no fish conservation rules.

The World Ocean Council (WOC) will convene a Business Forum on Ocean Policy and Planning to address the need for the ocean business community to be more informed and proactively involved in marine policy and planning activities affecting ocean economic activity.

The WOC Business Forum on Ocean Policy and Planning (28-30 September, 2014, New York City) will bring together representatives of oil and gas, shipping, seafood, fisheries, aquaculture, mining, renewable energy, ocean science and technology, maritime law, marine environmental services and other sectors of the diverse ocean business community.

Critical ocean policy arenas in debate include UN negotiations on a new “Implementing Agreement” for the Law of the Sea, the UN Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) discussions, the UN Sustainable Development Goals development, and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

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Rosalind Franklin should be remembered as the mother of the DNA discovery


In January 1953, James Watson (father of the DNA discovery) traveled to King’s College carrying a preprint of an incorrect proposal for the DNA structure. Watson went to Rosalind Franklin’s lab with his urgent message that they should collaborate before more eminent scientists like Linus Pauling pieced together the unsolved puzzle. The unimpressed Franklin became angry when Watson suggested she did not know how to interpret her own data. Watson hastily retreated, backing into Franklin’s boss, Maurice Wilkins, who had been attracted by the commotion. Wilkins commiserated with Watson and then changed the course of DNA history with the following disclosure. Without Franklin’s permission or knowledge, Wilkins showed Watson the famous crystallographic photograph made by Franklin of the helix-shaped DNA. Watson immediately recognized the significance, and this event eventually helped him and Francis Crick to put together the correct structural model of the DNA double helix.

Rosalind Franklin was never nominated for the Nobel Prize, and died in 1958.  James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962, and since the Nobel Committee does not present awards posthumously, Franklin was never properly recognized for her huge contribution to chemistry and molecular biology.

KIOST designs “The Crabster” ocean rover

To truly see the ocean, scientists must be one with the ocean. The oceanic researchers from South Korea are certainly putting this to practice.

Taking a cue from crustaceans that scurry along the ocean floor, researchers from the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology have built and tested a car-sized robotic crab to explore the seafloor. The six-legged robot is named the “Crabster CR200”.

The Crabster’s design doesn’t just mimic Mother Nature, it also helps the team from Korea literally see the ocean. Typically, underwater vehicles deployed by researchers utilize propulsion to troll the ocean’s depths, but that method of locomotion stirs up vision-impairing clouds of sediment. The Crabster crawls along the seabed without kicking up pesky sea sediment.  Perhaps one day, the Crabster will help us unlock the mysteries of nature that will be a key to the survival of the species…


The importance of the carbon cycle

Researchers from USC and Nanjing University in China have documented evidence suggesting that part of the reason that Earth has become neither sweltering like Venus nor frigid like Mars lies with a built-in atmospheric carbon dioxide regulator — the geologic cycles that churn up the planet’s rocky surface.

Scientists have long known that “fresh” rock pushed to the surface via mountain formation effectively acts as a kind of sponge, soaking up the greenhouse gas CO2. Left unchecked, however, that process would simply deplete atmospheric CO2 levels to a point that would plunge Earth into an eternal winter within a few million years during the formation of large mountain ranges like the Himalayas — which has clearly not happened.

“Our presence on Earth is dependent upon this carbon cycle. This is why life is able to survive,” said Mark Torres, lead author of a study disclosing the findings that appears in Nature. Torres and his colleagues studied rocks taken from the Andes mountain range in Peru, and found that weathering processes affecting rocks released far more carbon than previously estimated — motivating them to consider the global implications of CO2 release during mountain formation.

Using marine records of the long-term carbon cycle, the researchers reconstructed the balance between CO2 release and uptake caused by the uplift of large mountain ranges and found that the release of CO2 release by rock weathering may have played a large, but thus far unrecognized, role in regulating the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last roughly 60 million years.

Isn’t there a better way than giving hand-wipes to customers at restaurants?


Is the advertising on the plastic hand-wipe really paying off for this service provider?  Is this a service that is absolutely required at restaurants?  Well, all of us should wipe our hands before we eat… it is good etiquette, after all.  We teach our children to clean their hands before eating – should we not follow our own directions?

But is there no better way than providing a wet tissue and plastic wrap that is going into the municipal incinerator after only seconds of use (sometimes totally unused and unopened)?  Would it not be possible to provide an alternative?  Perhaps a biodegradable hand-pump that shoots sterilized, skin-sensitized spray in front of the condiments counter for self-service?  Perhaps a re-usable “branded” hand towel that a customer can bring in for quick sterilization, and get a small discount on the bill to boot (for reducing waste)?

Here is an idea from a creative agency designing products for medical facilities:

A Hospital Door Handle That Sanitizes Hands With a Touch


Climate activists march to resolve the climate crisis


On March 1, 2014, hundreds of climate patriots will set out from Los Angeles, CA, walking 3,000 miles across America to Washington, DC, inspiring action to resolve the climate crisis. This will be one of the largest coast-to-coast marches in American history.  The March seeks to build the broadest possible public consensus and is focused strictly on the climate crisis.

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Similar events like this are happening across the world, as activists take to their feet to fight the climate crisis.  In Australia, a group has been sponsoring a race in which competitors have numerous challenges (such as getting signatures or lobbying politicians) in order to take meaningful action on climate change.

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