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Monday, 10 June 2013 12:02

Jellyfish: the Ocean’s Canaries

Some may think jellyfish are simply a pesky problem when we want to take a swim or snorkel, but they are actually a sign of flagging oceanic health.  We think of them as the canary in the coal mine.  The difference is the canary dies when there is a problem, but jellyfish flourish in the conditions that global warming wreaks on our oceans.

Climate change heats and acidifies the planet’s oceans.  Overfishing adds to the first two major problems.  All three contribute to creating an ideal environment for jellyfish to thrive and multiply.  So what’s the big deal if there are too many jellyfish?

The issue is that jellyfish take a bad situation and make it worse.  They have a unique trait where they’re able to eat up the food chain.  This is surprising considering these sea creatures don’t even have brains.  However, they actually can consume animals that are bigger, smarter and faster than they are.  They damage the ecosystem further by competing with large mammals, such as whales, by feeding on the same fish and plankton that these other animals need to survive.

Marine expert Lisa-ann Gershwin wrote the new book Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean.  She points to an example where jellyfish wiped out an entire food chain simply by eating from the bottom up. 

The jellyfish species Mnemiopsis leidyi was accidentally introduced into the Black Sea in the early 1980s.  In just a few short years, these jellyfish comprised “95 per cent of the biomass in the Black Sea”.  This means “ninety-five per cent of every living thing was this one species of jellyfish”.

Jellyfish could rule our planet’s oceans as they once did in the Precambrian era.  A time when biodiversity was low, the jellyfish commanded the oceans, and mammals and reptiles did not exist.  This is a scary eventuality, that our feet are firmly planted on the path towards.  We need to heed the warnings that these gelatinous invertebrates provide and begin seriously reducing our carbon footprints and offsetting the rest of our carbon emissions.

Published in carbonfree blog

In a telling and ironic move, coal industry giant BHP-Billiton, is replacing one of its coal export facilities in Queensland, Australia because of its vulnerability to increasingly frequent hurricanes from global warming.  BHP-Billiton is an Australian coal company that produces one-fifth of globally traded coal for steel making and is the largest mining company on Earth.  The upgrade represents a major investment in planning for climate change.  In fact, the company’s coal operations are led by Marcus Randolph, who confirmed they are planning, “to rebuild the facility to be more durable to climate change.”

Readers of this blog already know that increasingly extreme weather events are the result of climate change in addition to the fact that many businesses are planning now for climate change’s effects.  Why not a coal company too?  The announcement makes it obvious that BHP-Billiton understands that climate change is real and the time is now to begin making changes even if the manufacture of their product contributes to the issue.

Randolph has even warned investors about the implications of remaining dependent on the non-renewable resources of fossil fuels by saying, “In a carbon constrained world where energy coal is the biggest contributor to a carbon problem, how do you think this is going to evolve over a 30- to 40-year time horizon? You'd have to look at that and say on balance, I suspect, the usage of thermal coal is going to decline. And frankly it should.”

When a company that mines and exports coal starts planning for climate change it means the writing is on the wall.  Businesses and individuals alike should all be working to decrease carbon footprints and offset the remaining carbon emissions.  Let’s give the planet a holiday present and start doing all we can this season to embrace a cleaner energy future.

Published in carbonfree blog

According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, cloud computing can help companies realize $12.3 billion in energy savings and reduce carbon emissions by 85.7 million metric tons annually by the year 2020.  This staggering carbon emissions reduction figure is equivalent to mitigating the emissions from almost 181 million barrels of oil each year.  

These compelling statistics are creating a surge in cloud computing options and providers; the challenge is to find the right provider offering the breadth of computing services, systems security and deliver the flexibility required by each business.

Chicago-based Steadfast Networks offers an additional benefit to its customers by operating in a CarbonFree® environment.  Steadfast Networks calculates the annual carbon emissions from all base operations and neutralizes those emissions by supporting Carbonfund.org’s carbon reduction and clean air technology projects.  Steadfast Networks also provides a CarbonFree® option to all customers by calculating and mitigating specific operational emissions through Carbonfund.org for each customer’s dedicated or co-located server energy consumption. 

"At Steadfast, we're always looking for new ways to reduce our environmental impact. Carbonfund.org fit organically into our business model and so it was pretty much a “no brainer” for us," explains Karl Zimmerman, President and Chief Executive Officer at Steadfast Networks.

Steadfast Networks specializes in highly flexible cloud computing, including options for dedicated servers or collocation services at their fully redundant data centers in Chicago and New York.  The facilities used by Steadfast Networks are highly engineered to assure reliability and maximize energy efficiency, resulting in a significantly reduced carbon footprint.  Their status as a CarbonFree® Business Partner sets Steadfast Networks above the competition for companies seeking the most environmentally responsible options for cloud computing solutions.

Published in carbonfree blog