Archive for the ‘Sea Life’ Tag

World of the Plastic Beach   29 comments

 

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Pacific Ocean’s  waters are home to 10m (44,000 tonnes) of plastic debris swirling ever-more destructively in the ocean’s currents. Not only is it the largest collection of plastic debris in the world, but it is also completely trapped by North Pacific’s whirling Gyre Currents. Growing incredibly fast and presently covering an area twice the size of the US, it is a prime example of our excessive and thoughtless use of plastics in our everyday lives, and a sad reflection of our hopelessly inadequate methods of dealing with plastic waste.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme over one million seabirds yearly die from plastic and 100,000+ marine mammals are lost to it. There are approximately 46,000 floating plastics per square mile of ocean. It is known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.

  Plastic Destruction  Death by Plastic ocean-pollution-human-trash

 

The World of the Plastic Beach – Recycling to Save the Sea

1. The research project currently in the design phase was created to look at alternative greener ways to transform the floating plastic into an island – an urban habitat or floating city for around 500,000 people – It is predicted 200 million people will be homeless within the next 30 years due to climate change.

RecycledIslandHabitat recycled-islandBeaches

2. The proposal (by Dutch architects WHIM Architecture funded by The Netherlands Architectural Fund) is looking to create a non-polluting island of approximately 10,000sq/km, be built and to convert resources, on the site of the plastic garbage itself. This would reduce clean-up and building costs, creating a new area for agriculture, recreation, tourism and urban living. It would be built on foundations consisting of hollow floating blocks and would lie between Hawaii and San Francisco in the heart of the Pacific Ocean’s currents.

3. Electricity would come from renewable resources like solar, wave, and wind energies.  It would be a great place for Seaweed cultivation farms, providing food, fertilizer, bio-fuel, medicine and fish food increasing the fish population around the island habitat. Composting toilets and other crops would help the population living on it to be self-sufficient producing all of its own resources.

Seaweed CultivationAgriculture

4. If the project is to step beyond the design stage and become a reality it will have to function effectively as a sustainable island habitat and it is yet to be decided if a permanent habitable island could even be built from plastic. Would it be solid and strong enough to hold the weight of a population and its crops? And when storms hit what safety measures would need to be in place? This is a fascinating green ventures to consider and stretches the imaginations of architects who will undoubtedly dream up more new ideas as time goes by and enthusiastic designers continue to weigh up the prospects for future habitats using as a base Earth’s vast oceans.

Where Life Begins –Earth and Beyond   10 comments

 

Hydrothermal Origins of Life Theory

 

hydrothermal_ventUntil 1977 scientists believed that all forms of life ultimately depended on the Sun for energy. With the 1977 discovery of the first hydrothermal vent, (Geysers that billow out from the sea floor.) and the teeming, diverse arrays of life surrounding its base Astrobiologists are now believe that life on Earth might have originated in the sulphurous base of hydrothermal vents.

Vent ecosystems are the only system on Earth that we know of where life can thrive in the complete absence of sunlight offering an alternative way for life to meet its fundamental need for energy. They depend on microbes that tap into the geyser water’s chemical energy – energy originating from within the Earth itself.

hydrothermal vent Amino acids, the building blocks of life from which many of the primitive molecules required to jump-start life form from, could have occurred within these hydrothermal vents. Vent environments minimize oxygen and radiation, which can damage primitive molecules. Along with geothermally-heated mineral-rich water these molecules could have been thrown up into cooler waters where life may have originated

Astrobiologists have struggled for years to define the range of conditions in which “life as we know it” could exist. The discovery of hydrothermal vent ecosystems expanded that range. They were the first discovery of life as we don’t know it and suggest this is a realistic and possible scenario.

The ability of life to tap such geothermal energy raises interesting possibilities for other worlds like Jupiter’s moon Europa, and ancient Red planet Mars.

                                                 Europa (Thera and Thrace Macula (2dark features)   Mars

BlackSmokerGeysereuropa Europa is squeezed and stretched by gravitational forces from Jupiter and neighbouring Galilean satellites. Its icy surface has, gradually, broken up and reformed into icebergs, but the core is considered molten. Tidal friction heats Europa’s interior possibly enough to maintain beneath the icy surface, the solar system’s biggest ocean where active hydrothermal vents are believed to exist. Astrobiologists theorize that much like the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of Earth’s oceans the ones in Europa’s dark seas be similar enough to provide all of the ingredients needed to support life.

 

NASANASA is planning to send a probe to Europa within the next 20 years, which will penetrate the ice  layer in search of water and vent debris. Work carried out on Earth suggests that if basic ingredients for the origins of life are there, there is a chance of discovering vent-based life forms,