Hunting plastic in the Mediterranean

Leghorn harbor

Italian and French scientists on board the oceanographic ship Astrea to study the impact of plastic materials on the marine environment


Plastic Busters researchers will continue their investigations in the Pelagos Sanctuary to monitor sentinel organisms

Plastics are among the main pollutants in the Mediterranean Sea, posing a major threat both for the marine environment and for the organisms that inhabit it. In order to advance their knowledge on the situation, next September 8 Italian and French scientists will embark the oceanographic ship Astrea – owned by the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), on a trip whose route will include the most sensitive areas of the Pelagos Sanctuary. The starting point will be Leghorn harbor, followed by La Spezia, Genova, San Remo, and later by the harbors of Corsica, Asinara, and finally Elba and Capraia. Return is scheduled for September 18 in Leghorn. Thanks to support by Astrea, each research group focusing on specific research activities in the marine environment will have the opportunity to collect data on the presence of plastics and the pollution caused by them.

Beside ISPRA researchers and researchers from the University of Siena (Plastic Busters), French researchers from the Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER) and the Groupe Tortues Marines - Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris) will join the expedition. On board the ship there will also be researchers from the Consortium LaMMA (CNR and Tuscany Region) and the University of Ferrara.

In particular, ISPRA researchers will focus on aspects related to the role of microplastics in the food chain, as well as on the presence and incidence of plastic fragments in the stomach content of pelagic and benthic fish species, which will be sampled during the expedition with trawl nets (Plankton hamburg net) as well as other fishing tools.

Researchers from the pilot project Plastic Busters, which was launched last year by the University of Siena within the framework of the global UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, will further their investigations on sentinel organisms, particularly focusing on the incidence of substances such a phthalates, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals on the tissues of fish, mollusks and turtles.

On the evening of September 9, Prof. Maria Cristina Fossi from the University of Siena, Prof. François Galgani from Ifremer and Dr. Teresa Romeo from ISPRA will hold a meeting to illustrate the objectives of the expedition and the situation of pollution from plastics in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Astrea mission is an ideal opportunity to deepen scientific knowledge as well as to sensitize the public opinion and trade, business and tour operators with which the entire Astrea team will interact while in the harbors.

Joint press release University of Siena - Institute for Environmental Protection and Research  


In the media:

Open Working Group Document Released

The final document adopted by the Open Working Group was released. It proposes 17 goals and a large number of targets. The substance of the document is good, and it strikes a good balance between the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Many of the recommendations from the SDSN have been incorporated – a huge thanks to the thematic groups who have provided hands-on support to and advocacy around the OWG.

It is widely recognized that 17 goals and over 150 targets are too many. The next step of the intergovernmental process will therefore need to focus on consolidating the goals and targets. The SDSN will continue to accompany these processes.

In the meantime, we are rearranging the SDSN indicator report along the 17 OWG goals. A revised version of the report is scheduled to be launched in the last week of July 2014. It will help member states think through the operational implications of the goals and targets.

Jeff Sachs invites us all to 'Stand Up and Be Counted on Climate Change" (please consider signing on with leading scientists and climate experts)

Stand Up and Be Counted on Climate Change

 Stand Up and Be Counted on Climate Change 

Jeffrey Sachs  

Director, Earth Institute

We've just about run out of time to keep the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The world promised to do it back in 2010. But it hasn't acted. This is your moment, as a Global Citizen, to raise your voice to head off disastrous climate change.

The 2-degree limit is the last guardrail for a safe global climate. If temperatures shoot beyond 2 degrees, it's quite possible that natural feedbacks - melting ice sheets, drying rainforests, release of greenhouse gases from the melting tundra - could carry the world to runaway climate change. Such major climate disruptions would put sustainable development and the end of poverty out of reach. Even 2 degrees C is enough to create chaos in many parts of the world: higher sea levels, more floods, droughts, ocean acidification, heat waves and extreme storms.

The 2-degrees C limit was adopted by all governments in 2010. Since then emissions have kept on rising, and we are running out of time to stay within 2-degres. More precisely, we are running out of our planet's carbon budget, that is, the amount of carbon we can burn and still remain below 2-degrees C. In just a few years we'll lose the remaining chance to keep the Earth's temperature below the 2-degree C limit.

Yet, we can still succeed -- if all major economies of the world begin to take strong and consistent actions to decarbonize their national energy systems in three main ways: shifting to low-carbon electricity; moving from fossil fuels to electricity in vehicles and buildings; and massive gains of energy efficiency. A fourth main global pillar is to shift from deforestation to reforestation and to reduce emissions from agriculture. These transformations are deep, but they are feasible and will not only protect the climate but also boost prosperity if we apply our efforts and ingenuity to the effort.

Now you can stand up and make your voice heard. Many of the world's leading scientists and climate experts have put forward a statement to global leaders for delivery at the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23. Here is your chance to add your name with these illustrious signatories by clicking here and adding your own name to the statement.


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