(Janine Acero) The volume and depth of injected wastewater deep into the ground by fracking methods may be the key drivers in the induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, according to a major study published in the journal Science. The study, led by researchers from the University of Bristol, aimed to provide targeted evidence that proves a substantial decrease in induced seismicity in the Oklahoma region, with possible applications in other parts of the world.
(Sayantani Nath) In the early 1990s, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado was stationed in Rwanda to cover the horrific accounts of Rwanda genocide. The on-ground experience left him traumatised. In 1994, he was returning to his home in Minas Gerais, Brazil, with a heavy heart, hoping to find solace in the lap of a lush green forest, where he had grown up. But, instead, he found dusty, barren land for miles and miles, in place of the forest
Have you ever teared up at a news story about giraffes heading towards extinction? Perhaps you symbolically adopted an elephant to save it from poaching. Your heart is in the right place. But a study released earlier this year highlights the very real damage human consumption does to threatened species and the environment.
The couch you’re sitting on, the smartphone you used to donate money to the African elephant rescue effort – both of these have a negative impact on biodiversity. Even the coffee you brew in the morning takes a toll.
I hate to say it, but unless it is sustainably-sourced, every time you buy something, you’re wrecking the damn planet. Thanks a lot, you … and me.
Research published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolutionilluminates the global hotspots most impacted by goods exported to the United States, China, Japan, and the European Union. The findings show that U.S. consumption is particularly harmful to land species from parts of Southeast Asia and Madagascar, in addition to southern Europe, the Sahel region of Africa, coastal Mexico, Central America, and Central Asia. 
Goods in nearly every store you visit in the U.S. originate in places where monkeys, toads, sea cows, and big cats call home. Elements like coffee and palm oil are elements that animals in shrinking habits need to survive. These resources are used in products made by 15,000 industries globally and consumed in some 187 countries, and an inordinate amount of it is consumed in the U.S. and Europe.
This results in the suffering of more than 6,500 species of wildlife. 
Tracking Consumption’s Impact
For the study, researchers evaluated the supply chains of a multitude of different products to trace the effects of goods on 6,800 species listed as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Supply chains were found to threaten species in a variety of ways, including forestry-destroying habitats, pollution, and urban development. 
The researchers laid fairly new global supply-chain databases over the habitats of endangered species listed by the IUCN and BirdLife International. This allowed the team to identify the world’s “threatened biodiversity hot spots,” as they refer to them. 
For example, logging in Brazil to make products eventually sold in the U.S. cuts down trees used by red-face spider monkeys. Mangroves off Papua New Guinea – home to diverse plant species and an endangered sea cow – are impacted by the fishery trade and gold mined and destined for Japan.
Daniel Moran, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said:
“Biodiversity hot spots is a well studied topic, and it is known that the last reserves of biodiversity are harbored in a small number of places. Economic pressure, even at the margin and in small increments, exerts pressure at these places. Almost any human pressure at the places, unless very well managed, will have a big impact on species there.”
The researchers wrote that product demand in the U.S. also affects “marine hot spots off the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and Nicaragua at the mouth of the Orinoco around Trinidad and Tobago.” They went on to say:
“The European Union drives threats [in] hot spots outside Southeast Asia in the islands around Madagascar: Réunion, Mauritius, Seychelles.
Despite much attention on the Amazon rain forest, the U.S. footprint in Brazil is actually greater in southern Brazil, the Brazilian Highlands, where agriculture and grazing are extensive, than inside the Amazon basin, although impacts along the Amazon river itself are high.”
Humans have moved into animal habitats and now live among them so closely that even the smallest environmental impact can reverberate widely.
The study states:
“For threats driven by U.S. consumption, the 5 percent most intensively affected land area covers 23.6 percent of its total impact on species, and at sea the 5 percent most intensively impacted marine area affects 60.7 percent of threatened species habitats.”
A group of artists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, and locals gathered in mid-April along the Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands to witness an exciting moment: The sinking of the Kodiak Queen, 1 of 5 boats that survived Pearl Harbor. But this wasn’t for entertainment purposes. The ship had been transformed by the group months before into both a tourist attraction, and a way of drawing attention and conservation efforts to the region’s dying coral reef populations. 
The volunteers gave the boat a thorough cleaning and transformed its chambers into a sort-of interactive art piece, including a hollow rebar and mesh kraken with 80-foot tentacles that extend along the length of the deck. Once the Kodiak Queen reached the ocean floor, it would become the Project YOKO BVI Art Reef, an interactive dive site.
The project is now the world’s largest underwater art installation.
There was a tense moment on the shore, when the audience thought the boat might tip over, compromising much of the artists’ work. Fortunately, the Kodiak Queen remained upright for her journey, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Aydika James, the art director at Secret Samurai Productions, a collective of artists working toward solving real-world problems through art, said:
“Watching this ship, which has so much history and so many hours put into it, go down was a joyful thing. It felt like a beginning.”
James is also a member of Maverick1000, a group of entrepreneurs who meet annually on Sir Richard Branson’s private Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.
In addition to being a symbol of artistic expression and entertainment for divers, Project YOKO also serves as a new artificial reef that provides a foundation for corals and sponges to grow upon, that will also house fish, such as the threatened Goliath groupers. 
BVI Art Reef’s goal is to “mobilize a network of researchers, philanthropists, and artists to solve marine health problems through the Power of Play.”
The downed ship is furbished with “an emerging technology called environmental DNA, or eDNA, to collect data on the entire marine ecosystem around the vessel.”
Now that the Kodiak Queen rests at the bottom of the ocean, the project’s organizers have started working with local BVI dive operators to ensure divers submit a $10 donation that will go to marine health research and children’s swim education.