Increase in Beached Whales

More Frequent Whale Strandings Has Experts on Edge

Full story at above link

While the National Marine Fisheries Service has declared an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, it’s more than just oil spills that are causing increased strandings worldwide.

The occurences of beachings has increased.  It could be any number of things at this point from nutrition to sonar throwing them off their intended path.  The BP oil spill is a possible cause but might not be the only one.

NOAA provides this chart of whale strandings in the Gulf of Mexico, showing the marked increase:

Speculations continue.  It is still very uncertain as to why this is happening in different parts of the world.

2010: The Biggest Environmental Disasters

2010: The Year in Environmental Disasters

From Treehugger

bp gulf oil spill deepwater horizon photo

We wish we could say the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the only horrific environmental disaster this year.

From red toxic sludge spewing through Hungary to floods in Pakistan and heatwaves in Russia, 2010 was a year of record-setting natural disasters — all of which were exacerbated by climate change.

As part of our Year in Review Series, here’s a sobering look back at the year’s worst environmental catastrophes.

bp gulf gulf oil spill photo explosion

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

In one of the year’s biggest stories — environmental or otherwise — the Gulf of Mexico was flooded with more than 185 million gallons of oil after a rig contracted to BP exploded in April.Even now, the toll of the spill on sea life, plants, Gulf industry, and the lives of the residents is still accumulating…and we still wonder if the fish is safe for consumption.

hungary sludge photo

Toxic Sludge Spills into Hungary

In Ajka, Hungary, in October, a containment pond — which holds red toxic sludge, a “byproduct of bauxite refining for aluminum” — burst, sending 24 million cubic feet of the sludge over the town.The poisonous material killed all the fish in the Marcal River, destroyed villages, and could take years to clean up.

Oil Spill in Michigan

Canadian company Enbridge took the blame for a major oil spill in Michigan.The spill sent 800,000 gallons of oil into a creek connected to the Kalamazoo River (the Kalamazoo also connects to Lake Michigan), was “called the worst in Midwest history,” and reportedly “soaked” local wildlife.

russia heatwave smog photo

Heatwaves in Russia

Record high temperatures — of up to 100 degrees F — and forest fires in Russia combined to lower a mask of smog over Moscow this summer, while a heavy drought impacted the agricultural industry.Even president Dmitry Medvedev pointed to climate change as a cause, saying, “This means that we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past.”

pakistan flooding underwater weather photo

Floods in Pakistan

Monsoons and rising water flooded more than 1/5 of Pakistan, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,400 residents and the homelessness of 14 million others.The floods were believed to be the worst in more than 80 years — and considered a result of climate change. According to NASA, “the frequency of extremely heavy rain and floods increases as global warming increases.”

deforestation in haiti photo

Deforestation in Haiti

In Haiti, deforestation isn’t a new problem: The country has a reported 22% drop in forests in the last two decades, and 99.2% of the country’s original forests are gone.The lack of trees can make the country more susceptible to the effects of other natural disasters — including earthquakes and mudslides.

coral bleaching 95 percent photo

Coral Bleaching in the Philippines

The 2009-2010 El Nino weather pattern raised the temperature of ocean water in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean — but the long-term effect of that boost on coral could be permanent.Up to 95% of the coral in that region is bleached, and it may not recover.

china copper mine spill photo

Copper Mine Spill in China

Hungary wasn’t the only company facing a toxic mining spill: In China, a top mining company killed almost 1,900 tons of fish.But this one didn’t appear to be accidental; the “320,000 cubic feet of ‘leaked’ waste water actually flowed from a sludge point to the TIng river through an ‘illegally built passage’,” according to investigators.

The Associated Press: Scientists find damage to coral near BP well

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico - ...

Image by SkyTruth via Flickr

The Associated Press: Scientists find damage to coral near BP well.   <—Full Article

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — For the first time, federal scientists have found damage to deep sea coral and other marine life on the ocean floor several miles from the blown-out BP well — a strong indication that damage from the spill could be significantly greater than officials had previously acknowledged.

Tests are needed to verify that the coral died from oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, but the chief scientist who led the government-funded expedition said Friday he was convinced it was related.

In early August, a federal report said that nearly 70 percent of the 170 million gallons of oil that gushed from the well into the sea had dissolved naturally, or was burned, skimmed, dispersed or captured, with almost nothing left to see — at least on top of the water. The report was blasted by scientists.

Most of the Gulf’s bottom is muddy, but coral colonies that pop up every once in a while are vital oases for marine life in the chilly ocean depths.

Coral is essential to the Gulf because it provides a habitat for fish and other organisms such as snails and crabs, making any large-scale death of coral a problem for many species. It might need years, or even decades, to grow back.

Using a robot called Jason II, researchers found the dead coral in an area measuring up to 130 feet by 50 feet, about 4,600 feet under the surface.

All photos from the Lophelia II 2010 research expedition

Beyond Oil: Personalized Video

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

I was sent this link in my email to a video that was personalized with my name to send to President Obama as part of a petition.  It was through Sierra Club.  I enjoyed watching it and I signed the petition and sent the video.  Here is the link:

Enjoy!!  Also, I’m not sure if you can still make your own video but it is worth a try!!

Email From Congressman Daniel B. Maffei (25th District of NY)

Map of the northern Gulf of Mexico showing the...

Image via Wikipedia

I have been signing e-petitions on and Sierra Club and this is the first time anyone has made an effort to contact me back. Kudos to you Maffei!!

August 16, 2010
Dear Ms. Cardone:

According to the Constitution, my job title is “Representative,” and I want to make sure that is my job description, as well. To do my job, I need to know the opinions of my constituents, and your input regarding legislative issues is crucial. Thank you for contacting me regarding domestic oil drilling and lifting bans on drilling at American sites, including on the outer continental shelf.

Oil continues to be our country’s primary energy resource; however, our nation has a unique opportunity to change our current dependence on oil and move towards a more economically and environmentally sustainable future. I believe that expanding our capability to harness wind, solar, natural gas, nuclear and biomass energy has a greater potential to solve our energy problems than does expanding domestic drilling

I am very concerned about the Gulf Coast oil spill that occurred on April 20, 2010. The impact of the spill on the environment and economy of communities in the Gulf Coast region, as well as on the entire nation, is devastating. I firmly believe that British Petroleum (BP) must be held accountable for their negligence and untimely response. The burden of responsibility to repair the region should not be placed on the American people, but on those who are directly responsible for the disaster.

Congress has already held several hearings to conduct a full inquiry to determine the cause of the accident, to clarify BP’s plan to stop the leak, and to ensure clean-up efforts are carried out quickly to protect coastal communities.

I am also a proud cosponsor of several bills that have been introduced regarding the Gulf Coast oil spill. H.R. 5503, the Securing Protections for the Injured from Limitations on Liability (SPILL) Act was introduced by Representative John Conyers (MI-14) and passed the House by a voice vote on July 1, 2010. The bill is currently pending before the Senate. If enacted, it would reform outdated maritime liability laws to ensure that the families of those killed or injured in the BP oil spill and in other similar tragedies are justly compensated for their losses.

Another bill Congress recently voted on was H.R. 3534, the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act. The bill was introduced by Representative Nick Rahall

(WV-3) and passed the House on July 30, 2010 by a vote of 209 to 193 with my support. If enacted, this legislation would help restore the Gulf Coast by increasing safety standards for offshore drilling companies and requiring they demonstrate the ability to respond to future spills. In addition, it would create strong new ethics standards for the oil and gas industries, increase the liability cap to $300 million and create a trust fund so that money raised from drilling in our oceans will also go toward protecting them.

Being a member of Congress means I have to consider tough decisions and votes every day. I am humbled by the responsibility of representing you, as well as some 650,000 other people. I want you to know that I will continue to advocate for government accountability and transparency as I fight to bring jobs to Upstate New York and turn our economy around. You may also want to visit my website at, where you can sign up for my e-newsletter, find out how I have voted on legislation and keep current with my latest congressional activities and policy statements.


Daniel B. Maffei
Member of Congress