Sea salt around the world has been contaminated by plastic pollution, adding to experts’ fears that microplastics are becoming ubiquitous in the environment and finding their way into the food chain via the salt in our diets ... Some believe sea salt could be more vulnerable to plastic contamination because of how it is made, through a process of dehydration of sea water. Belgium recently calculated people who eat seafood ingest up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic every year. Last August, the results of a study...reported plastic was found in a third of UK-caught fish, including cod, haddock, mackerel and shellfish. Last year, the European Food Safety Authority called for urgent research, citing increasing concern for human health and food safety “given the potential for microplastic pollution in edible tissues of commercial fish”.

Now, for the first time, researchers have published a sweeping, public, and in-depth accounting of all plastic that has ever been made in the entire world. The number is so big as to defy human comprehension: 8,300 million metric tons since 1950. Of this, 6,400 million metric tons has outlived its usefulness and become waste; 79 percent of that waste is sitting in landfills or the natural environment, 12 percent has been incinerated, and just 9 percent has been recycled.

For the people of Hawaii, alarm bells are ringing....King tides like this aren't just a historic anomaly; they're a sign of what's to come...In April levels peaked at more than nine inches above predicted tides and broke the record high for any water level around Hawaii since 1905. Scientists say the record is likely to be broken again in 2017.

The main drivers of rising seas to date have been melting glaciers and the expansion of water that naturally occurs as temperatures warm. However, thawing ice sheets will soon become the primary contributor ... Greenland has enough ice to raise global sea level by 24 feet while Antarctica has enough to lift oceans 187 feet ... While these continent-size masses of ice are not expected to completely melt, even a small amount of liquefaction could have big effects, particularly for California.

The damage to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s largest living structures, is part of a global calamity that has been unfolding intermittently for nearly two decades and seems to be intensifying ... dozens of scientists described the recent disaster as the third worldwide mass bleaching of coral reefs since 1998, but by far the most widespread and damaging... Their distress and death are yet another marker of the ravages of global climate change.

Every year thousands of oil and chemical spills occur in waters around the country, but unless you live in a highly impacted area like Louisiana, you probably only hear about a handful of them. That’s partly because the Coast Guard classifies many spills—up to 100,000 gallons—as minor or moderate, and small spills get less of everything: less media attention, less regulation, less environmental impact assessment, and most critically, less funding to clean them up.

adapting to coastal erosion by rebuilding infrastructure farther inland and resettling endangered communities is expected to cost between 5 and 10 percent of GDP in affected countries, according to the United Nations. It’s an open question how one of the poorest regions in the world should come up with the resources for costly sea walls and beach replenishment schemes.

Of the 911 reefs ARC surveyed this year, only 68 — 7 percent — escaped bleaching, while between 60 and 100 percent of corals were found to be severely bleached on 316 reefs. Coral bleaching is a phenomenon in which stressed corals expel algae and turn white. If not given time to recover, bleached corals can perish ... There’s no denying the Great Barrier Reef is in serious trouble, having been hammered in recent years by El Niño and climate change ... But as a whole, it is not dead

It’s only been 20 years since scientists started learning about deep reefs ... In a shallower reef in Hawaii, 17 percent of the fish species will be unique to that ecosystem—you won’t find them anywhere else on Earth. But in some of the deeper reefs around the islands, scientists were finding that that proportion went up to 50 percent ... there were some spots, particularly in Kure, down at 300 feet, where literally every fish on every survey is a species known only from the Hawaiian islands.