Solutions to plastic pollution in the ocean

As I mentioned in my previous post, the scale of plastic pollution has now reached unprecedented levels. We now can identify some of the issues with plastic and microplastic. Simply, microplastic is a danger to aquatic life, human life and water filtration systems. One of the largest problems with microplastic is the abundance of it found in our oceans and our rivers. For example, the Great Pacific garbage patch demonstrates the amount of plastic and other waste which has accumulating in our oceans.

This already being common knowledge amongst environmental researchers and activists, some have already started cleaning the oceans in an effort to repair what we have damaged and help spread awareness of the problem.

The Ocean CleanUp is a non-profit organisation which aims to clean up 90% of plastic pollution from the ocean. They use different technologies to help rid our oceans of plastic pollution and have also started helping in river systems as well. One of their technologies is a U-shaped foam like barrier which traps plastic ready for it to be collected and recycled.

Ichthion is a technological company which specialises in delivering the first scalable solution to reducing plastic from our waterways. They are working towards building energy-generative systems that can be installed in rivers, coastal areas and oceans.

https://thegreatbubblebarrier.com/en/

The Great Bubble Barrier is a company which uses a current of bubbles in the water to prevent plastic from moving forward and trapping the waste. This is already an existing technology used to prevent oil spills from spreading and does not hinder fish or ships.

In summary, these are just a few examples of the different ways organisations are solving plastic pollution in our oceans and rivers. There are many more companies associated with these organisations and others which are doing similar work. With this movement where everyone takes responsibility for the planet and does not see it as someone else’s problem, a sustainable future will be all the more likely.

Sources:

Why climate change is more of a concern now than ever before

Currently, climate change is a major issue for humanity and one that cannot be solved easily. The words ‘climate change’ are somewhat natural when looking at the Earth’s history but presently represent a host of different issues which are all interlinked in some way. From deforestation, pollution, carbon emissions to overfishing, meat consumption and consumerism all affect the planet’s sustainability and biodiversity.

A recent video which helps summarise my point further can be found below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Sl28fkrozE&t=0s&ab_channel=TED

What will be looked at today is the history of global warming and the consequences melting ice and rising temperatures.

The first appearances of climate change occurred during the 1820s when Joseph Fourier discovered that atmospheric gases could trap heat emitted by the sun. Today, we now know this early discovery has degrading consequences, especially for those contributing least to the problem.

Two examples of the progression of our planet’s degradation I will draw from are the melting of ice and warming of the planet.

The melting of ice worsens with each passing year as the time-lapse below demonstrates.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7x9leQqrkc&feature=emb_logo&ab_channel=AGU

Some of the problems which follow the ice melting are associated with flooded coastal areas, disturbed marine ecosystems and the collapse of polar ecosystems. Each bring their own set of problems to the table and some of the consequences of these changes are yet unknown as our planet as never experienced such radical climate change in recent history.

The warming of the planet, which is interlinked with the melting of ice, brings a host of separate problems as well. As shown in the video below, global warming has considerably increased over the past 100 years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sqdyEpklFU&feature=emb_logo&ab_channel=NASAClimateChange

The consequences associated with global warming consist of longer breeding seasons for insects and this ultimately leads to population imbalances, such as locusts, taking place in parts of Africa and Asia leading to reduce crop yields. Global warming also causes permafrost to thaw, releasing ancient viruses and harmful gases, such as methane, back into the atmosphere.

The amalgamation of these two interlinked issues which fall under the umbrella of climate change demonstrate the complexity of the problem at hand. Demonstrating that as a collective we must take climate change seriously and invent efficient ways to deal with these complex issues.

In summary, these two main examples are clearly interlinked and disturb the planet’s natural systems. However, as mentioned earlier these are only two issues amongst a plethora of other concerns which are caused by human behaviour and affect the planet’s health. Therefore, in striving for solutions to these problems it is vital that we take a collective responsibility and not leave it in the hands of a minority of scientists and technological innovation.

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Sl28fkrozE&t=0s&ab_channel=TED
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225789568_Global_warming_and_state-corporate_crime_The_politicalization_of_global_warming_under_the_Bush_administration
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7x9leQqrkc&feature=emb_logo&ab_channel=AGU
https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/11/e1700537
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.12337
https://utsc.utoronto.ca/news-events/breaking-research/most-polar-bear-populations-likely-collapse-end-century-if-global-warming
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sqdyEpklFU&feature=emb_logo&ab_channel=NASAClimateChange
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225789568_Global_warming_and_state-corporate_crime_The_politicalization_of_global_warming_under_the_Bush_administration
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jun/08/rolling-emergency-of-locust-swarms-decimating-africa-asia-and-middle-east
https://arcticwwf.org/newsroom/the-circle/arctic-tipping-point/thawing-permafrost/

The forefront of climate change research

Disclaimer: I am in no way sponsored or endorsed by any of these organisations, I am just trying to spread the awareness of information on climate change.

Recent research on climate change taken from credible sources outline what current research is focused on. Some studies I have already written about in my previous posts so they will not be included within this thread. The aim of this is to give people an idea of what direction climate change research is currently heading:

Side note: an interesting podcast mini-series from the University of Oxford on climate change and its research models, economic consequences and the issues surrounding the solutions. A great listen if you do not have the time to read.

Hopefully this helps broaden the awareness on current climate change issues and at the very least provides informative sources for you to refer to when needed.

Life on our planet

David Attenborough’s new Netflix film, A Life on Our Planet, takes the viewer from the 1930s to present day, explaining how human technology and evolution has led to the overexploitation of the natural world.

This film takes you from the end of the Holocene which consists of a balanced natural world and the ecosystems keep this balance in check. It demonstrates the exploitation of industries and the start of the Anthropocene with its visibly damaging consequences.

Some of the problems that I have highlighted in my posts, such as the environmental harm currently taking place, are explained in the process. It highlights the dominance of the human race but also the vulnerability of Earth; demonstrating our key role in the process for our need to change and repair what we have taken for granted.

The film covers issue such as global warming, deforestation and species extinction. As David Attenborough explains these changes, it is clear that our rapid expansion has been beneficial to us but at the detriment of everything else that exists on our planet.

The film outlines what we have to face in the near future and the consequences that our damaging practices will have on the rest of the world. Highlighting how scientific predictions need to be seriously considered and acted upon now rather than later.

One of the very clever pieces of editing which takes place in the documentary film is the annual counter of the human population and natural wildlife. With each jump closer to present day, the increase in human population and decrease in the natural world offer a sobering visual demonstration of how we impact the planet. Thus, the need for us to transition to greener solutions are key as we are crucial to the solution of climate change as much as we are the problem.

So please go and watch this film on Netflix, I feel it is crucial for people to understand the message and the issues explored in this documentary.

Sources:

Why climate change is the best investment of the 21st century

In 2014, many powerful leaders came together in New York to speak about the united climate action to tackle the growing global issues. Many voiced the opinion that it costs more to ignore the problem of climate change than to invest in solving the issues.

It was also in the year of 2014 that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an assessment on climate change science. The report stated that the longer we wait to reduce our emissions, the more expensive it will become. Outlining a key point that to tackle climate change head on and investing in the infrastructure early will help us gain an advantage on the problems which we are now experiencing. Additionally, the report states that to carry on with business as usual will only accelerate climate change and create damage costs beyond what we can accurately assess. This is also key as many today still ignore or deny climate change and their responsibility to it, which will be covered in more depth later.

Although, investment into climate change is essential, some have warned that investing in climate change issues is a complex matter with long-term investment not being so clear cut.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

It is now firmly established that climate change is a much needed and important investment for governments and NGOs to focus on in order to help minimise the damage costs of climate change. However, others have highlighted the importance of investing in adaptation measures as well.

A report released in 2019 by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) stated that adaptation measures such as early warning systems would help avoid suffering, economic loss and be economically beneficial. Some of the most crucial climate issues such as drought, rising sea levels and unpredictable weather can all be avoided by preparing with adaptable measures that the report touches on. These adaptive measures can help prevent suffering but also help invest money into the preventing issues before they become too expensive to fix. For example, the report states that rising sea levels may create hundreds of millions of climate refugees moving from coastal cities, creating a total cost to coastal urban areas around $1 trillion each year by 2050.

Additionally, the IPCC is currently preparing the sixth assessment report on climate change which incorporates the idea of adaptation to climate change as well. Therefore, it is absolutely clear that when it comes to climate change prevention is one-hundred percent better than cure.

Photo by hitesh choudhary on Pexels.com

If business is to continue as usual then certain people will continue to profit from the destructive practices which have been normalised in today’s society. For example, in 2011 an incident occurred where Shell had been responsible for an oil spill near the coast of Nigeria. When asked for $5 billion in compensation, Shell refused to pay stating that there was no legal basis for such a fine to exist, thus avoiding the responsibility of the harms they had incidentally caused. It is well known that many companies try to avoid blame, as seen by the oil spills and other incidents globally. However, active climate change denial still has a strong voice and is one of the major barriers to creating concrete solutions against climate change.

The sophistication of climate denial by big business is one that has been compared to the misinformation campaigns led by the tobacco industry from the 1950s to the 1970s. For example, ExxonMobil in the United States being one of the biggest companies in the oil and gas industries, spent $16 million from 1998 to 2005 to produce uncertainty about climate change. This demonstrates the lengths big businesses will go to in order to keep profiteering from the harmful practices that continue to cause millions of people suffering each year. Not only are people losing their homes but many people’s health are at risk from toxic waste dumps as well as millions of acres of habitat and rainforest being lost for the sake of profit.

As we are at a crucial turning point in our planet’s health and our own, one of the most famous naturalists, David Attenborough, has recently stated that this is our last chance to stop wasting resources, time and money. Therefore, in order to rid ourselves of the destructive habits of today’s society, there is great need to actively inspire a healthier change that everyone needs to be apart of in order for it to work.

Sources:

Contribution is key

Inspired by a recent YouTube video, which I shall link below, I went on a cycling trip to try and help clean up my community.

I decided to load my bike with black rubbish bags and head off to see what I could find.

Living in a city, seeing litter has become somewhat normalised to a degree. As I started to look for it I began to realise it was everywhere. I travelled down a lane which leads to an old WW2 airfield. However, I didn’t make it 10 metres before my bags were full, I wasn’t even able to fit one of them back into the bag on the bike.

Unfortunately, I underestimated the amount of rubbish I would encounter. I spent approximately 40 minutes picking up all the little bits of rubbish. To just clear this lane would have taken days.

I proceeded to take the rubbish to some bins not too far from the lane. Altogether this only took around an hour and is a tiny step in the right direction. So next time you take a trip, it might be a good idea to pack a black rubbish bag and combined these small acts can eventually have a big impact.

Sources:

Community involvement – Grassroot Communities

Helping to improve the environment and improve upon the current climate crisis can often be felt as a daunting task. However, sometimes the small acts of kindness and commitment taken by others can be enough to make a large change in the right direction.

Locally, there are many different organisations and events which aim to aid the environment in some way. In my case, I recently got in contact with an old friend Ben Carpenter, who has started a non-profit organisation called Grassroot Communities. This is an organisation tailored toward the youth in Bristol, England. Its main goal centres around providing a platform for young people to grow their confidence, social skills and learn more about the importance of nature.

Grassroot Communities helps young people from different areas of Bristol by allowing them to break down barriers and bond with one another to form healthy relationships which inspire confidence. Additionally, teaching the youth valuable skills such as cooking, leading activities and growing their own food. Organisations such as these are important as they raise awareness of environmental issues whilst encouraging young people to get more involved. Finally, with the drawbacks of social media and globalisation making communities more isolated, organisations like Grassroot help to provide a community for people to express themselves and connect with the people around them to build long-term relationships.

Organisations such as Grassroot Communities are likely to be found in most of the UK’s major cities such as Bristol, so if you would like to make a difference do not be afraid to reach out to the people near you. However, if you find there is not an organisation anywhere like this near you, it may be a good idea to create your own organisation and make a difference in your community today. So please feel free to contact myself or Grassroot Communities on Facebook for more information and guidance on the following topic.

Sources: