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CLIMATE CHANGE

Part 3 of 9 in PLANETARY BOUNDARIES

Climate change is a loaded topic and you can dig deep into intimidating mathematical calculations and chemistry. What it all boils down to (pun intended) are the molecules in our atmosphere. Before the industrial revolution, it worked like this: The sun shines down on earth and mostly the energy bounces back out to space. Water vapour and some carbon  dioxide keeps a fraction of the energy maintaining warmth. This way, the sun warms the earth enough to sustain life but doesn’t burn us to a crisp.
With carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydroflourocarbons and other gases in the atmosphere, a harmful amount of the sun’s heat is trapped in our atmosphere and not enough is reflected back out into space.
This is ultimately the greenhouse effect which warms our planet. This is why we are reaching record high temperatures and earth’s creatures are behaving differently.

I got so lost in links of links of links in Wikipeadia and whilst I understood the just of it, I couldn’t write about it the way I would like to. Luckily, there are some brainiacs on Youtube that can explain it perfectly in visuals.

Enjoy the videos below and pat yourself on the back for learning the science behind climate change. They all compliment each other and are fun to watch.

 

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NOVEMBER – THE PENULTIMATE MONTH

No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds –
November!

Written by Thomas Hood in 1844 when London was subjected to frequent smog.

This poem also describes a future that a handful of transnational companies have designed for us and are ready to profit even more from. Almost every country has a government that can be bought with Mother Nature’s blood money and almost every political leader is ignoring climate change because it’s ‘not good for business.’

These decisions are leaving us to face our own extinction because money seems more important than our survival. Our pensions are literally paying for our death. The madness has to stop NOW!

Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

We are going through the most critical, ecological crisis this planet has ever experienced. It is bigger than our previous five mass extinctions and more concerning than world war one and world war two. This is the time for everyone to heed the call to prevent further damage. The social contract between those who govern us and the rest of humanity has been broken.

In order to survive, we must all take up the fight.

Photo by Cleam Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Photo by Cleam Onojeghuo on Unsplash

That is what hundreds of concerned citizens in the UK are doing and they are calling it Extinction Rebellion.

Students in Sweden went on strike from school for climate change and 15 year old Greta made a moving speech.

Civil disobedience is growing because governments fail to acknowledge the severity of climate change and divest from fossil fuels. The youth have foreseen a dark future ahead while those in power are almost ready to retire. Some activists are winning and continue to win with support from ordinary folk like you and me.

Protests have been happening all over the world on a large scale and still we continue to fight.

We can change the course we are on from destructive to regenerative and we must, because we no longer have a choice. It’s not about you or me or them, it’s about every force of life on this precious planet. Every life counts, every creature matters.

If everything we do, we do with the best intention for the planet, then we can live healthy lives, in body and mind. This is no longer the time to start with something small like recycling your glass, this is the time to do a complete overhaul of your life and terminate our bad habits that have a high carbon footprint.

Like John Newton’s successful campaign to end the slave trade, we must do 5 things:

1. Join the community
2. Communicate in images
3. Invoke emotion with intention
4. Create meaningful calls to action
5. Tell better stories

To elaborate on number 4: What can we do?

  • Stop traveling on fossil fuels on your own. Take a bus, a taxi, a train or car pool or even ride a bicycle. Not only will it be cheaper but you will have more time to yourself to read and feed your mind. Riding a bicycle is a healthy gift to your body because you can burn fat instead of fossil fuels. Live close to work or find work close to home.
  • Plant more trees. Plant a tree for Arbour day, for your birthday, for your wedding, for your funeral, for the birth of your children, to celebrate someone else’s life. Plant a tree for the community, for the future, for the unborn, for the birds, the bees and the love in between. Trees sequester carbon, filter noise and wind, drop temperatures, seed rain, fertilise soil, create shade, enhance wildlife, increase value of property, decrease crime and they are beautiful.
  • Eat more vegetables. Grow them too if you can. Eating more vegetables means you eat less meat. Animal agriculture accounts for over 50% of biomass on the planet. We are so busy growing food to feed livestock that children in poorer countries are starving to death not to mention water becoming a scarcity. Growing your own food means less poison on your plate, less salt in the earth, more diverse ecosystems, less fossil fuels from farm to store, less fossil fuels from store to plate, less fossil fuels to keep food cool and better quality food. Growing food is fun, educational, rewarding and it just tastes better – I promise.
  • Ditch the dustbin and the trashy life. Roll up your sleeves and learn to zero waste your lifestyle. Join Facebook groups. Many are on this journey already. Join Freecycle. You will need the help of an ecobrick to get you started.
  • Get involved. Join your neighbourhood community or start one. Go to protests, sign petitions, volunteer for environmental justice, engage in civil disobedience if that’s what it takes. This is your call to do your part for the green revolution.
  • Invest in clean energy and harvest water. You can reuse your grey water for the garden by making your own biodegradable cleaning products. Guerrilla House regularly hold workshops to learn how to do this effectively.
  • Search with Ecosia instead of Google. They have planted over 40 million trees and offered 1 million Euros to save Germany’s forest from coal mining. They have great success and when you search with them all the time, they share these positive stories with you. Latest happy story here.
  • If there is one philosophy, one science, one topic, one book, one youtube video, one subject you should invest your time in, this should be permaculture. It truly does have the answers to live a healthy life. Read about it, investigate it and study it if you can. Want proof? Good! I’m glad you asked. Search for Surviving Collapse by Geoff Lawton and he will show you how he is greening deserts. The most arid, barren, dry, hot deserts where nothing grows. He may even become your new best friend.
  • Invest in an eco loo and build a compost bin. You can use all that water that you were using to flush, for your food garden. Plus, in year’s time, your biowaste would have turned into lovely black compost for your trees. It’s nature’s way and has been this way long before flushing toilets came into operation in the mid nineteenth century. Despite public opinion and paranoia, eco toilets are much cleaner than their flushing counterparts, if managed correctly. No bacteria aerosols, no need for ghastly sewerage pipes running under the city letting off methane in it’s path. Nature does all the work for you and everything you ate is returned back into the ground as carbon, where it belongs. Your water saving efforts are then repeated because soil that contains organic matter retains water very well. This means plants don’t need to be watered as frequently.
  • Support small local businesses instead of transnational companies.

Mother Nature can feed us abundantly with nutritious food, she can shelter us, give us happiness and provide future generations with a diverse and beautiful home. In order to unlock her gifts, we must honour, love and respect her with every single action we take during our lives. Let’s evolve from an industrial revolution to a green revolution!

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PLANETARY BOUNDARIES Part 2 LOSS OF BIOSPHERE INTEGRITY (BIODIVERSITY LOSS & EXTINCTIONS)

 

PLANETARY BOUNDARIES Part 2
LOSS OF BIOSPHERE INTEGRITY (BIODIVERSITY LOSS & EXTINCTIONS)

See part 1 of 9 here.

 

CHANGE OF BIOSPHERE INTEGRITY

This planetary boundary is one of two core boundaries. This means that if this threshold has been crossed, it affects other processes on earth. The other core boundary is climate change.
By looking at the planetary boundary picture above, you can see that the green to yellow to red piece of the pie, indicates that we have crossed this threshold.

We are now experiencing the sixth mass extinction of planet earth. This beautiful blue and green planet of ours has experienced 5 mass extinctions before. These have been said to be caused by volcano eruptions, asetroid strikes, climate shifts and other natural causes. During these natural phenomenons, species extinction occurs at 1 to 5 species a year. This is called a background rate.

The sixth mass extinction known as the Holocene or Anthropocene extinction is caused by humans. The extinction rate of species is 1,000 to 10,000 times larger than the background rate of previous extinctions.

We are facing a future of losing 30 – 50% of all species by 2050 if we don’t act dramatically now.

This is caused by a number of factors:

  • Habitat loss and degration due to farming especially animal agriculture
  • Climate change through heat stress and drought stress
  • Excessive nutrient load and other forms of pollution
  • Over-exploitation and unsustainable use (e.g. unsustainable fishing methods) we are currently using 25% more natural resources than the planet
  • Armed conflict, which disrupts human livelihoods and institutions, contributes to habitat loss, and intensifies over-exploitation of economically valuable species, leading to population declines and local extinctions.
  • Invasive alien species that effectively compete for a niche, replacing indigenous species

The threat of extinction is at large and includes:

  • 1 out of 8 birds
  • 1 out of 4 mammals
  • 1 out of 4 conifers
  • 1 out 3 amphibians
  • 6 out of 7 marine turtles
  • 75% of genetic diversity of animal crops have been lost
  • 75% of the world’s fisheries are fully or over exploited
  • Up to 70% of the world’s known species risk extinction if the global temperatures rise by more than 3.5°C
  • 1/3rd of reef-building corals around the world are threatened with extinction
  • Over 350 million people suffer from severe water scarcity

1.29 minutes

 

4.52 minutes

23.42 minutes

 

 

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Stratospheric Ozone Depletion

Stratospheric Ozone Depletion is one of 9 interplanetary boundaries.

Introduction to Planetary Boundaries

Planetary Boundaries is a concept where each of the nine boundaries are interconnected with one another. It was proposed by a group of earth system and environmental scientists led by Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Will Steffen from the Australian National University.

When one boundary is pushed beyond it’s limits, it can cause catastrophe for the other boundaries. It’s a bit like looking at the planet as a whole ecosystem.

Some people argue and say that using planetary boundaries implies that humans can continue their destructive ways up until a determined limit and thus not change methods entirely. I agree with them. I believe we should be altering our methods so that we are healing the planet and not taking without replacing.

I do, however find the planetary boundaries concept interesting because it alerts us to the dangerous territory we are embarking on that could cause the life, including human life, on our blue planet to collapse.

Business as usual in a system that is based on infinite resources is leading us to the depths of Modor, to put it figuratively. We are dancing on the edge of a cliff and we must find our way back to the laws of nature.

Nature is a wonderful thing. She is fruitful, rewarding and can pour abundant doses of happiness into our souls. That sentence only applies when we treat her with respect. If we abuse her, punish her, force her and overpower her, she will become hostile. Unfortunately many innocent lives are at stake for the actions of a few people orientated by money and immediate gratification. We must look into the future and think ahead. Immediate gratification is like an addiction and it will make us sick.

Our Ozone Layer

 

The ozone layer encircles the Earth, and it is a gaseous layer situated at the lower end of the stratosphere. Ozone is a molecule made up of 3 oxygen atoms. The oxygen we breath is made up of molecules with 2 oxygen atoms. The ozone layer has more ozone in it than any other atmospheric layer around the earth. Ozone serves an important purpose for life on earth. It blocks harmful ultraviloet radiation that comes from the sun.

It is compelling to know that ultraviolet radiation from the sun actually forms the ozone molecules in the ozone layer. Ozone forms when radiation or electrical discharge separates the two atoms in an oxygen molecule (O2), and these free oxygen atoms can form with other oxygen molecules (O2) to form ozone (O3).

The general public became more aware of the ozone layer when scientists discovered that certain chemicals manufactured by humans destroyed some of our ozone. These harmful chemicals include chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) and caused a ‘hole’ (or rather a considerable less amount of ozone) in our ozone layer that sits over Antartica during the spring time.

After an outcry, an international treaty was signed in 1973 called the Montreal Protocol, and the manufacture of these chemicals was greatly reduced.

The ozone layer destruction has slowed down significantly and we are hoping that it will continue to heal with humanity’s cooperation. There is some science that suggests that major volcanic eruptions (mainly El Chichon in 1983 and and Mt. Pinatubo in 1991) may have also contributed to the ozone depletion.

If the ozone layer continued to deplete, humans would be susceptible to various cancers, cataracts and plants would not grow well thus impacting our food supply. Whales have also shown signs of skin damage due to the hole in the ozone layer.

While stratospheric ozone which protects us from the sun is good, there is also ozone produced near the ground from sunlight interacting with atmospheric pollution in cities that is bad for human health. It causes breathing problems for some people, and usually occurs in the summertime when the pollution over a city builds up during stagnant air conditions

The planetary boundary for the ozone layer is recorded in Dobson Units and is currently 276 Dobson units. That means if we fall under 276 units, we have passed the threshold. The current reading accorning to Wikipedia is 283 Dobson Units. The value before industrial times was 290.

 

 

Here is an interesting timeline of the history of the ozone layer from theozonehole.com. Note Du Pont’s role in this, who is also responsible for biodiversity loss in food by producing pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified food to survive these poisions.

HISTORY OF THE OZONE LAYER

600,000,000 B.C. Ozone layer forms
1839 Christian Schöenbein identifies ozone in the laboratory
1845 Auguste de la Rive and Jean-Charles de Marignac suggest ozone is a form of oxygen; confirmed by Thomas Andrews in 1856
1858 Andrei Houzeau finds ozone present in natural air
1865 Jean-Louis Soret proves that ozone is O3
1879 Marie Alfred Cornu measures solar spectrum and finds sharp cutoff in ultraviolet (UV) light
1881 Walter Hartley recognizes cutoff corresponds to UV absorption by ozone
1913 John William Strutt (Lord Rayleigh) shows absorption is not in lower atmosphere
1919 Charles Fabry makes first spectrometric measurements of “thickness” of ozone layer
1924 G.M.B. Dobson develops ozone spectrophotometer and begins regular measurements of ozone abundance (Arosa, Switzerland)
1925 Jean Cabannes and Jean Dufay show ozone is about 10 miles high
1928 Thomas Midgley synthesizes chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s)
1929 Umkehr method for Dobson instrument establishes that ozone maximum is below 15 miles altitude
1930 Sydney Chapman describes theory that explains existence of an ozone “layer”
1934 Ozonesonde (balloon) measurements establish the ozone concentration is maximum around 12 miles up
1930’s GM develops applications for CFC’s
1950 David Bates and Marcel Nicolet propose catalytic (HOx) ozone destruction
1957 Global network of Dobson spectrophotometers established during the International Geophysical Year (IGY)
late 1950’s CFC market expands rapidly
early 1960’s Catalytic destruction is necessary in order to explain ozone amounts
1960’s Boeing proposes supersonic transport (SST) fleet of 800 aircraft
1969 Paul Crutzen discovers NOx catalytic cycle
1971-74 Dept of Transportation sponsors intensive program of research, The Climatic Impact Assessment Program (CIAP)
1971 Congress axes funding for the SST
1971 Johnston calculates that NOx from SST’s could deplete ozone layer
1973 Rick Stolarski and Ralph Cicerone suggest catalytic capability of Cl
1973 James Lovelock detects CFC’s in atmosphere
1974 Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina warn of ozone depletion due to CFC’s
March 1977 First international meeting (Washington DC) to address issue of ozone depletion held by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
March 1978 US bans non-essential use of CFC’s as aerosol propellant
1978 Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) is launched aboard NIMBUS-7 spacecraft giving global coverage of ozone layer thickness
1980’s Renewed expansion of CFC market
Oct 1982 Shigeru Chubachi measures low ozone over Syowa, Antarctica (reported at Ozone Commission meeting in Halkidiki, Greece in Sept 1984)
1984 British Antarctic Survey scientists discover recurring springtime Antarctic ozone hole (published in Nature May 1985)
March 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
Sept. 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (Amendments – London 1990; Copenhagen 1992)
March 1988 DuPont agrees to CFC production phase-out
late 1980’s Ten years of satellite data begin to show measurable ozone depletion globally
1991 DuPont announces phase-out of CFC production by end of 1996
1992/3 Abnormally low ozone observed globally
1995 Crutzen, Rowland, and Molina win Nobel Prize in Chemistry
mid-1990’s springtime Arctic ozone dent appearing
Jan. 1996 CFC production ends in US and Europe
2000 Maximum CFC concentrations in stratosphere are reached
Today The Ozone Layer – Global Map

THE FUTURE

2010 CFC production ends world-wide
2030 Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) alternatives are phased out
2040 HCFC production ends world-wide
2050 Springtime Antarctic ozone hole disappears

I did find a video that states that the ozone layer is not healing and I cannot ignore it from this article. To view it, click here.

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The Power of Trees

Trees are incredible forms of life on this planet.

I can write pages and pages about them. If you knew what I knew about trees, perhaps you would hug them too now and again. They are essential to our existence and without trees, our planet would be inhabitable. I cannot empahsise enough how we must strive to plant them, whenever we can, and in many places as we can.

 

Just because you don’t have a garden, does not mean you cannot plant a tree.  Enhance public spaces like parks and sidewalks with trees. Choosing an indigenous and water wise species will increase chances of survival and not consume too much water.

Here are some important facts you should know about trees:

1. Trees seed rain

Trees transpire water which form clouds and rain back down. Check out these awesome videos which explain the process.

 

2. Trees increase the fertility of the soil

The leaves that fall off the trees, cover and protect the ground from evaporation. Microorganisms and other small creatures like worms, eat the organic matter and process it into nutritious soil for plants. The oranic matter becomes food for the ground. There are also trees that absorb nitrogen from their air and return it to the soil through their leaf litter and nodes in their roots. If the tree is large enough to prune, the stored nitrogen in the root nodes are released into the soil as the tree balances its roots with its canapy. When deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn, you can decide how you would like to use them, as they have great fertilizing qualities.

 

You can choose to rake up the leaves, and store them to make leaf mould. Leaf mould is an excellent form of compost, or you can let nature do all the work for you by leaving them on the ground. Fallen leaves have a wonderful purpose, they protect the ground  from extreme cold or heat. Leaves (as mulch) stop water evaporation and when the worms eat them, they turn them into super compost for the soil. This is nature’s cycle of returning nutrients back to the soil so that more life can grow.

3. Trees stabilize the soil

The roots dig deep into the soil to secure the tree and this also protects the soil from soil erosion. Soil erosion occurs when rains fall and top soil is washed away where there are no trees to hold the soil in place. This leaves big gaping holes where it is difficult to grow anything.

 

4. Trees provide shade and regulate temperature.

If you measured the temperature of various man made things like tar roads, concrete, bricks and steel and then compared those temperatures with the tops of trees, you will see a big difference. Trees regulate the temperature. Man made structures like roads and concrete increase the temperature in cities and contribute to global warming. I am sure all of you have experienced the sanctuary of shade underneath a tree on a very hot day.

 

5. Trees help in the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem balance.

Trees provide a home to wildlife and increase chances of survival of many species. They provide food and shelter. Where many species live together, a balance is retored and is called an ecosystem. An ecosystem can fall out of balance if a species of life is removed and this threatens the survival of all other life. Biodiversity is key for survival of all species.

 

6. Trees are a resource for fuel and building

Wood from the fallen and dried branches of trees, can be burnt to provide warmth. Burning dried branches also makes coal which can be burnt or used to clean water. It can even clean our teeth! We can make things with wood like furniture, shelter and paper. We must be careful to prune for the trees health, and not cut them down. Destroying a forest for our own needs is selfish when there are better and more sustainable ways of providing for our comforts.

7. Trees store carbon

Do you know about all that carbon in the air that is making our planet hotter and making the sea acidic? Well, it should be in the ground or in trees where it is safe and put to good use. Trees store carbon and return it to the soil by decomposition.

 

The Moral of the Story

Go out there and plant a tree for Arbor month. Plant 10 trees if you can and try stick to indigenous, water wise trees. Let’s fix the grass deserts in our parks and restore the land, climate and wildlife with trees. Plant some fruit or nut trees in your garden and you will be rewarded with delicious food.

Trees are so vital to our survival. We need more of them to fix the damage we have done to this planet.  Plant a tree for Arbor Month.

 

 

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CLIMATE CHANGE in August 2018

Where to start…

I wanted to write about climate change so that every day people could understand what is happening to our planet. The science journals and graphs and special lingo can be offputting and a lot of information is not understood by the majority of people. The motivation to write about climate change happened one year ago and sadly, I have not devoted the time needed to resarch this topic fully in the way that I would like to write it.

My starting point was to explain planetary boundaries. This is a system based on 9 planetary life support systems and how they are interconnected. If a number of them are pushed, then the system in it’s entirety collapses threatning this planet’s habitability. To just explain one of these nine systems, I had to build on my limited scientific knowledge and quickly, I realised that writing this would be a series of artcles that would take a considerable amount of time.

Writing articles is not my main focus however I do feel that humans need to radically change their lifestyle to live harmoniously with the ecosystem. Hence, I write artciles to promote regenerative living however, there is more to expect…

9 Earth Systems
Planetary Boundaries

Climate Change is happening now.

We are at the point of irreversable damage and that point may have passed us already. Sustainable is no longer good enough and regenerative living is not enough right now. For those that can accept the difficult and uncomfortable truth, preparation for adaption is needed.

We need to be informed of what to expect so that we can make preparations. Unicorn Cafe focuses on the positive side and drives change from this angle. Doom and gloom is not an experience we want to feel yet ignoring that serious consequences lie ahead of us would be irresponsible.

What I can do now is post links to media out on the world wide web and I hope to take you on the journey with me as I explore options to survive.

Polar Bears affected most by climate change. Less ice to reflect the sun’s rays.

There are support groups in place

It is inevitable that some of us will feel hopeless and helpless when we understand the magnitude of what is to come and so, suport groups are forming.

You can find a list here.

Find support

What Media is Reporting

There is a paper written by Professor Jem Bendell called ‘Deep Adaptation:A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy’.

Fedback on the paper can be found here.

What Do We Do When The Science Gets Scary: Climate Change And The End Of Civilization?

Runaway warming could push the world into a ‘hothouse Earth’ state

The 5 Best Places to Live in 2100

I hope that we can adopt the ‘Each One Teach One’ Philosophy and change our bad habits soon.

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Greenpeace Origins

IN THE BEGINNING

DON’T MAKE A WAVE COMMITTEE

Peace vintage
Peace in the 60s

In 1969, in Vancouver, Canada, four people started meeting in a church basement to plan anti- nuclear protests. These people were Irving and Dorothy Stowe, and Jim and Marie Bohlen and they called themselves, The Don’t Make a Wave Committee. Their mission was simple and clear, to protest the detonation and testing of a nuclear bomb on Amchitka Island.

Aleutian Islands
Amchitka Island

Amchitka Island, being one of the Arctic’s most valuable bird sanctuaries with over 100 species of migratory birds, walrusses, sea otters and sea lions,  was declared a National Wildlife Refuge in 1913.

The Environment of Amchitka Island

The US Military had other plans for Amchitka though. They wanted to use this animal sanctuary to test nucleaur weapons. The public were worried that the nuclear bombs would cause further earthquakes and possibly a tsunami hence the ‘Don’t Make Wave Committee’ (DMAW). More volunteers were attracted to Greenpeace and the call to end nucleaur bombs.  One evening, Irving Stowe ended the meeting with the V sign saying Peace, as was customary in the 60s. Bill Darnell responded with “Let’s make it a green peace” and this was where Greenpeace’s name was born.

Greenpeace showing peace signs
Peace for Greenpeace

GREENPEACE BENEFIT CONCERT

 

Poster for Amchitka Concert
Amchitka Concert Poster

Irving Stowe organised a benefit concert to raise funds for a voyage to Amchitka island to bear witness to the nuclear testing. The benefit concert was called Greenpeace Benefit Concert and after Joni Mitchell was on board, the concert sold out. The Amchitka Concert with Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Phil Ochs was held at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. It rasied roughly $18,000 which was just enough to charter a boat to Amchitka.

THE FIRST VOYAGE

Phyllis Cormack
Greenpeace voyage

The Phyllis Cormack owned by John Cormack was rechristened Greenpeace. Greenpeace sailed for Amchitka Island to bear witness, on the 15th of September 1971.
Some may say that their mission was unsuccessful because they were turned back by the US Coast Guard, Confidence, and notorious bad weather known as ‘williwaws’ which were unpredictable winds that ripped through the Beiring Sea.

The nuclear test did happen and to this day, Amchitka island is polluted with radioactive elements and gasses that leached into groundwater, ponds and the Beiring Sea. There are shocking accounts of what happened on the island that day with dead seals washing up ashore with burst eardrums.

However, some may say that their voyage on an old fishing trawler, that had suck twice, was a success because it attracted sympathy. It even drew empathy from the crew of the US Coast Guard Ship, Confidence. Protests continued all along the Pacific Rim and and even in Japan, protestors held signs that said, “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Amchitka” Greenpeace tried to navigate to Amchitka island with other vessels and another, bigger bomb was detonated on the Island. After public outcry, the US military stopped testing there and the Greenpeace movement grew in leaps and bounds.

Greenpeace to Amchitka
Greenpeace Maiden Voyage

By 1977, there were 15 – 20 Greenpeace groups around the world and today there about 26 independent and regional or national offices around the world in 55 countries.

So, the moral of the story…

…is to never give up and that even an unsuccessful mission like Greenpeace’s first voyage gained a lot of support and many successes followed.

 

 

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BREAK FREE FROM PLASTIC

Save the world from plastic

HISTORY OF PLASTIC

Plastic has been around since the late eighteen hundreds and these invented substances have been called plastics because of their plasticity. Plasticity means that these materials can be molded and stretched into something. It is an ambitious task to research and study plastics. Instead of baffling you with poly this and poly that and academic level science talk, I decided to give you some background to plastics in the form of compelling videos.

These videos will give you a brief history, and tell you how they are made and also what happens to plastic in various situations.  I attached the videos because they are far more appealing to what I could write, which may send you into a glassy-eyed slumber of boredom.

MORE HISTORY AND HOW PLASTIC IS MADE

 

 

HOW TO AVOID PLASTIC

Now you know what plastic is and that we should avoid it. I can’t help but feel proud to say that we retired our kitchen rubbish bin. Yes, there is no rubbish bin in our home. There are other things though, like ecobricks and recycling containers, and I am happy to share some tips, tricks and solutions to help you on your journey to deplastify your life!

Avoiding plastic
Deplastify your life

This lovely picture is great head start. I suggest printing it and sticking it on the fridge or where you will see it often. It’s also a good idea to take a snapshot and save it as your phone’s background for a while until you get the hang of it.

 

JOINING THE MOVEMENT AND DOING YOUR PART

More information can be found from Plastic Free July.
Another link to  more information can be found here from Two Oceans Aquarium who have launched the #ReThinkTheBag Campaign.
Let’s do It are going global on cleaning up the planet on World Clean Up Day on the 15th of September. Download their World Clean Up Day App to map polluted hot spots and add to their world wide data. This data will aid communities to pick places to clean on World Clean Up Day.

SUCCESSFUL PLACES THAT HAVE BANNED PLASTIC BAGS

Did you know that Greyton in South Africa has gone plastic bag free? They are officially the first and most noteworthy town in South Africa to ban the plastic bag. Whoop whoop Greyton!

Who else have done this?
Bangladesh (March 2002)
Taiwan (January 2003)
Bhutan (June 2005)
Tanzania (2006)
San Francisco (March 2007)
China (January 2008)
Delhi (January 2009)
Mumbai (January 2010)
Maldives-Baa Atoll (2009)
Philippines (January 2011)
Italy (January 2011)
United Arab Emirates (January 2012/13)

There is a petition to ban the plastic bag in South Africa fir the reason that many South Africans don’t discard plastic properly. Add your name to this petition by clicking here.

A #BreakFreeFromPlastic Campaign has been launched by Greenpeace because plastic has such a negative impact on the environment. Their Cape Town volunteer group are looking for more volunteers to help them raise consumer awareness and clean the Black River. To step up as a volunteer, you can email info@unicorncafe.co.za. Communal service is a great way to gain experience and knowledge because you learn so much from working with different people and implementing projects. If you are looking for a job or want to build your CV, adding community work is attractive to the employer because it shows that you are a team player and care about social or environmental issues. Doing community work certainly also shows that you have initiative and a ‘can do’ attitude which puts you above other applicants. To find out more about why volunteering and community service helps you, click here.

Finally, ecobricking is a great way to contain plastic that you cannot avoid. Click here for more information.

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ECOSIA – MAKING EARTH BETTER EFFORTLESSY

In a world where it costs money merely to exist, it is easy to see how greed often drowns out ethics. To live in a way that is completely harmonious with the environment is extremely daunting to a person who was raised in the coventional western world. Ecosia has a solution.

Often, when we think about the consequences of our actions, we become remarkably overwhelmed that many people give up before they have even begun to change anything. I get it. It’s taken me 38 long years to get where I am and I’m not even nearly as environmentally friendly as I want to be. It’s a long journey but everything starts with a single step.

I want to stress here that it is better to make small manageable changes than do nothing at all. Start slowly and start easy and over time, you can add small changes into your daily routine.

Maybe you don’t recycle yet for whatever reason, or you just aren’t ready to change your diet or perhaps you cannot avoid plastic bags right now – we understand that making changes can be like swimming against the tide.

If we may suggest one small change, it will be using Ecosia as your search engine.

Using Ecosia as your search engine is like picking low hanging fruit from the environmentally conscious tree. If you were going to Google something, try using Ecosia instead to search. You are going to search anyway so all you are doing is using different software which costs you nothing.

So why is this worth mentioning?

Ecosia uses 80% of it’s profits to donate to organisations that plant trees. With the world in threat of desertification, this is an important undertaking that our planet needs.

When you search with Ecosia, you can see how many trees they have planted and you can also see how many trees Ecosia have planted based on your actions alone. Check the top right hand corner of your Ecosia browser. You can download the app to your mobile phone or you can add the extension to your chrome browser. At the time of writing this, Ecosia have planted a colossal twenty-nine million, one hundred and forty-six thousand,five hundred and thirteen trees. (29,146,513)

Go to www.ecosia.org to search for whatever you want. It’s that easy.
The video below will give information on how Ecosia works in one minute and 46 seconds.

Enjoy! It feels good to be part of something exceptional.

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Yacht Boaz and Ocean Awareness

Yacht Boaz Greenpeace trip g

Yacht Boaz is a wonderful story about a neglected boat that has plotted a course, full of meaning and service, to the very sea that carries it’s weight.

The building of this boat was started by a Somerset West lawyer and continued slowly over many years. The work completed was of good quality, made with steel, smooth joints and sturdy welds. Sadly, the progress slowed down to a halt due to the illness and death of the builder. The boat stood on a small holding in Firlands, near the N2 in Gordons Bay for quite some time, while plants grew undisturbed around it.

It was going to take a great deal of labour and expense to finish this boat however luckily, the owner, who was attracted to the steel structure, had a business close by with resources to get the job done. This man was Keith Wetmore and attracted by the old fashioned charm of the boat, he soon acquired it.  It has a lot of interior space, a large saloon, an enclosed pilot house, large engines and a high freeboard (the height of a ship’s side between the waterline and the deck).

Keith’s intention for the yacht was to use it for something else other than just pleasure. When Keith prucased the hull for the boat, he was thinking about going to Madagasgar. Madagascar has beautiful tropical forests on the East Coast and a magnificent bay called Antongil Bay, also on the East Coast.

In December 2014, Keith and his wife were travelling up the East coast of Madagascar, on a local ferry to the market town of Maroantsetra, north of  Antongil Bay. Maroantsetra is cut off from transportation except by sea and air travel. The trip was about 36 hours long and quite a bit of rubbish had accumulated by the passengers.
This rubbish was deposited into plastic rubbish bags as you would expect. As Keith and the other passengers approached their final destination, a young crew member gathered all the plastic bags from all the boats and then threw them into the sea! Naturally Keith was horrified and this became a fundamental and influential turning point for him.
Later, while Keith was travelling in a rubber duck along a river, he noticed an endless stream of plastic water bottles flowing down that river and into the ocean. As explained in our previous article of Eco Bricks for the Win, plastic photodegrades in the sun and releases extremely harmful and toxic chemicals into the biosphere. Plastic in the ocean is also mistakenly eaten by marine life, ultimately leading to their cruel suffering and death.

And so, a mission was born for the boat who had been standing in field waiting for a purpose. This mission is to create awareness about plastic pollution, one nautical mile at a time. The yacht was registered as a commercial vessel with South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and certified for going to foreign lands. She was named after Boaz, who was a biblical redeemer.  This is significant because Yacht Boaz is to redeem back the ocean in the sense as to what is being lost and destroyed by marine pollution (including deadly plastic). The ‘O’ and ‘A’ in Boaz stands for Ocean Awareness.

Yacht Boaz also conducts scientific research into the health of the Western Indian Ocean by means of an annual voyage from South Africa to Madagascar and nearby islands.
She also wishes to build a ‘bridge across the ocean’ connecting the youth of South Africa to Madagascar, and surrounding islands.

In raising awareness about plastic, this craft is promoting responsible use of plastic to consumers and the general public alike, fostering the importance of accountability and the impact that every individual has on the health of our oceans.


Humans use over 300 million tonnes of new plastic every year, half of which we use only once. Eight million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year. Over 700 species of marine life are known to suffer directly from the devastating effects of plastic pollution. Sea birds and mammals consume plastic, and an increasing number starve when their stomachs are full of plastic waste. Studies reveal an alarming fifty two percent of sea turtles worldwide have ingested plastic debris.

We can see that our oceans are under siege by an overwhelming epidemic of plastic pollution.

Before it’s too late, Yacht Boaz hopes to decrease the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean and that is with education, research and expeditions.

It is vital that we are informed, and that we get involved and become aware of how our actions affect our environment.


“ With every breath we take, every drop of water we drink, we’re connected to the ocean. It is our life support system, giving us more than half of the oxygen we breathe, regulating climate, and providing valuable resources.” Dr Sylvia Earle (SST Patron)

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