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According to historian J.R. McNeil, an American mechanical engineer named Thomas Midgley, Jr., had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth’s history. Until fate had its say.
Made from 12,500 plastic bottles, David de Rothschild’s, Plastiki, has successfully crossed the Pacific ocean after 130 days at sea. The journey – meant to help lessen our plastic imprint on the world’s oceans – began in San Francisco three months ago and ended today, 8000 miles later, in Sydney, Australia. You can read all about it at theplastiki.com. While you’re at it, sign a pledge to beat waste.
Photo credit: Plastiki
From a slideshow about plastic bags: www.poconorecord.com.
Believe it or not, 16 of the world’s largest container ships can produce more sulphur pollution than all the cars on the planet. The International Maritime Organization allows super ships to use so-called bunker fuel, which contains up to 4.5 percent sulphur (4500 times more than the amount allowed in automobile fuel). The largest ships emit as much as 5000 tons of sulfur a year – equal to the emissions from about 50 million cars. But that’s not all. Every year, ships also contribute almost a billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which makes them as big a contributor to climate change as airplanes.
HAT TIP: puregreencars.com
Artist Dianna Cohen uses plastic as her primary medium. She’s also a co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition, an organization whose mission is “to create a global community and ignite a social movement that will eliminate the toxic impacts of plastic pollution worldwide.
Forget global warming (well, for a second anyway). Cutting carbon dioxide emissions is also a health issue, with millions of lives in the balance because of heart and lung disease. In the long run, most environmental initiatives make sense simply because they improve our quality of life. They also demonstrate respect for God’s green earth – ask any God you like. Tell that to the next climate change denier you meet. Meanwhile, visit huffingtonpost.com to read more about health and the environment.
originally uploaded by DjJoha
The following is from Adbusters: “An ecological footprint is the amount of productive land area required to sustain one human being. Globally, there are about 1.9 hectares of productive area per person, but the average ecological footprint is already 2.3 hectares. So we would need 1.5 Earths to live sustainably.
The largest footprint belongs to citizens of the US, at 9.57 hectares. Five Earths would be needed if everyone in the world consumed at that rate.”
You can calculate your own personal ecological footprint here: footprintnetwork.org.
photo: Vince Alongi
If you were walking down the street and you saw a plastic bag lightly tumbling in the breeze, would you stop to pick it up?
If you’d been with us aboard the Baylis, you would without question.
Welcome to the Derick M Baylis, a 65-foot auxiliary-powered sailing research vessel, a Prius at sea.
Chartered by Sealife Conservation, its mission is to inspire conservation of the Oceans by fostering awareness of the marine environment through research and education. On board, a mixture of open minds: a fifth grader and an ocean activist, college students and college grads, dads and daughters. The most obvious commonality is the desire to experience and learn.
Would you step out of your way to pick up that Styrofoam cup in the park?
A day aboard the Baylis would provide you with more than one reason to do it.
The Baylis has just left its slip and nets are manned on both the port and starboard sides. A candy wrapper is the first catch of the day, small, but certainly there’s not a thought of throwing it back. A simple standard has been set: if you see it, call it out, and it will get hauled in. During the trip to the sea, other debris is collected. The experience is underscored by living sea lions basking on a buoy, pelicans flying overhead, and twenty or so dolphin close enough that you can
hear them breathing and slapping the water. A drifting patch of kelp is hoisted on board and the passengers comb through the leaves looking for life’s beginning stages taking refuge in the safe haven. Tiny crabs and other little creatures are placed in beakers so they can be studied.
A torrent of plastic and other trash is impacting their lives, so while the ocean is where most of earth’s life begins, it seems to be our least-respected resource.
If you were strolling on the beach, would you salvage that plastic cup half buried in the sand?
If you knew the crew of the Baylis, absolutely, you would.
The Billabong seaplane rendezvous with the Baylis off the SoCal coast.
On board are three incredible, big-wave riders. Mike Parsons, Grant “Twiggy” Baker and Greg Long don’t look like the hell men they really are as they board the sailboat from a dinghy, calm and clearly intrigued. Each of them has surfed the largest waves in the world with that same studied character.
They understand the ocean and it’s contents. Around the globe, they have seen pristine beaches turn into dumps and witnessed a bounty of plastic bags and bottles mixed with syringes. They watch as the Baylis nets its own collection of discarded objects, using GPS to note the location.
Would you stop a boat to pick up a floating water bottle?
At this point you know the answer is yes. A manned net on the starboard side misses a plastic bottle and suddenly the boat is turning around to gather it – a 65-foot boat on a turnabout for a single water bottle. There are no complaints, only interest in the brand and where it is from. The 180-degree turn for the bobbing plastic makes a point – for if we can stop trash like this from ever leaving the land, it will never find its way to the ocean’s garbage dumps.
That plastic bag, tumbling in the breeze?
Are you going to pick it up?
There was a point in my life when I would have answered, “no.” Or perhaps I wouldn’t have answered the question at all. Today I find myself stuffing plastic bags in my wetsuit sleeve while surfing. There are funny looks from the others in the line -up until I explain that, to a turtle, a plastic bag looks just like a jellyfish. Suddenly, they understand.
Back aboard the Baylis: A chunk of Styrofoam is netted (the little foam balls that break-off are easily mistaken for food by fish and sea birds). A silver Mylar happy birthday balloon is scooped off the surface to a chorus of hilarious, helium-inspired cheers. Things change. I’ve changed. Anything is possible.
Steve Lawrence, greenlandoceanblue
**All unattributed photos by Steve & Madison
Researchers in England are designing robots with the ability to detect chemical hazards in water. Equipped with artificial intelligence software, the 20 inch-long robo-fish will travel in schools and communicate with each other via GPS. Sound fishy? Visit fordac.blogspot.com for details.
Studies show that, besides obvious health risks, smoking has a serious environmental impact. Assuming that the 5.5 trillion cigarettes manufactured annually around the world all get let, the smoke produced would amount to 84,878 tons of particulate air pollution annually — about half the pollution produced by all the automobiles in America.
Hat Tip: freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com
Albatross adults fly thousands of miles in search of food for their young and often bring back plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by mistake.
In this inset photo you can see what was found in the stomach of just one dead Laysan albatross chick (photographers: David Liittschwager & Susan Middleton).
Learn more about the world’s biggest garbage dump here. Coming soon: details about our own journey to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
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- Researchers Head to Great Pacific Garbage Patch (blippitt.com)
You can follow Chris at changents.com, an organization that connects Agents of Change with a fan base of “Backers” around the world, enabling them to create change together.
The chemicals and heavy metals used in fireworks also take their toll on the environment, sometimes contributing to water supply contamination and even acid rain. Their use also deposits physical litter on the ground and into water bodies for miles around.
Cadmium, lithium, antimony, rubidium, strontium, lead and potassium nitrate are also commonly used to produce different effects, even though they can cause a host of respiratory and other health problems.
The good news is that scientists have come up with some healthier alternatives such as fireworks that burn nitrogen-based fuels – resulting in a cleaner burn, less smoke to obscure the color, and 10 times less barium than the standard kind. Chances are, however, that you won’t be seeing these greener fireworks until the EPA puts stricter caps on the levels of toxic chemicals used.
Whatever you’re doing on the Fourth, reduce, recycle, and follow the tips you’ll find here, at epa.gov.
Hat Tip: environment.about.com.