Category Archives: Environment

The best way to curb climate change: have one less child

In a world with 7.7 billion people, water is scarce, food is no longer abundant (despite over production), and affordable shelter is becoming rapidly more difficult to find, is our population truly sustainable?

Every year the world’s population grows by another 83 million people. With an upward trend in population size leveling out at an annual 1.4% increase, it is no question that the size of our population is slowly, but surely becoming a clear issue.

In 2017, the Guardian brought the topic of overpopulation to light.

Now more than ever, environmentalists are posing if more feet equals more heat and if having one less child is actually the best way to help correct climate change.

The silent killer of our oceans: everything you need to know about ocean acidification

For thousands and thousands of years, oceans have been a critical part of people’s lives. The oceans have been our grocery stores, highways, pharmacies, and source of entertainment.

Due to our ocean’s vastness, we see them as infinitely bountiful, infinitely abundant, infinitely ample. Now, more than ever we are seeing beaches that are so polluted people can’t swim. We are seeing an increase in bleached coral reefs. We are seeing shellfish unable to reproduce. We are seeing massively overfished areas.

Ocean acidification, osteoporosis of the sea, the silent killer of our oceans. Whatever your preference it all means the same thing. Over the last 250 years, the average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has made an unbelievable increase from 280 parts per million to 390 parts per million. That’s a 30 percent increase. Half of which was made between 1980 and today. To most people, this just seems like numbers, but when you realize that in the past, humans have only lived in concentrations of 190-330 it is easier to comprehend the problem at hand.

Plant-A-Tree's

Illustrations by: Lucie Brunellière are available here

In long-term ocean acidification is likely to have the most significant impact on the coral reef ecosystems. Marine organisms that provide up to 50 percent of the oxygen that we breathe, such as Plankton and other small organisms, are abundant in coral reefs and will decrease dramatically. These small organisms not only affect us but other marine organisms as well. With pH levels dropping at this rate, current estimates reveal that we will lose 50 percent of our coral reefs over the next 40 years. That means that the quarter of marine species that rely on coral reefs to provide them home will face extinction unless able to adapt. At a pH level of 8.2, our seas are already acidic enough to dissolve shells. This is evident due to the 85 percent of oyster reefs gone because of the acidification of our oceans.

Not only does it threaten 25 percent of marine organisms, but ocean acidification also affects the estimated 500 million people who depend on coral reefs for their daily food and income. Finding jobs, I’m sure you all know, is hard enough in this economy, nonetheless it will become harder. Travel agencies workers, fishers, ecologists, chefs, food manufacturers and marine biologists will all be affected by ocean acidification. Areas such as Cairns, Australia, will no longer be generating over 6.5 billion dollars in tourism revenue due to the death of the Great Barrier Reef. As a result, 63,000 people would lose jobs in the area.

Although research is underway to improve the conditions of our oceans, not much is being done at the local or global level. Seeing that this is a reasonably recently discovered problem, scientists are still researching ocean acidification and its effects on the environment. Even so, scientific research has already saved species such as the Pacific Oyster from extinction.

Scientists do know one thing: irreversible damage will occur around 2060. Even if all carbon emissions stopped today, the pH of the ocean would still drop 0.1-0.2 pH units and it would take thousands of years for the world’s oceans to recover. Nonetheless, that is still better than the 0.5 units the pH was expected to fall by 2100, a 320 percent increase in acidity.

Our highways, our entertainment, our medicines. Our food, our stress reliever, our memories. Our expansion, our destruction, our mess. Ocean acidification will be a problem for centuries to come. Environmental problems have become apart of our society. Although some are discussed until the point of no longer caring, others are worth listening to.

It’s time to go plastic-free: these are London’s plastic free stores

Plastic pollution is arguably one of the most prominent issues of the 21st century. The words themselves have slowly become buzzwords in mainstream society – so it should be no surprise that people around the world are taking a stand against the issue.

What is plastic pollution?

According to PlasticOceans.org, almost 300 tons of plastic is produced annually around the world and half of this is for single use. Single use plastics include plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic bottles and plastic straws.

Every year, over eight million tons of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans and this causes a number of environmental issues. Not only do single use plastics make up 49% of beach litter, but they can also cause serious harm to wildlife. It’s easy for marine species to become entangled in pieces of plastic – plastic bags, for example – and it’s fairly common for animals to mistake plastic for food. Research from Greenpeace shows that up to 9 in 10 seabirds, 1 in 3 sea turtles and over half of whale and dolphin species have ingested plastic.

But it’s not just marine species that suffer from the amount of plastic we’re putting into our oceans: the entire food chain does – meaning that, if marine species such as fish are consuming high levels of plastic, humans are too, when they eat fish, for example. Not only are we eating plastic we’ve thrown away, but there’s also potential for this plastic to enter the tissues of our bodies – just as it does in sea animals.

How can we make a change?

Luckily, over the last few years, people have begun to wake up to the issues surrounding plastic pollution. The United Nations ‘declared war’ on plastic in February 2017, and media coverage has helped to raise awareness of these issues – perhaps the most famous example would be the BBC series Blue Planet II.

Things are looking up; the UK’s plastic bag pollution has decreased by 86% since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge in 2015. However, there’s still a long way to go – but there are some changes we can make. The key is switching to reusable products rather than disposable – using glass or metal water bottles instead of plastic bottles, buying reusable cups for hot drinks, saying no to plastic straws and so on.

Conveniently, there are a number of plastic-free shops popping up around the country. These stores aim to be as close to zero-waste as possible and minimise the amount of plastic used in everyday life. Shoppers can buy loose products in any quantity they wish – from cereal to washing powder and fruit and vegetables to salt – all without the unnecessary plastic.

Where are London’s plastic-free stores?  

Currently there are nine plastic free stores in London.

Re:Store (Hackney’s most recent plastic-free opening):

Hackney Downs Studios, 17 Amhurst Terrace, London, E8 2BT

Unpackaged (found in Planet Organic stores):

Islington branch: 64 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LR

Muswell Hill branch: 111/117 Muswell Hill Road, Muswell Hill, London, N10 3HS

Torrington Place branch: 22 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7HJ

Westbourne Grove branch: 42 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5SH

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Planet Organic Westbourne Grove

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Unpackaged in Planet Organic Westbourne Grove

Hetu (Clapham Junction):

201 St. Johns Hill, London SW11 1TH

The Source

Battersea branch: 99 St John’s Rd, London, SW11 1QY

Chiswick branch: 24 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, London, W4 1QP

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The Source Chiswick

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The Source Chiswick

Bulk Market (Hackney):

6 Bohemia Place, Hackney, London, E8 1DU

Harmless Store (Wood Green):

Blue House Yard, 5 River Park Rd, Wood Green, London, N22 7TB

Get Loose (Hackney):

Hackney City Farm E2 8QA, United Kingdom

The Refill Larder (Teddington):

122 High Street,Teddington TW11 8JB

BYO (Tooting):

21-23 Tooting High St, Tooting, London,SW17 0SN

 

Despite supermarkets also beginning to make changes, and the introduction of these plastic-free stores, there is still a long way to go. And although these stores aren’t accessible or practical for everyone, the increasing number of them gives us hope that things are going to change and, hopefully, we can collectively reduce the damage that plastic pollution is causing our planet.

 

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