Make it, use it, throw it: A throwaway mentality is destroying the planet

The world’s oceans — majestic, awe-inspiring and essential for the survival of life on the planet — are being destroyed by eternal plastic.

‘Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That is the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.’

Many plastics break down into smaller non-biodegradable micro sized pieces, as demonstrated by pulverising a foam polystyrene cup. Micro plastics pieces form the cloudy soup of plastic ocean swirls, the most notorious of which is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

‘Located in the South Pacific, Henderson Island is one of the worst places affected by plastic pollution, holding the highest density of plastic debris in the world. Around 3 500 to 13 500 new plastic items wash up here every day. The island’s East Beach spans 2km, and is polluted by 30 million plastic items.’

Lentil sized plastic pellets  known as ‘nurdles’ litter 205 of 275 British Isles beaches from Shetland to Scilly. The largest number recorded in the Great Winter Nurdle Hunt weekend in early February were found at Widemouth Bay in Cornwall, where 33 volunteers from the Widemouth Task Force collected about 127,500 pellets on a 100-metre stretch of beach.

Millions of animals are killed by plastics every year, from birds to fish to other marine organisms. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastics. Nearly every species of seabird eats plastics.

Plastics absorb pollutants, making them poisonous to fish and we eat the fish.

Life-Based Learning brings children’s learning of science and geography to life – in the National Curriculum in England for children 5 to 11 years of age – by preparing them for the real world as adults.

What is to be done with super-trawlers?

Ravished oceans: A trilogy: part one: A Fishy Tale. Preparing children for tomorrow’s world today

‘Sea monsters’, the size of football fields, trawl nets hundreds of metres long, catching everything in their path. These refrigerated, factory ships can catch and process up to 250 tons of fish a day.

‘Bycatch’ is the euphemistic term for everything unwanted caught up in the nets to be shovelled back into the ocean – juvenile fish, non-commercial fish, dolphins, turtles, porpoises, sharks, small whales and seals.

Bottom trawling nets scrape the ocean floor. Small hole shrimp nets are especially indiscriminate. They deplete marine fauna, destabilise the marine floor and cause excessive bycatch for every shrimp caught.

Bycatch – difficult to estimate – is put at  63 billion pounds of unwanted catch caught every year, responsible for 40% of the worlds annual marine catch.

Life-Based Learning, for 5 to 11 year old children, includes learning about the human footprint in its Physical World theme.

Trilogy: parts two and three to follow:

Life-based learning on the environment ahead of the times?

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Last night David Attenborough, in the BBC documentary ‘Extinction: The Facts‘ tolled the bell on worldwide loss of habitat and biodiversity, threats to species and extinction of not just wild animals, but putting human existence itself at risk. Pulling no punches, Attenborough banged that bell to hell.

Unfortunately, while the message is not new, human impact on the environment is ever on the increase.

Only last week the Living Planet Report showed that, on average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles plunged by 68 per cent between 1970 and 2016.

The Independent Tackling the extinction crisis is everyone’s responsibility – and time is running short

One of the nine themes of Life-Based Learning [along with Plant Life and Animal Life] is ‘The Physical World‘. Children in Primary School learn scientific and geographical concepts, knowledge, techniques and skills through their exploration of the damage to the world’s physical resources by human activity and the impact this is having on life and living.

Is it too much to hope that the National Curriculum subjects can be rearranged to ensure our young children are prepared to meet the environmental challenges they will face as adults?

Collapse in wildlife populations caused by human activity

Image by Ylvers from Pixabay

According to the newly published Living Planet Report 2020, wildlife populations are in freefall around the world, and the principal cause is human activity.

It says that, on average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles fell by 68% between 1970 and 2016.

According to the Guardian, the report found that “from the rainforests of central Africa to the Pacific Ocean, nature was being exploited and destroyed by humans on a scale never previously recorded.”

The devastation of wildlife is principally caused by:

  • human overconsumption
  • population growth
  • intensive agriculture

Sir David Attenborough is quoted as saying that this could be the moment we [humans] learn to become stewards of the planet. “Above all,” he says, “it will require a change in perspective.”

Animal life is one of the nine themes that are at the heart of the life-based learning curriculum for children aged 5 to 11.

Life-based learning focuses on the value of animals to humanity and aims to foster in children an interest in the need to preserve animal diversity, protect animal habitats and manage the use of animals in sustainable ways to the mutual benefit of humans and the planet.

Above all, it ensures that children are sensitised to the issues facing animals caused by human use of animals and their environments.

Greenland and Antarctica are melting at rates matching ‘worse-case scenario’ predictions

Image by InstaWalli Official from Pixabay

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, has confirmed the polar ice caps are losing mass at rates threatening dire sea-level rise.

As reported in the Express:

  • Trillions of tons of ice are melting
  • The melt has caused a sea level rise estimated at 17.8 mm
  • The melt contributes to coastal flooding, shifting ocean currents and extreme weather events
  • A further 6.7 inches (17 cm) rise is predicted by the end of the century to impact on millions of people.

Life-based learning gives children the foundation concepts, knowledge, attitudes and values to contribute positively in their adult lives to finding life-sustainable solutions. Life-based learning prioritises learning about and looking after the physical world.

Rain and wind bring 1,000 tons of microplastics to U.S. protected lands every year

America’s national parks and wilderness are being filled with plastic we can barely even see.

[Photo: Bailey Zindel/Unsplash] Edited by Fast Company

Article by BY KRISTIN TOUSSAINT

When I was young there was a saying, ‘What happens in America, happens in Britain ten years later’. The article written by Kristin Toussaint for Fast Company – see link above – reveals 1000 tons of microplastics inundate America’s protected lands – 6% of America – every year, brought in by the wind or evaporated into clouds and deposited by rainstorms. 

“The biggest category of these microplastics was fibers related to clothing. Samples included polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and PTFE, which is used in technical wear such as waterproof jackets.”

And, as far as Britain being behind America, there is every reason to suppose the same microplastics are raining down now in Britain as they are in America – no time lag there then.

Who would have thought walking in the Highlands of Scotland with your waterproof on could be polluting the environment?

Trees of Europe

More than half of the native trees of Europe face disappearance from the natural landscape due to mostly human activity as reported in The Guardian.

The threat to Europe’s trees is an important reason for conservationists to support the Merged Action Curriculum which has Plant Life as one of its nine priority areas of learning.

You can read an abstract from the report here.

Find out about the medical use of the Horse Chestnut tree here.

Youth summit on climate change

Young leaders from around the world convened in New York on Saturday, September 21 to showcase climate solutions and engage with global leaders on the defining issue of our time. https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/youth-summit.shtml

The MAC learning area ‘Living sustainably’ prepares future generations with the attitudes, values, information and commitment to make personal and social change in husbanding the planet’s living and non-living resources.