Our ravished oceans face another threat: irreversible damage to the world’s beautiful coral reefs.
As reported by Aljazeera, half the corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have died over the past 25 years. Climate change is irreversibly destroying the World Heritage-listed underwater ecosystem.
Coral reefs teem with life, covering less than one percent of the ocean floor, but supporting about 25 percent of all marine creatures.
“They buffer shorelines from the effects of hurricanes. An estimated 500 million people earn their livelihoods from the fishing stocks and tourism opportunities reefs provide. The tiny animals that give rise to reefs are even offering hope for new drugs to treat cancer and other diseases.” [National Geographic]
Due to global warming and warming seas, the coral is disappearing fast.
Over the last year, about 12 percent of the world’s reefs have bleached, due to El Niño and climate change. Scientists have predicted that nearly half of these reefs (more than 4,600 square miles or 12,000 square kilometers, or more than five percent of reefs) could disappear forever.
Life-Based Learning takes the issue of the environment seriously as one of nine equal priority themes through which all subject learning is channelled. The Physical World Theme teaches children about how environments can change as a result of human actions..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
But in England, climate change barely figures on the national curriculum, and campaigners claim that schools are not required to teach it directly.
Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 11 February 2020 (p35 of the print edition)
The Merged Action Curriculum puts our relationship with the planet at the heart of what children need to learn. Living Sustainably is one of MAC’s three life areas, covering Plant Life, Animal Life and Physical World.
We’re new. Come and have a look around the site. Let us know what you think. Join in the discussion about how we make the primary school curriculum better for our children.
Living, as I do, in a semi-rural area, in walks down country lanes surrounded by fields on either side, the lack of flora and fauna is stark. The fields are controlled to grow the crop and nothing else. The hedgerows are reduced to rampant brambles, stinging nettles, ubiquitous dandelions and wild plantain. The rich diversity of plant and animal life is gone. It is not surprising the State of Nature 2019 reports the continuation of the decline of the UK’s species. Yet, while the focus is on extinction and loss of species around the globe there is barely a mention made by the British media of what has been happening on our own doorstep for decades.
‘Our statistics demonstrate that the abundance and distribution of the UK’s species has, on average, declined since 1970 and many metrics suggest this decline has continued in the most recent decade. There has been no let-up in the net loss of nature in the UK. Prior to 1970, the UK’s wildlife had already been depleted by centuries of persecution, pollution, habitat loss and degradation’: State of Nature 2019
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