Coral reef threat to 25 percent of all marine creatures

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..

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?

Teaching about the climate emergency

Such a powerful opinion piece in Tuesday’s Education Guardian from the paper’s environment correspondent, Fiona Harvey, about the failure of the current National Curriculum adequately to address the climate crisis and sustainability more generally:

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.

Sustainability needs to be at the heart of the primary curriculum

A good-news story to end the week: efforts to reintroduce beavers (hunted to extinction hundreds of years ago) and the benefits they bring — reducing the risk of flooding and promoting biodiversity.

The MAC learning domains — especially those in the Living Sustainably life area — emphasise learning about the importance of animals to human life, about the threats animals face, and about how we can live sustainably in the future.

How well is this covered in the National Curriculum?

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.

The state of nature in Britain

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