3 Environmental Issues to Look Out For in 2018: Ocean Acidification and Marine Protection

Photo source (clockwise from top left): U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [here]; Diego Henao [here]; Justin Hoffman, National Geographic [here]; Andrew McConnell, Panos [here].
Since the early 1800s, fossil-powered machineries have been the propelling force for the dawn of modernization. From cars to factories, emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have skyrocketed, bringing about devastating global consequences such as climate change.

While climate change discussions frequently appear in mainstream media, the same cannot be said for “ocean acidification”. Ocean acidification is defined as the process in which massive amounts of carbon dioxide absorbed by the oceans, dissolve in the seawater as carbonic acid. Indeed, some might question the relativity of all this to our survival as a species, which will be clear in a few paragraphs from now.

First, it is important to know that our oceans play a critical role in the global carbon cycle which is mainly a process whereby carbon dioxide, human-released or naturally present in our atmosphere, is kept regulated to maintain a balanced ecosystem. In a nutshell, our oceans can be described as a “carbon storehouse”, but only with a finite capacity!

Scientists have suggested, as carbon emissions increase with our ever-demanding population, so does the rate of absorption by the oceans which has resulted in the significant chemical altering of its pH levels. Increasingly acidified waters have greatly affected the marine population, particularly those at the lower end of the food chain such as shellfish. This has consequently given rise to the erosion of the oceanic food supply chain.

A sea butterfly shell placed in seawater with slightly increased acidity slowly dissolves over 45 days; Photo source: Ocean Portal, Smithsonian (Courtesy of David Littschwager/National Geographic Society) [here].
It has significant implications for food security and economies on a global scale as many a community and their livelihoods depend on what our oceans’ biodiversity can provide. What will the fishes such as salmon and other commercially-important fish feed on when their food supply diminishes? We are at risk of losing one of our most crucial sources of food.

Added to the strain, diverse forms of human pollution – of plastics and chemical wastes, as well as overfishing and rising temperatures of the ocean constitute further threats to marine life. A call for action is needed to spread awareness before it becomes too late.

OUR SAY…

That concludes our 3-part-series on what environmental issues to look out for in 2018. We hope what brief insight provided in the text above as well as in the previous 2 posts, will be able to give rise to more awareness on the environmental issues we face as a population. Looking ahead, a call for action is needed to ensure the future of our generations. We encourage youths to be more mindful of their environmental footprint. Tell us what you think we could all do as part of the community to improve and advocate for awareness. What other things should we be mindful of when it comes to environmental protection? Let us know in the comments!

 

SOURCES

  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/oceans/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/23/ocean-acidification-deadly-threat-to-marine-life-finds-eight-year-study
  3. http://www.noaa.gov/ocean-acidification-high-co2-world-dangerous-waters-ahead
  4. http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-acidification
  5. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/what-you-need-know-about-ocean-acidification

3 Environmental Issues to Look Out For in 2018: Waste Disposal & Pollution (E-Waste)

Photo source (clockwise from top left): U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [here]; Diego Henao [here]; Justin Hoffman, National Geographic [here]; Andrew McConnell, Panos [here].
Pollution. A term which has increasingly become a buzz-word for regular folks since the 1950s. Simply defined, pollution is the process of contaminating land, water, air or other parts of the environment making it unsuitable to inhabit or use. Despite increasing awareness and continuous efforts to reduce it, pollution still happens.

At the turn of the century, advancement of technology as well as industrialization and modernization has resulted in urban communities becoming increasingly dependent on the use of electronics. Devices such as mobile phones, computers and televisions have become such a penetrating part of our lives that the rate of production for such electronic devices has multiplied over the decade or so.

With that, so did the rate of disposal too. What happens then, when you throw out your iPhone or your PC? Quite likely, your electronic waste or “e-waste” as it is called, will be exported to places like Ghana in Africa or Guiyu in China, where untrained workers who lack proper tools dissemble them to extract valuable metals. More often than not, the processes of extraction releases highly toxic substances, polluting the air, water and land. According to Greenpeace.org, “e-waste is routinely exported by developed countries to developing ones, often in violation of the international law.” This is mainly done to avoid the costly process of recycling and reusing of the products.

Burning of e-waste at Agbogbloshie located in Ghana, Africa; Photo source: The Guardian [here].
While it provides a stream of income for the individuals and families who are involved in this industry, lifting them from absolute poverty, researchers have warned that the heavy metals being handled during the dismantling and extraction process could potentially bring about severe health consequences such as nervous system diseases, chest pains and birth defects.

So, let us be mindful when we next consider buying that new phone or laptop!

There are also several movements that are gaining momentum in trying to curb and minimize the creation of waste, such as the Zero Waste Movement. For more details, click on the links in the list of sources down below.

OUR SAY…

We hope what brief insight provided in the text above will be able to give rise to more awareness on the environmental issues we face as a population. Looking ahead, a call for action is needed to ensure the future of our generations. We encourage youths to be more mindful of their environmental footprint. Tell us what you think we could all do as part of the community to improve and advocate for awareness. What other things should we be mindful of when it comes to environmental protection?

Meanwhile, stay tuned for our next and last post of our 3-part series on environmental issues to look out for in 2018!

SOURCES

  1. https://www.livescience.com/22728-pollution-facts.html
  2. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/burning-truth-behind-e-waste-dump-africa-180957597/
  3. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/detox/electronics/the-e-waste-problem/where-does-e-waste-end-up/
  4. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/4x3emg/inside-the-worlds-biggest-e-waste-dump
  5. https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/toxic-e-waste-dumped-in-poor-nations-says-united-nations
  6. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/09/the-global-cost-of-electronic-waste/502019/
  7. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2015/09/a_photo_gallery_of_an_electronic_wasteland_guiyu_china.html

**On Zero Waste Movement:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/22/zero-waste-millennial-bloggers-trash-greenhouse-gas-emissions
  2. https://www.bustle.com/articles/156442-what-is-the-zero-waste-movement-heres-how-its-participants-are-attempting-to-reduce-waste-as-much

3 Environmental Issues to Look Out For in 2018: Land Use & Overdevelopment


Photo source (clockwise from top left): U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [here]; Diego Henao [here]; Justin Hoffman, National Geographic [here]; Andrew McConnell, Panos [here].

Land use is defined as the various ways in which human beings make use of and manage the land and its resources. In today’s time and age, such meaning of land use more commonly refers to various types of agricultural or commercial developments as well as building of urban infrastructures such as housing estates and dams. Patterns of this basic element of human activity have transformed over time and increased in scale to meet the demands of Earth’s growing population.
Continue reading “3 Environmental Issues to Look Out For in 2018: Land Use & Overdevelopment”

Climate Change Catastrophe?

In July 2017, the perfectly preserved bodies of a Swiss couple that went missing 75 years ago in the Alps have been found as global warming forces glacier ice to retreat. Bernhard Tschannen, the CEO of the Swiss ski company whose employees were the first to discover the bodies said, “every year we lose a meter or half a meter of ice…eighty years ago this glacier was much bigger than it is now.” While ice surrounding the scenic landscape of the alps are indeed melting, the rate at which it is happening remains a cause for contention.
Continue reading “Climate Change Catastrophe?”