Canada and Global Fishing Watch Trying to Save the Oceans

Collision 2019 - Day One
21 May 2019; Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist, National Geographic, left, with, Andrew Sharpless, CEO, Oceanaon centre and Sean Casey, Parliamentary Secretary, Government of Canada, on Planet : Tech Stage during day one of Collision 2019 at Enercare Center in Toronto, Canada. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Collision via Sportsfile

Our oceans are vital to our existence and nobody knows that better than Andrew Sharpless of Oceana. He and Sean Casey the Parliamentary Secretary were on stage at the Collision Conference presenting their efforts on saving the worlds oceans. Canada has gone from protecting only 1% of its coast line to 10% in less than a decade, hopefully this will continue. Our coasts are great spaces for marine life to lay eggs and eat.

The key takeaway from the panel was the really cool global fishing map which tracks the location of every fishing vessel on the planet! The ships are tracked using regional Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), so the some of the data might not be accessible depending on which countries abide by the standard broadcasting rules.

Tracking the ships helps governments and NGOs enforce rules and regulations. Casey pointed out that tracking the ships will also help with identifying the polluters who drop their nets (accidentally) and leave them to drift (most of the plastic waste in the oceans comes from fishing activity).

Just a decade ago, building an accurate picture of the commercial fishing across the globe would have been impossible. Today, thanks to advances in satellite technology, cloud computing and machine learning, Global Fishing Watch is making it a reality.

The Faces of the Global Climate Strike Movement

Climate change can’t be ignored anymore. Every year we see an increase in deaths directly related to climate change from flooding to heat waves. Young people are inheriting a planet that is facing mass extinction due to the damage previous generations have done to the planet and the “kids” these days aren’t going to take it. These educated youth are standing up and demanding policies to protect the environment now because those policy changes should have happened before they were even born.

Good for these people standing up and demanding that we have clean air and water for years to come.

Aina Koide, 21, Tokyo, Japan

“Why don’t we cooperate to protect nature from climate change? It would be the first time all people on the Earth united together.”

What have you learned from taking part in the strikes? I realised how negative the image of strikes and protests are in Japan. But I also saw plenty of students who are eager to take action to save the Earth. Can you talk about the idea of climate justice? It means that we need to consider developing countries, future generations and non-human creatures, instead of just focusing on developed countries. Developed countries like Japan should take responsibility. What’s the strike movement like in Japan? Is it growing? At the first action only 20 people participated, but at the second one 130 people were there. It’s still much smaller than other countries but it’s growing and we now gather not only in Tokyo but also in Kyoto. It’s becoming bigger and bigger. For the second gathering we walked around Shibuya so I think the #FridaysForFuture movement has become better known. How does climate change currently affect Japan? In 2018, a heat wave swept the country from July to September, resulting in more than 80,000 people being taken to hospital and many people died. In western Japan, torrential rains killed at least 100 people. These events made me realise that climate change undoubtedly affects this country.

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Iceland Recovering from Deforestation

Long ago, when the vikings first arrived in Iceland the land was forested. Something between 25-40% of the country was covered by trees and humans slowly cut down the trees to an extent that was harmful to local ecosystems. Efforts to replant trees in the country have failed since they brought seeds from outside the country and a warming planet hasn’t been friendly to those trees. Now they are using native species to grow their forests and it’s working.

Thanks to Trevor!

Worried About Mass Extinction? Kill Your Lawn

A UN report released today reveals that 1 million species are threatened with extinction thanks to human actions (as in you). The most effective thing we can do is vote out politicians who hate the future, but that takes time and we need to act now. Immediately you can stop buying from water-destroying corporations like Nestle or, if you own a lawn, kill it. This might seem like an odd idea at first; however, once you stop and think about what a lawn is you will find that they are bad for the planet.

Seriously, if you want to stop the mass die off of species and you own land then make that land supportive of local species instead of a monument to human hubris.

A lawn filled with native plants provides habitat for animals, from insects to birds and everything in between. A lawn that’s used to produce food could feed your family, boost neighborhood-level community, and provide jobs (if you don’t have a green thumb). When you run the numbers, it turns that almost anything is better than a grass lawn — except pavement.

My lawn’s days as a grass-based environmental scourge are numbered. I have big plans for my outdoor area: Fruit trees, garden space, native plants. It’s small enough that this project should be manageable, even for a single parent with two small kids.

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Plant Blindness and You

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Can you tell the difference between a big leaf maple and a Japanese maple tree? If not, then you may suffer from plant blindness. Hopefully you can tell them apart when looking at them though. The concept of plant blindness is not so much being able to name every species as it is to appreciate the variety of species that exist. It’s also very easy to cure – just go look at plants.

One key to reducing plant blindness is increasing the frequency and variety of ways we see plants. This should start early – as Schussler, who is a professor of biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, puts it, “before students start saying they are bored with plants”. One citizen science project aiming to help with this is TreeVersity, which asks ordinary people to help classify images of plants from Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum.
Everyday interactions with plants is the best strategy, says Schussler. She lists talking about conservation of plants in local parks and gardening.

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