4th April 2019 - Hope for the Environment in the future

 

marine pollution dead whale plastic stomachGreenpeace unfurls 'beached' plastic whale to raise awareness - Asian Correspondant

 

 

It seems that our world keeps spinning more and more out of control, leading to further destruction of the environment. As each day goes by the planet we call home dies little more. Incidents of extreme weather occur more frequently displacing 2 million people in 2018 alone. It is estimated that 14 billion pounds of plastic get dumped into the ocean every year. It is no surprise that more and more animals, especially large mammals like whales, are being found dead with their stomachs full of plastic. I find it shocking that we, who consider ourselves above all other beings on this planet, can be so ignorant and careless, to the point where we are on the path to cause our own demise. It has become increasingly difficult to be hopeful in a world that seems to be dying.

 

How does environmental damage affect the animal population?

It is estimated that around 150- 200 species of plants and animals go extinct every day which is quite alarming. This is nearly a 1000 times the natural extinction rate! Animals and plants do go extinct naturally and we are not entirely to blame. However lately the rate has been so high that scientists compare it to the time dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. Those numbers don’t look very good at all, but there are some animals that we thought extinct and have found to still be around.

The coelacanth is a prehistoric fish thought to have died out during the late Cretaceous some 66 million years ago. However, it was rediscovered off the coast of South Africa in 1938. Just recently a Formosan clouded leopard was spotted for the first time since 1983. Amazingly, after 100 years a species of Galapagos tortoise, thought to be extinct, was discovered on the island of Fernandinia. Species once thought to have ceased to exist have been found to still be hanging in there. Let's do our best to keep them around for future generations to enjoy.

 

Coelacanth Genes Mapped Living Fossil Evolved SlowlyCoelacanth Genes Mapped, "Living Fossil" Evolved Slowly - National Geographic

 

How are we affecting our environment?

In recent years we have pumped around 38 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, making some cities extremely unhealthy to live in. Approximately 4 million people die every year from air pollution that is mostly created by the burning of fossil fuels. It goes without saying that this is not a healthy way to treat ourselves or the environment. After years of pollution we are starting to feel the repercussions. The actions that humanity chooses to take over the next generation will have a significant impact on our future.

 

What changes are we making to improve the situation?

We constantly hear about the damage we are doing to the environment, through our means of producing energy. But there have been great technological advances in the worlds’ energy production in the forms of wind solar and geothermal energies. Denmark has already reduced its emissions by 30% since 1990. It plans on continuing to do so with an estimated reduction of 40% by 2020. They have done this by relying more on wind and solar power for heating and making it profitable to invest in renewable energy. They are also creating cities where using cars are less attractive than say, using bicycles and forms of public transport.

Denmark is considered to be one of the best places to live in the world proving that we don’t need to rely on fossil fuels to maintain our standard of living. Another excellent example of progress in the energy field is that of Portland, Oregon. They have replaced sections of their existing water supply network with pipes containing turbines that produce energy while the water flows and then feeds it back to the city electrical grid. These are just some examples of how human ingenuity has helped create alternatives to fossil fuels. Maybe someday in the future we will look back at the time we relied on fossil fuels in the same way we look back at the time we relied on animals to pull our carts and wagons.

 

Is the environment starting to see any benefits from our actions?

We have been working hard at changing our ways and although we still have a lot of work to do we have been making a difference. Just recently Iceland reported growing glaciers for the first time in 30 years. Collecting trash has become trendy as we have seen in the recent facebook trash tag challenge where people take pictures of an area covered in trash and then of it all cleaned up. Currently, 54 countries have imposed bans on plastic bags, and 32 others impose a charge to help motivate people to use reusable ones. Bhutan has become the first country to achieve a carbon negative status and hopefully many more will follow its lead

 

We can all make a difference and improve the environment we live in

 

project aware marine cleanup koh taoDavy Jones Jones Locker join with other dive centers and Project Aware for a Dive Against Debris marine cleanup

 

The news we see and hear around us tends to focus only on the negative effects we have had on our environment. There is no denying that we have been careless. But we have also shown that we are capable of changing, adapting and having a positive effect on our environment. Our diving community on Koh Tao works together with Project Aware to ensure dive sites and beaches are kept tidy. Students are active in beach clean ups and our Divemaster Candidates have the Dive Against Debris specialty course included in their Divemaster Internship programme. We also offer Marine Conservation as an add on to divemaster training. Customers at our dive school bar and many other dive centers now get free water refills when using re usable water bottles. We should all feel proud of ourselves and the changes we have made in order to save our beautiful planet and keep working towards a more harmonious way of living. Little by little we are making a difference. Whether it is not using a straw, or refusing a plastic bag, every little bit helps. There is no action to small to make a difference. Lets keep up the good work and keep working towards a brighter better future.  

Uys - Davy Jones Locker (DJL) Diving, Koh Tao