Yes, you read that correctly. 5 trillion pieces of plastic. After 24 expeditions occurring from 2007 to 2013, 5 Gyres Institute has recently concluded and published a report that states that there are a total of 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently circulating in our oceans. These pieces, which equal 296,000 tons, can be found throughout the entire ocean, including many ecosystems; this contradicts the common assumptions that most of the plastic pieces are found mainly in gyres, which are large systems of rotating ocean currents.
But where does all of this trash come from? According to Anastasia Pantsios’ article, the plastic is “swept into the ocean from rivers, coastal activity and shipping lanes.” The plastic then becomes degraded into microplastics and travels throughout the ocean. It becomes very easy for marine animals to then accidentally ingest these pieces. With this report, 5 Gyres Institute hopes to spark companies into taking action to create better, more eco-friendly packaging that will eliminate many –single use packages. Fortunately, according to Michael Eriksen, 5 Gyres Institute’s director of research, “if we stop adding to the problem, the oceans will clean themselves.”
Read the full story here.
Birds exhibit some of the most elaborate and bizarre courtship rituals of any animals on earth. Here are a few of the more beautiful and zany examples:
The marvellous spatuletail hummingbird exhibits one of the most extreme courtship rituals (see video below). The male bird has two elongated tail feathers that end in a large violet-blue disc, or spatule. The male bird hovers in the air, waving his spatules in front of the female and making a snapping sound with his beak. To the hummingbird, which is the size of a ping-pong ball, this display costs a lot of energy. Spectators of this courtship ritual have reported that after he’s done dancing, the male will have to flop down on a branch, exhausted, and sit still for over an hour to regain his strength. This species of bird is rare and endangered, and lives in only a few…
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This is some serious news!!! Bee attractive plants that gardeners use to promote Bee procreation, have been tested and found to contain neonicotinoids! In Canada!
The seeds of these plants are treated the same way as farmers crops – they are soaked in the pesticide so that as it grows, the pesticide is contained within each cell of the plant. It is more effective than spraying and reduces labour hours, however at what price? These neonics are the same that have polluted the water supply throughout the states, and has been banned from use in animal fodder and animal and plant refugee conservation sites.
About 50% of the bee-friendly plants have enough of the pesticide to kill bee’s outright, and 40% have two varieties of the neonics! Samples were taken from London, Ontario, Montreal and Vancouver, all with similarly disturbing results. How are we as consumers able to encourage growth in the bee population if the plants we buy to do just that, are actually detrimental to their numbers?
A new study released by Friends of the Earth Canada shows that over 60 per cent of “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at garden centers have been pre-treated with neonicotinoids (neonics) pesticides shown to harm and kill bees. Of the samples collected from London, 100 per cent contained neonics, the highest amount in the Canadian tests.
The plants tested were: Calibrachoa, Gerbera Daisy, Shasta Daisy and Zonal Geranium. All but the Zonal Geranium showed two neonic pesticides, increasing its sub-lethal effects.
The Canadian data is part of a larger study, Gardeners Beware 2014, released by Friends of the Earth in Canada and Friends of the Earth U.S. with Pesticide Research Institute (PRI). Garden plant samples were collected from top garden retailers from 18 cities across Canada and the United States. Canadian samples were collected in London (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec) and Vancouver (British Columbia).
Gardeners Beware 2014 reported that 51 per…
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Internationally Unrelated provides hard facts about the ecological footprint of our society. August 19th, Tania reports, was Earth Overshoot Day – the day which marks when we as a global society have used as much resources as the earth can replenish in one year. If this date was December 31st, then we would be a sustainable society. However, we still have four full months left on the calendar, and a part of August! This translates to a shorter life for the earth overall through harsher effects of harvesting resources, and land and habitat degradation. Read the article reblogged below for a fuller picture on Earth Overshoot Day! Thanks Internationally Unrelated!
I could start with the typical “save the earth, it is the only we have”, which is completely true, but I will start to tell you that we, as humans need to stop acting like the planet is infinite and it is never going to run out of resources, if not for the earth we share, for ourselves. It will. It is already… And still, it passes us by like it is nothing. Why? Because we don’t see it truly in front of us. If we see war, we see dead people, we see injured people, we know it is happening, we know we need to do something. We don’t see the impact of our actions in our planet, at least clearly. But it is happening.
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Bottled water, revealed by an article from Mother Jones, comes from either springs, or regular tap water. Companies then package it and ship it to stores, where consumers seem to prefer it over what they get from their own taps. The privitisation of a community resource, something that is required to be provided by the government, is my first issue with the product. Why should consumers pay for water that is bottled and moved around, if it is the same as what they already have? It boggles my mind to say the least.
What is even worse is that the springs and taps which provide water for these companies are centralized in California, which right now is experiencing their third driest summer on record! You’d think that the needless use of plastic, and commodification of a community resource would be enough to ruffle some feathers; yet the source of the water is continuing to degrade the Californian land! When will the issues with bottled water be enough to slow their sales? Nothing it seems compares with the taste of “real water” (quote taken from a comment on the source article! Can you believe it!?).
Look at the diagrams below show the concentration of water sources in California, in relation to the rest of the United States – or read the article for yourself here!
After over a decade of testing and prototype work, Atlantis’ MeyGen tidal array is set to move forward! Over the next two years, two tidal turbines will be installed on the sea bed of the inner sound of the Pentland Firth. By 2020 that number will increase to 61, and when the project is fully installed the number will reach 269 turbines! This will power 150,000 homes, and take 100 people to maintain. The project has been financed by many large grants from different levels of the UK government and corporations; the funding totals at £50m! Set to begin construction later this year, this tidal array will be the first of its size and type in the world! Read the full report at BBC Scotland: http://bbc.in/XMmGaz.
Altaeros Energy’s Buoyant Airborne Turbine, or BAT, is the beginnings of a new step for Wind Energy. This turbine is not on a tower, but a helium blimp housing a turbine which is tethered to the ground from about 300 meters in the air (making it the worlds highest wind turbine!). The air is not only more powerful as you climb higher into the atmosphere, but the technology is less prone to problem. Without the massive steel tower, and yaw mechanism which rotates the turbine to face the wind as it changes, the maintenance is much less significant. The turbine also is quieter, while producing more energy! Although this technology is only in prototype phase, tests have been positive. Now being tested over Alaska, CEO Ben Glass predicts to provide power at about $0.18 per kilowatt-hour, about half the price of off-grid electricity in Alaska.
It seems like this is a win for energy efficiency and standards of living! Kudos to Altaeros! Find a full article, from The Spirit Science here: Wind Turbines Take to the Skies to Generate a Magnificent Quanta of Energy VIDEO! , as well as from IEEE Spectrum here.
An article from a great blog we already follow, Food Policy for Thought, tells of a new wave in on-the-go snacking. The Mackay family has created vending machines filled with bananas, and apples, among others, instead of mars bars and skittles. The daunting task of keeping fruit fresh has successfully been surmounted, and leaves no excuse for the use of preservatives in snack foods! Hopefully these “FruitBar’s” will make their way to Canada soon!
When you are out and about and in need for a snack, vending machines are often the most convenient option. Once you get there, though, all intentions about eating healthy go flying out of the window when faced with the choice between chocolate bars, chips and possibly peanut butter pretzels. This zero-sum game between hunger and indulgence has stopped in Queensland, Australia, though – because they invented the FruitBar.
This is an invention deemed impossible by many: a vending machine offering a variety of fresh fruit. You can choose between a single piece of fruit, a mixed pack, and snack packs with nuts and biscuits.
Located in train stations, schools, hospitals and the like, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. At the Royal Brisbane Hospital, the machines have to be refilled several times a day. Growers join in on the excitement:
“It’s so innovative, it’s not very often…
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