Plastic invented in the ’30s is now one of the most useful commodities on the planet but it’s also has become one of the greatest problems to our environment. It was in the ’70s when the pollution of plastic had been reported through scientific research and back then it was determined that 0.1% would wind up in the ocean but now that number has increased to 4.5%.
On September 11th at the Vancouver Aquarium, Canada officially declared to have joined the United Nations CleanSeas campaign in the make a conscious effort in overcoming the effects that plastic waste is having on the ocean.
The world produces 300 million tons of plastic annually, and 50% of that is plastic designed for one-time use.
More than 8 million metric tons of plastic debris gets dumped into the ocean yearly. That is the equivalent amount of standing in ankle-deep of discarded plastic which covers three times the size of Manhattan, and this happens every single year.
If this continues, it’s calculated that there could be more scraps of plastic then fish in the water by the year 2050.
Canada and the CleanSeas campaign are teaming up with governments to rid the manufacturing of single-use plastic items and microbeads in the following five years.
Canada has already started their efforts in defending the marine environment from unnecessary pollution. One of their first acts to fight against ocean wastes was to bane the manufacturing, importing, and sale of any toiletries that contain microbeads.
This is just one decision in addressing the issue and Canada anticipates more action to follow in making a difference for marine life.
How Does Plastic Effects the Ocean?
Although plastic does a large amount of damage to life in the ocean, the life outside of the water is also affected, even birds.
A marine biologist, Dr. Boris Worm, at the University of Dalhousie in Canada states that 90% of seabirds counting albatrosses, petrels and penguins are currently filled with plastic.
Birds are unable to distinguish between food and plastic and when they see a something that resembles potential meal they snap it up.
After they consumed it, the piece of plastic gets stuck in their digestive system which disrupts their natural ability to feed or they cough it up for their young which also fills their little bodies with plastic and their demise.
Trash has moved to the sensitive oceans of Arctic and many animals die from filling up on plastic or by being strangled in it.
Ocean Environmental Dangers
The ocean surrounds 71% of the globe and holds 97% of the water found on Earth.
Canada promotes the well-being of marine life by making sure protected areas are in place, laws are improved and works out other strategies to ensure the ocean stays in great health.
Over 80% of Canadians agree in protecting the areas of the ocean but there is much that threatens the water including, oil and gas, unsuitable fishing practices, open-net-pen fish farming, toxins and the most discussed issue of them all, climate change.
In fact, since the 1970s the ocean has been absorbing over 90% of emissions. The colder waters absorb half the amount of carbon that could make the ocean acidic and disturb marine ecosystem that people rely on, especially microorganisms.
Although small, microorganism plays a big part in feeding bigger creatures, producing half of earth’s oxygen and a vital part in forming clouds.
The Pacific, Arctic, and the Atlantic are all affected by climate change and the three oceans affect Canada in a huge way, both in Canada citizens and their economy.
Storms are more frequent and the appearance of violent hurricanes becomes more regular.
The unnatural raising temperatures are reducing the water levels of sea ice and melting more of lands glaciers which makes the atmosphere more acceptable to storms.
A study flow of organic toxins, heavy metals are increasingly high especially in Canadian Arctic which has an effect on the immune system. The melting of the ice is releasing, even more, pollution that has been frozen for decades.
Climate change and the evident signs of global warming in the Arctic is nothing new to the public but there are some warnings that are a great cause for alarm.
Why is Climate Change Important to Canada?
Canada is slowly melting away which is a real threat to the Icecaps which makes up 40% of their landscape and is home to over 100,000 people who live there. Nearly half of Canada, in fact, is covered in some kind of permafrost such as the patches that travel north along the areas of Ontario and Prairie provinces.
A number of places such as the surrounding area in Inuvik, NWT, region, the land are made up of 90% of freezing water and the remaining small 10% is specs of dirt, rocks, and other organic matter.
As the ice softens like butter, the buildings that are grounded in Inuvik have been progressively sinking lower with each passing year, something that has been happening for some time.
For certain structures in Inuvik, the land is already becoming dangerously unstable where building, even ones that have been standing strong since the 1980s are sliding off their foundation and no longer deemed as being safe to enter. The hot seasons leave behind large crater from where the land collapsed not far off from the edge of town.
Homes and great parts of Canadian history have started to crumble.
The ice is thawing at a dramatically rate then what was originally anticipated due to the rise of temperatures between 2005 and today which has elevated above 0.5 degrees Celsius and 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
What does this mean for Canada’s Arctic?
A study that was published in the Nature Climate Change, states that for every degree Celsius that increases, about four million square kilometers of permafrost disappear.
In a positive climate situation, if the temperature was to remain at 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, Chadburn approximate that 4.8 million square kilometers would be completely gone. However, the worst-case scenario is 5 C, which would only leave 1.5 million square kilometers to remain. That is the equivalent of the size of Mongolia.
A geomorphologist, Hugues Lantuit stated that this is an urgent matter that could mean disaster for the landscape since the ice is what holds the coast together.
Additionally, to the melting of land, there is yet another issue that has many Canadians concerned with global warming. The methane in which has been previously trapped in the ice is now releasing streams of the gas into the atmosphere.
Another crucial matter resides in Europe where Sentinel 5P satellite is set to launch by the Space Agency. This ecological probe was created to monitor traces of gasses within the atmosphere.
A second model of a similar make is ready planned to be launch sometime next year, in 2018.
Both of Russia’s satellites are to be launched using Soviet dated rockets that are powered by hydrazine fuel, which is an unstable liquid that is so extremely toxic and dangerous that nearly every space program worldwide, including Russia has stopped using it all together.
Why is Canada involved?
The second phase of the probe launch involves the rocket containing massive amounts of remaining hydrazine to crash in severely environmentally delicate water of Canada’s Arctic. It is suspected to leak some of the 1,000 kilograms of residual unburned pollutants into the water upon impact. That specific area falls under Canada territory and is protected by Canada regulation of the Arctic Water Pollution Prevention Act.
Canada set those laws environmental in place to protect the marine ecosystem and a great number of species such as whales, polar bears, seals, seabirds, walrus, narwhals that live there.
The risk of fuel contaminating is said to be low based on previous launches done in Russia but Nunavut still has concerns and continue to protest that it shouldn’t be there, to begin with.
The Arctic is currently in a progressively vulnerable state and it’s evident that the Canadian people depend on the marine ecosystem to support their families, communities, and their way of life.
The Boreal forest which is also referred to as Taiga counts for around 30% of the earth’s forests which covers three continents in the northern part of the globe.
It’s the largest forest on the planet but these amazing woodlands are also facing various serious threats that are causing a decline in their populace.
Canada produces a percentage of the world’s sawn-wood, paper, wood panels, and round wood.
It’s safe to say that they rely on the ecosystem, and the ecosystem relies on a great number of forest plants to thrive.
Canada strives to conduct careful research, plan strategies, and place protective policies in means to save their forests, their history, and their home.
However, there is more than one environmental issue that threatens the ecosystem and many of these problems have the locals worried about the health and safety of their homeland.
Environmental Concerns Include: Greenhouse Gases
Boreal forests capture massive quantities of carbon but the rising heat of the warmer seasons is killing off the population of trees that are accustom to a colder climate and as a result, photosynthesis is diminishing.
The taiga contains more than 30% of the planet’s global carbon dioxide in the peat and permafrost but with the heat raising the forest could produce more carbon then it captures.
It also means additional methane that had been trapped in the frozen landscape for more than a millennium could be released into the atmosphere. This could bring about even more global warming which then melts more of the Arctic and free more of the dangerous gases, which only feeds the problem.
This immense increase in temperature could be inflicted on all earth’s forests by the end of the 21st century which could potentially expose the forest to more severe heat that will eventually result in a complete change of entire ecosystem.
Mountain Pine Beetle
In recent years there have been many valued lodgepole trees that have been lost due to the pine beetles.
The Mountain Pine Beetles are tiny insects that live in large numbers inside the inner barks of various pine trees that are within the western North America area. An infestation could kill a tree as they tend to cut off the tree’s food and water source with their burrowing.
They thrive in the warmer climates and if the temperatures continue to rise, these pests could spread all across the North and destroy even more of the forest’s pine trees.
It was estimated in 2009, that 40,000,000 acres of pine trees had already been infested by the pine beetle just in within British Columbia alone.
Canada witness about 8,000 wildfires which measures up to a total average of 6,200,000 acres of burnt forests every year.
More than half of the fires are started by humans and the others are naturally occurring usually by lightning strikes that make up over 80% total of burnt areas.
With the increase of global warming wildfires could breakout more frequently and burn hotter than ever.
The ecosystem is valuable, as mankind is dependent on all the living plants, animals, and microorganisms that nature provides in order to survive. That is why Canada has taken on the responsibilities in safeguarding the landscape and all wildlife within.
Canada organizes a network of protected areas in which they dedicate, protect, and manage in efforts to preserving the natural beauty, health, and order of the forest in which mankind admires and relies on.
Canada is home to many various species of trees, with coniferous being 68%, mix wood at 16% and broadleaf making the rest of the 11%. The woodlands that are exclusively in Canada make up 9% of the world’s forests, which is 347 million hectares stretch of land.
90% of the Canadian forested areas are well-looked-after and handled by national governments and 2% is under federal protection, another 2% is kept and cared by Aboriginal people, and the last %6 is private property. These areas are usually prohibited of any resource gathering such as logging, mining, and harvesting.
The earth is in a delicate state and deserves to be heard. It needs a voice that will bring solutions, change, action and that is where Greenpeace comes in.
Who is Greenpeace?
They are an international environmental organization filled with people who want to change the way we think, behave, and act and our overall attitude towards the blue planet we live in.
Greenpeace mission is to be the voice for the voiceless earth.
Environmental Issues They Address Includes:
Energy – Creating a new clean energy source in order to address the main problem with our environment, climate change.
Deforestation – Preserving the ancient forests and all the animals and plants within it.
Overfishing – Protecting our great blue oceans from harmful fishing habits while also forming a worldwide network of marine reserves.
Animal Agriculture – encouraging more responsible farming and rejecting genetically engineering.
Toxins – minimizing hazardous waste and chemicals in products by offer safer alternatives.
They are also said to fight against whaling and nuclear testing.
Currently, Greenpeace has grown to be the biggest environmental organization in the world and operates in more than 40 states with their headquarters being located in Toronto, Canada.
In Canada, they have 60,000 supporters and nearly 3 million members internationally and represent them at almost every global environmental conference.
There is a popular joke spreading within the bars of Vancouver that you could talk to someone who claims to be the original founder of Greenpeace, but the truth is that there is not just one person who started the organization.
The name, ideas, strategy, and soul of the whole operation were created by separate individuals but four of the members were more noticeable than the rest. Bob Hunter who was a writer before becoming the first president of Greenpeace, then David McTaggart, Dorothy Stowe, and Irving Stowe an American lawyer who became a Quaker.
It was originally born in the year 1971 in the state of Vancouver, Canada when a group of volunteers and journalists decided to travel on a small boat coasting to Amchitka. They sailed as part of the Don’t Make a Wave Committee in means to stop the United States from running underground nuclear experiments on an Island that was located just north of Alaska. The goal was to bear witness to the immoral act to show they disprove it and gain attention to the media in efforts to spread awareness. It was also a means to try to address the concerns on triggering an earthquake or a tsunami but the all efforts failed in stopping the bomb from being detonated.
Although the bomb did not bring about an earthquake or tsunami it did attract a tide of public interest to the group and they officially became Greenpeace in 1972 after the US Government agreed to stop testing in that area of Alaska.
They did not stop on just nuclear testing and went on to fight against whaling, nuclear wastes, and other environmental concerns.
History of Funding
In the mid-90s, the number of supporters was starting to plummet and the organization realized they could not pay the charter fees and their campaign on just selling buttons. That is when they decided to use a new method of getting charity called face to face fundraising, where they would continuously search in public places for new supporters who would be interested in subscribing to a monthly donation.
In the year 2008, Greenpeace was receiving millions, mostly from their regular supporters, and mainly those that were in Europe.
Even today, Greenpeace runs independently on its own, which means they do not accept any contributions from governments or corporations.
They pay their bills by only receiving charitable donations from individual generous supporters and foundations.