Marine Debris & Me

For decades the sheer volume of trash that enters our oceans has grown exponentially. This trash poses threats to marine life as they can become entangled in marine debris or even mistake it as food. The build up of debris can also directly harm divers and swimmers through exposure to toxins or direct contact with harmful items. In a past post I have discussed ocean plastics and their impact and these plastics play a huge role in the marine debris increase. It is predicted that within the next 10 years, plastic in the ocean will reach 250 million tons and cause 10’s of billions of dollars in environmental damage yearly.

Project AWARE is an amazing organization made up of divers and scientists whose mission is to combat the global issue of marine debris. They are composed of a network of divers, whom are stationed in all countries around the world, whose mission is to dive in the surrounding oceans and collect trash to properly dispose of it. Others operate on land to prevent the dumping of trash at the source. Project AWARE works with locals, NGOs, governments and businesses to collectively raise awareness and help to mitigate marine debris. The best part about Project AWARE? They make it super easy to sign-up and get involved in whatever way you can! They also produce annual reports that help to show the impact the organization is making on marine debris on a global scale. With this information accessible to all, not just members, this race against ourselves seems more like fulfilling and obtainable victories versus a pipe dream for hippies. I have followed the organization on Instagram for years and can’t wait to get involved this year!

Follow the teams Instagram page: @projectaware

Check out projectaware.org for all the details!

Below is a snapshot of my favorite page in the 2016 Annual Report:

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-The Ecologist

Dogs, Cats & CO2…OH MY!

Warning: This post is not for faint hearted pet owners!

Let me start by saying I am a proud and mildly obsessed owner of a 9 year-old Shih Tzu cutie named Munchkin and would not trade her for anything on this planet! However, earlier today I came across an article on inhabitant.com that really peaked my interest and I think its important to share with my Green Schemers everywhere.

According to a new study by a professor at UCLA, household pets like dogs and cats contribute to CO2 production quite significantly. The primarily meat-based diet of cats and dogs plays a role in the global food production industry and its relative outputs of CO2 annually. This study showed that our pets diets are accountable for about 64 MILLION tons of CO2 every year! Thats equivalent to the carbon emissions of over 13 million cars! (source: CO2 calculator).

The study went one step further as to explain this level of impact of cats and dogs on the environment using the hypothetical that if our household pets had their own country, they would be a leading country in the global carbon emissions per year. Their country would be responsible for over a 25% impact, which would put them in the top 5 countries who generate environmental impact from meat production.

So what are we pet owners and Green Schemers to do knowing that out pets carbon footprint is as big as an elephants?! DO NOT turn your pets into vegetarians or vegans as that is truly unhealthy for the animal but do make smarter decisions in what you feed them. Cats and dogs do not need to eat high quality meats that humans do and so be alert to your pets food sources and be diligent in how much of their diets can be supplemented with treats and snacks that are not solely meat-based.

Full article can be found here: Inhabitat: Household Pets Responsible for 30% of US Meat Environmental Impact

-The Ecologist

A Whale of a Problem

One week ago today, ABC news published an article from their Tokyo correspondent stating that “Japan passes whaling bill with view to resume commercial whaling”. Those 10 words are devastating to anyone who appreciates the majesty and mystery that is these incredible marine mammals.

Historically, Japan has participated in yearly whale hunts usually in the name of “food”, “science” or “culture”. I use quotations around these words since in recent years it seems as though Japan will label the commercial whaling as any sugar-coated practice that will allow them to continue the significant degradation of these whale species.

This article outlines Japan’s stance on the return of commercial whaling to the country and on world-wide reactions. Japanese officials including the Director of the Whaling Affairs Office in the country’s fisheries agency are condoning the slaughtering of whale species like the Minke whale. They claim that the killing of these whales is purely for scientific research and as a by-product, the extra whale meat will serve to feed the Japanese citizens. They intend to allot 58 million (5 BILLION Japanese yen!) yearly to the new whaling fleet which will likely boast a brand new, upgraded whaling vessel.

What about ethics you ask? Well, simply put, the Director does not believe whaling should be “banned because of emotional or unscientific reasons” and is willing to deal with the negative backlash from anti-whaling countries like their neighbors in Australia.

Like myself, many other ecologists, scientists, and anyone who has watched Nat Geo and listened to David Attenborough, believe that whales can be closely studied without having to kill them. What are your thoughts Green Schemers? Is whaling part of or against your “green scheme” beliefs? Leave a reply below and be heard!

ABC article here

-The Ecologist

The Aftermath

Sorry about my recent hiatus Green Schemers!

I was focused on finishing my semester strong and then as soon as I was ready to write again, something happened and I couldn’t quite find the words to jot down anymore.

Now, I prefer to stay far, far away from politics and all the conversations surrounding them BUT I must say, it is a hard time to be an environmental scientist in the U.S. right now. President Trump’s decision to remove the U.S. from the Paris agreement involving global climate change has shaken the science community to its core.  Article after article has been published explaining all sides of this decision, the timeframe concerning it, national polls and a plethora of other conspiracy theories and general digression. However, I am not using this platform to discuss my views or to question the views of others. I am here to talk about what this all means for our “Green Schemes” moving forward.

Now more than ever is the time to follow through with our “green” actions. It doesn’t matter if you live in the U.S. and have experienced the shockwave that has hit or if you live 1,000 miles away in an unconcerned country. Our actions of citizens of this living and breathing planet will echo through time, outliving political term lengths and opinionated rants. We must now more than ever before, take steps that lead to a more environmentally conscious tomorrow. Our “Green Schemes” must continue to be woven into our lives deliberately and with forward thinking. For those of you that are feeling disheartened, you are not alone. But if your small voice in a crowd is followed by a symphony of other voices whom are all singing for the same cause, then one may not feel so helpless anymore. Continue to nourish our natural world by doing your best as a human to reduce your impact. Continue to fight the good fight for every tree and every animal that doesn’t have a voice. Continue to show tolerance and patience for other humans who just don’t get it. Continue to grow your “Green Scheme” to its greenest and share it with the world.

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-The Ecologist (no matter what)

Another 5-Letter Word for Solar? TESLA!

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Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has just announced the release of their solar roof designs and they are stunning! The tiles come in four functional varieties based on texture and look. With the options of textured, smooth, tuscan or slate, there is a solar roof design for almost anyone! The tiles are made of tempered glass and have been built to withstand impacts such as hail traveling at over 100 mph! With a lifetime warranty on the glass tiles and a 30 year warranty on the solar cells embedded within them, they are proving to be a great investment for any environmentally conscience household. The solar roof also allows homeowners freedom from “the grid” which gives back the power over the power to the owner and not the electric company.

Now for the real question…how much?!

Tesla states that its preliminary price for the solar roof is about $22 per square foot when mixed with traditional tiles or $42 per square foot for only solar tiles. Long-term payoffs are really dependent on the structure, location and size of your house and so Tesla has provided a price calculator that helps homeowners to determine if solar roofing leaves them with a return percentage on their investment over the course of the 30 year cell-life of the purchased tiles.

Now, as these preliminary prices seem steep for your average family who is not designing a luxury home, reports show that if Tesla can generate enough sales and return investments over the course of the next 5-10 years then costs of installation will surely go down significantly. This means we need to promote this “Green Scheme” design as much as possible and implement in our own lives if we have the means. The more sales we help generate, the brighter our future may look!

Check out more of these AMAZING tiles below:

-The Ecologist

An Apple a Day Keeps the Waste Away?

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So according to inhabitat.com, Apple has announced that they intend to use 100% recycled materials in all of their upcoming devices. This comes at a time when e-waste, which is defined as old, end-of-life or discarded electric appliances, accumulates about 60 MILLION metric tons in landfills yearly. Apple is taking a proactive stance on this staggering statistic by not only producing 100% recycled material products but also by taking the process one step further. The company plans to switch 100% of their product supply locations to run entirely on renewable energy and have their packaging sourced responsibly and from recycled paper products.

Their end goal is to no longer rely on mining to gather their raw materials which is a huge undertaking and just so damn admirable! Apple has not yet outlined a timeline for when they plan to make these immensely noble shifts but their 2017 assessment report states that they are surely working on it each and every day. With Apple taking a lead on this issue, the hopes are that this will push other companies to follow suit and do the same.

Apple certainly has their “Green Scheme” on point! Let’s all hope this is the beginning of the end of excessive e-waste!

Check out the full article on inhabitat: http://inhabitat.com/apple-announces-goal-to-make-products-from-100-recycled-materials/

-The Ecologist

The Plastics of Occasions Past

For many of us, this past weekend was Easter weekend. This means that a ton of us humans from all around the world, went out and spent our money on clothes, candy, flowers, food and gifts. The National Retail Federation actually projected this year’s Easter spending to be a grand total of $17.3 BILLION DOLLARS! With the breakdown being- $3 billion on clothing, $2.4 billion on candy, $1.2 billion on flowers, $5.5 billion on food and $2.2 billion on gifts. These numbers are certainly striking but I am not really here to discuss dollars and cents as much as I am here to talk about the environmental impact of it all.

Now, for a majority of us celebrators of this holiday, a portion of the billion dollar Easter deficit is spent on things like plastic window clings for decorating, candy in plastic wrappers, candy in plastic wrappers in a bigger plastic wrapper, multicolored hollow plastic eggs, little plastic bunny and chick figurines, fake plastic “grass” for our baskets and rolls of plastic gift wrap to wrap it all up in. The overuse of such a persistent and  potentially non-biodegradable product is what is really alarming about this past holiday.  The image below shows just how long it takes for different types of plastics to decompose naturally or “biodegrade”. Today, we only talked about Easter so, can you imagine how much plastic we use just for global holiday celebrations annually!? I shutter at the thought.

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(Link for Nation Retail Association article: https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/nrf-says-easter-spending-will-reach-173-billion)

-The Ecologist

Do as I say AND as I do

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An example of incentives for a beach cleanup in Venice Beach, California!

So very many companies, organizations, and foundations SAY they want to “better the community”. They present their own “Green Scheme’s” from beautification of parks to restoration of habitats to beach cleanups. Although these “Green Scheme’s” seem appealing, some are actually what I like to call “green scams”. They pull at the moral heart strings of environmentalists, nature-lovers, economists and general hippies who occupy the community and when those are lacking, businesses love to back anything presented to them as being “green”. The scams generate enough economical interest to get off the ground but thats usually where the party ends. You may see a sign or two at the local park, pier or playground, or maybe you heard about it from a friend, or from a local news channel. Either way, these schemes always seem short lived and work is either not done at all or done and not maintained for the long-run. However, that is not why I consider these initiatives “green scams” per se. The issue with these short-term projects is that all the focus to “better the community” lies in the dollars and cents generated while an invaluable resources goes to waste in the process-THE COMMUNITY!

For a passionate initiative to gain steam and really make a difference in a community, especially like those encased in the fast-paced and unforgiving New York City, the community has to be the heart. Communities and townships all over the country DO come up with inventive ways to better their natural environments and to preserve the eco-centrisim that still lives there. Through positive incentives like food, beer, prizes and even money (another very important green), communities are making a difference on their own terms! I believe that adopting these ideas of beautifying/cleaning for a personal benefit whether it be a free slice of pizza, a free beer or a voucher for free entry to the newest nightclub, is the best way to get community members involved and engaged. It also brings attention and press to local businesses whose “foods for cause” or “freebies for helpers” may be enjoyed in numbers they would not have otherwise seen that day or week. Bringing revenue to local businesses and conservation to surrounding habitat is a recipe for a perfect “Green Scheme“! Let’s try to bring it home to NYC!

-The Economist

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Social media outlets are buzzing today with the release of the trailer for “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”, the sequel to the Academy Award winning “An Inconvenient Truth”. For anyone, in any country, in any part of the world, these movies SHOULD be a part of your “Green Scheme“. If you don’t know where to start in creating your own “Green Scheme” then these movies are for you! Regardless of political views, religious beliefs, or personal agendas; I urge everyone to just watch the movies. Watch them with the same predisposed opinions that you would any other film whether it’s theme is damsels in distress and a knight in shining armor or a planet in distress and a call to arms. Just watch. If you don’t inform yourself of every possibility, how can you ever develop an intellectual opinion?

Check out the trailer here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=huX1bmfdkyA

I hope to see everyone in theatres with me on July 28th!

-The Ecologist

The humans who live “beneath the sea”

Part of my “Green Scheme” is volunteering with an amazing non-profit organization called Gotham Whale. They strive “To study, advocate for, and educate about the whales and marine mammals of New York City, through Citizen Science.” This weekend they invited me to join them in exhibiting at an event called Beneath the Sea at the Meadowlands Exhibition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.

During my time at the exposition, I met many humans who live “beneath the sea”. This small yet brotherly population of people have learned to breathe, explore, record, and create, beneath the sea. Some design suits that act as a second skin equipped to handle a foreign environment while others blaze trails through unknown and unexplored oases and wrecks, all while living beneath the sea.

Having spent a short time of my own (Study Abroad program during college) learning to become a certified diver and visiting the coral reefs of Jamaica, I live in awe and admiration for the skills and techniques of all the humans who live “beneath the sea”. These pictures are just a small snapshot (no pun intended!) into the specialities of these humans…enjoy 🙂

 

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-The Ecologist