Nurture by Nature: What is Rewilding?

Rewilding. A hot term currently being thrown about a lot. But what does it mean? Read on to get clued up on the ‘hot’ topic of the year. And yes, global warming is very much a part of it.

Rewilding means restoring and encouraging more of, our depleted natural spaces.

Carbon dixoide will have to be removed from the atmosphere for us to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. It is already causing problems on a vast scale; Animal populations have decreased by 60% since 1970 alone! And if that isn’t truly terrifying enough, this statistic suggests that a sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is under way.

Not only do trees and plants provide vital habitat for animals, these clever clogs also suck carbon dioxide from the air as they grow – pretty amazing stuff, aye?

Can you guess where this is going?…

There are two increasingly big existential crises that threaten the world. First is the climate breakdown and second is ecological breakdown. Neither of these frightening occurrences are being dealt with with the urgency needed to prevent our life-support systems from collapsing.

“We are championing a thrilling but neglected approach to averting climate chaos while defending the living world: natural climate solutions. Defending the living world and defending the climate are, in many cases, one and the same.”

A decade of ecosystem restoration was announced at the start of March by the United Nations.

“The degradation of our ecosystems has had a devastating impact on both people and the environment,” said Joyce Msuya, the head of the UN Environment Programme. “Nature is our best bet to tackle climate change and secure the future.”

Recently published research indicates that about a third of the greenhouse gas reductions needed by 2030 can be provided by the restoration of natural habitats (rewilding). Blooming marvelous if you ask me – BUT such positive solutions have only attracted just 2.5% of the funding for tackling emissions. Come on now….. Let nature help us. Let us help nature.

Tooby x

Information source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/03/let-nature-heal-climate-and-biodiversity-crises-say-campaigners

Farewell Species #1…. :(

The Morrison government in Australia has formally recognised the extinction of a small island rodent, the Bramble Cay melomys. The first known demise of a mammal because of human-induced climate change. Disgusting news.

It’s not a big, iconic or ‘sexy’ species and therefore it won’t get much coverage in the media. But hold on to your hats, because guys this is seriously important.

The extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys is understood to be the first mammal killed off by human-led climate change.

Image credit: Queensland Government

The limited range of the animal, living on a five-hectare island less than three meters high, left it vulnerable to climate change. However, its 2008 so called “recovery plan”, drawn up when numbers were likely down to just dozens of individuals, downplayed the imminent and eventual risks.

“The likely consequences of climate change, including sea-level rise and increase in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms, are unlikely to have any major impact on the survival of the Bramble Cay melomys in the life of this plan,” the five-year scheme stated.

And we laaaaughed and laughed (OR NOT!!!)…..

The federal policy director for the Wilderness Society, Tim Beshara, said preparation for the plan was limited, and it was never reviewed at its completion in 2013 – but why the hell not?!

“The Bramble Cay melomys was a little brown rat,” Mr Beshara said. “But it was our little brown rat and it was our responsibility to make sure it persisted. And we failed.”

Call me a pessimist, but my gut tells me this will be the first of many species to go extinct due to our undiscriminating behavior. We seriously need to buckle up and push our conservation efforts forward, with a more COLLABORATIVE approach. Easier said then done with little government backing, I’m aware…

 

Information taken from: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/our-little-brown-rat-first-climate-change-caused-mammal-extinction-20190219-p50yry.html

Time to Clear up Our Act…

As well as being unsightly, litter is a serious social, economic and environmental problem. It causes harm to communities and wildlife, and in an era where local authorities’ budgets are coming under increasing pressure, costs over £1billion each year to clear up. Yet it is entirely preventable. By us.

“In the past few decades we have become a society that consumes on the go, with all the packaging that goes along with it. If you buy something – be it a packet of crisps or a bottle of water – you buy the packaging as well and it is your responsibility to dispose of that packaging appropriately by recycling it or putting it in the bin. And, if we’re not near a bin we need to keep that rubbish with us until we are. To do otherwise is not only against the law but it is also damaging to our environment.” – CEO of Keep Britain Tidy (Allison Ogden-Newton)

Person Holding Plastic Bottles and Hose#

For any Londoners reading this; The Port of London Authority (PLA) have a system whereby when you collect litter during a foreshore/river clean, you can report your findings through their website and contribute to a valuable database, enabling crucial research.

Link to PLA website: https://server1.pla.co.uk/Environment/Reporting-your-Thames-litter-clean-up

 

 

A Mountain of a Problem…

“A child born today will see an Everest largely free of glaciers within their lifetime.”

Would this be the case if global warming wasn’t ‘a thing’? Absolutely not.

Is this ok? Absolutely not.

Will it make a difference? Absolutely, yes.

Thousands of organisms rely on glaciers as their ecosystem. No glaciers equals a huge loss in some very important organisms, both micro and macroscopic.

Sorry to be all doom and gloom, but I just cannot understand for the life of me why this is not at the forefront of news. Too frustrating for words really…. So I’ll just write a whole paragraph on it…

Glaciers reveal clues about global warming. For example, how much does our atmosphere naturally warm up between Ice Ages? And how does human activity affect the climate? Glaciers are incredibly sensitive to temperature fluctuations following climate change and direct glacier observation may help answer these questions. Since the early twentieth century, with few exceptions, glaciers around the world have been shrinking at unprecedented rates. Many scientists believe this massive glacial retreat relates back to the Industrial Revolution, which began around 1760. The hideous fact is that several ice caps, glaciers and ice shelves have disappeared altogether in this century, with many retreating so rapidly that they may vanish within just a matter of decades…

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Beading Nuisance!

Although plastic was invented in the early 1900s, it wasn’t until the early 1950s that the world really developed an appetite for this exciting and versatile new material (Cole, et al. 2013). Back then, global demand was just 1.5 million tonnes annually. These days we’re using some 322 million tons a year of the stuff (Cole, et al. 2013) – that’s a lot of plastic. Recently, the media has been buzzing with shocking stories about the negative impact on our oceans of all this plastic and one type of plastic waste in particular; ‘microplastics’ has really caught the public’s attention. But how big a problem is it?

There are several sources of microplastics, perhaps the best known being those purposely made tiny ‘beads’ that are used in commercial products such as toothpaste, exfoliators and laundry detergents. These get washed down sinks and drains and end up in our oceans (Cole, et al. 2013). Another source of microplastic pollution is the huge amount of tiny fibrous microplastics that are shed when we wash our clothes. One average 6 kg wash can release up to 700,000 microplastic fibres alone (Napper and Thompson, 2016)!

The second source of microplastic pollution starts life as larger forms of plastic such as drinks bottles, food containers, toys and utensils. Once discarded these are broken down into smaller and smaller fragments (plastics that are 5mm or smaller in diameter are considered microplastics) (Cole, et al. 2013).

The main problem with microplastics is that they take years to biodegrade (450 years for an average plastic bottle!) making them a serious and long-term problem (Jambeck, et al. 2015). If current production and management of waste trends continue as they are, approximately 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste will be in our landfills or the natural environment by 2050, of which between 5 and 13 million tonnes being tipped into the ocean (Jambeck, et al. 2015), a staggering statistic!Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 14.03.17

The effects of microplastics on the marine environment are still largely unknown, but what is known is that microplastic pollution is found across the globe; even in the remotest places like the polar regions and the deep ocean (microplastics have been recorded at depths of more than 500 meters) (Jambeck, et al. 2015).

 

 

 

Figure. 1. A typical use of microplastic beads. Once spat-out and washed down the sink, they can end up in our oceans within a matter of days …

It has recently been discovered that microplastics are ingested by zooplankton, which form the base of the food chain and therefore are carried on up through to the larger predators such as dolphins and even blue whales (Cole, et al. 2013). Researchers have even shown that microplastics can be ingested by humans through the seafood and shellfish we eat (Cauwenberghe and Janssen, 2014). The same study showed the average European consumer to be ingesting 11,000 microplastics annually (the potential effects on humans are not yet fully understood) (Cauwenberghe and Janssen, 2014).

With all this in mind, it’s crucial that we urgently find solutions to the plastic misuse issue. Industry must do its part of course, but It’s down to all of us to clear up our act; to get better at recycling, not buy plastic bottles etc and to change our thoughtless consumption of plastics to ensure cleaner oceans for future generations.

© Eve Sanders (ToobysTravels)