Bright Green Enterprise

Tag Archive: climate change
  1. New Year, New Commitment

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    Happy New Year to all our Bright Green readers, and most importantly, to this beautiful green planet of ours.

    With January, we hear the word ‘resolution’ flying around almost as if it had wings of its own. New diets are started, gym memberships are purchased, alcohol bottles are firmly stored away (for those of you taking part in Dry January – we salute you!). Whilst these new promises are fantastic, and we truly hope you manage to stick to whatever your resolution is throughout the year ahead, what if together, we looked further than who we see in the mirror? What if together, we made some commitments that we can all benefit from?

    Like….saving the planet?

    Maybe that sounds overly-ambitious. But really, if we did all combine our willpower and resources, we could start making more positive impacts on our natural home. After all, we’re the ones who have led us down this rocky road of climate crisis…

    So, last year, 2018, gave us some pretty devastatingly scary headlines. We saw:

    “Twelve years to reverse climate change” 
    That’s right. According to the sixth report from the International Panel on Climate Change, we have just twelve years to drastically mitigate the current rate of climate change. Twelve years. That is no longer the responsibility of our grandchildren’s grandchildren. That is here and now. That is this generation finally standing up, and making the changes needed to ensure there is a planet left for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.


    “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing faster than expected”
    Well, yes. Unsurprisingly, if we don’t make any changes to our production and consumption habits, the problem of waste pollution doesn’t appear to change! Funny how that works. Thankfully, this island of trash is being tackled head-on by a brilliant young entrepreneur. We’ve already spoken about The Ocean Cleanup in a previous blog, so check it out if you haven’t yet. We’re also loving following the journey of the Cleanup team, are you keeping an eye on their progress too?

    “Humanity have wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970”
    This headline knocked me for six when I first read it. 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles lost to this world because of destructive (and selfish?) human activity. Wow. Let’s now save that remaining 40%, before we’re left on a planet completely devoid of… well, anything.


    But, enough doom and gloom. I am not wishing to be simply a messenger of misery, but merely summarise the somewhat precarious situation we humans find ourselves (read: have put ourselves) in. Although, I do think it is important that we realise the gravity of our circumstance. For far too long we have simply brushed under the rug any signs of future demise, shrugged our shoulders, and claimed that we’ll be long gone before any serious consequences threaten us. We know now that is no longer the case, and as such, it is time to act accordingly.

    Let’s now, for the sake of boosting morale, and firing up our changemaker drive, look at a couple of our favourite planet-savers, environment-champions, Bright Green heroes. (We haven’t decided on an exact name yet).

    Ecosia is a search engine with a difference. I mean, a search engine that are making a difference. Instead of paid ads simply filling shareholders’ pockets, their money is helping turn our beautiful planet green, again. Searches conducted through Ecosia directly funds the planting of trees across the world – for the betterment of the environment, the empowerment of communities, and the protection of animals. It takes only 45 searches to plant one tree, and with your own search counter keeping track, it’s easy to see the direct impact you are having.

    In 2018, Ecosia users helped them to plant 31 million trees, and in doing so, removed 1.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These are the kinds of numbers and figures we should be seeing, and celebrating.

    Not only is Ecosia’s search partner carbon-neutral, but they also further spread consumer awareness by highlighting green options within your search results. So, why don’t you make your resolution work for the planet, and swap from Google to Ecosia. It’s easy peasy to change to Ecosia on your desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone – just follow this link and read more about them here. 


    Another earth-warrior, or group of warriors, are the amazing community who rescue and release orphaned elephants at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, northern Kenya. The first community owned elephant orphanage in Africa, the wildlife landscapes are now restoring themselves, thanks to the transparency of self-governing community conservancies, and the harmonious working of local people, with local wildlife. Elephants are listed as a vulnerable species, and in 2016 it was reported that elephant population had seen its worst decline in 25 years. Let’s not add elephants to the list of animals that we’ve already wiped out, please.

    As of February 2018, Reteti had rescued 30 elephants. But not only is the impact directly on the protection of this giant species. Reteti is empowering local villagers to become the first female elephant keepers in Africa. Employment in the sanctuary means parents are able to send children to school. Humans are learning how they can live peacefully alongside elephants in these shared landscapes, and that the health of one does not depend on the demise of the other.

    They are an organisation committed to the betterment of the local environment for all its inhabitants, and seem to understand that the building of relationships between species is crucial in ensuring ongoing, mutually beneficial conservation. Follow along with the work and successes of Reteti here, and for your fill of incredible elephant videos, check out their social media!


    These examples are obviously just a drop in the big, blue ocean of positive people power, but hopefully highlight to you, readers, the change that is needed, and the change we can make happen, if only we put our mind to it.

    I resolve in this new year, to keep sharing via this blog, and via our social media, the work of incredible people, communities, and businesses alike, so that their impact can be felt, and their positivity spread, across a wider audience. I resolve to follow in their footsteps, taking action where I can, and making changes for the greater benefit of all. Will you join me?

     

    Author: Rachel Calnan

  2. Be the Solution to Soil Pollution

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    Land, dirt, dust, terra firma.
    Soil.
    The very ground beneath our feet, the very foundation of our planet.

    But as much as we may tread this surface every day, do we really know, understand, and appreciate all that soil means for life on this planet?

    Be the solution to soil pollution. This was the slogan for this year’s World Soil Day, celebrated and promoted around the world on December 5th. Soil pollution has been highlighted as one of the main soil threats which is affecting global soils and the ecosystems which live off them (The Status of the World’s Soil Resources Report).

    But before we look at what is affecting the quality of our soils worldwide, let’s have a look at just why soil is so important for us.

    Soil supports almost every ecosystem across the planet, maintaining and supporting jungles, wetlands, forests, grasslands and prairies. These ecosystems are all home to an incredible diversity of vegetation – some of which we have not yet discovered. These plants provide us with fuel, animal feed, food, medicine, and raw materials for clothing, household goods and other necessities.

    Not only is plant diversity supported by soil, but animal diversity too, both above and below ground level. As mentioned, wildlife and livestock animals are provided with food, but what about the smaller scale animals? Microorganisms are the primary decomposers of organic matter, helping to detoxify harmful toxins, and suppress disease organisms. And let’s not forget, soil microorganisms are the source of most of the antibiotic medicines we use to fight diseases! Scaling up, insects who depend on soil, are also the caretakers; with earthworms maintaining soil quality, providing nutrients, and breaking down toxic elements.



    The very structure of soil is also essential in mitigating natural disasters. The ability of soil to absorb, hold, and release water helps to prevent flooding and drought. The way in which soil distributes water plays a key role in the water cycle, impacting rivers, lakes and streams. Soil is made up of both organic, and inorganic matter. The soil organic matter is crucial in our fight against climate change, acting as either a source or a sink of harmful fossil fuels. In fact, soil is our second largest carbon store, after the oceans. So healthy, undisturbed soils mean that carbon can be stabilised, and remain locked away for for thousands of years – helping us to mitigate climate change.

    As mentioned above, there are several threats which are degrading the quality of soils around the world. Let’s take a look first at the most prevalent, and the theme of this year’s World Soil Day – soil pollution.

    Soil pollution is the out-of-place presence of a chemical or substance, and/or present in a higher concentration than normal, which has adverse effects on any non-targeted organism. Industrial activity has left a slew of harmful, toxic waste, contaminating soil and leaving it unfit for use for years to come. Plus, the use of chemicals in agricultural activity has drastically increased, thanks to modern fertilizers and pesticides. These chemical substances break down organic matter within the soil, which as we know, is crucial for storing carbon, and eliminating toxins. Additionally, this makes soil more susceptible to wind and water erosion, and increases the risk of natural disaster.

    Although soil pollution is a main cause for soil degradation, there are several other prominent harmful practices which are negatively affecting soil quality, and leading to devastating consequences. Ploughing of the topsoil buries the rich organic matter deep down, creating a crust which is unable to absorb as much water, or offer sufficient nutrients for healthy crops. Shallow soil means less rainwater is absorbed and run-off is far greater. The movement of humans, animals, and machines compacts the soil, which drastically reduces porosity, again meaning reduced absorption, and greater risk for erosion.



    Additionally, overgrazing reduces absorption by removing plant cover, root structure and organic matter. Further, by removing the soil nutrients from the land, and compacting the surface of the soil, the quality quickly deteriorates, leading to reduced absorption and greater run-off.

    It’s easy to see the pattern here, of how our modern farming practices, and industrial processes are damaging our soils. But is it as doom and gloom as it sounds? There are many ways in which we can start helping to improve and protect our soils, but due to the extensive damage, solutions needs long-term commitment in order to make a real difference.

    Industries have been given regulations for the proper disposal of hazardous waste, to try to minimise the area affected, but we all know that the folk in charge haven’t been particularly bothered about the environment until now (or is that just my cynicism showing?), so these regulations may not enough to ensure ongoing, or any, steps towards improvement.

    A champion of bettering agricultural farming practices – Soil Association is a British organisation, which now certifies 70% of organic food in the UK. They  work directly with farmers, on the ground, to test changes in their farming methods that will improve their soil; they lobby the government for soil protection policies so that soil is given the same level of protection as water and air; they encourage farmers to adopt organic farming methods and principles in order to better our soils. Check their website for further ideas on how we can get involved at home.



    Good agricultural practices are being strongly recommended in order to start building deep and healthy soils. Practices such as using reduced till farming methods, rotating deep-rooted crops, reducing overgrazing and maintaining forests and grasslands, are all ways in which farmers can begin to protect our soils now, for more nourished soils in the future.

    Whilst it is clear that large-scale industry change is needed, with the guidance of regulations and organisational support, we as consumers can make sure to do our bit in supporting healthy soil practices. Supporting and choosing organic where possible shows those farmers that their methods are indeed what we want, and what we need, for the sake of a healthy soil structure, and a healthy planet.

     

    Author: Rachel Calnan

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