The Global Fool

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Do Sea Turtles Eat Plastic Marine Debris? Yes!
Aug10

Do Sea Turtles Eat Plastic Marine Debris? Yes!

By The Editors Floating marine debris accumulates in five main oceanic gyres. These debris accumulations consist mostly of plastics and are called great garbage patches. In recognition of the global threat posed by the great garbage patches, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recently granted them a symbolic State status, and officially recognized the Garbage Patch State. Marine debris gathers in drift lines and convergence zones, which are also important feeding areas for many oceanic species, including sea turtles. Now, results from an analysis of global research data from the past 25 years show that green and leatherback turtles are eating more plastic than ever before. The analysis was carried out by researchers from from the University of Queensland and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and published in the scientific journal Conservation Biology on August 5, 2013.   According to the authors of the study, “The likelihood of a green turtle ingesting debris nearly doubled from an approximate 30% likelihood in 1985 to nearly 50% in 2012”.   The authors conclude: “Our results show clearly that debris ingestion by sea turtles is a global phenomenon of increasing magnitude.” Study leader Qamar Schuyler says that man-made debris must be managed at a global level, from the manufactures through to the consumers – before debris reaches the ocean. An estimated 80 per cent of debris comes from land-based sources, so it is critical to have effective waste management strategies and to engage with industry to create appropriate innovations and controls to assist in decreasing marine debris. Again, it is necessary to decrease our plastic footprint....

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Plastic Debris and Great Garbage Patches: Ca’ Foscari University Raises Awareness of Ocean Pollution
Jul16

Plastic Debris and Great Garbage Patches: Ca’ Foscari University Raises Awareness of Ocean Pollution

By Roberta Attanasio When we think of the Great Garbage Patches — of which 5 exist — we usually think of ocean pollution. Now, when thinking of garbage patches and ways to raise awareness of them, we may think of Venice and Ca’ Foscari University. Venice, the Italian city that seems to float on water, bears no resemblance to the vast concentrations of floating marine debris that makes up the garbage patches.  However, you can find an artistic representation of the garbage patches right in the heart of the city and, more precisely, right in the courtyard of the world’s oldest existing building granted LEED certification. Let’s go one step at a time. What is LEED certification? LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. The world’s oldest existing building to obtain LEED certification is the more than 500-years old Palazzo Foscari, the location of Ca’ Foscari University administrative headquarters. The courtyard of the green and sustainable Palazzo Foscari is an appropriate home for the Garbage Patch State art installation, which has been set up by artist Maria Cristina Finucci in collaboration, of course, with Ca’ Foscari University. The goal of the installation is to draw attention to the global problem of ocean pollution. Ca’ Foscari’s focus on sustainability-based initiatives is the result of the environmentally-forward mastermind of Carlo Carraro.  Carraro is President of Ca’ Foscari University, Professor of Econometrics and Director of the International Center for Climate Governance. Why a Garbage Patch State installation? The world’s oceans are heavily polluted by marine debris, mostly consisting of small bits of floating plastics. These bits are called microplastics and derive from the degradation of larger plastic debris. Indeed, most commonly used plastics do not fully degrade in the ocean — rather, they break down in smaller and smaller pieces. Marine debris becomes trapped by the circular ocean currents of the five gyres, where it builds up to form giant garbage patches. The Ca’ Foscari installation is called “The Garbage Patch State Venice” in honor of the Garbage Patch State — a State that includes the five garbage patches corresponding to the five gyres. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) granted the “Garbage Patch State” symbolic statehood in April thanks to the effort and commitment of Maria Cristina Finucci. The microplastics that make up the majority of garbage patches are almost invisible to the naked eye. Similarly, the giant patches of garbage are not captured by satellite imagery or aerial photographs. In addition, not all the trash floats on the surface. Denser debris is located under the surface. According to...

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The Plastic Footprint
May09

The Plastic Footprint

By The Editors Plastic pollution is a major global threat.  Plastics are durable, degrade very slowly and may persist in the environment for hundreds or even thousands of years, resulting in the increasing accumulation of plastic debris in our seas.  The best solution to the problem would be to produce and consume less plastic. However, plastic production is on the rise.  According to PlasticsEurope, worldwide plastics production rose to 280 million tonnes in 2011, representing around 4% increase from 2010, when 270 million tonnes of plastics were produced.  From 2010 to 2016, global plastics consumption is expected to grow by an average of about 4 % each year. What to do then?  The Plastic Disclosure Project offers one solution that, along with many other interventions, may help alleviate the problem.  The model for this initiative is the Carbon Disclosure Project, which motivates companies to disclose their impact on environment and natural resources and take action to reduce them. Similarly, the Plastic Disclosure Project  encourages companies to assess their plastic footprint along with that of their suppliers and service providers. The video below, from the Plastic Disclosure Project, shows the global impact of plastic pollution and explains how assessing the plastic footprint raises awareness of the problem and helps companies to develop innovative strategies for reducing their environmental...

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