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Waste Prevention and Climate Change - SAGERS

author: Toby Clack - Year 9

7 Aug

Waste Prevention and Climate Change - SAGERS

The article below was written by a Year 9 student on behalf of the College SAGERS (environmental justice) group.  His concern for our life support systems is obvious.  The College will run a “nude food” day later this month where we ask families to reduce their environmental impact by purchasing food that has no extraneous wrapping.  Plastic wrappings are a major problem at St Patrick’s College and in the world at large.  Please read on.

Waste Prevention and Climate Change

Climate Change is now proven, and it is widely believed that it will be humanities biggest and most dangerous threat in the future. At St Patrick’s College we want to do something about this problem and this is being led by our student action group SAGERS.  SAGERS stands for Student Action Group Environmentally Resource Smart.  It is a group of approximately 20 students who care about our future.  Any student can join the group and to join simply contact Mr Michael Weadon at mweadon@stpats.vic.edu.au

2030 is our deadline to turn it all around, fossil fuels must be swapped for renewables by 2030. and despite the fact that you might think it’s “so far away”

it’s only 336,000,000 seconds, yes, seconds until January the first, 2030.

Not so far away now, is it?

One of the scientific topics offered at our school is Ecology. Ecology not only teaches us of the beauty, vastness, diversity, interconnection and value of our world, but also of the extreme fragility, balances, precarious health of our biosphere and consequences that human actions create on our beautiful planet. 

One of the main consequences of our actions is extinction, the world has lost millions of beautiful and precious species to Climate Change, and this trend isn’t changing. The world’s insect population has fallen by 60 per cent since the 1970s. Large parts of Europe look green but are ‘biodiversity deserts’ – the birds and bees are dying. Current extinction rates are at least tens, and possibly hundreds, of times greater than background rates, destroying entire eco- systems both on land and in the sea. 

Climate change is warming up the atmosphere, oceans are acidifying and the cryosphere – the parts of the world covered in ice – is literally in meltdown. Abrupt, non- linear, irreversible changes are underway in the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland and the world’s glaciers, which are crucial to food, water and agricultural production. 

The human consequences of these changes – economic instability, large- scale involuntary migration, conflict, famine and the collapse of economic and social systems – are plain to see and reported daily, but these stories are not linked in mainstream political and media coverage to the climate and ecological emergency that is already upon us. 

Published in the journal Science in February 2015, a study conducted by a scientific working group at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), quantified the input of plastic waste from land into the ocean. The results: every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. It’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline. So the cumulative input for 2025 would be nearly 20 times the 8 million metric tons estimate – 100 bags of plastic per foot of coastline in the world! Here is a link to a mockumentary that tells the story of a plastic bag.

https://youtu.be/GLgh9h2ePYw

Our planet is only as healthy as its oceans. And the UN has warned that marine life faces irreparable damage from the millions of tonnes of plastic waste that ends up in the oceans every year.

Half of the world’s coral reefs have died in the last 30 years, and two thirds of the Great Barrier Reef have been damaged by coral bleaching – this happens when the sea temperature is too high.

Earth Overshoot day is the date when we’ve used up more from nature than the planet can possibly renew in the entire year – and ever year, that date comes earlier.

The world’s superpowers, including the UK and US, use more than double the amount of resources they’re able to produce. If we carry on using the earth’s resources at our current rate of consumption, we’d need 1.7 planets to support the demands on Earth ecosystems.

Everyone can do their bit to help prevent the effects of climate change, but we can only have an impact on the health of our planet if we act now. 

Sea levels are rising at the fastest rate in 3,000 years, an average three millimetres per year. The two major causes of sea level rise are thermal expansion – the ocean is warming and warmer water expands – and melting of glaciers and ice sheets that increases the flow of water. Antarctica and Greenland hold enough frozen water to raise global sea levels by about 65 metres if they were to melt completely. Even if this scenario is unlikely, these ice masses are already melting faster. And island nations and coastal regions are feeling the impact.

Earlier this year Indonesia announced it’s plans to move the capital city away from Jakarta. Home to over ten million people, some parts of Jakarta are sinking as much as 25cm per year. Jakarta’s precarious position is thanks to a combination of two factors – rising global sea levels and land subsidence as underground water supplies have been drained away to meet water needs.

This grim picture is repeated elsewhere too. In the Pacific, at least eight islands were swallowed by the sea in the last century, with Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands feared to be the next low-lying nations to be wiped off the map.

You can do your bit to save our planet, by doing even the simple things. Use reusable materials and get your recyclables right, be energy smart and invest in renewables.

Toby Clack Year 9 and SAGERS