| By Angelika Papari
Environmental awareness is the first fundamental step towards environmentalism, which is the ideology that illustrates the importance of human respect, responsibility, and protection towards the Earth (1). There are thousands of environmental issues that weigh down on our Earth today. Learning about the cause-and-effect of some problems that harm our environment is a great way to start our journey towards Environmental Awareness and action. Oil drilling, deforestation, agricultural pollution, and the production of plastic goods are only a few of the major environmental problems our Earth faces daily. The two majors examples will be analyzing and finding solutions for them in this blog post is oil drilling and plastic pollution.
Oil Drilling– As societies grow in size and advance their technology and resources, the dependency in fossil fuels has heightened like never before. It is our “global addiction” to use oil drilling towards our energy, but there are a handful of negative consequences that come with it (1). Oil spills and offshore drilling poison our soil and waters, together, with the increased atmospheric CO2 that suffocates our atmosphere, boosting climate change and global warming. The carbon in our atmosphere increases by the constant burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas that is used for all industrial activities. Soil degradation can also happen from overgrazing and monoculture planting. Declines in biodiversity, water quality and human health can all be accredited to the oil industry.
Plastic pollution– The manufacture, production, and constant use of plastic has been detrimental for the survival and preservation of our planet. Plastic is an easy material to produce and relatively inexpensive, but plastic products are not able to break down and biodegrade as easily as other materials, causing a lot of harm to our oceans and lands. Plastic usually ends up breaking down into micro-plastics that are then consumed by marine organisms, harming them and their ecosystem. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is currently taking a surface space of 1.6 million square kilometers, which can be translated to two times the size of Texas (2). According to the Ocean Cleanup webpage, it is estimated that 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers (2).
It’s estimated that between 1.15 to 2.41 million tons of plastic are entering the ocean each year. THE OCEAN CLEANUP
To reduce plastic in our oceans, people need to mobilize against the use of plastic in their daily lives and routines. Recycling and reusing habits are very important, but no matter what, plastic will always take years and years to decompose entirely. For example, plastic bottles take about 450 years or more to biodegrade (3).
Image by Colleen Tighe © The Balance 2019
This huge accumulation of plastic and the constant production and use of it enhances Earth’s pollution and degradation. Moving forward, the first step is to educate ourselves about the harm that plastic can have on our planet. School is the center of learning and should promote and cultivate the relationship of the youth with our environment. By implementing environmental courses, children can learn from a young age the significance of protecting and alleviating our planet from negative effects and waste (4). Then, we can start using alternative products such as paper instead of plastic bags, reusable instead of single use bottles and straws, and so many other innovative options.
It is also important to know the current technology used to collect plastic pollution from our oceans. It is very vital to collect the plastic before it sinks from the surface of our oceans to the seabed. The process is still very complicated. The Clean Sea Solutions company has created the “Clean Sea Robot” which is an autonomous and electric machine that goes on cleaning missions around the Pacific. It sweeps up the trash by using “computer vision” and “remote sensing” and then it empties it to selected stations. It recharges and it continues its mission. Many more innovative technologies are on the way to solving this plastic crisis but much of the impact is on individuals to take action.
The human race takes steps towards sustainability in the oil and plastic industry, but at the end of the day every individual should take it upon themselves to make strides towards sustainability. According to the article: “How To Cultivate Environmental Awareness In Schools,” it is highly recommended for young individuals to learn and educate themselves on the environmental realities of our planet from an early age. Introducing the 3R’s: reduce waste, reuse resources, recycle materials in classrooms, as well as organize tree planting, encourage water and light conservation (5).This can be done in your household and in your community through IDEAS for Us. Learn more about our programming in our branches around the world to fight the climate crisis and make our world a better place!
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