TOMRA Wrap Up – keeping you in the loop about all of your environmental news over the past fortnight. From Seaspiracy, the documentary that’s been on everyone’s minds, to plastic pollution that’s spiralling around the world, there’s plenty to know. With World Heritage Day also coming up, it’s also important to highlight the dangers facing the world’s most important heritage sites. Have a read below.
1. Airborne plastic pollution ‘spiralling around the globe’, study finds
Microplastic pollution is now “spiralling around the globe”, according to a study of airborne plastic particles. The researchers said human pollution has led to a global plastic cycle, akin to natural processes such as the carbon cycle, with plastic moving through the atmosphere, oceans and land. The result is the “plastification” of the planet, said one scientist.
2. Japan decides to dump treated Fukushima water, with low levels of radioactive tritium, into the ocean
Japan’s government has approved plans to release more than 1 million tonnes of treated radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. Contaminated water is currently being kept in 1,000 tanks sprawling across the facility, but the plant’s operator TEPCO said by the end of next year the tanks and the site would be full, with no room to store any more.
3. Is Netflix’s Seaspiracy film right about fishing damaging oceans?
A documentary about the fishing industry’s impact on sea life and the oceans has caused a lot of debate. Many viewers have been saying they will no longer eat fish after watching the film, and expressed shock at the industrial scale of fishing. Others have argued it oversimplifies a complex issue – many communities depend on fishing for their livelihoods and for food, and are in fact practising sustainable catching methods.
4. NFTs Are Shaking Up the Art World. They May Be Warming the Planet, Too.
When Chris Precht, an Austrian architect and artist, first learned about nonfungible tokens, the digital collectibles taking the art world by storm, he was so enthralled, he said, he “felt like a little kid again.” So Mr. Precht, who is known for his work on ecological architecture, was devastated to learn that the artworks, known as NFTs, have an environmental footprint as mind-boggling as the gold-rush frenzy they’ve whipped up.
5. Rowley Shoals: thriving Australian reef shows what’s possible when ecosystems are untouched by humans
What would a tropical reef look like if it could escape the man-made perils of global heating and overfishing? A new study suggests it would look like Rowley Shoals, an isolated archipelago of reefs 260km off Australia’s north-west coast. “As soon as you jump in you realise there’s something special,” said fish biologist Matthew Birt. “The coral cover is amazing.”
Throwback Article for World Heritage Day: World Heritage Sites are Being Strangled by Human Waste
About halfway between California and Hawaii lies a small continent of plastic debris, named the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. According to The Ocean Cleanup website, a (conservatively) estimated 80,000 tons of trash make up this small island. Their data estimates that it is about 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic trash — about 250 pieces for every human in the world. Even those vast figures are only a percentage of the plastic human waste in the ocean. These plastic pieces end up eaten by fish and wildlife, washing up on beaches, and trapping animals.
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