My hope is that you read the title of this blog post as Oprah would when she is announcing something she is excited about. If you didn't, do that now before reading any further.
OK, you might know at this point that I hate plastics and I love science. The hating plastics comes through rather bluntly, so that is obvious, but the loving science may be a bit more subtly conveyed with the use of facts and figures. Anyways, one of my colleagues recently sent me a link to a story of the teenager that won the grand prize at this year's Google Science Fair. He found a way to bind up microplastics in the ocean with iron compounds and then remove the mixtures with magnets. SCI-ENCE!
I encourage you to read the story. There is still work to do before we go ahead and throw a bunch of ferrous compounds into the ocean and pass giant magnets over it (such as making sure that the ferrous compounds don't do their own damage in the ocean, you don't want to try to solve one problem and then create another....I could talk for days about examples of that!), but I love that a young person is working on tackling this problem using basic principles he learned in high school chemistry. What I love even more is the last line of the article. You'll have to read it for yourself. But if we could get all the young people together on that sentiment, we'd really be able to make some progress.
In what has now become a film classic, the world was introduced to the fascinating lives of emperor penguins. Who doesn't love watching penguins waddle along, heads bobbing side to side with the effort? I love that they look like the longest receiving line at a black tie event, that image being shattered by the ones that get tired of marching and slide along on their bellies for awhile. Then, as if the feat of marching 60-100 miles on what might be some of the shortest legs per body size was not enough, the females turn around after passing an egg off to the males, marching back 60-100 miles while the males endure the burnt of an Antarctic winter by walking around in a massive group huddle for months all while holding their egg on top of their feet. Emperor penguin parents might be the most dedicated in the world.
Now emperor penguins appear to be marching towards extinction. A recent study by a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute predicts that if climate change continues on the current track, these magnificent birds (which have persisted as a species for approximately 60 million years, p.s. way longer than modern humans have been around, 300 times longer to be exact-ish) could disappear forever by the end of this century. Most people will not be impacted by the loss of penguins. They'll be sad for a bit because penguins are so cute and Happy Feet etc., but they have other more pressing concerns. Of course, penguins don't impact our daily lives, but I believe strongly we have to question the morality of allowing what will likely be a mass extinction event this century, because, newsflash, emperor penguins are not the only species at high risk due to climate change (see my post from 5/14/19 "Biodiversity crisis"). For all those out there who champion the preservation of life, don't you think that should include all life, not just human life?
The good news of course is that the United States is fully committed to the Paris Agreement, making great strides at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, encouraging the development of renewable energy technologies...oh wait, that was a dream I had. In real life, the democracy-undermining, science-denying White House inhabitants started the process of removing our country from the Paris Agreement this week. Of course this is just a formality, they have been wrecking the environment in every way possible since day one of this administration (remember this deregulation tracker?). Now is the time for drastic actions, not "business as usual", and certainly not the time for rolling back the little progress that had been made. I reiterate that every person should do as much as she or he can on a personal level, plus everyone should be encouraging (or even nagging) their elected officials to do everything they can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Skim through these blog entries for ideas of personal actions you can take. You need to get fired up, because our planet is on fire.
Commentary on environmental news/issues plus thoughts and stories about my journey to lower my environmental footprint and raise my voice.
-Another vegan environmentalist