Throughout 2018 our marine biologists here at Love The Oceans will be doing blog posts on topics of Named Days throughout the year. To keep up to date, follow this blog, also found under the ‘News’ tab on our website. Without further ado, in celebration of Green Up Day 2018, I introduce our ninth blog in this marine series:
We need to talk…. about your carbon footprint: Green Up Day
Today is Green Up Day, a call to action for us all to change our living habits and think more ‘green’. We’ve talked a lot about life style changes in our previous blogs, looking at reducing, re-using and recycling waste and plastics, so instead, today we’re going to focus on our carbon footprint and some easy ways to minimise it.
Now, you may be thinking: why is Love The Oceans concerned with carbon dioxide? That stays in the air right? Wrong. The ocean is the biggest carbon dioxide sink in the entire world – it absorbs approximately 2 thousand million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually which is around 25% of anthropogenic CO2emissions. That’s great right? No, because as with everything, there’s a catch.
CO2 reacts with water in the ocean (H2O) and eventually forms H+ions and bicarbonate ions. H+ions are acidic. The human race continues to pump tonnes and tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every year, which is resulting in the generation of more and more H+ions which means the oceans are becoming more and more acidic. Along with this increased acidity comes a whole heap of other problems: anything made of CaCO3 begins to break down from the acid. This includes coral reefs, shells and any animals with exoskeletons – that’s your lobsters, crabs and prawns.
CO2 emissions increase the acidity of the oceans. What else does it do? Well, we know it warms them too. CO2 is released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and these greenhouse gas emissions trap additional energy in the earth’s climate system, ultimately heating it up. The oceans have absorbed over 90% of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases.
So, the oceans are getting warmer and more acidic. How does that affect us? OK, let’s take look at coral reefs. Coral reefs are the most productive and diverse ecosystems on Earth and as a result, are the building blocks of the sea. If they are destroyed you lose your small fish that live on them, followed by your large fish, leading to an entire ecosystem collapse, and possibly the collapse of commercial fishing industries – food that approximately 2 and a half billion people rely on for a significant part of their protein. Is this something we’re going to face in the future then? No, it’s something we’re facing right now. Over 30% of the world’s coral reefs have died over the past few decades and over 80% in the Caribbean. Australia is now facing this too with the largest and longest ever recorded mass bleaching event (the stage before coral death) still ongoing.
This is all very doom and gloom. How can we stop all this happening? Minimise our carbon footprint. It’s about everyone making small lifestyle changes that make a huge global impact. Here at Love The Oceans we’re always striving to reduce our carbon footprint, reducing waste, re-using materials, bio-composting food waste, and eating locally which both reduces our emissions and benefits the local community at the same time.
We have made the conscious decision to sell our Ocean Trash line of merchandise through Teemill – a certified organic company, using low-waste digital printing tech and inks that conform to the GOTS/Soil Association organic criteria, in ethically accredited, renewable energy powered factories. Speaking of which, there’s free postage on these until midnight on Monday. Click here to shop.
There are plenty of things that you can do right now to reduce your carbon footprint too! First of all, start using Ecosia to browse the web. It works like any other search engine but uses the profits to plant trees. It also has a live tree count so you can see how many trees have been planted– currently at 26,951,200 while I write this.
Need to fly somewhere? Think about offsetting your flight emissions. You can start by flying with the most carbon efficient airline or choosing travel agents that are eco-friendly. You can find information about doing that here. Then you can offset your carbon footprint using that airline’s offset program, or if they don’t have one you can use organisations such as Carbon Footprint. Just make sure whatever program you choose is verifiable, traceable, permanent and conforms to the Verified Carbon Standard or Clean Development Mechanism.
As well as these changes, you can make small every day changes too, like only eating in-season fruit and veg that is sourced from within your country, thus reducing air miles, or driving at 50mph rather than 70mph, which uses 25% less fuel. You can also reduce the length of your showers and therefore the energy used to pump and heat the water – you can even get gadgets for this now like the Water Pebble. Check out the Guardians’ 50 Easy Ways to Save the Planet for more cool tips on every day changes you can make.
So you see, it’s essential we all work together to ‘Green Up’ to not only save the planet but to also save ourselves! Do your bit and cut your emissions today. Happy Green Up Day!