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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

World Environment Day

World Environment Day

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, June 5, 2018/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, birds, marine life, sustainability, art and design, environment

               "Bag It Man" attends MountainFilm in Colorado (credit: Riled Up Journal)

You can be forgiven if you didn't remember that today is World Environment Day (WED). Coverage of this annual event is largely ignored most everywhere. Sponsored by the UN Environment Program, this year the theme is 'ocean plastic' and the consequences of all this discarded waste has on water pollution, wildlife, and public health. Australia's Commenwealth Scientific and Industrial Resource Organization (CSIRO) has estimated: 1 million plastic bottles are purchased worldwide every minute and that we use up to 5 trillion plastic bags each year. Most of the discarded plastic ends up in landfills or in the oceans where it creates huge gyres. The UK's Guardian newspaper is now calling all this discarded plastic a global calamity the Tibetan spiritual leader the dalai lama has said: The environment is telling us we have to work together as one community, which is the only way we’ll meet such crises as the increasing shortage of water. It requires a new approach to education that takes account of scientific findings and human values encouraging us all to do things differently.

Since its first event in 1974, World Environment Day has helped raise awareness of global environmental concerns including the depletion of the ozone layer, toxic chemicals, desertification, deforestation, and climate change. Since then, the event has evolved into a platform for individuals and groups to take direct action to address local environmental problems. Millions of people have participated with many participants from some of the poorest countries. Results from their efforts have included wider appreciation of environmental issues, changes in consumption patterns, expanded environmental education, and improvements in national environmental policies. The organizers often have used quirky advertising to address a serious issue and how to address it.

Environmental issues are complicated but that shouldn't stop attempts at trying to find practical effective solutions. WED helps as a reminder of what is required but it will take more than a single day to address a huge issue like plastic pollution. One recent development is hopeful. It involves the use of a bacteria that produce enzymes which can convert plastic into its natural carbon, hyrdogen, and oxygen consitutients. The newly discovered bacteria basically eat plastic. When modern biotechnology has been applied to selecting improved strains, the bacteria greatly increase their plastic conversion efficiency. If they like these can be economically produced they offer hope to begin addressing this pollution problem.

However, maybe someone attending a World Environment Day event will conceive of an even better solution to our plastic addiction and offer an alternative so we don't consume so much plastic in the first place.



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