6 Biggest Threats Destroying Ocean Health & How We Can Fight It

 

As we get closer to Earth Day and Earth Week, we’re looking at the state of  our ocean & the threats it/we are facing.  The biggest threat to our Ocean’s health is climate change, with its twin super-dangers of rising sea temperatures and acidification.  Below we’ll list the top 6 threats to our ocean health and what we can do to deal with climate change.  But first a couple of stats: there are over 7 million tons of plastic in the ocean.   Plastic is worse than oil because it just sits there, breaks down into little particles and then kills all kinds of fish and birds that eat it.  Plastic bags looks like jelly fish and sea turtles also eat them and die, recently a sperm whale died with a plastic bag in its throat.

  • The U.N. says all world fisheries will collapse by 2048 & coral reefs by 2025
  • 80 % of oxygen comes from phytoplankton in the ocean

 

source :stateoftheocean.org

 

Climate Change

Both rising sea temperatures and acidification are due to become increasingly extreme throughout this century, along with other

 6 Biggest Threats Destroying Ocean Health & How We Can Fight It

photo from: stateoftheocean.org

climate change impacts such as rising sea levels and more frequent – and more severe – storms.

Rising sea temperatures are already having a major influence on the distribution of marine species and, as with rising temperatures on land, on the timing of the cycles of life in the Ocean. They are also partly responsible for the phenomenon of coral bleaching, devastating large areas of the worlds coral reefs.

Ocean acidification is a direct result of the absorption of carbon dioxide by the Ocean. This threatens all marine animals and plants that secrete calcium carbonate as part of their structure. We believe that this has already caused a reduction in the size and growth rates of some marine animals.

SOLUTION: Reduce CO2 Emissions

 

Over Fishing

Climate change aside, over-fishing represents the biggest threat to the health of our Ocean.

 6 Biggest Threats Destroying Ocean Health & How We Can Fight It

photo from: stateoftheocean.org

We are taking about 9,000-10,000 tonnes of fish from the Ocean every hour (based on a catch of 80-90 million tonnes per year). The fishing methods used – as well as the sheer scale of the plunder – are having devastating effects on both the fish targeted and virtually all other marine creatures, from seabirds to coral.

As a result of unsustainable fishing practices, previously abundant fisheries – such as north-west Atlantic cod – can now produce only a fraction of the food yielded in the past. Yet recent research has shown that by applying precautionary management practices, fisheries can be sustainable and provide food for future generations in a way that is profitable.

The new methods of managing marine capture fisheries recognize that the role of fishing has to be viewed as part of the ecosystem. This is critical, given the future demands that will be placed on our food supply by an increasing world population. The new, sustainable practices include the development of networks of marine protected areas and systems of ownership of fisheries by the fishers themselves.

SOLUTION: Improved management of fisheries

 

Habitat Destruction

We are destroying marine habitats in the Ocean in two significant ways. Firstly, when we directly eliminate the habitat in question:

 6 Biggest Threats Destroying Ocean Health & How We Can Fight It

photo from: stateoftheocean.org

by destroying seabed communities such as coral reefs through the practice of bottom trawling, for example. And secondly, when we change the marine environment through activities which alter water quality, making it unsuitable for the many marine animals with precise environmental requirements.

The result in either case is the loss of marine habitats that support species, communities and – ultimately – ecosystems.

SOLUTION: Marine reserves

 

Extraction

When oil and gas are extracted from the seabed, they release hydrocarbons and other contaminants into the Ocean. In addition to

6 Biggest Threats Destroying Ocean Health & How We Can Fight It

photo from: stateoftheocean.org

the devastating effects of pollution caused by oil spills, the very process of extracting oil produces fine sediments that are released onto the seabed and which may be contaminated with toxic drilling muds.

Surveys of the seabed which use acoustic methods to prospect for oil may also damage marine ecosystems, through the impacts of sound on marine mammals and fish.

At present, mining companies are also formulating plans to explore even the deep Ocean for its mineral wealth. This includes habitats such as hydrothermal vents that are home to rare and unique species.

SOLUTION: Marine reserves

 

Pollution

Most pollution in the Ocean originates from industry, agriculture or domestic sources on land – whether dumped directly into the

6 Biggest Threats Destroying Ocean Health & How We Can Fight It

photo from: stateoftheocean.org

sea or reaching it via rivers and air currents.

The release of sewage and wastes into coastal ecosystems directly increases microbial activity through the provision of organic matter. This in turn depletes oxygen in the water column and can lead to the development of ‘dead zones’ in coastal waters. In other places, this artificial enrichment of coastal waters causes outbreaks of harmful algal blooms which poison other marine life.

In addition, heavy metals, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), plastics, petroleum and pesticides all have devastating effects on marine life and are transferred up the food chain to impact directly on human health.

SOLUTION: Marine reserves

 

Alien Species Introduction

Marine ecosystems are made up of species which interact with each other, and their environments, in ways that have evolved over

6 Biggest Threats Destroying Ocean Health & How We Can Fight It

photo from: stateoftheocean.org

millions of years. Now, we transport marine species and their larvae over huge distances and introduce them into alien ecosystems. This can happen deliberately, or accidentally (for example when ballast water taken aboard a ship in one region is dumped in another).

Either way, it can put ecosystems under severe stress if alien species overgrow the native species or introduce exotic diseases. In the worst cases – especially when combined with other human stressors, such as over-fishing – the affected ecosystems can collapse completely, as happened in the Black Sea in the 1990s.

SOLUTION: Marine reserves

 

 

baby blue down arrowNot sure how YOU could actually make a difference?  Well why not start at home.  Changing brands of common household items could not only help out your environment but our oceans too!  See how you can impact change and be part of a long standing cause.  See how we’ve helped over the past 50+ years here

 

 

 

Brian is the co-founder of The Universal Key & an Entrepreneur who has been involved in 7 different start ups. His focuses are on Social, Lifestyle & Sustainable Business’s.

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube 

Can You Trust A Non Toxic Or Green Cleaning Products Label?

 

One question I wish I’d known the answer to a long time ago is: Can you trust a non toxic or green cleaning products label?

It’s tough when they’re not really tested.  Here are some statistics:

 

  • Of the over 80,000 chemicals used in the U.S. the EPA has required toxicity testing on fewer than 500.
  • 42 billion pounds of chemicals are produced and imported each year, we don’t know the health risks of 75% of them.
  • Less than 20% of the estimated chemicals manufactured in the past 50 years have been assessed for their neurotoxicity.

 

So consider this point: If the company has been making a chemically based product for years and then suddenly when the market trend shifts towards natural and non-toxic products comes out with a so called “natural” or “green” product that should definitely raise a big red flag.  Where is their motive?  True product safety OR profit margin!

 Can You Trust A Non Toxic Or Green Cleaning Products Label?

Companies that start out with a deep commitment to safety first & non toxicity to humans and the environment tend to stay true to that philosophy. Many other companies will shift back and forth based on a trending market, not a true commitment.

That’s the answer to a question I wish I’d known much earlier: Can you trust a non toxic or green cleaning products label?  If you liked this article and want to get more like it go to TheGetGreenKey.Com and you can get my 20 free articles on the TOP things you MUST know about your cleaning & laundry products & what things I wish I’d know a long time ago!  See you in the next article!

 

Lisa is a home environmental specialist focusing on smart, safe alternatives for families concerned about today’s toxin epidemic

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube 

Which Foods Are The Worst For The Environment?

 

The argument that a vegetarian diet is more planet-friendly than a carnivorous one is straightforward: If we feed plants to animals, and then eat the animals, we use more resources and produce more greenhouse gases than if we simply eat the plants.

As with most arguments about our food supply, through , it’s not that simple.  Although beef is always climatically costly, pork or chicken can be a better choice than broccoli, calorie for calorie.  Comparing cows with pigs, and meat with plants, is often done using data from the Environmental Working Group, which produced a report in 2011 that detailed the environmental cost of meat.  The report includes a chart that ranks various foods according the amount of emissions generated in the course of production.

Ruminants are the worst offenders, with lamb generating 39 kilograms of carbons  dioxide for each kilogram of meat, and beef generating 27.  Then come pork (12), turkey (11) and chicken (7).  Plants are all lower, ranging from potatoes (3) to lentils (1).  But there’s another way to look at the same information.  If you stop eating beef, you can’t replace a kilogram of it, which has 2,280 calories, with a kilogram of broccoli, at 340 calories.  You have to replace it with 6.7 kilograms of broccoli.  Calories are the great equalizer, and it makes sense to use them as the basis of the calculation.

 

“There are other arguments, on both sides – so many that it’s easy to pic the ones that make the case for whichever kind of agriculture you’re inclined to support.  Grass-fed cows don’t compete for plants humans can eat, and animals grazing on non-irrigated pastures don’t compete for water that could be used to grow food (true), but grass digestion creates more methane than grain digestion (also true).”

 

When you reorder the chart to look at climate impact by calorie, the landscape looks different.  The ruminants still top the chart, but the monogastrics look a whole lot better.  Low-calorie crops like broccoli don’t do so well.  Although beef still looks bad and beans still look good,  pork and poultry are on a par with green vegetables.  (Which means that a beef-and-leaf paleo diet is the worst choice going environmentally speaking)

The claim that vegetarianism is kinder to the planet also fails to consider a couple of kinds of meat that aren’t on the Environmental Working Group’s chart.

Deer and Canadian geese do active damage in the areas where they’re over populated, and wild pigs leave destruction in their path wherever they go.  Eat one of those, and do the planet a favor.

Most people, though, are most likely to get their food from the farm, and it’s important to note that, although the chart attaches one number to each kind of food, farming styles vary widely and not all pork chops or tomatoes, or eggs are created equal.  Unfortunately, its all but impossible for us consumers to figure out the climate impact of the particular specimens on our dinner table, whether they’re animal or vegetable.

Which foods are the worst for the environment

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, organic agriculture’s CO2 emissions per acre are significantly less than those of conventional agriculture.  But yields per acre are also generally lower, and that mitigates the savings.  Counterintuitively, the strawberry you buy from the farmer down the road might have a bigger environmental footprint that the strawberry you buy from far away, where a large farm in an ideal climate may grow it more efficiently.  But it might not.  You can’t know.  It’s maddening.

When it comes to meat, trying to eat responsibly presents a genuine conundrum:  What’s best for the planet is often what’s worst for the animal.  The efficiencies of modern conventional livestock farming do indeed decrease greenhouse gases, but they also require the confinement and high density that draw the ire of animal welfare advocates.

 

“The case for plants has to include their nutritional value.  Carbon aside, broccoli beats pork, hand down.”

 

Growing an animal as quickly as possible decreases climate impact because it’s that many fewer days (or weeks or months) the animal is here to pollute.  Increasing feed efficiency likewise decreases the acreage devoted to growing the animal’s food.

Rich Pirog, senior associate director of the Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University, has studied the environmental impact of various ways of raising livestock; he has co-authored studies of Iowa cattle and pigs.  For beef, he found that feedlots, where cattle are kept at high densities and fed grain, beat pastures, where animals are allowed to graze, in the tally of environmental impact.  (A study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academics of Science reached a similar conclusion.)

There are other arguments, on both sides – so many that it’s easy to pic the ones that make the case for whichever kind of agriculture you’re inclined to support.  Grass-fed cows don’t compete for plants humans can eat, and animals grazing on non-irrigated pastures don’t compete for water that could be used to grow food (true), but grass digestion creates more methane than grain digestion (also true).  Grazing cattle on grasslands can sequester carbon in the soil, but improperly managed grazing can make things worse rather than better.  Pollution from manure reservoirs on conventional farms can threaten water and crops, but manure in reservoirs, from animals in confinement, can be converted to energy by methane digesters.  Then there’s the price of meat, inevitably high in less efficient systems.

The meat vs other meat debate is irrelevant to the committed vegetarian, but there are issues other than greenhouse gases in the meat vs plant debate, too.  The case for meat includes the ability of an animal to contribute constructively on an integrated farm (chickens help with pest control), the potential for turning food waste (spent grain, whey, expired dairy) into high-quality protein, and the ability to use grasslands, inappropriate for row crops, to produce human food (with grazing cows or goats).

The case for plants has to include their nutritional value.  Carbon aside, broccoli beats pork, hand down.  And it has to consider killing, which many plant eaters find unacceptable.  While the moral implications are beyond the brief of a column devoted to matters of fact, we all have to acknowledge that agriculture is an animal killing enterprise.  Does the rat, poisoned because it’s a threat to the grain stores, count for less than the pig, raised and slaughtered with care?

There is no one label (vegetarian, local, organic) that carries all the responsibility.  There isn’t a last word, which means there’s not a lot of room for sanctimony.  While I think we all need to pay attentions, vegetarians shouldn’t tell omnivores to eat quinoa instead of pork any more than omnivores should tell vegetarians to eat venison instead of quinoa.

 

Where do you stand?  Tell us what you think in the comments or by joining the conversation on any of the social networks to the left of this article.

 

Lynne is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Therapeutic Massage and Ethics Educator with extensive study in preventative nutrition and physiology. For over 35 years, Lynne has helped thousands of people through consulting, seminars and writing.

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube 

Boost Your Mood With These “Feel Better Foods”

 

It’s not uncommon to turn to food when you need a pick me up.  But too often, food choices derail our plans to eat healthy

 

Foods can have a noticeable effect on our moods.  We know that eating healthy will help us lose weight, but there are so many other benefits.  For one, you’ll feel more upbeat and energized.

Now munching on blueberries isn’t going to do much for you if you’ve just devoured a double cheeseburger, but eating healthy foods, at least 80% of the time, will help you find more energy, think more clearly and lose weight.

 

Tired?Pineapple Feel Good Foods - Improve Mood

Try colorful fruits like cranberries, plums or pineapple.  These fruits contain antioxidants that fight off free radicals known to drain energy and damage neurons in the brain.  Leafy greens such as spinach and Swiss chard are also packed with antioxidants.  Aim for several servings of colorful fruits and leafy greens per day.

For sharper focus, reach for foods rich in omega-3 fats, such as salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines.  Fatty-acid-rich foods help cushion your brain cells, improving mood and memory.  These foods will help you feel  better, and can reduce your risk for dementia down the road.  Aim for 3 servings a week.

 

Stressed?Oranges Feel Good Foods - Improve Mood

You may be temped to grab a bag of chips.  Instead, peel an orange.  Oranges can give you an instant energy and mood boost.  This super-nutritious citrus fruit is full of vitamin C, which helps pump oxygen through your body and brain to recharge your system.

Snacking on vitamin-C rich bell peppers and citrus fruits may contribute to lower levels of cortisol.  Cortisol is the stress hormone that is released when your body goes into “fight or flight” mode.  Research suggests large doses of vitamin C may actually stop stress before it starts by reducing the amount of cortisol released.

 

Restless?  Cherries Feel Good Foods - Improve Mood

Enjoy a handful of dried, tart cherries before you call it a night.  Besides their rich supply of antioxidants, cherries are high in melatonin, the hormone that improves quality of sleep.  An increase in the hormone may tell your brain it’s time to wind down for the night.

 

Anxious? Almonds Feel Good Foods - Improve Mood

Reach for a handful of nuts like almonds and pecans.  Why?  They are high in B vitamins, such as thiamine, which may improve the body’s ability to withstand stress.

 

 

 

So the next time your feeling one of the above emotions, reach for these foods to boost your mood!  Do you have a favorite mood boost food you go to?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

Lynne is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Therapeutic Massage and Ethics Educator with extensive study in preventative nutrition and physiology. For over 35 years, Lynne has helped thousands of people through consulting, seminars and writing.

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube 

Old vs New Food Labels (Cartoon)

A little humor to go with all the new talk about food labels!

 

food labels cartoon

 

Lynne is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Therapeutic Massage and Ethics Educator with extensive study in preventative nutrition and physiology. For over 35 years, Lynne has helped thousands of people through consulting, seminars and writing.

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube