I have a love for the environment and I am very passionate about looking to conserve it.
I am currently in sixth form studying my A-levels, looking to take a degree in Marine Conservation at University, and so by volunteering at PECT it allows me to work in an environment where people are doing their all to make a positive impact.
In wanting to work in conservation, it is important for me to get the message across to others about the negative impact that we are having. According to the Independent, 70% of Japan's biggest coral reef is dead due to the effects of global warming, said to have been caused by a mass coral bleaching last summer. This is mainly due to rising ocean temperatures – which is partially to do with us.
Climate change is one of the biggest issues that we are facing right now and its impact is happening a lot faster than what we wish to believe. Due to the increase in global temperature, the ice caps are melting, which in turn is creating a rise in sea level. The impact is even more widespread. When temperatures are too high the relationship between corals and their symbiotic microalgae becomes unstable – the algae is what makes corals bright and colourful and so when the relationship becomes unstable, the coral becomes ‘bleached’.
Pollution has a large effect on the ocean, for example; through untreated sewage, fertilizers, pesticides, industrial chemicals and plastics. Recently we have seen the implementation of the 5p plastic carrier bag charge and thus an increase in the use of reusable bags. This small change has in turn made a difference to the environment, seeing a dramatic drop in the volume of plastic bags entering our oceans. This isn’t to say the problem has stopped, or ever will just yet, but its a start and a way for us to go forward and develop further plans to hopefully result in no plastic bags entering our oceans.
Plastic has been in the ocean for many years and has reached a point where islands made up of plastic have developed. Unfortunately, many marine animals and mammals are susceptible to plastic entering their digestive systems, with carrier bags often being mistaken for jelly fish to certain marine life such as turtles. Further still, there is the potential of plastics entering our food chain if these marine animals continue to eat small plastics, potentially ending up in the food we eat.
Alongside the plastic are also dangerous fertilizers and pesticides which run into the oceans and water systems from agricultural fields – these can be damaging to the ocean as they then pollute it and the surrounding environments, working their way into the food chain again.
Ocean acidification is another continuing problem. As more carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere, it has an effect on the local environment but also adverse effects on the oceans. Recently, ocean acidification has emerged as another potentially serious threat to coral reefs as seawater absorbs some of the excess CO2 from the atmosphere, and it leads to the oceans becoming more acidic. In the last 200 years, the ocean acidity has increased by 30%. The acidic conditions dissolve coral skeletons and so make it more difficult for corals to grow.
There are several other environmental issues, but for now we need to focus on this issue and take further steps to reduce it. So why not start now and do your bit to help out and #Showthelove for the environment?
Here are some of the top things you should do:
1. Adopt energy saving habits
2. Change the way you think about transportation
3. Make every drop of water count
4. Switch to ‘green power’
Hollie Nightingale is a volunteer at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT).