Sir David Attenborough’s New Series to Show ‘Heartbreaking’ Examples of Plastic Pollution
By Imogen Calderwood
Attenborough, the broadcasting legend who brought the world Planet Earth, revealed that teams had recorded seabirds feeding their chicks with scraps of plastic, in the documentary series that will focus on how our oceans are changing.
A serious change has been the dramatic rise in plastic pollution.
"Plastics are of crucial importance—it is heartbreaking," Attenborough said, speaking to Greenpeace before the launch of his BBC series Blue Planet II. "Which example do you choose as being most heartbreaking? I would choose, because I feel so strongly for them, a sequence with the albatross."
He continued: "There is a shot of the young being fed and what comes out of the beak of the adult? Not sand eels, not fish, and not squid, which is what they mostly eat, but plastic. It's heartbreaking. Heartbreaking."
Kris Krug / Flickr
Other footage showed gannets feeding plastic to their chicks off the coast of Scotland, and puffins with scraps of it in their beaks.
Environmental group Greenpeace UK published the Attenborough interview to coincide with the launch of its investigative journalism project, Unearthed.
The project has documented plastic pollution in the feeding grounds of basking sharks, in the habitats of puffins, seals and whales, and in the nests and beaks of seabirds, in an expedition off the Scottish coast.
In some of Britain's most iconic seabird colonies, in areas such as the Bass Rock, Isle of May and the Shinto Isles, the group found plastic bottles, bags and packaging.
"David Attenborough's words will strike a chord with anyone who has ever witnessed the harm plastic pollution is causing to marine life, whether it's a turtle tangled up in plastic or a whale's stomach full of carrier bags," said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Louise Edge.
"With a truckload of plastic being dumped in our oceans every minute, this has now become a global environmental crisis stretching from the Arctic shores to remote islands in the South Pacific and Britain's own coastline," she said.
"Coming from one of the world's greatest living naturalists, Sir David's words should be a wake-up call for governments and corporations that we need real action now to stop plastic waste choking our seas," Edge added.
Attenborough's new Blue Planet II series is coming soon to BBC One 16 years on from the award-winning first Blue Planet series, and is the result of four years filming visiting every continent and ocean.
But the naturalist has also noted some positive changes.
"My hope is that the world is coming to its senses ... I'm so old I remember a time when ... we didn't talk about climate change, we talked about animals and species extermination," Attenborough told Greenpeace.
"For the first time I'm beginning to think there is actually a groundswell, there is a change in the public view," he said. "I feel many more people are concerned and more aware of what the problems are. Young people—people who've got 50 years of their life ahead of them—they are thinking they ought to be doing something about this—that's a huge change."
Attenborough added: "30 years ago people concerned with atmospheric pollution were voices crying in the wilderness. We aren't voices crying in the wilderness now."
Meanwhile, the UK government has this month set up an inquiry into disposable coffee cups and plastic bottles.
The UK throws away approximately 2.5 billion coffee cups every year, of which fewer than one in 400 are recycled, according to government figures. That's because there are only two sites in the UK that have the capacity to recycle the waterproof card used to make the cups. Just 57 percent of all plastic bottles used in the UK are recycled.
Possible ideas to encourage the recycling of bottles and coffee cups are to set up a deposit and refund scheme (DRS) or taxation.
Michael Gove, the secretary of state for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, has said a DRS would be a "great idea," but said that it's important to make sure it would work properly before guaranteeing its implementation.
Other countries such as Germany, Norway and Sweden already have a DRS in place. The German deposit scheme cost around three times as much per container as household-based collection systems in 2015, but the country recycled more than 90 percent of its PET bottles in that year, according to a parliament press release.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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