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.
'Kicking Ass for Her Generation': Applause for 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg as EU Chief Pledges $1 Trillion to Curb Climate Threat
By Julia Conley
Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged more than $1 trillion over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.
In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.
‘Plastic Is Lethal’: Groundbreaking Report Reveals Health Risks at Every Stage in Plastics Life Cycle
With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the world's oceans every year, there is growing concern about the proliferation of plastics in the environment. Despite this, surprisingly little is known about the full impact of plastic pollution on human health.
But a first-of-its-kind study released Tuesday sets out to change that. The study, Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet, is especially groundbreaking because it looks at the health impacts of every stage in the life cycle of plastics, from the extraction of the fossil fuels that make them to their permanence in the environment. While previous studies have focused on particular products, manufacturing processes or moments in the creation and use of plastics, this study shows that plastics pose serious health risks at every stage in their production, use and disposal.
Air pollution within the home causes 3.8 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization. A recent University of Colorado in Boulder study reported by The Guardian found that cooking a full Thanksgiving meal could raise levels of particulate matter 2.5 in the house higher than the levels averaged in New Delhi, the world's sixth most polluted city.
But soon, you will be able to shop for a solution in the same place you buy your budget roasting pans. IKEA is working on a specially-designed, air-purifying curtain called the GUNRID.
A rare species of giant tortoise, feared extinct for more than 100 years, was sighted on the Galápagos island of Fernandina Sunday, the Ecuadorian government announced.