28/04/2014

We eat the plastic we throw away

The origins of the plastic back to the late nineteenth century, but it was not until 1909 that bakelite, the first completely synthetic plastic invented of the history. They were advancing chemically and since the second half of the twentieth century the plastic has colonized all areas of our lives and our everyday and is conditioned  the objects of single use, especially in the packaging industry for food.

There are tens of thousands of specific types of plastics grouped into little more than a dozen types. They have a life that goes from 400 to 700 years to degrade and disappear completely. However, most of them are used and manufactured for single use, this includes all packaging and all kinds of daily use. It is a paradox that is ravaging environmental level and is a great challenge for Humanity.

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Around 75% of European and 93% of American plastic are improperly discarded in the environment or exported to developing countries —Photo Unknown Author

In 2012, worldwide, there were 280 milions of tons of plastic. In the United States the percentage of recovered plastics produced is compared with a 7%, 25% in Europe. The rest or is not recyclable, is improperly disposed of in the environment or is exported to developing countries.

It is estimated that in the US alone, every five minutes are used and two million water bottles are discarded, of which only 10% are recycled. Each year more than six million tons of trash end up in the oceans, most plastics part. And it is estimated that in total may be more than 100 million tons of waste suspended in the seas.

In 1997, Charles Moore, a British oceanographer and navigator, discovered a big garbage patch in the North Pacific Ocean. Later called Garbage Island or The Seventh Continent, since today is three times the area of ​​Spain, approximately 1.400.000 km2, and is estimated to contain tens of millions of tons of waste and growing. This area was created by the collision of two streams that create a vortex that concentrates all the garbage floating toxic bodies at one place. 80% of this garbage comes from the coast of Japan and the United States as well as boats and floating positions —as base oil extraction— in these oceans. There are four similar spots in other parts of the world ocean smaller, and come from other countries, but all the seas and oceans of the world are contaminated by this material.

Most plastics are concentrated in these spots are photodegradable type, its own degradation causes it to turn into tiny particles to a molecular level and the particles travel by sea currents around the globe. Given its small size, is mistaken for zooplankton, being eaten by jellyfish and other small invertebrates and they in turn ingested by marine creatures. Sea surface from these polluted areas, according to research there are more particles of this type that zooplankton. Also the fishes, especially large cetaceans and birds ingest plastic long lasting, some die because eat plástics and others don’t die but are eaten by other animals with this materials inside. For this reason, the plastic has entered —and has started— in the food chain of the entire ecosystem, including of course the human being, with this incalculable impacts on our health. Our own way of living and consumption affects our health, and we eat what we throw away. Unlikely but true paradox.

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Unbelievable but true —Photo Chris Jordan

Each year , one million seabirds and 100.000 marine animals including dolphins, turtles, fish and large whales die from plastic pollution. And untold numbers of species at the ecosystem level are affected by marine pollution and human waste plastics and chemicals. All this without adding the impact of marine fisheries unsustainably.

Moreover, recently in 2013, the WHO (World Health Organization) and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) published a report in which they warned of the dangers of some chemicals —cosmetics and sunscreen especially parabens and others—, including Bisfenol A, present in many plastic containers and food packaging single use. These substances act as endocrine disruptors, and the investigations link this to endocrine disorders, certain types of tumors, brain function and fertility. In the case of animals, the investigation conclude the disruptors its probably the cause of the demographic problems in some species in recent times. They have been defined as a global threat to all species and the environment.

For all the reasons described many organizations such as the Environmental Cleanup Coalition or Coalition Plastic Pollution, dealing with the mission of spreading ideas and develop actions to the problem that generated the invention of the twentieth century. The power of proximity and local reduction of packaging and bags and participation in cleanup projects are some of the key posed, however the challenge as humanity to our environment and to all those who inhabit is actually, oceanic.

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Así que parece bastante sensato intentar que las tendencias arquitectónicas estén orientadas hacia este modo de trabajar. Cualquier construcción puede ser sostenible. Lo esencial es pensar y diseñar el proyecto como verde o sostenible desde el principio, como propone el Consejo Constructor Verde, un organismo que, como el Consejo de Edificios Verdes o la Asociación Española de Bioconstrucción, abogan por esta forma de arquitectura. W_symbiocity No sólo edificios concretos, sino barrios e incluso ciudades enteras se han creado basándose en la sostenibilidad. Es el caso de Symbio City, un conjunto de casas al sur de Estocolmo, en Suecia, primer ejemplo de urbanización entendida como un todo. No está pensada como algo ostentoso, sino confortable y armónico. En sus pocos años de existencia, ha reducido en un 50% su impacto medioambiental, gracias al aprovechamiento de las fuentes de energía natural con paneles solares, molinos de viento y agua de lluvia. Además, la basura orgánica es tratada para producir biosólidos, y el 80% de los desplazamientos se realizan a pie, en bicicleta o en transporte público. Este sistema sueco ha sido ya implantado en varios lugares del mundo, como en varias ciudades de China, Canadá, Irlanda, Rusia, Sudáfrica, India, Reino Unido o Francia.What do we mean by 'green' or 'sustainable' building? Perhaps, the proper term is bioconstruction, or at least is what Spanish architects used to refer to a structure of any kind, which is efficient with the resources it uses, healthy and productive for its occupants, maximizes the return on investment in its life cycle and, through its efficiency, produced a light footprint on the planet. Conventional buildings consume 40% of our energy, contributing 30% of waste that goes to our landfills, consuming also 30% of our raw materials and 25% of our water. So it seems rather sensible to try that architectonic trends point in that direction. Any construction can be sustainable. The essential is to think and design the project as green or sustainable from the beginning as proposed by Green Builders Council, an organism that, as the Green Building Council or the Spanish Association of Bioconstruction, advocates for the type of architecture. W_symbiocity Not only specific buildings, but neighborhoods and even etire cities have been created based on sustainability. It’s the case of Symbio City, a group of houses south of Stockholm, Sweden, first example of urbanization understand as a whole. It’s not intended as something flashy but comfortable and harmonious. In it few years of existence, it has reduced by 50% their environmental impact through the use of natural energy sources with solar panels, windmills and rain water. In addition, organic waste is treated to produce biosolids and 80% of journeys are made by foot, bike or public transport. The Swedish system has been implanted in many places around the world, as in several cities in China, Canada, Ireland, Russia, South Africa, India, United Kingdom or France." 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Actualmente es también director del Planetario Hayden en el Centro Rose para la Tierra y el Espacio e investigador asociado en el Departamento de Astrofísica del Museo Americano de Historia Natural. Desde el año 2006 es el presentador del programa de televisión de corte educativo-científico NOVA scienceNOW en el canal PBS, y su nombre suena con fuerza para conducir la secuela de la serie de televisión 'Cosmos: un viaje personal', co-creada y presentada originalmente por Carl Sagan. Un redactor de la revista Time le preguntó cuál era el hecho más asombroso que había encontrado en su estudio del Universo, y en este vídeo podemos ver su respuesta.Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist and science writer. Today is also the director of the Hayden Planetarium in the Rose Center for Earth and Space and a research associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. Since 2006 is the host of educational and scientific television program NOVA scienceNOW on PBS, and his name sounds hard to drive the sequel to the television series 'Cosmos: a personal journey', co-created and originally filed by Carl Sagan. An editor of Time magazine asked him what was the most amazing fact that he had found in his study of the universe, and in this video we see his response." 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Desde su perspectiva profesional de realizadora de documentales sobre la vida silvestre, se pregunta cómo transformar el establecimiento agrícola de sus padres, localizado en el sur de Inglaterra, en una granja de bajo consumo energético, más adecuada para un futuro cercano en el que los combustibles fósiles serán cada vez más escasos. Rebecca asume así el desafío de formar parte de la próxima generación de agricultores, una generación que deberá enfrentar un escenario muy diferente al actual para poder subsistir y continuar produciendo. Los altos precios del combustible y el evidente declive energético son una llamada de atención que le hace tomar conciencia de que toda la producción de alimentos en el mundo se encuentra ante una encrucijada sin precedentes, por ser completamente dependiente de los combustibles fósiles. La realizadora-agricultora registra con su cámara las diferentes visiones de reconocidos investigadores, permacultores y pioneros, que coinciden en señalar a la propia Naturaleza como la que brinda las claves para la agricultura del futuro.A true story told in the first person by the protagonist, Rebecca Hosking, who thinks to return to his native Devon to take on the old family farm. From his professional perspective documentary filmmaker on wildlife, wonders how to transform the agricultural settlement of his parents, located in the south of England, on a farm of low energy level for a near future in which fuel fossil will become increasingly scarce. Rebecca takes the challenge and be part of the next generation of farmers, a generation that will face a very different scenario from today to survive and continue to produce. The high prices of fuel and the evident energetic decline are a warning that makes him aware that all food production in the world is at a crossroads unprecedented, being completely dependent on fossil fuels. The director-farmer with his camera recorded the different views of renowned researchers, permacultures and pioneers, who agree in pointing to Nature itself as providing the keys to future agriculture." 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Hawking piensa que la Humanidad 'no debería poner todos los huevos en la misma cesta o en el mismo planeta' y apoya sin vacilación la investigación seria de la vida fuera del nuestro, mientras que Sagan sostenía que los humanos terminarán sin duda por conquistar otros lugares para vivir que ahora no podemos ni siquiera imaginar, aunque también que esos humanos serán muy diferentes a nosotros. En este vídeo lo explica con sus propias palabras.Many scientists, including British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking and the late American astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, have long been warning that it will be very difficult to avoid a disaster on Earth in the coming centuries or even years, so it is quite possible that the future of the human race must pass somewhere in the space. Hawking thinks humanity 'should not put all your eggs in one basket, or on the same planet' and without hesitation supports serious research of life outside of our own, while Sagan argued that humans will eventually —doubtless— conquer elsewhere to live that we can not even imagine now, but also that those humans are very different from us. In this video he explains it in his own words." ["post_title"]=> string(99) "¿Viviremos siempre en la Tierra?Will we live forever on Earth?" 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