How to help sustain our Blue Planet

By Simon Moore & Simon Hoyte

In the wake of Blue Planet II you might be wondering what you can do to have a positive impact on our oceans. How can you help sustain those jumping fish taking birds out of the sky, stop the oceans from rising or the corals from bleaching, and ensure turtles don’t go extinct on our watch?

Leatherback turtle on the beach

If you haven’t been watching (where’ve you been?), David Attenborough has just showcased the incredible life inhabiting our oceans in seven glorious episodes, but under the surface of each story humans are causing damage to the great blue.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the problems we face with our oceans (and in nature more generally), after all, they’re massive and individual actions feel like just a drop in the ocean. And there’s always plenty more fish in the sea, right? Well, no, not at the rate we’re going.

But there is plenty of reason to have hope – people all across the world are fighting to protect the natural world. And every single person can make an enormous difference, as long as each of us ensures we are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Here are five easy things you can do to make a positive difference to help sustain our Blue Planet:

  1. Use less plastic! Refuse plastic as much as possible, and avoid plastic straws, microbeads, disposable plastic bottles and plastic-wrapped vegetables
  2. Know your seafood! Ensure your food is sourced sustainably through Marine Stewardship Council certification, and buy food locally where you can see exactly how it’s produced
  3. Fight climate change! One of the easiest ways to do this is to eat less meat and animal products, but also walk more, use public transport, fly less, improve your household energy efficiency and switch to a renewable energy supplier
  4. Support good conservation charities! Join and donate to campaigns by organisations such as SeaShepherd, Greenpeace and Fauna & Flora International, who devote their lives to defending the seas and the wider natural world
  5. Vote and get active! Vote for people who share your concern for the environment, tell your MP what you care about, join communities of likeminded individuals and try to promote conservation issues however and wherever you can

This article also appears on Simon Hoyte’s blog Hunt and Gather

A video version of this article appears on Matthew Shribman’s Science in the Bath

Photo by JuliasTravels

Wildscreen Festival 2016

Every two years experts from the wildlife and nature documentary industry come together in Bristol for Wildscreen Festival – a chance to share ideas, collaborate, and view each other’s work. I was invited along for BlueSci Magazine and reported on the festival, which you can check out on the BlueSci website. In particular I evaluate the two different broad aims apparent in wildlife films: pure entertainment vs. environmental activism.

Featuring:

Hope you enjoy the read:

http://www.srcf.ucam.org/bluesci/2016/10/wildscreen-festival-2016/

Racing Extinction

Last week I had the privilege to attend a Discovery Channel film screening at the London Zoo (thanks John Cousins). The main event: Racing Extinction, a documentary about the illegal trade in endangered wildlife, and the mass extinction that humans are driving at this very moment. Wondering if it matters if species are going extinct? Read this.

OPS-shark-fins

The director’s last documentary, The Cove, won an Oscar and opened people’s eyes to the slaughter of dolphins that goes on in Japan. This new piece is similarly harrowing – investigative journalism with a very important message. It’s a must-see if you’re at all concerned about the fate of life on this planet.

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You can see Racing Extinction on Wednesday 2nd December at 9pm, your local time, on the Discovery Channel.

 

The Unbelievers: Science Trumps Religion

The Unbelievers

Watched a documentary today called The Unbelievers which follows Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss as they tour the world speaking about science and religion. They are trying their best to promote the open discussion (and abandonment) of religion, instead of it being protected as a taboo subject we are just expected to accept and live with. Why should all other aspects of society and culture be open to criticism and scrutiny while religion gets a free pass?

This film simply promotes the rather sensible idea that reason and evidence should guide our beliefs, rather than just old, fictitious stories, taken on faith. By using the scientific method we can hone in on the truth and discover the incredible wonders of the universe, and of our own lives. Science is willing and able to change as new discoveries are made; it doesn’t hold a position and refuse to budge out of fear and blindness. We may not yet have answered all of life’s questions convincingly but that doesn’t mean we need to cop out and cry miracle!

Killer Robots No Longer Just Science Fiction

Later this month the UN will discuss the possibility of autonomous killing machines at a convention on weaponry in Geneva. They are essentially talking about Terminators or drones from the Iron Man films (pictured), that is killer robots that don’t require human involvement or decision making. We could be in serious trouble if Google (AKA Skynet?) decide to get involved, or maybe they already are?

Image

Isn’t it crazy to think that we’re considering developing and building robots designed to, quite literally, kill ourselves. Surely it would only be a matter of time before they got into the wrong hands or experienced a life-destroying software malfunction. It’s hard to know how advanced technology has become in the most secretive and well-funded laboratories around the world, namely those involved in military projects. We can be reasonably sure these technologies do not yet exist, but equally sure they are close to being a possibility, if not a reality. The weapons experts talking in Geneva are therefore attempting to pre-empt killer robot manufacturers and impose a ban that will ensure the safety of us all.