#12 Liquor vs Logging & Waste-Eating Whales
“Climate science deniers are about to die, and that’s why they don’t care if we’re all going to die. It’s the ultimate FOMO.”
- Ilana Glazer
Since Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019, the Amazon Rainforest has come under increasing attack. Under his purposeful lack of oversight the past three years, deforestation of the Amazon has increased 53%.
When over 90% of all deforestation in Brazil is illegal, agencies that enforce the laws protecting forests, such as the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, are imperative. However, Bolsonaro has slashed the budgets of this and similar governmental agencies by over 30%, crippling their ability to prevent illegal deforestation at the hands of logging companies.
Without the government’s supervision, indigenous communities who live in the Amazon Rainforest are left on their own to defend their land. Now, communities like those in the Tapajos Arapiuns Extractive Reserve must find ways to protect themselves.
The Tapajos Arapiuns Extractive Reserve is a 640,000 hectare (1.6 million acre) section of the Amazon Rainforest that was created in the late 1990’s to protect against encroaching logging companies. However, the land rights alone aren’t enough to fend off these companies. They’re fighting back with the economy.
Luiz Henrique Lopes Ferreira, a twenty-two year old who moved to the reserve fifteen years ago with his family, started a business that creates sweets, jams, and liqueurs from the over one-hundred fruit varieties in the Tapajos Arapiuns Extractive Reserve. This successful business isn’t just benefiting Farreira’s pocketbook, though; it’s also created economic opportunities for his community.
Ferreira currently provides food security and incomes to forty families and is an option for young people to stay and work for rather than leaving to work in the logging or construction industries. This strengthens their community and promotes protection from deforestation by retaining people on the land and making the land more valuable.
Much like the Spirit Bear Lodge, Ferreira used the economy to show how valuable the land can be if protected rather than destroyed. By working on and with the land, Ferreira’s business forms a symbiotic relationship between the community and the ecosystem, relying on each other for their respective livelihoods.
While Ferreira’s business won’t protect all of the Amazon, these small victories are encouraging in the face of such destructive agendas as Bolsonaro’s. However, this shows how powerful of tools innovation and collaboration are against adversity.
Every year twelve million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean, but companies like RanMarine are innovating new ways to cut that number down.
The WasteShark is RanMarine’s newest technology. It serves as an aquatic Roomba that skims the top of the ocean, removing garbage, floating plants, and algae. The WasteShark then returns the debris back to land before it can escape into the ocean.
The WasteShark mechanism was modeled after the whale shark, which swims with its mouth agape to capture prey. Each device can hold up to 160 liters (42 gallons) of garbage, floating plants, and algae. According to the company’s website, the WasteShark also contributes zero greenhouse emissions.
By implementing this technology along coastlines, plastics and other trash can be captured before it floats into the ocean where it’s much more difficult to retrieve.
RanMarine isn’t the only company attempting to restore the marine environment to its natural state, though.
Clear Blue Sea, a nonprofit in San Diego, California, designed the Floating Robot for Eliminating Debris—AKA FRED. FRED is a solar powered machine that collects marine plastic from 5mm to 5m long and can be scaled for lakes, rivers, bays, coasts, and even open oceans.
In Australia, the Seabin Project’s V5 Seabin is a trash skimmer designed for Marinas, Yacht Clubs, Pots, and other calm environments to collect trash along the surface of the water. It can also be equipped with oil absorbent pads to collect petroleum-based surface oils that can pollute marinas.
With so many players involved in the plastic waste issue, hopefully concern for plastic waste will travel to the consumers upstream.
Summer is the prime-time travel season. If you’re planning on taking a vacation (or holiday for my international friends), here are two tips before you leave:
Give away (or freeze) perishable foods. Those two bananas on the counter will probably go bad before you’re back from Bermuda. Pop them in the freezer or, better yet, give them to your neighbor Delilah. You know how much Delilah loves fruit.
Unplug electronics before leaving. Just because your devices aren’t “on” doesn’t mean they aren’t consuming electricity. Pull the plug on your desktop Mac, that plasma TV you still have for some reason, and the electric wine opener you got for your birthday.
Sustainababble is a humorous podcast on all things sustainability. Each week they take dive into a different topic in a very accessible way. It’s funny, topical, and they even have British accents!
I recommend their episode on the circular economy, which you can find HERE.