Richmond Vale

Who are we and what do we do?

The St. Vincent Climate Compliance Conference has been established in 2012 to run for 10 years. During this time, it is the objective of Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) to make the island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines climate compliant, i.e. self-sufficient food and energy-wise, as well as resistant to natural disasters. This will be ensured both by implementing material projects (tree-planting, infrastructure building, creating vegetable gardens) and by educating the public – both youth in schools and adults through various actions. The Conference participants are climate activists (or future activists) from all over the world – as well as from St. Vincent – who come to RVA to learn by doing and teaching. Ideally, those activists then go back home to teach others about climate change and sustainable living – either by giving presentations etc. or leading by example. RVA starts 6-month teams 3 times a year to ensure the continuity of the Conference and longer projects around the island, while each team prepares and realizes their own shorter projects from start to finish. Besides organising practical actions both in school and in local communities, the participants take the time to study issues pertaining to climate change, its causes and consequences around the world. Everyone is strongly encouraged to give presentations to the school on the topics they find most interesting, although prior knowledge...
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NEWS: CO2 Turned Into Stone To Fight Climate Change

The future of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies A new study conducted in the Hellisheidi power plant in Iceland has found that carbon dioxide can be turned into stone much more quickly than previously thought, thus reducing the plant's emissios and helping in the fight against climate change . [caption id="attachment_5198" align="aligncenter" width="500"] The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant has used basalt to capture underground its carbon dioxide emissions. -Photo Credit: Wikipedia A team of scientists pumped the plant's carbon dioxide emissions, and other gases, to a depth of 400-500m in a soil rich in basalts. The results: the basalts react with carbon dioxide, creating carbonate minerals which make up limestone. The whole process takes two years, compared with the few thousands that were previously estimated. Turning carbon dioxide into rock gets rid of the leakage concerns from storing it as gas underground and of separating CO2 from other gases before sequestering it. Moreover, basalts are found in many places around the world, including sea beds and in very pollutant countries, such as the United States and India, which would make the implementation of this form of CCS in those countries very cost-effective. On the downside, this technology uses excessive amounts of water, needing 25tonnes of it per every tonne of carbon minerals produced. As proposed by the scientific team who conducted the study, the required amount of...
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Common Malnutrition Diseases

Malnutrition —along with its causes , signs , symptoms and effects—  has been broadly discussed in previous articles. It cannot be stressed enough that this issue is very much alive today, in both the developing and developed world. The rise of the diet culture , which has seen incredibly restrictive and harmful diets being merchandised as something good, has played with the self-esteem —and the health— of millions. Moreover, the prevalence and affordability of fast food over its healthy counterparts in food deserts has condemned a wide range of people —namely the urban poor— to trading proper nutrition for cheap, available foods. On the other end of the spectrum, obesity is considered an epidemic in the US and other developed countries, while in the developing world people live day-to-day not knowing if they are going to eat or not. This plethora of situations, not to mention illnesses and other causes of malnutrition, leads to different kinds of nutritional deficiencies, which manifest in several forms. At its most severe, malnutrition can lead to illness, which is what this post focus on. Keep reading for common malnutrition diseases, meaning those that are caused by malnutrition. COMMON MALNUTRITION DISEASES: SCURVY [caption id="attachment_5154" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Scurvy is making a comeback, after being considered an illness of the past - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Although not entirely common and largely considered an...
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Effects of Malnutrition

Malnutrition is an imbalance in micro and macronutrients —either a deficit or surplus of them— which impedes the body’s capability of growing and staying healthy. As mentioned in previous articles, malnutrition can be caused by several different factors , which include but are not limited to disease, lack of access to safe drinking water, eating disorders, mental health illnesses, and even climate change . With such a wide range of causes, it is expected that the effects of malnutrition are just as varied. Keep reading for more information on the effects of malnutrition on the human body and overall health. [caption id="attachment_4885" align="aligncenter" width="500"] The effects of malnutrition in children are irreversible after their second to third year of age - Photo Credit: Flickr EFFECTS OF MALNUTRITION Sources: Livestrong.com , Nursingtimes.net , Bapen.org.uk As described on Livestrong.com, malnutrition occurs in stages. The imbalance in nutrients first shows in blood and tissue, followed by metabolic processes —finally, tell-tale signs and symptoms appear. The effects of malnutrition include: changes in body mass, poor wound healing, severe weight loss (cachexia), and organ failure —among others—, all of which are described below. [caption id="attachment_4892" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Sarcopenia, as seen here, is common in old-age. However, sarcopenia can be one of the effects of malnutrition - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Sarcopenia: It is the progressive loss of lean body mass, which normally...
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El Niño & La Niña For Dummies

News outlets over the last few months have been overflowing with reports on the impact of this year’s El Niño. The meteorological phenomenon, the strongest in 35 years, lasted 18 months and caused long droughts, unusually and unbearably high temperatures, along with water shortages and flooding around the world. In its wake, nearly 100 million people are enduring hunger and diseases, half of which are in Southern Africa. Now that El Niño is over —as sea surface temperatures have gone back to normal, with very little chance of rising again this year— the jury is out on whether the temperatures will stay neutral or continue to drop until the reverse effect —La Niña— is reached.  Standing in El Niño’s aftermath, the answer to this question is a particularly relevant one for the global community. Although it cannot be answered without uncertainty, there is a high change that the world will see La Niña this fall. So what is in it for us? We’ll try to answer that in this post. Keep reading for handy information on El Niño and La Niña WHAT ARE EL NIÑO AND LA NIÑA? As described by the NOAA , “El Niño and La Niña are complex weather patterns resulting from variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific” . These meteorological events are opposite phases of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)...
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NEWS: Overlooked Area of Antarctica Sees Major Ice Loss

New research on a relatively unmonitored part of Antarctica shows that the ice in the area has been melting at a faster pace —and for longer— than previously thought. The study, which appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, provides insight on the implications of ice loss in Antarctica for sea level rise ( for a brief compilation on the topic, check this article ). [caption id="attachment_4863" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Amundsen Sea Embayment, Antarctica - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Satellite reviews of West Antarctica over the past two decades show the rapid increase of ice-loss. The ice shelves —blocks of floating ice that flow from Antarctica's glaciers to the ocean— are shrinking and disappearing, this leaves way for warm waters to gnaw at the glaciers' grounding line, which separates land-bound ice from the floating ice. As a consequence, the grounding line in West Antarctica's glaciers has started to receed and expose thicker, older ice; thus increasing the flow of the glaciers. In some cases, this acceleration in flow has reached the point of no-return. Put in perspective, if all glaciers in West Antarctica were to melt, sea level rise would be of 10 to 13 feet. Read the full article from Seeker below: OVERLOOKED AREA OF ANTARCTICA SEES MAJOR ICE LOSS A relatively little studied part of West Antarctica has seen considerable ice loss over a longer period of time...
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NEWS: Japan Contributes US$ 1.8 Million To Jamaica's Climate Change Fight

Japan will contribute 220 million Jamaican dollars to the country's efforts in fighting climate change. The initiative is framed in the Japan-Caribean Climate Change Partnership, which will see the Asian country spend US$ 15 million in eight Caribbean countries. The project is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and will benefit Belize, Suriname, Guyana, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Saint Lucia and Jamaica. [caption id="attachment_4856" align="aligncenter" width="500"] A street in Montego Bay, Jamaica - Photo Credit: Wikipedia The Japan-Caribbean cooperation is a success within the establishment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The entirety of Agenda, and specifically Global Goal 13 and Global Goal 17 , call for international cooperation in building capacity and resilience in the wake of increasingly severe weather. Read the full article by the Jamaica Observer below: JAPAN COMMITS $220 MILLION TO ASSIST JAMAICA IN CLIMATE CHANGE FIGHT The Japan Government has earmarked approximately US$1.8 million ($220 million) through the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) to provide assistance to Jamaica in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Approximately $73 million of that sum will be provided to support on-the-ground work to help communities’ efforts to cope with the effects of climate change. Another portion of the money will be allocated at the national level to address barriers to the implementation of climate-resilient technologies and to build Jamaica’s own capacity...
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NEWS: Climate Change Is Threatening Canada's Indigenous Communities

Climate change is increasing the number and severity of natural disasters in Canada, says a secret briefing to the country's Indigenous Affairs Minister. Catastrophes like the May wildfires that affected Fort McMurray and Saskatchewan are particularly harmful to indigenous people living in remote reserve communities. Contrary to declarations from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau —who said the Fort McMurray fires were not exacerbated by climate change— secret advice to the Indigenous Affairs Minister  cites indigenous communities being at a greater risk for experiencing natural disasters. This would be a consequence of extreme weather in the Canadian north, which has been fueled by climate change. [caption id="attachment_4847" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The catastrophic wildfires that took place this may burnt 581,695 hectares between Fort McMurray and Saskatchewan. The fires destroyed an approximate of 2,400 homes and buildings and affected the Athabasca oil sands opperations. The 2016 Fort McMurray's wildfires are the costliest wildfires in the area as of yet - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Indigenous communities have been vocal about the insufficient measures taken by the government in prevention and mitigation of natural disasters in reserve territory, despite recent public investments in First Nations "resilience" and infrastructure. Read the entire post from Canada's National Post below: FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES SUFFERING 'MORE INTENSE' IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE, SECRET BRIEFING SAYS OTTAWA — Secret briefings to Canada’s indigenous affairs minister warn that...
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Top 10 Environmental Celebrity Activists

1.Leonardo DiCaprio [caption id="attachment_4826" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Flickr The Oscar-winning actor and one of the most notorious  environmental activists , created the Leonard DiCaprio Foundation in 1998 “to support organizations and initiatives dedicated to securing a sustainable future for our planet”  ( WWF , W/D) . Ever since, DiCaprio has been engaged with pressing environmental issues, such as access to clean water , disaster relief, preservation of biodiversity and the Earth’s oceans , among others. DiCaprio currently sits at the board of important environmental organizations, like the World Wildlife Fund, NDRC, Global Green USA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. In addition to this, the actor has produced two short movies (Water Planet and Global Warming) to raise awareness on environmental topics. DiCaprio also used his production company, Appian Way, to write, narrate and produce his critically acclaimed documentary: The 11 th hour. The film was four years in the making and provides the public with an overview of Earth’s problems, as well as exciting solutions for them. 2.Robert Redford [caption id="attachment_4827" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Flickr Undoubtedly, Robert Redford is one of the –if not the sole- pioneer in celebrity environmentalism. Without Redford and a small group of other people, the United States would have surrendered the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to commercial hands. Redford’s advocacy kept the 1.7 million-acre out of the...
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What Is An Environmental Activist?

Based on the definition of “environmental activism” that appears on TheFreeDictionary.com, one can define an environmental activist as a person who advocates for, or works towards, protecting the natural environment from destruction or pollution. But really, an environmental activist is not more than a responsible person with a conscience. [caption id="attachment_4820" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Wikipedia Today, Earth is the only home we have. Humans, animals and plants — all of us — are bound to dwell on this planet for as long as it will have us. And that time might very well end soon. Human activities have damaged Earth so deeply that the planet might be inhospitable by the turn of next century . It is more disturbing yet that harm is still being done, despite numerous hints at what is to come. April 2016 was the seventh month in a record-breaking streak of the hottest months ever documented . All over the world, lakes and other water sources are drying up , maiming the water and food supply for countless people —while in other parts, precipitations have put entire cities under water . Places like the Death Valley in Arizona are inhospitable after a certain time of the day and China is importing fresh air from Canada as its own air becomes unbreathable. Yet, climate change deniers are having a field-day with allegations that...
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NEWS: Guilt Is Not Very Effective For Getting People Involved with Climate Change

A new study by Nick Obradovich and Scott M. Guenther has found that guilt-tripping people into thinking of climate change is not a very effective way to get them to care about it. The study, posted on the scientific journal Climatic Change, is based on two experiments conducted on members of the Audubon Society and of Mechanical Turk. In the experiments, people were sorted into three groups, each with different instructions. They were to write about either their personal contribution to climate change, the general causes of this issue or their daily oral hygiene rutine. As incentive, the writers were told they were on to win $100 and subsequently asked how much of it they would donate to climate change-related causes. [caption id="attachment_4811" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Photo Credit: Pixabay Surprisingly, those who wrote about their personal contribution to climate change donated a similar amount to those who wrote about their oral hygiene. Both groups donated less than the individuals who wrote about the general causes of climate change. The answer? No one likes to feel guilt, and getting people to care about climate change by making them feel they hold the sole responsibility is counterproductive. Instead, people are more likely to engage in cleaner practices and support climate change research if they feel they are contributing to solving an issue that affects us all. These results are consistent...
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NEWS: World Heritage Sites At Risk From Climate Change

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has released a report on the impact climate change has had on World Heritage sites. The report, aptly titled "World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate", was mentioned in yesterday's NEWS post , after Australia censored it citing potential harm for tourism. [caption id="attachment_4804" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Cartagena, in Colombia, is among the most vulnerable World Heritage Sites, according to Un report - Photo Credit: Wikipedia UNESCO seeks to highlight and inform the general reader about the terrible consequences sea-level rise, increasing temperatures and melting ice —among other climate change effects— can carry for World Heritage Sites, which are considered to have "Outstanding Universal Value". The report, which covers places like Cartagena, Venice and the Galapagos Islands, is also a call to decouble environmentally harmful practices and tourism. Read the full news article, as published by the UN , below: WORLD HERITAGE SITES AT RISK FROM CLIMATE CHANGE —JOINT UN REPORT 27 May 2016 – Some 31 natural and cultural World Heritage sites in 29 countries across the world are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, a new report released by the United Nations has found. The World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate report documents climate impacts including increasing temperatures, melting glaciers, rising seas, intensifying weather events, worsening droughts and longer wildfire seasons, at iconic...
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NEWS: Report on Great Barrier Reef Disaster Censored by Australian Government

It was mentioned in this article from last week that the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is experiencing its worst episode of bleaching. Ever . The combined action of climate change and weather phenomena have caused warm waters to severely damage 93% of the corals in the area. Moreover, half of the corals in the northerm part of the Reef have allegedly died. [caption id="attachment_4789" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Bleached Acropora coral. Keppel Islands, Great Barrier Reef - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Such a tremendous blow to biodiversity at the hands of man-induced climate change would naturally appear in the UNESCO's "World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate" report, right? Wrong. As the report was being reviewed, the Australian Government objected on the grounds that: "Recent experience in Australia had shown that negative commentary about the status of world heritage properties impacted on tourism", and thus, any mention of Australia in the report was scrubbed from it. The Guardian has since posted the censored Australia section of the report, which you can read here . For the full article, also by The Guardian, on the censorship, please read below: AUSTRALIA SCRUBBED FROM UN CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT AFTER GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION Exclusive: All mentions of Australia were removed from the final version of a Unesco report on climate change and world heritage sites after the Australian government objected on the grounds...
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Global Goal 17: Revitalize The Global Partnership For The Goals

“We were born to unite with our fellow men, and to join in community with the human race” —Cicero The content of this post intends to provide a general overview of Global Goal 17 —more specifically, what it encompasses and why it is important to achieving the rest of the Sustainable Development Goals . If you have read other articles in our Global Goals series, you will have noticed that the achievement of all previous goals is based upon international cooperation and the development of solid alliances between neighboring countries, and those who share a specific problem. This is Global Goal 17 in a nutshell —however, said goal is more clearly defined below, using information from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development . GLOBAL GOAL 17: STRENGTHEN THE MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION AND REVITALIZE THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT [caption id="attachment_4773" align="alignright" width="287"] Global Goal 17: Revitalize the partnership for the goals - Photo Credit: GlobalGoals.org Global Goal 17 is, perhaps, the one that best reflects the ambitious nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and thus, the one that best reflects the sheer amount of work that is needed to accomplish all targets contemplated in it. All 16 Global Goals that have been reviewed until now have a specific focus —however, since the target of Goal 17 is cooperation, it spans a wide action...
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Global Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

As defined by Corruption Watch , corruption is “the abuse of public resources or public power for personal gain” . It can be classed as grand, petty or political depending on the monetary losses and the sector in which it happens. Disregarding any classification, however, corruption is deadly for the short and long term development of any country.  It undermines the pillars upon which society is built, namely “sustainable economic development, ethical values and justice” ; it also deteriorates the institutions and values of democratic systems. Furthermore, corruption is linked to a higher incidence of violence and it discourages local and foreign direct investments. This is hardly a surprise, considering that a country where money gets stolen from the public coffers does not represent an attractive business partner for public and private investors. [embed]
[/embed] Corruption affects the weak and vulnerable. If an individual, for any given reason, depends on government aid to subsist, a lack of governance and the mismanagement of public funds will cause delay in the service delivery. Moreover, deviating funds takes away from the money that is meant to be destined to improving services like healthcare, education, housing and security. This is especially important because without the proper management and maintenance, public infrastructure may be severely damaged. Sustainable economic development will not be achieved until transparency is the common rule, not only on...
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NEWS: How Carbon Farming Can Reverse Climate Change

Carbon farming encompasses a series of practices that allow to reduce carbon emissions by sequestering said carbon underground. These practices, such as crop rotations and agroforestry can be implemented strategically to maintain or increase yields while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of plantations. This is especially important given that the agricultural industry is one of the main contributors to GHG emissions worldwide. [caption id="attachment_4728" align="aligncenter" width="500"] oung soybean plants thrive in and are protected by the residue of a wheat crop. This form of no till farming provides good protection for the soil from erosion and helps retain moisture for the new crop. - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Sequestering carbon underground is nothing new and in fact, it is part of the carbon cycle, a part of nature that fuels life. However, technology on carbon sequestration is still in its early stages --as mentioned in this previous post-- . The jury is still out on whether it can carry adverse consequences of not, but the little research done on the topic has given promising results. EcoWatch wrote an interesting article on how carbon farming can reverse climate change. You can read it below: HOW CARBON FARMING CAN REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE Are there agricultural practices that might offer more potential than the ones commonly discussed in the “ carbon farming ” conversation? In a  companion post , I wrote about...
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NEWS: China's CTG Plants Pose a Threat For The Planet

CTG —which stands for coal-to-gas— technology encompasses expossing coal to controlled amounts of heat and limiting the oxygen so it breaks apart chemically rather than burning. The outcome of this process is syngas —short for synthetic natural gas—, which would reduce the air pollution generated by power plants accross the country. However, there's a catch in China's attempt to clear their black skies: coal-to-gas plants require more water and release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than coal burning does . On the long run, implementation of CTG technology would increase China's greenhouse gas emissions between 36 an 82%, which would have disastrous consequences for the environment. [caption id="attachment_4723" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Wikipedia On a brighter note, CTG is quite costly, a factor that has significantly influenced the failure of this enterprise in other countries, such as the United States. It was discussed in a previous post that the North American country has contemplated the use of coal-to-gas technology as an alternative to thermoelectric plants that rely on burning coal. However, only one plant is operating. This means that, although China has three plants running and several others in the planning and approval stages, the jury is still out on whether they will be built or not. Read the full article by Vox down below: CHINA'S LATEST IDEA FOR CLEANING UP AIR POLLUTION COULD BE HORRIBLE FOR...
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Global Goal 15: Conserve And Sustainably Use Life On Land

Humans have always exploited the resources available to them, whether for subsistence or for trade. Sadly, mankind has a history of doing so in unsustainable ways that can cause great harm to their surroundings. The impact of human activities on marine ecosystems was succinctly discussed in a previous post about Global Goal 14 –however, it doesn’t stay there. As you will see in this post, atrocious practices such as poaching, deforestation and the introduction of invasive alien species into land and water ecosystems have taken a massive toll on the planet. [caption id="attachment_4712" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Deforestation is closely linked to population growth and human activities such as development and agriculture - Photo Credit: Wikipedia According to the Population Reference Bureau ( 2004 ), human activities such as logging, development and agricultural expansion caused the deforestation of 12,000 kilometers in the two decades prior to their study. However, natural re-growth and reforestation could only regain 10% of the area. The study remarks that deforestation is closely related to population growth, which is backed up by a study Population Action International conducted in 2010 . Said growth does not necessarily have to be geographically close, says the PRB, as “external forces such as demand for timber or cattle in other parts of the country or world can lead to deforestation”. This is especially evident in zones of the...
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NEWS: Global Warming Record Streak Hits Seven Months

April is the seventh month in a streak of record breaking temperatures, reports Market Watch. The article, which uses data from the NASA and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States, says that last month was the hottest April on record, with an average global temperature increase of 1.11 °C over the 1951-1980 average. April 2016 is also the third month in a row to break temperature records for the biggest margin ever. [caption id="attachment_4718" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Wikipedia The effects of temperature rises are already being felt around the world. 93% of Australia's Great Barrier Reef has been affected by bleaching, which can be deadly if the sudden surge of temperatures does not die down. While this can be mitigated by changing conditions, it is expected that this natural wonder will not recover. Further implications of global warming can be seen in this article.  For the full piece by Market Watch , please read below: GLOBAL WARMING RECORD STREAK HITS SEVEN MONTHS IN APRIL If April felt unusually warm, that’s because it was. The string of record-breaking global temperatures recorded this year continued last month, according to the latest figures from NASA. It was the hottest April on record, the data showed, with the average temperature 1.11 degrees Celsius warmer than average for the period stretching from 1951 to 1980, a period...
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Global Goal 14: Conserve And Sustainably Use The Life Below Water

Oceans comprise three quarters, or 75%, of the Earth’s surface. They also contain 97% of the water in the planet and represent 99% of the living space on it. Furthermore, oceans absorb roughly 30% of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, which buffers the effects of climate change. There is no doubt that life on the planet is possible because oceans exist. The water cycle the planet relies on starts and ends in them; also, the weather, climate and coastlines are all directly affected by currents and temperatures in the oceans. Moreover, nearly half of the global population depends on the oceans for their daily protein intake and the fishing business employs more than 200 million people worldwide. They also serve as a way of communication, and for trade. [caption id="attachment_4706" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Shrimp fisheries generate 5.7 kg of bycatch per every kilogram of shrimp - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Despite the obvious importance of the oceans and the species that dwell in them, it is estimated that 40% of the oceans in the world are facing the impacts of direct or indirect human actions. Sea temperatures are rising because the oceans absorb heat from the atmosphere -as the ice-sheets melt, their reflective surface shrinks and the heat is absorbed by the dark waters. This, in addition to the acidification of the water is setting the...
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