ICYMI – eco news round up, 19 April 2019

David Attenborough, the voice of Our Planet: “Things are going to get worse”

Sir David Attenborough’s famous voice narrates the Netflix documentary, Our Planet, which injects wildlife conservation advocacy into every episode in a far more deliberate way than previous series, such as Blue Planet and Life on Earth.

The producers hope to reach a billion people with the series and its accompanying website, with the goal of educating people about the natural world.

While on the press tour for the series, Sir Attenborough told the Guardian that he finds it hard to exaggerate the peril. “This is the new extinction and we are half way through it. We are in terrible, terrible trouble and the longer we wait to do something about it the worse it is going to get,” he said.

Speaking in this interview with Vox.com, Attenborough added: “Things are going to get worse. The question is how much worse, and how quickly is it going to get worse. The speed is accelerating. Whatever we do now, it’s going to get worse. And unless we act within the next 10 years, I mean, we are in real trouble.”

“Unless we act within the next 10 years, we are in real trouble,” Attenborough told Vox. Shannon Finney/Getty Images

Demolition of 800-year-old sacred trees compared to Notre-Dame fire

This week brought the sad new that the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris had been partially destroyed in a fire. But while billionaires quickly pledged to rebuild the historic building, many pointed out the lack of similar investment in the future of the planet or the destruction of natural historic relics – such as plans to bulldoze 800-year-old trees sacred to the Djap Wurrung peoples.

In Victoria, 200 kilometres west of Melbourne, over 260 trees – including a traditional birthing tree – have been flagged to be bulldozed in preparation for a $42 million upgrade to the Western Highway.

Demonstrators have set up three camps on the land last month in an attempt to stop roadworks. An emergency application has also been lodged to protect the trees under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.

Indigenous groups from across Victoria are campaigning against the removal of sacred Djab Wurrung trees. (Sissy Austin/Facebook)

These tree-planting drones are firing ‘seed missiles’ into the ground. Less than a year later, they’re already 20 inches tall.

We love seeing the power of technology being harnessed for good.

In September 2018, a project in Myanmar used drones to fire “seed missiles” into remote areas of the country where trees were not growing. Less than a year later, thousands of those seed missiles have sprouted into 20-inch mangrove saplings that could literally be a case study in how technology can be used to innovate our way out of the climate change crisis.

Just two operators could send out a mini-fleet of seed missile planting drones that could plant 400,000 trees a day – a number that quite possibly could make massive headway in combating the effects of manmade climate change.

So many animals are going extinct that it could take Earth 10 million years to recover

Our planet is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, according to many scientists. This has happened before, five times in recorded history, all caused by catastrophic events like asteroid collisions. This time, it is humans who are to blame.

Human-driven changes to the planet are hitting global species on multiple fronts, as hotter oceans, deforestation, and climate change drive floral and faunal populations to extinction in unprecedented numbers.

As much as half of the total number of animal individuals that once shared the Earth with humans are already gone. Something a new study suggests will take millions of years to recover from.

60 Minutes: Australia’s recycling lie exposed: Plastics being dumped, buried and burned in Malaysia

A 60 Minutes investigation this week revealed Australia’s attempts to ethically recycle are falling short, causing harm offshore for our international “dumping ground.”

60 Minutes tracked mixed plastic waste – the material assumed easiest to salvage and re-use – from the recycling bins of Australian suburbs to dozens of illegal processing sites in Malaysia, where our discarded plastics often end up being dumped, buried or even burned, turning Malaysia into Australia’s dumping ground, with dire consequences including contamination of drinking water and air pollution.

For the last two decades, Australia’s recycling industry has been dependent on China – which had been taking a staggering 125,000 tonnes of our plastic waste every year, sorting it by hand with low labour costs and melting it down into new plastic products to be sold back to us and the rest of the world. But in January 2018 China effectively closed its doors, citing environmental concerns.

A core reason why avoiding plastic where possible, and reusing the plastic we do consume as many times as possible, should be a goal for all of us.

Malaysia has turned into Australia’s dumping ground. (60 Minutes)

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Charli Ferrand

Charli wrote her first novel at the tender age of 9, then dabbled in the idea of becoming a professional ballerina for a few years, before returning to her love of writing, acquiring a BA (Hons) in Journalism, Film & Broadcast from Cardiff University in the UK. A three-month holiday in Australia turned into a 11 year residency, during which Charli cemented her career in PR & Marketing Communications working with some of the biggest brands in the world. She also gained her citizenship, discovered her passion for sustainability and eventually ended up coming full circle, combining her professional skills with her love of the planet and oceans into her role as Editor-in-Chief of Earth Collective. A trained journalist, experienced communications professional and qualified Mental Health First Aider, Charli has her finger on the pulse of the latest political and environmental developments around the world. You can find her writing about current affairs, political activism and mental health.

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