We call our home the Blue Planet, but how often do we consider what that means? Is it just a buzz word? A hashtag? This year the UN World Wildlife Day is focusing on our oceans and the importance of protecting these incredible ecosystems.
Oceans are the lifeblood of planet Earth. They cover two thirds of the Earth’s surface and account for 90% of the world’s liveable space. Our life is so intrinsically linked to the sea in ways we often forget. Everything from the food we eat, the clothes we wear and even the air we breathe is dependent on the ocean, and yet it is still largely unexplored and often underappreciated. In fact, we know more about the surface of the moon than we know about the deepest parts of our ocean!
It was initially believed that humans were unlikely to have a significant impact on a biome as vast as the open ocean. However, we now know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Human impact is the biggest threat to marine life and if changes are not made, it is thought that by 2100 more than half of marine species will be on the brink of extinction. The ocean is indeed vast and awe-inspiring, but it is also fragile.
Reassuringly the world has seen a shift in attitude towards the problems facing our oceans in recent years. Sir David Attenborough’s documentary “Blue Planet II” sparked a huge global movement when it showed shocking footage of the impact of plastic pollution on our marine wildlife. Footage of albatross chicks being fed plastic by their parents and humpback whales entangled in metres of discarded rope encouraged people to really think about how their everyday choices were impacting our planet and its wildlife. Even Attenborough himself could not predict the impact his documentary would have on public attitude.
“I’ve been absolutely astonished at the result that that programme has had. I never imagined there would be quite so many of you who would be inspired to want change” – Sir David Attenborough
Many people took to social media and pledged to make an effort to change their habits and make a positive difference – something we all can, and should, do. It can seem like a daunting task but making small changes can make a huge difference!
At Dynamic Earth we were also moved and inspired, and here are some of the things we have done in the past year to actively help our amazing ocean ecosystems.
- Operation Earth
Last year, we ran our NERC funded public engagement programme “Operation Earth”. Through fun interactive shows and activities, we highlighted problems with litter and micro-plastics, and encouraged audiences to offer solutions. Children enthusiastically told of creative and fun ideas to reduce the amount of plastic being thrown away, and it was clear that they understood just how important this was to keep our planet and wildlife healthy.
- Holyrood Park Litter Pick
We gathered a team of staff and ventured into our neighbouring Holyrood Park at the foot of the beautiful Arthur’s Seat. Armed with litter pickers and recycling bags, the team spent the afternoon clearing up litter and logging it on the Litterati App. The app works with large companies to come up with environmentally-friendly solutions to reduce the litter produced as a result of their products.
- Last Straw
A poll estimated that if half the people in the UK switched to reusable bottles, in just one year the number of bottles saved could stretch from Earth to the moon and then back again! We want to do everything we can to reduce the amount of plastic that we use within the centre and with this in mind, we have made huge changes to our Café over the last year. We swapped our vending machines from plastic bottles to cans; we provided public water coolers to reduce the need to buy bottled water; we now sell our own reusable coffee cups and water bottles in the Café.
We have also implemented Vegware – a compostable, plastic alternative – for all of our single use café items. All of these changes have already made a huge difference to our plastic usage, and we plan to do even more in the coming year.
As the UK’s only science centre dedicated to Earth and Environmental Sciences it is important to us that we lead by example and do everything we can to look after the wildlife locally and across the globe. It is our hope that by coming to Dynamic Earth and learning all about our incredible planet that visitors leave with a renewed love and respect for our Earth and are inspired to make small changes to preserve it for future generations.