A USA Today article by Tom King, CEO of National Grid and Jeff Sterba, CEO of American Water, highlights a new study from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions that asks business to think about investing now to protect customers from high costs related to Climate related damage to infrastructure by becoming “extreme weather resilient.” We all know that cost to companies ends up as cost to the customer. Are companies and communities listening to Mother Nature? “The report found that 55 of the Standard & Poor’s Global 100 companies have already experienced the effects of extreme weather or expect to within the next five years. Condemned factories, loss of power and water supplies, rising insurance and raw material costs, and disruption of supply and distribution chains, are just a few of the many brutal business realities.” Preparedness, updated systems and thoughtful choices today could save millions (or billions!) in the future.
The Boston Globe article on use and overuse of air conditioning and its affect on the environment made me feel guilty of my own consumption in the last week and relieved that the forecast predicts less heat and humidity for the next few days. “According to Stan Cox, author of the 2010 book “Losing Our Cool,” air conditioning in the United States already has a global-warming impact equivalent to every US household driving an extra 10,000 miles per year.” I guess its time to reflect and use less (hard to do and sometimes unsafe when the weather has been a furnace for the last week..but maybe easier to do when there is moderate temps like today and I can just turn it down or off, even though I might have to convince my family that it is ok to feel warm.)
I am so lucky that I live within a short drive to many wonderful places to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. One of my favorite local haunts is Wilson’s Farm in Lexington, Ma. It has been around for years and I love its fresh produce, lovely atmosphere and fabulous service. I feel excitement when I find a parking spot under one of the trees closest to the cute walkway where I always seem to run into someone I know.
But wait. Shopping in the last few months, I have noticed that like most stores, they have increased their packaging and use of plastics. I use to bring my bags, wander around and pull loose veggies and fruits from the stands and proceed to checkout…arrive home and use my handy dandy “storing fruits and vegetable guide from ecology center.org, which gives tips on how to store fruits and veggies with no plastic. I was sad to see the blueberries in a plastic container today. “OUR OWN” is written on the label, which is prominently displayed and makes me excited to buy-but then in a plastic container? Rows and rows of beautiful fruit in plastic… I guess I need to find someone to ask about this and the recent changes…I will take the time to find out. I love this place…It is such a shame and I would hate to have to avoid yummy foods that I normally would buy (expensive too-but I feel worth it) or worse, find another place to shop…I don’t want to break up with Wilson’s Farms!
W2O seeing another reminder today about why it is important to refuse plastic (yes, support that Massachusetts Plastic Bag Reduction Bill) and polluting waste when ever you have the option to do so. Todays Boston Globe the article “Are Big Blue Bins Bad for Recycling” talks about the limited success of single stream trash collection and outlines the list of “non recyclables.”
“At the plant, six people using hands and hooks pull non-recyclables off the line before the machines take over. Broken umbrellas, Styrofoam containers, wire hangers, plastic bags: all trash.”
Think about what you can do! It could be a simple “no” to a plastic straw, a plastic bag or a styrofoam cup. It is easier than it seems. We can all play a part in keeping ourselves healthy and the ocean free of single use waste. Summer months mean cold drinks. We all love a frozen drink, iced coffee or tea. I have been carrying my cup in the car (it tastes great in anything but plastic!) or if I am out and about without, I have asked the vendor to just put my drink in a paper cup. I get some funny looks and comments like “this cup won’t support that” and “it won’t be kept cold” Bullhicky. Icy and cold. I also did a little test the other day..the fear I had was that the cold drink would seep through the paper and ruin my oh so righteous moment of success. Well, yes, it does seep through, but only after about an hour. If you are like me, you are consuming that cool lovely drink the moment you receive it! So, enjoy…but refuse the plastic.
W2O loves our partners and friends at The New England Aquarium because it supports and funds research that protects what we love. Come to Aquarium for a free evening event July 17th at the Imax Theater Aquarium and learn about how the New England Aquariums’s Marine Conservation Action Fund helped Daniel Fernando on his quest to protect the majestic Manta Ray.
Underwater Flight: Protecting the Manta Rays of Sri Lanka
Daniel Fernando, project leader, Manta Trust – Sri Lanka
With widths reaching more than 20 feet from wingtip to wingtip, and weighing in at up to 2 tons, the graceful and mysterious manta is the largest of the ray species. Sadly, manta rays and their relatives, the mobula rays, are threatened by overfishing due to a growing demand for their gills for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Daniel Fernando, a scientist with the Manta Trust, has been documenting the grave impact of this fishery in Sri Lanka and India, which are among the world’s major exporters of dried manta and mobula gills. Fernando’s study, which was supported in part by the Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund, contributed to a major victory for manta and mobula rays in March, 2013, when the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to strengthen trade regulations for these species. Fernando will speak about his research and the race to ensure the survival of these magnificent and highly vulnerable species. Register here.
W2O intern Phoebe Racine is a member of the Class of 2014 at Dartmouth College. She studies Environmental Studies and Anthropology. This summer she is conducting a research project on Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, and is interning at the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment, and Women Working for Oceans.
I’m Phoebe Racine, a rising senior at Dartmouth College and I’ve chosen to spend my summer doing research and then some more research. With two Dartmouth advisors, the lovely Anne Kapuscinski and Kim Locke, I have been reading deeply into the literature of food energy, but more specifically the energy that goes into and out of fish farming-aquaculture. At the Center for Healthy and Sustainable Food at Harvard, I’ve been working for Barton Seaver, where I’ve also been researching food energy and additionally nutrition. Finally, with Women Working for Oceans I’ve been able to see more of the action! I’ve attended state meetings in support of the State Bill to ban plastic grocery bags and have begun to write articles for blogs. Kapuscinski and Locke work extensively on Integrated Food Energy Systems, Seaver is a renowned seafood chef turned restorative seafood extraordinaire and W2O is a Boston-based nonprofit that works towards bettering our ocean through education and advocacy. You could say I’m lucky to have such (cough cough intimidating) cool bosses!
But here is something I’ve learned through many hours of internet searches, countless articles and papers read, and multiple phone calls and meetings-putting fish on the table is confusing! What’s healthy? What’s sustainable? If I want to eat fish, which fish should I choose? These are just few of the questions I still think about and fuss over. However, today I have more answers than I had yesterday and I want to share with you some of my takeaways. Hopefully, you’ll find these both interesting and surprising!
1. 36% of all fish caught end up feeding pigs, chicken and farmed fish.
What this means: Livestock need certain levels of protein in their diet and for a long time these “trash fish” have been the cheapest way to get that protein.
What you can do: avoid eating carnivorous or omnivorous farmed species like shrimp, and in the case of land animals, do your best to eat grass fed or cage free.
2. More than “75% of global fisheries are traded while only 7% of meat, 17% of wheat, and 5% of rice is traded.” (Costa-Pierce et.al. 2011)
What this means: The fish you’re eating likely has hefty food miles attached to it! Ouch. However, there is hope, see number 4.
3. “At present, approximately 40% of all consumed fish and shellfish are farmed, and a 70% increase in aquaculture production by the year 2030 is predicted (FAO 2004).”
What this means: Aquaculture is fast growing field, which, overall is a wonderful thing! However, many of our farmed seafood products come from developing countries with looser regulations. Farmed seafood in developing countries have a whole host of pros and cons that deserve a book rather than a blurb on a blog post.
What you can do: Look at where your farmed fish is coming from. If it doesn’t give you a real location, than I say don’t buy it.
4. The LARGEST Recirculating Aquaculture farm is located in the U.S.! It’s called Blue Ridge Aquaculture and is located in Virginia.
What this means: Recirculating aquaculture is a type of fish farming that recycles more than 95% of its water. It therefore significantly limits pollution into the surrounding environment, recaptures nutrients, and halts the spread of disease and invasive species.
What you can do: There is an awesome, healthy, relatively sustainable source of fish that could be only minutes away from you! Buy American farmed fish if you can, you’d be supporting a growing field that’s rapidly improving its science.
5. Did I just say healthy? Why yes. “Fish are the most valuable foods for human nutrition, disease prevention, and brain development of any foods since they have the highest nutrient density (highest protein and oil contents in their flesh) of all food animals (Smil, 2002). ”
What this means: Fish are awesome sources of protein and nutrients!
What you can do: Don’t be afraid to eat fish. It’s widely agreed upon the the health benefits of eating fish at any stage in your life far outweigh the costs.
6. But isn’t seafood expensive? Not always! Canned seafood is actually a great and (often) cheaper alternative.
What you can do: When buying canned seafood make sure to go for a BPA free can with a brine or water base rather than oil. Since oil is not soluble in water omega-3s are maintained at the same levels as you would find in regular fillets.
Fish, let alone food, can be a confusing topic. I hope I’ve provided you either some clarity or some information (also some links below) that is easy to keep with you.
All my best, Phoebe Racine
Join W2O us tomorrow 11-4, for a celebration of World Ocean Day on Central Wharf right near (and sponsored by) the New England Aquarium. Family activities including a scavenger hunt, cooking demos, and live blue fun for the whole family. Tell us how the Ocean makes you feel. More information HERE.
Last week, W2O members visited Block Island, RI for the BlueMind 3 conference hosted by Ocean activist and scientist, Wallace J. Nichols. The conference included a variety of interesting ocean passionate folks including artists, educators, ocean advocates, and neuroscientists. Yes, neuroscientists! And they were the stars of the show, explaining to us that the ocean effects the brain in specific calming ways and reminding us that the message of hope for saving our oceans comes from communicating that beautiful feeling that comes over us when we are near or in its precious, powerful, magical presence.
Some memorable quotes from speakers at the conference:
“We speak of saving the ocean and the earth. In reality, it is the other way around. The ocean and earth save us! Engaging hearts and hands accesses the mind. The extent of labor leads to the love and success of a project” Ocean Matter’s Laura Parker Roerden
“I am in awe of the tenderness at this conference.” Artist Ran Ortner
“The rythm of the ocean is ominous, heavy yet delicate and transparent.” Artist Ran Ortner
“Beauty is the great connector. We don’t need to impact everyone, we only need to impact the right person and sometimes that is the person right in front of you” Photographer David Pu’u
“We need to remember the architecture of what we are doing.” Photographer David Pu’u
“The word “sustainability” means only what we can sustain and the status quo. We need to search for abundance and restore the resources because if we are the problem, we are also the solution.” Conservationist and Chef, Bart Seaver
“We don’t (do conservation and awareness) to speak louder, we do it because it might make a difference.” RI Poet Lisa Starr talking about conservation and caring for the ocean
“Choosing Block Island is giving us a bird’s perspective. On and island, we can come together and take in Island wisdom.” Wallace J. Nichols introducing Block Island resident Lisa Starr
“Truly stating facts does not result in people making change.” Dr. Helen Riess
“You won’t surf like me, you will surf like yourself.” Van Curaza-Operation Surf and Van Curaza Surf School
“Why do we call this Planet Earth? It should be called Planet Ocean!” Cartoonist Jim Toomey
Apple would like us to think that its plastic white bag is a reusable bag. We might use it to take out the trash, but we certainly aren’t carrying it to the grocery store or using it as our “go to” environmentally friendly cool bag…It is Plastic. W2O believes that it is like any other single use bag-a pollutant that clogs our waterways, threatens marine animals and ultimately is a health risk to us. Isn’t it time for Apple, an innovator on many levels, to make a great branding bag made out of a material other than plastic? Tell us what your think. Vote on our Facebook page. Steve Jobs named Apple after his apple orchard and said in his commencement speech to Stanford University in 2005 that “Whole Earth Catalog was the Bible of his generation.” I am sorry he is gone. I would have liked to have had this discussion with him..As our friends at Plastic Pollution Coalition tell us: Plastic Pollution is a health risk. Plastic is Forever.
Read more about the M.A. Bag Bill