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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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A World of Wonders

A World of Wonders

Sampling a world of wonders (credit: YouTube)


We live in a 'world of wonders'.  That is worth remembering not just on Earth Day but all year.

A recent Earth Day theme was to end plastic pollution, a major objective. To address this goal will require efforts combining science, technology, engineering, business management, law, and alternatives that fit within globalized economies. Scientific discoveries like plastic-eating enzymes offer great hope but the technology has not been scaled-up to meet the current need. Ocean gyres of plastic, like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, are now approaching the size of Texas and France. The discarded waste in these vast spaces has already affected sea birds, turtles, and marine mammals and has begun entering the oceanic food-chain as microscopic plastic beads when ingested by fish. The atomized particels have the potential to become endochrine disruptors when eaten by other animals or people due to their petrochemical constituents. Considerable research and development work lies ahead and many more creative ideas will be needed to address the plastics problem. Entrepreneurial enterprises like Ecover and Seabins in Europe show promise but need to be expanded. They greater commerical scale to address the existing problem.

Other efforts offer hope to restore degraded landscapes and depleted species. Such projects whether, large or small, can demonstrate how resilient environments can be when dedicated attention is applied. Three examples can illustrate:

In the Australian outback, a new approach is being applied by Aboriginal rangers with the help of  ecologists to eliminate feral cats that have descimimated native wildlife species; on California's Anacapa Island, part of Channel Islands National Park, the restoration of seabird populations required a similar strategy to eliminate introduce rats that prayed on nesting birds.

while on the vast Tibetan Plateau (The Third Pole), Buddhist monks are working with herders gather rubbish on grasslands that is polluting headwaters of vital rivers. Their efforts are a good example of environmental protection arising from their religious treachings of compassion for all living things.

Earth Day should be celebrated but it also should be an opportunity to reflect that we do live on a 'world of wonder' as the master musican and songwriter, Darrell Scott sings:


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