For the Love of the Reef by The Green Medium

What is happening to the Great Barrier Reef?

A question many of you may be pondering as I title this entry with "For the Love of the Reef", a joint campaign put on by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and Seed, Australia's first Indigenous youth climate network. Two groups I wholeheartedly endorse and I am currently supporting through volunteering. "For the Love of" is an annual celebration where participants raise funds to help protect the things they hold dear to their hearts that are currently endangered by climate change. it is a chance to voice opinions to fuel a wake-up call to the government and decision makers that are influencing, even encouraging a lot of this environmental devastation to progress. This year's " For the Love of" Campaign is focusing on the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia's, and the world's most treasured natural wonders, housing thousands of species for both marine and sea vegetation, making it the Earth's largest living structure.

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As some of you may know, the Australian federal government is on the verge of approving a $1 billion loan of taxpayers money to Adani, an Indian billionaire businessman proposing to build a coal mine in Northern Queensland, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. This mine has not only been one of the most controversial proposals, it is deemed to be the largest coal mine built in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a crucial period in our world's history to protect our ocean from becoming too acidic. Massive ocean ecosystems, like the Great Barrier Reef, can collapse due to rising water temperatures and the nasty chemicals leaching into our waterways. The reef has already experienced detrimental bleaching, where 1,500km of the 2,300km (that is 2/3 of the reef) is bleached, dead, finito. 

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It is estimated that it will take the fastest growing type of coral a decade... Ten years to grow back if the ocean's temperature can be lowered to a habitable state. The destruction of the reef is not only a loss for the amount of diverse life that calls the reef home but a loss for local economies that depend on the ecosystem for tourism and the fishing industry. The reef also is an invaluable tool in protecting the coastline from flooding during intense storms, which Queensland experiences typically during the months of November through to April, Northern Queensland sees the bulk of the tropical cyclones and monsoons. With rising sea levels and the depletion of aquatic life, people all over will feel its' devastation with the unfolding of natural disasters (major flooding, drought, hurricanes, heat-waves, extinction). Now hold your horses, I know what you are thinking "How is this issue still on the table when it is clearly a ridiculous proposal, building a coal mine beside the reef!?" I too find the whole scene contentious, but, it is what it is for the time being. Do not lose hope just yet! Queenslanders can sway their government to veto this loan if they see it causing complications for its state. To encourage the Queensland government to veto this proposal, volunteers are currently using their forces to collect surveys that broadcast the community's opinion on the issue and taking the results to the community's local MPs. As the first few street surveys are coming in, results are looking bright where a high percentage of people are against the coal mine (92% oppose the coal mine in Auchenflower's street survey September 2017 and 85% in Tainga, St. Lucia and Toowong street survey September 2017). Several are looking for more support towards renewable alternatives eg: wind, solar... (if you haven't filled out the survey, you can do so here http://bit.ly/adanisurvey).

Volunteers with AYCC street surveying September 2017

Volunteers with AYCC street surveying September 2017

But community surveying is not going to cut it, it will make a good dent, yet, to take a real crack at this, the campaign is going to need a financial boost to get a leeway in promoting these efforts. With the Adani issue aside *coughs* #stopadani, I am choosing to give up chocolate during the two-week campaign. Anyone who knows me knows that chocolate is my life, always has been and will definitely stay put in my diet for as long as I can ride with it. Though I can conveniently source delicious and high-quality chocolate in town or online, the industry is facing serious challenges with our ever changing climate, problems that cannot easily be solved by simply clicking on the "checkout" button. 95% of chocolate plantations are located along the equator, thriving on delicate conditions, making the chocolate industry one of the most tedious and expensive industries for its' rarity in the success of their crops. Any slight variations in humidity levels, temperature, soil acidity, even surrounding vegetation can make or break a crop from yielding cacao pods for that season. It is common for crops of any species to experience a "bad output" where there may have been an insect infestation or a drought. Maybe there was an early frost that led the plant to go dormant too early in the season. The point being, common occurrences farmers experience every now and then is natural, unfortunate, but it is the way of life. In today's society, the rate that these former "occasional" strenuous circumstances are now frequenting an alarming standard the world and our ecosystems have never previously experienced. The Theobroma Cacao (chocolate tree... Yes chocolate comes from trees) is most susceptible to insect and fungal infestation, reducing its' productivity, which, in turn, ultimately forces families within the industry to abandon their crops to seek an alternative income. With increasing extreme climate conditions, farmers and lovers of chocolate will witness cataclysm to a vast archive of cacao-farming knowledge established over centuries. I love chocolate. I love how you can slip it into every single meal you eat in a day, tricking yourself into thinking it was just a "one-off" indulgence when really, chocolate has been confirmed as your full-time sidekick. I know chocolate has my back when I am feeling down, need a little pep talk energy kick or just feel like treating myself. The least I can do is lend a helping hand to my kindred spirit.

Artwork by Yuko Fedrau, Sweetlollapalooza Fine Chocolates

Artwork by Yuko Fedrau, Sweetlollapalooza Fine Chocolates

How can you work your magic to protect chocolate?

Donate to this campaign!! (https://fortheloveof.org.au/donate - I will be joining "Clean Coral" team when it is created, you can donate to me directly "Monique Roy" or just generally to the campaign.) Every cent that is donated goes right back into our campaigns to drive our efforts to a higher plateau. If you have a few dollars you can spare, little by little, a little will become a lot (very important life lesson and fact). Aside from donating, please voice your concerns to local decision makers for projects that are contributing to our warming climate. Start a dialogue with friends and family. if one person can take away with them a little one liner fact about these intense issues, that is one person who can then branch out to a whole network of people, hence creating the domino effect. Contribute your skills and knowledge to groups who may need it most, get creative with how you can see yourself making a difference. Support companies that promote ethical and sustainable practices and can prove that they are following through with these promises! Chocolate plays a huge role in life, bringing economic growth and stability to small communities that in turn produce an exceptional product people have grown to adore.

What will you give up for the reef? 

 

[1]  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-10/great-barrier-reef-severe-coral-bleaching-hits-two-thirds/8429662

[2] http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/about/eastern.shtml

[3] http://time.com/coral/

[4] https://fortheloveof.org.au/page/about

[5] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-race-to-save-chocolate/

[6] AYCC QLD Volunteer Page

[7] http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/some-relief-great-barrier-reef

[8] https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/bleaching-of-the-great-barrier-reef/

This Term's Writer: Monique Roy by The Green Medium

Hello friends!

I have returned for my second run as a guest collaborator with the Green Medium! It’s been well over a year since my last entry in March 2016 and let me tell ya, there has been a lot of change. For starters, I have moved to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (madness!!), where I am currently working for an eco store called “Biome” and have been volunteering with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition group (AYCC). I have taken the time this year to do some traveling to connect with myself; understanding where I’m wanting to go in life and, so far, I’ve unearthed a lot about my past and have loved all the crazy adventures I have gotten up to! 

Just a few quick lil’ facts about myself, I was a member of the Alberta Youth Council for the Environment (2014-2015) and worked directly with a group called Grasp, an initiative to engage the unengaged on environmental issues. Grasp was an amazing experience that allowed me to put my interest in filmmaking to the test. To this day, my contributions to these projects have motivated me to remain persistent in addressing climate change and I can only hope that I will be able to inspire those who will be reading my blurbs over the next week to do the same. Past credits include Project Manager for Geomeer’s Helping Hampers, member of HASTe (Harry Ainlay Sustainability Team), Me to We member and We Day Crowd Pumper, sound technician for Edmonton’s Folk Music Festival, several different sports teams, volunteered for political campaigns (Rachel Notley May 2015, Brian Fleck September/October 2015), MS Bike Tour Camrose 2014 and a mild obsession with theatre and podcasts (#ham4ham still gets me through the day as well as my three favourite brothers from MBMBAM). 

I have been a vegetarian for close to 7 years now but mainly follow a 95% plant based diet. I like to see myself as a conscious individual, thinking things through and planning ahead with the actions I make today and the outcomes they’ll have on others (including myself) tomorrow and for years to come. I believe that it’s important for us to expose ourselves to ideas, to share our opinions and constantly develop these opinions based on new information we pick up. The more we know and the more we share, the stronger we can become in our convictions and our actions. 

Thanks a heap to my dear friends Elizabeth and Matt for making what was once Grasp’s final brainstorming session bloom into, what we all know today as The Green Medium (who has now won the Emerald Green Award OMG!). You are both the bee's knees and are endlessly spreading greatness among those you encounter. (also shoutout to Sam and Alex for being legendary).

Go seek discomfort and challenge yourself!

Catch y'all on the flip side, Monique 

Celebrating the plastic free July movement with Biome, July 2017.   

Celebrating the plastic free July movement with Biome, July 2017. 

 

City Planning in Buenos Aires by The Green Medium

One of my favourite parts about the city was how it was preferred to renovate and preserve old buildings rather than demolish and re-construct. Buenos Aires was first named and settled in 1536 (!) by Spanish conquistadors. It was amazing to walk down cobblestone roads and look up at centuries-old buildings at every corner. We took a walking tour of the downtown on our first week there in order to learn more about the history of some of the places we were walking past every day. We visited churches and government buildings that were hundreds of years old, many undergoing restorations. One of my favourite buildings was the oldest church in Buenos Aires, which had hand-tiled mosaic floors throughout the entire space (see below). As an artist, I was amazed at the detail and patience that this must have taken, as well how well preserved they were, despite being walked on for 300 years! 

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Of course, problems arise in any city, especially one this old. The plumbing system is nearly as old as the city, and seemed to always be getting fixed somewhere. City planning, especially for new buildings, is especially tricky due to the condensed footprint of the downtown core. Because of this, rapid urban sprawl has taken place, where slums seem to stretch for miles the farther out of the city you get. As the population has rose, water quality on the coastline has suffered due to pollution and sewage dumping. However, steps by the government have been implemented to collect and prevent ocean litter. In every harbour, there are bright yellow tugboats that collect garbage in a mesh net and deposit it in a receptacle to be taken to the dump. These machines, as well as the implementation of new dumping laws, have greatly improved water quality in the harbours around Buenos Aires.  

One of many harbours in Buenos Aires, as well as a newly-developed area. Also pictured is the Puente de la Mujer, or Women's Bridge. 

One of many harbours in Buenos Aires, as well as a newly-developed area. Also pictured is the Puente de la Mujer, or Women's Bridge. 

Thank you for reading these articles about my trip to Argentina. I hope that you've learned and enjoyed as much as I did writing them.

Jenna Jaikaran

 

https://www.britannica.com/place/Buenos-Aires/History

http://www.dw.com/en/buenos-aires-struggles-with-its-recycling-system/a-16104113

 

 

 

 

Buenos Aires Goes Green by The Green Medium

In 2014, Buenos Aires won the prestigious Sustainable Transit Award for it’s efforts to reduce high traffic volumes on roadways within the city. This was achieved by increasing the amount of bus lanes on 9 de Julio Avenue, which is the widest city street in the world. Since over four million people commute into the city from the suburbs to work every day, there became a space problem for highways as the population increased. Since implementing this new bus system, travel times we cut in half for over 200 000 commuters on the avenue and CO2 emissions lowered by about 5600 tonnes per year. Coupled with an extensive underground subway system (which, surprisingly was not overly difficult to navigate- I only got semi-lost once), Buenos Aires seems to be well on its way to reduce its CO2 emissions 30% by 2030. My experience as a tourist in the city in regards to transit were mainly positive- the city was easy to get around and extremely inexpensive- around 50 cents or less per ride.

Above and below: two above-ground train station entrances

Above and below: two above-ground train station entrances

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Being in such a bustling, busy city could be overwhelming at times. Even with the increased use of buses, being a pedestrian during rush hour meant sprinting across the street during the smallest break in traffic, otherwise you will never make it across. Traffic rules and signage are viewed to be recommendations, not requirements, and speed limit as a general guideline. Surprisingly, Buenos Aires has over 200 parks and green spaces within city limits. I first found this out when our group stumbled upon a huge Japanese-style garden just blocks away from the city centre. It was the perfect solace from the noisy downtown while still being extremely accessible. Historically, most parks initially existed as land estates for the wealthy elite, and were later preserved and maintained as green spaces and historic sites. The frequency of parks drastically increases the air quality and livability of the city, as most people live in apartments. I’ll admit that it was strange to sit underneath a cherry-blossom tree while surrounded by skyscrapers, but definitely a welcome surprise.

Jenna Jaikaran

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