This week in sustainability news: universities setting zero-carbon targets, an Irish teen comes up with a method to remove microplastics and Singapore’s about to have its first climate rally? Catch up on all the news you’ve missed below.
1. Young local activists are planning Singapore’s first climate rally on September 21st!
In line with the global youth movement inspired by Greta Thunberg, a group of youths have come together to organise Singapore’s first-ever rally. While we’ve seen an online climate strike back in March, there’s been nothing quite like this. The rally is led by a 19-year-old university student Lad Komal Bhupendra. The event will feature speeches, a picnic, a postcard-writing session, and a “die-in”. While the organisers are aiming to not appear confrontational, they’re hoping that this will signal to authorities, businesses, and Singaporeans, that climate change is everyone’s fight. (Unfortunately, the rally will only be open to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents due to legal restrictions.) Find out more details on their Facebook page here.
Stay tuned for more updates from Green Is The New Black!
2. Universities are stepping up to the plate with zero-carbon targets.
Speaking of youth action, universities are taking a stand. Just yesterday, Goldsmiths University, with a student population of 10,000, declared that it will be cutting all beef products from its campus. It will also seek to become carbon neutral by 2025 and is enacting a 10p levy bottled water and single-use plastic cups. The money raised will be going towards a “green student initiative fund”. This seems to be part of a global move by universities towards greater climate commitments. Back in April, Times Higher Education released the rankings for Top Universities for Climate Action 2019. Universities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom came out on top. And just last month, over 7,000 universities and higher education institutions around the world declared a climate emergency.
Strangely, Singaporean universities, who consistently top academic rankings, are nowhere near the top.
3. Irish teenager wins Google Science Award for removing microplastics from oceans.
The (micro)plastic crisis is so bad we’re even eating plastics. Fortunately, we’ve got youths working on solutions… And one of them went viral this week. In case you haven’t heard, 18-year-old Irish teen Fionn Ferreira just won the grand prize at the Google Science Fair. Which, by the way, is a pretty big deal. Ferreira used ferrofluids, a combination of oil and magnetite powder, and magnets to extract microplastics from water. In 1,000 tests, he was able to remove over 87% of microplastics from water samples. With this, he managed to take home $50,000 in educational funding. “I’m not saying that my project is the solution”, he said, “the solution is that we stop using plastic altogether.”
And with 230 million people participating in Plastic Free July this year, maybe we’re on our way.
4. Greta Thunberg is setting sail for UN climate talks.
When it comes to walking the talk, Thunberg is really the role model we look up to. The young activist climbed aboard a racing yacht yesterday to sail across the Atlantic to New York. The journey will take up to two weeks, and the seas will be rough at times. She’s packed many books, eight writing journals, and boxes of freeze-dried vegan meals. Because, of course, she’s vegan. (And has been for a few years now.) The slogan on the mainsail reads “Unite Behind the Science”, a reference to her recent speech at the National Assembly in Paris. “Whether it’s seasickness or homesickness or just anxiety I don’t know,” she said, “I don’t know how tough this journey will be.”
We don’t know either, but this sure sends a strong message to all the politicians who are flying in for the UN climate talks.
5. Plastic is now falling out the sky with snow in the Arctic
Even one of the most pristine environments on the planet can’t escape the plastic plague. It is now falling from the sky with snow. Microscopic particles have been found in a a study by a German-Swiss team of researchers who published their findings in the journal Science Advances. They found more than 10,000 microscopic particles per litre, including plastic, rubber tyres, varnish, paint and possibly synthetic fibres. It seems we can’t escape plastic pollution – its in salt, seafood, water, the air and now snow.
Image credits: Tom Jamieson for The New York Times