Featured
How Oil Harms Animals and Plants in Marine Environments

How Oil Harms Animals and Plants in Marine Environments

cleaning-oil-spill-2Oil spills are devastating to the marine life. We all know that. However, very few people actually stop to consider the reasons as to why oil harms animals and plants in marine environments. This is what we are going to discuss on this page.

There are two ‘reasons’ as to why oil has an impact on animal and plant life. It is either:

  • The oil itself. We will cover how the oil actually impacts the animals in a short while.
  • The cleanup operation. This is actually one of the more dangerous aspects.

Oil is poisonous to animals. It is full of chemicals which can prove fatal. The oil enters the body of the animal through ingestion or inhalation. The chemicals will cause havoc on the system. Many animals will die from respiratory conditions due to the oil. This means they will slowly suffocate. Some animals, for example fish, may only need to get the oil on their skin to be adversely impacted. This is because the oil will make regulation of body temperature difficult. This can cause death.

The animals which seem to be most prone to oil spills are those that live closer to the surface of the water. This is because the oil will float. Sea otters and birds tend to bear the brunt of it all, particularly as the oil drifts closer to the shore. If the oil manages to reach the beach, then any animals which call the beach their home will also be adversely impacted. This includes snails, crabs and clams.

The oil, of course, doesn’t just impact animals. It also impacts the entirety of the environment. Sections of the ocean are now uninhabitable due to oil spills. Oil spills can wipe out plant and animal life in the area. This removes a food source for many creatures. It is impossible to remove every piece of the oil too, which means that life in that area is going to be impacted for a very long time to come. Remember, plants can be poisoned in very much the same way as animals. Thick oil spills are known to ‘smoother’ plants (as well as animals) which ends up killing them off rather rapidly!

To cap it all off, the cleanup operation will require a lot of equipment to correct. The equipment used will be dependent on the size of the spill. A couple of different methods aim to move the slick away from coastal areas. This means the slick is going to be moved further out into the ocean. This will impact even more areas and put even more animals at risk. In some cases, the oil will even be burned off ‘in situ’. This, of course puts the animals and plant life in the immediate area at risk!

Basically, oil spills are not good for animals or the environment at all! New methods are being devised to ensure that oil spills become less likely to happen but, sadly, they can’t be completely eradicated. This means that, sadly, animals are always going to be at risk.

Coffee Growing Effects On The Environment 

Coffee Growing Effects On The Environment 

deforestationThere are very few people out there who, when they sit down to drink a lovely cup of coffee brewed in their French Press coffee maker should stop and think about the impact that coffee production has on the environment. In fact, you will be surprised at just how detrimental the production of coffee actually is. Over the past few decades, coffee consumption has risen sharply too. This means that we are now doing more damage to the environment than ever before. On this page, we are going to take a little look at how coffee growing impacts the environment.

Change in coffee production

In the past, coffee was grown high up in mountains and under the shade of trees. In fact, it continued like this up until recently. However, with the demand for coffee being stronger than ever before, this changed. Farmers believed that this method was too inefficient. It really is, to be fair. There is no way that a coffee farmer will be able to keep up with demand using traditional growing methods. Instead, they are opting for something known as ‘sun cultivation’.

With sun cultivation, the coffee is grown on a large plantation. For this to happen, huge areas of forest need to be cleared out. There can’t be a canopy in order for this to be effective. When you clear out large areas of trees, this is known as deforestation. Deforestation has a massive impact on the area. The habitat of animals will be completely wiped out. In fact, it is likely that many species will end up going extinct due to increased coffee production.

Water pollution

During coffee production, the beans need to be processed. The coffee processing plants are known to pollute the water. Yes, the waste dumped is organic, but this does not mean that it is good. The coffee can have a huge impact on water systems. Perhaps the biggest impact is what it does to aquatic plants. It will starve them of oxygen. When the plants have no oxygen, they die out. This means that the animals which rely on them for food will be unable to eat. They will die out too. The result is that areas where coffee waste is ‘dumped’ will become desolate of life. It will take years upon years for anything to thrive in those areas again.

Chemical pollution

Traditional methods of growing coffee did not require chemicals. When chemicals were used, they tended to be kept to the minimum. However, sun cultivated coffee has no protection. This means pesticide after pesticide is dumped on it. These pesticides will soak into the surrounding area. This, again, is going to kill off life. In addition to this, the chemicals will start to leak into local waterways, destroying life there too.

Wastage

Millions of tons of waste is produced by the coffee industry each year. While a lot of this waste gets reused, some is just dumped. There is nowhere to put it. It fills up land, again, ensuring that nothing will be able to live there.

Climate Change Effects on Coffee Production

Climate Change Effects on Coffee Production

farmer-collects-coffeeClimate change is having a huge impact on coffee production around the globe. On this page, we are going to take a little look at climate change effects on coffee production.

Coffee is, of course, a plant. Plants learn to adapt to the environment that they grow in. Over the years, coffee producers have worked hard to ensure that the coffee plants that they use are some of the best around. They want plants which are able to give the best possible yields. The problem is, the plants do not adapt to change all that well. It takes years. Just a small increase in temperature can drastically change the amount of coffee that particular plant is able to produce. Lower yields mean less profit for the growers. This means that they have to turn to alternate methods to boost their overall growth yield, which can lead to huge problems for the environment.

It isn’t just temperature change, either. The weather is becoming a lot more unpredictable. In the past, it would be fairly easy to predict when the extreme weather is going to hit. This is no longer possible. Coffee crops are being hit by rainfall events out of season. This, again, is going to have a drastic impact on the yield of the crop. In fact, in recent years, the amount of coffee produced by India has dropped by 30%. This is due to severe climate change. Indians crops, at the time of writing, do not show any sign of recovering.

Vietnam, the second biggest coffee producer in the world, has also been impacted, albeit in a slightly different way. Instead of receiving uncharacteristic rain, they are going through a prolonged period of drought. This means that there is not enough water to keep their crops thriving. In addition to this, the average temperature for the country has plummeted in recent years. The plants are not able to adapt to this, with many of them dying off or just not producing the coffee that is needed.

In Central America, a disease called ‘leaf rust’ has hit crops. Nobody actually knows what kick-started this trend, however many scientists seem to be in agreement that leaf rust has spread so rapidly due to climate change. While this condition has yet to leave Central America, it is only a short time before it starts to impact crops around the globe, causing even more coffee shortages.

Of course, all of this has an impact on the end consumer. Those who consume coffee on a regular basis will have probably noticed that the prices of their favorite drink have risen sharply over the past few years. This is because coffee is becoming increasingly harder to get hold of. Since yields are lower, producers are having to charge top dollar in order to make their money back on it. This is likely to continue for many, many years to come. Things are only going to get worse from here on out.

What Animals are Most Affected by oil Spills?

What Animals are Most Affected by oil Spills?

T1-119efrdnxdDid you know that even the smallest of oil spill can completely decimate wildlife in an area? Since oil floats, there are some animals which tend to be more impacted than other animals around the contaminated location. The lower an animal is in the water, the less likely it is to be impacted by the spill.

This means that the animals which are close to the surface, in particular birds, seem to be most likely to bear the brunt of the oil spill. On this page, we are going to take a little look at the animals which suffer the most from oil spills.

Seabirds

When it comes to oil spills, seabirds tend to be right at the top of the list of impacted animals. In fact, an oil spill which was less than 10 tonnes (a very small spill in the grand scheme of things) was able to wipe out over 60,000 birds. The reason why seabirds tend to die a lot during oil spills is down to the impact the oil has on their bodies:

  • The oil will destroy the protective layer of feathers on the bird. This can make insulation tough. Just a 2-3 square centimetre spot of oil on a bird can kill it.
  • The birds will often try to clean themselves off. As they do this, they will ingest the oil. Oil is toxic. It will cause all sorts of problems to the insides of the bird.
  • Oil can have an impact on eggs. It will either kill the embryo inside, or it will cause defects.

Seals

Seals, and we are including sea lions, walruses, seals and fur seals here, also tend to be impacted quite heavily by oil spills. This is because most of their time is going to spent on the surface of the water. While they will be able to go under water, they do have to pop up from time to time in order to breathe. This means breaking through the oil.

Fur seals are most prone to oil spills because the oil will destroy their insulation. It also impacts the way in which they swim, which means they may find it difficult to ‘escape’ the impacted area.

As seals rely on marine life to eat, they will consume oil-contaminated fish. This means that they will be poisoning themselves as they eat.

Dolphins

Dolphins have smooth skin. This means that they are not going to have the oil sticking to them. However, they will consume oil-covered fish. They will also breathe in the fumes.

Sea Turtles

At the time of writing, we don’t actually know why sea turtles are so impacted by oil spills. All that we know is that they are. Generally speaking, their eyes will be damaged, their air ways will be damaged, and their liver will be damaged as they consume food that is covered in oil.

Fish

Not many fish are actually impacted by oil spills. This is because they tend to be quite a bit below the surface. Those that are impacted tend to ‘breathe’ the oil in through their gills. This is known to cause fin erosion, which has an impact on swimming, as well as a change in heart rate. Those fish that are not killed will have issues with their reproductive system.