Hello, Earthlings! This is our weekly newsletter on everything related to the environment, where we highlight the trends and solutions that are moving us to a more sustainable world. ( Register here to receive it in your inbox every Thursday.)
- For indigenous peoples, seeds are more than food: they are members of a extended family & # 39;  The amazing growth of plastic
- How a Canadian company is turning discarded fishing gear into plastic wood
For indigenous peoples, seeds are more than food: they are & # 39; members of an extended family & # 39;
About 1,000 kilometers south of the North Pole is Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago. Home to approximately 2,600 people, it also has another larger and more famous population: that of 1,057,151 seeds.
This is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV), an effort to preserve seeds across the globe that could eventually be lost as a result of natural or human factors. The vault inventory includes everything from African varieties of wheat and rice to European and South American varieties of lettuce and barley.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), more than 75 percent of genetic diversity was lost due to farmers' transition to genetically uniform crop varieties high perfomance.
In 2015, groups belonging to the Potato Park, a Peruvian organization that aims to preserve agricultural diversity and indigenous culture, deposited 750 seeds of different potato varieties in the Svalbard seed vault the first indigenous group to do so. Last February, the Cherokee Nation became the first country in the US. USA Indigenous group to make a deposit.
In fact, indigenous peoples have preserved seeds for a long time because they have important cultural ties within the community.
"There is a very strong relationship that people have with seeds," said Alejandro Argumedo, director of programs in the United States. Swift Foundation whose objective is to preserve biocultural diversity. "Where I come from, for example, the seeds are considered to have feelings and a heart. And that's why you have to treat them with a lot of love."
He said that it is a deeply reciprocal relationship.
"There is a big difference between looking at seeds as biological materials that are important for agriculture," said Argumedo, Quechua from Ayacucho, Peru. "Indigenous peoples see them more as members of an extended family and you must care [tend] carefully. Because there will be reciprocity, they will provide you … food, they will care about you."  Argumedo cites the potato variety "qachun waqachi" used in a marriage ritual, where the bride ("qachun" in the Quechua language) gently peels the potato to show her love and care for her future husband, as well as Pacha Mama or Mother Earth.
"The ritual articulates the Andean belief that love and respect between humans depend on and nurture themselves from the earth and embody the commitment of couples to protect their seeds and food systems," he said.
Terrylynn Brant, a Mohawk seed keeper from Ohsweken, Ontario, has dedicated her life to this effort.
"I do a lot of work supporting other faith guardians in the work they do. I support healers, seers, people like that … because sometimes people need to use certain food for a certain ceremony," he said. "I treat [seeds] with honor and respect."
Argumedo said that the preservation of specific seeds is important in indigenous communities where rituals require the best and purest form of seed.
"People are more interested in different characteristics or characteristics of the seed. So people make the selection for cultural reasons. And many of those traits are associated with taste, they are associated with color and shape, because they are They will use it at rituals or social gatherings to create community cohesion. " .
"And if you want to have a better relationship with your neighbors, it is better that you have the correct seeds, because you will offer it as a form of respect."
Hannes Dempewolf, chief scientist and head of global initiatives at Crop Trust a Germany-based organization that participates in the Svalbard seed vault, said there is another important reason to preserve the genetic diversity of the seeds.
"Each seed, each variety is unique in itself". he said. "They have a unique set of genes that we have no idea what they might be useful for in the future."
– Nicole Mortillaro
David Price from Sherwood Park, Alta., I had a question about our article on regenerative ocean agriculture last week . "It sounds good, but it doesn't explain how any of the practices will help reduce climate change!" He wrote.
He noted that while the algae will absorb CO2, all of the products they are converted to will eventually release that CO2 into the atmosphere, as will dead algae that sink to the bottom of the ocean and decompose. Good point. So how does it work? GreenWave, the company featured in the article, says the carbon benefits of this type of agriculture come from oceanic "afforestation," which is similar to planting trees where there was none before. It increases the amount of carbon stored inside plants rather than in the atmosphere at any given time.
Old themes of What on Earth? are here .
The Big Picture: Accumulated Plastic Production
There is a bit of dialogue in the classic movie The Graduate that has become an icon. During a party, a middle-aged gentleman corners the baffled protagonist, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman). In one of cinema's most dramatic nonsequiturs, the man tells Braddock that there is "a great future" in "plastics". The scene ends more or less there, but the prophecy continues. In 1967, the year graduated the world was creating 23 million tons of plastic a year; for 2015, it was 381 million . Today, the primary use of plastic is in packaging, and despite increased awareness of the problem, only an estimated nine percent of all plastic is recycled . Meanwhile, much of it accumulates in the ocean, and when it doesn't accumulate in large patches of trash, it breaks down into almost imperceptible pieces. Below is a graphic representation of the amount of plastic we have produced since 1950.
Hot and Annoying: Provocative Ideas from All Over the Web
How a Canadian Company is Converting Fishing Gear discarded in plastic wood  (Elizabeth Chiu / CBC)
Mike Chassie presses his nose against a load of plastic wood and smells. You are inspecting the newest product made in your family's business, Goodwood Plastic Products in Fort Ellis, N.S.
"It smells great to me," Chassie said last week, as he stood outside the building where the synthetic wood is made. "It doesn't have any of the smell you think you would get from that ghost team."
That phantom gear, another way of saying lost or discarded fishing gear, was three miles of thick old plastic woven fishing rope covered in marine life and recently taken out of the sea by a NS diving company.
Goodwood approved the fishy-smelling delivery for its new venture: the marketing of synthetic wood made from phantom gear.
The supply of this raw material for plastic wood can be unlimited. Each year, some 640,000 tons of phantom gear remain in Canada's oceans, threatening to entangle marine animals and damage fishing stocks. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans created a $ 8.3 million fund to address the problem, and fishermen and divers are eager to help.
Last week, which was World Oceans Week, DFO gave Goodwood $ 475,000 under the $ 2 million Innovative Solutions fund to tackle ocean plastic. The company is spending it on a new grinder that can make minced meat with sturdy plastic rope (see photo above).
Recycling this first shipment of ghost gear was painstaking, Chassie said. Previously, the plant had received old fishing ropes and nets that were cleaned by fishermen.
This time, the workers had the job of choosing "mussels, lots of seaweed; there is everything they can think of at the bottom of the ocean," Chassie said. "[We’re] surprised that we found no lobsters."
The approximately 10 workers at Goodwood's six-hectare plant typically handle cartons of milk, tubs of margarine, and plastic bags from municipal blue bag programs. Recyclable materials are crushed, melted, and pushed through molds, or "extruded," to create planks and posts to build decks, park benches, and picnic tables.
The company, which is still fairly new, expects to recycle at least 10,000 tons of plastic annually.
The phantom team was mixed with shopping bags to create planks that resemble the other plastic products now sold to the public.
The price of a 4 by 8 by 12 Goodwood Plastic wood is $ 61. Chassie said that while it is more expensive than treated wood, it is also more durable. Chassie said the strength of the rope that makes it difficult to destroy underwater is what makes it ideal for plastic wood.
Said that real savings is the benefit to the environment, especially if plastic wood is returned to its place of origin. – the sea – in the form of a pier or marine wood. "You don't get any of those harmful chemicals [from pressure-treated wood] that eventually seep into the water," he said.
Chassie is eager to speed up recycling of a product that many people found to be no longer useful.
"You are taking a product that would normally be destined for a landfill or to be buried in the ocean and forgotten, and you are giving it a new life."
– Elizabeth Chiu
Stay in touch!
Are there any issues you would like us to address? Questions you want to answer? Do you just want to share a kind word? We would love to hear from you. Email us at email@example.com.
Register here to get What on Earth? in your inbox every Thursday.
Publisher: Andre Mayer | Logo design: Sködt McNalty