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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The flower industry has a nasty environmental problem, and plastic is just one part of it

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this week:

  • The flower industry has a thorny environmental problem plastic is only part of it
  • Harness the heat of your server farm
  • Researchers dive deep into the Arctic in search of kelp forests

The flower industry has a nasty environmental problem, and plastic is just one part of it

(Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images)

In the last few weeks, as a tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth, mourners have hundreds of thousands of bouquets in royal palaces and parks across Britain

Some were moved to see Buckingham Palace, Balmoral, Sandringham and Windsor Castle flooded with a sea of ​​flowers, while others saw something else: plastic.

Last Monday in central London’s Green Park, one of many places where people left flowers, workers removed discarded plastic wrappers and paper from bouquets left in honor of the Queen. I bundled up a cellophane bag.in the image posted in daily mailvolunteers were seen cutting wrappers from bouquets, and a large flatbed truck was loaded with dozens of bags of plastic waste.

Becky Feesby, sustainable florist and owner of Calgary’s Prairie Girl Flowers, said she had two thoughts when she saw the royal tribute. First, it is likely that most of those flowers were imported. Second, she was impressed by the “huge amount of plastic packaging.”

“The amount of single-use plastic waste is truly staggering,” says Feasby, who is pursuing a master’s degree in sustainability at Harvard.

When thinking about harmful environmental practices, it may not seem obvious to think of the flower industry. of this earth.

“We think of them as gestures of kindness, empathy, or affection,” Fiesby said. They are shipped around the world in refrigerated cargo planes and trucks, wrapped in plastic and lined with toxic flower foam.”

Depending on where the flowers come from, industrial farming and pesticides, fertilizers, or water shortage greenhouse Kai Chan, Professor of the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia and Chair of the Canadian Research Commission on Rewilding and Socio-ecological Transformation, said:

“It doesn’t feel like a good gift when people come to know how harmful industrial farming of flowers is,” Chan said.

We also have a carbon footprint of importing exotic and out-of-season flowers to keep them fresh. According to the Canadian Agriculture Service, Canada imported $137.8 million worth of cut flowers and buds for ornamental use in 2020, mostly from Colombia, Ecuador, the United States and the Netherlands. Statistical Summary of the Canadian Decoration Industry.

Then there are the packages that often contain green flower bubbles with flowers placed on them. Global microplastic pollutionFinally, wrap the whole thing in a plastic or cellophane sleeve.

of Vancouver Montecristo The magazine reports that conventional floristry produces up to 100,000 tons of plastic waste each year.

Data shows that only 9% of the world’s plastic waste is actually recycled, while a large amount of plastic waste ends up in landfills. 2022 OECD ReportBut the kind of packaging used to wrap flowers is also light and flimsy, so they are more likely to be blown out of landfills and into nearby rivers, lakes or oceans, Chan pointed out.

If you love fresh flowers, there are many ways to make eco-friendly choices for gifts, tributes, or for yourself. There is increasing support for making the flower industry more sustainable, thanks to organizations such as Sustainable floristry network When slow flowerFiesby pointed out.

You can support farmers with locally grown seasonal flowers. Many of them may be practicing regenerative and organic farming practices. Look for florists who sell bouquets in recycled paper or reusable glass vases.

This may mean buying flowers from your local farmer’s market or directly from a sustainable florist, and it may mean spending a little more money than you would at a grocery store checkout.

“It may still look beautiful, and it will make more sense. Definitely, that’s the point.”

For flowers decorated with queen’s coffin It included myrtle cut from the gardens of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House and grown from twigs preserved from the Queen’s wedding bouquet in 1947.

Natalie Stechson

reader feedback

In the ongoing challenge of reducing our carbon footprint, marilyn jones This said:

“It’s time to get back to the clothesline, at least for sheets and towels. Many people didn’t know the refreshing scent of sun-dried or air-dried linen.”

Old issue of What on Earth? I am here.

CBC News recently launched a dedicated climate page. here.

Also check out our radio shows and podcasts.Hunting for heat under our feet: this week the wholeHere we bring you a feature report from the top of a volcano in B.C., explaining why a Calgary company is trying to unleash its geothermal energy inside. the whole It currently airs at 11:30 am in Newfoundland and Labrador and at 11:00 am on Sundays. Subscribe in your favorite podcast app or listen on demand. CBC listen.

The Big Picture: Heat Extraction from Computers

From social media posts to banking transactions to documents shared at work, much of modern life relies on computer servers. With the increasing reliance on cloud computing, large server farms have emerged. One of China’s reportedly over 1 million square feet in sizeMore (and bigger) server farms mean more power generation, and the proposition often means more carbon emissions.

Some engineers are looking at ways to put this processing power to use beyond storing and retrieving data. As a matter of fact, all these roaring computers give off an enormous amount of heat, which can be used as energy. 2017, BBC wrote an article A data center in Stockholm, Sweden, used to heat a home. This is done by direct liquid cooling (DLC). It draws heat away from the server through a system of water pipes.a similar system Used in Helsinki.

last year, report Cryptocurrency mining operations, which are often seen as environmentally hazardous due to their enormous processing power requirements, could provide a new form of heating for North Vancouver buildings.

Bank of computer servers.
(Dean Mutalopoulos/Getty Images)

Hot and Stumped: Provocative Ideas on the Web

Researchers dive deep into the Arctic in search of kelp forests

A diver on a boat.
(Pierre Poirier/Canadian Museum of Nature)

After weeks of studying seaweed biodiversity, divers wrap up their expedition in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

It’s an area that hasn’t been researched much.

Over the past few weeks, researchers have worked to track and understand how climate change is impacting seaweed along Canada’s western Arctic coastal waters. I wanted to map and study the ecology of Arctic kelp forests in this region.

“There’s an idea that there’s no kelp forest around here, and there’s not a lot of seaweed around here,” said Amanda Savoy, a scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature. “We’re trying to see if that’s true.” Director of the Arctic Knowledge and Exploration Center in Ottawa, where he leads the project.

Sea temperature plays a big role in where seaweed grows around the world, Savoie said. As water temperatures rise, seaweed species distributions are expected to change, with the Arctic and Antarctic being most adversely affected.

“We know that if the water temperature gets too warm, the species composition will change and Arctic kelp will have nowhere to go.

“We’re really just trying to figure out what’s going on right now, so we have a baseline to look back on in this area if things change in the future.”

Joining her as part of her research program is a team of scientists on projects funded by ArcticNet. Arctic kelp, with Laval University and Fisheries and Marine Canada. So far, the ArcticKelp project has studied and mapped kelp forests in the eastern Arctic, and this partnership will extend that knowledge to the western Arctic.

Savoie traveled to Cambridge Bay this spring to meet community members and the local Hunters and Trappers Organization. There she learned that some in the community were interested in seaweed as a food source. She said local knowledge is essential to finding dive spots.

“We have a local guide who takes us on a boat to scuba dive. Without him this survey would not have been done. He is very important to our work,” she said. Told.

“I think people will be interested in what they see in the general marine environment around Cambridge Bay and whether there is any potential for kelp harvesting in the area.”

The tides are small there, so researchers have to scuba dive to access the seaweed.

Cambridge Bay guide John Lyall Jr. regularly takes tourists and divers out on the water. He said it creates an exchange of knowledge.

“It’s really cool,” he said. “I’m glad they got us the public involved. [as] I will guide you. ”

An estimated 175 species of seaweed are known in the Canadian Arctic. The most recent taxonomic survey goes back over 40 years. Hundreds of Arctic specimens collected from his RKS his Lee research in the 1960s and his 70s are curated at the National Herbarium of Canada in Gatineau, Coué.

Savoie and her colleagues hope to add to that collection, collecting and identifying seaweed species along with DNA data.

“I plan to go back to the museum and sequence what I have collected and compare their DNA to other seaweed collections essentially in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific.”

There is evidence of kelp in the area, says Savoie, “which is very interesting,” but scientists have yet to see an actual kelp forest. These habitats are like tropical rainforests. It is a biodiversity hotspot, hosting other seaweeds and providing food and shelter for fish and invertebrates.m

The multi-year program began in August and ended this week. Savoie said he hopes to return next year.

“With this baseline, we can see the changes in comparison. We don’t know what the North Pole will look like in 20 or 30 years…it could be quite different from what we are seeing today. I think. “

Chantal Dubak

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