Showing posts from September, 2019

Plastic Pollution in Trinidad and Tobago

Dr Anjani Ganase recaps the finding of Ritchie and Roser’s Report (2018) on Plastic Pollution, and discusses the relevance to Trinidad and Tobago. While errors in previous reports have inflated the amount of plastic pollution attributed to TT, the total amounts for the Caribbean and the world, are still startling. We have to stop using; and to clean up what we have used in the past. Since the advent of plastics in the 1950s, global plastic generation has increased exponentially over the last 65 years. In 2015, the world generated more than twice the amount of plastics (381 million tonnes) that it had in 1995 (156 million tonnes); and cumulatively we’ve produced over 7.8 billion tonnes of plastic, roughly more than a tonne of plastic for every person alive on the planet today.  However, the sources of the plastic waste are not distributed evenly. China produces the most plastic waste in the world, and is responsible for much of the pollution in marine environments. While places

Birding in the Tobago Rainforest

Rain might be the main attraction of the Main Ridge Forest Reserve. But the well-watered rainforest also supports a multitude of Tobago’s birds. Travel with Faraaz Abdool to see a few of these birds. Dawn was just breaking at Roxborough as we turned away from the pounding surf and into a lush, verdant landscape. We had been driving for close to an hour in the darkness of the early twilight. In retrospect, the twilight did seem a little too dark – low-lying and rain-bearing clouds shrouded the hills and blotted out the first quivering rays of light, but not enough for us to realize that we would be in for a soaking as we entered the Main Ridge Forest Reserve.  The road that snakes through this magical forest connects two radically different coastlines. We ascended into misty, clouded rainforest where any bend might lead to Papa Bois himself; the gloomy weather brought clouds that were thicker and lower. Rufous-vented Chachalacas shrieked at each other with typical ‘co-cri-co,

Hurricanes and tropical islands

One does not exist without the other it seems. Dr Anjani Ganase reminds us of the special relationship that comes with being small islands in the vast oceans that generate these storms. The Bahamas sits in the hurricane belt and has one of the highest, if not the highest, history of hurricane for the Caribbean. Its infrastructure and society is adapted for hurricanes. Yet, the devastation that Dorian has left is another reminder of how much we underestimate the impacts of climate change and how much we (humans) are lagging in preparing ourselves for the future of a changed climate. The only other Category 5 hurricane to pass directly over in the Bahamas in recent times was Hurricane Andrew, which had maximum wind speed of 265 km/hour and passed over Bahamas within 12 hours. Dorian, on the other hand, had maximum wind speed of 295 km/hour and sat over the Bahamas for over two days! The destructive winds, rainfall and storm surge devastated communities and this is only the most obviou

Coming to you on land, sea and air

Microplastics have been found in the deep ocean, in the arctic, in our food. What we don’t yet know is how they are affecting our health and lifestyle. Dr Anjani Ganase reports. Plastic pollution is a known and observable phenomenon with impacts that include the entanglement, choking, smothering and drowning of marine life – turtles, sea birds and even whales. Yet, there is the unseen equivalent problem of microplastics that have managed to pervade not just the natural ecosystem but human life as well. Microplastics are classified as less than 5 mm in size; most are not visible to the naked eye and therefore require special techniques to see them. Microplastics can be anything from the by-products of plastic pellets used in manufacturing – plastic saw dust, microbeads found in scrubs and toiletries, fibres from synthetic cloths and from the wear and tear of tyres on the road. Other forms of microplastics result from the breakdown of large pieces of plastics