Happy No Straw November! I hope you all had a healthy and happy Halloween for those who celebrate. This year’s #NoStrawNovember is focusing on climate change. Climate change is a broad topic that can be hard to narrow down without a source being over-political. Our goal this year is to show not only that climate change is real, with scientific sources, but also how plastic can be linked to climate change.
What is No Straw November?
Plastic straws are one of the main ocean plastic polluters, help us change that! "No Straw November" was created to bring awareness to the many plastic straws being used once and then thrown away in a single month. Jr Ocean Guardians challenge you to refuse plastic straws the whole month of November and to keep a tally of how many straws you eliminated from potentially ending up in the ocean. The ultimate goal of No Straw November is to use the single-use plastic straw as a wake-up call to all the other plastic you unknowingly use in your life. Please share this challenge with others and use the hashtag #NoStrawNovember.
So what exactly is climate change? Nasa describes climate change as “a change in the average conditions — such as temperature and rainfall — in a region over a long period of time.” You might be familiar with the vocabulary “global warming” which does grasp some of climate change's abilities but climate change can also make the world colder in some places. So yes, global warming is accurate but that's not the common term anymore to describe the full impact climate change can have.
Climate change occurs with the greenhouse effect. Earth’s atmosphere has layers that trap heat from the sun to keep our planet warm and liveable. Some of that heat bounces back out of the atmosphere naturally.
NASA described the greenhouse effect as “warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space. Life on Earth depends on energy coming from the Sun. About half the light energy reaching Earth's atmosphere passes through the air and clouds to the surface, where it is absorbed and radiated in the form of infrared heat. About 90% of this heat is then absorbed by greenhouse gasses and re-radiated, slowing heat loss to space.”
With this trapped heat from greenhouse gasses, this is where we are seeing the combination of climate change issues arise. The added carbon dioxide in oceans can cause the PH balance to be off and slowly erase calcium-based organisms like hermit crabs. Another scary reality is global sea level rise which is directly impacted by the warmer weather melting the sea ice which adds to sea level rise. NASA shares, “Global sea level has risen about 8 inches (0.2 meters) since reliable record-keeping began in 1880. By 2100, scientists project that it will rise at least another foot (0.3 meters), but possibly as high as 8 feet (2.4 meters), if we continue carbon emissions at our current rate. Sea level is rising because of added water from melting land ice and the expansion of seawater as it warms.”
So how do plastic pollution and climate change relate to one another? Well, the process to create plastic is heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry. Since plastic is an oil-originated product, all of the resources needed to simply extract that foundational component is already one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Nasa expands on the usage of gas and oil by sharing, “ Over the last century, burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). This increase happens because the coal or oil burning process combines carbon with oxygen in the air to make CO2. To a lesser extent, clearing of land for agriculture, industry, and other human activities has increased concentrations of greenhouse gasses.”
This idea that climate change and plastic are separate issues is to distract from the fact that a lot of environmental issues are intersectional. In the past, Jr Ocean Guardians have highlighted plastic production agencies only inhabiting black and brown communities, the need to vote and uphold your constitutional right, and the decreasing health of the arctic. As our 6th year doing No Straw November, we have covered a lot of ground but there is always a need to do more. We appreciate your support and we look forward to seeing how you are personally challenged by No Straw November but also how you use it as a tool to analyze waste and systems overall.
This challenge is NOT an excuse to be ableist and we have zero tolerance for any hate of any community that medically relies on straws.