Is it just a matter of time before our oceans are free from plastic?

IMG_4268.JPGAnswers to our questions often lie within nature, it is often found that we can take aspects of even the deadliest attributes of nature to improve our livelihoods. As anthropogenic activity continues to damage the environment, it is the time that we should use these aspects to help save our planet. Microplastic pollution has received a lot of attention in the media in the past couple of years, leading to the banning of the production of microbeads in the United Kingdom by 2018.  However, even with this promise from the government to reduce their effects within our marine environment, there is still a magnificent presence of small plastic particles entering our waterways from the degrading of larger plastic pieces.

Small fragments of plastic have been discovered in waterways globally (microscope image shows microplastics found in the Charlton Brook Sheffield, UK). The UK Government proposed studies have shown that negative effects on species include: the filling of the stomach with plastic leading to potential starvation, desorption of toxic chemicals from the plastic into the organism, and the transfer of these issues up the trophic levels. As a response, scientists have been searching for ways to remove microplastics within water systems, however most of the ideas will cause significant harm to biodiversity (use of fine nets and dredging).

Micro-organisms have shown to effectively remove small plastic particles from water in a controlled environment, which was reported in 2016 by a team of scientists in Japan. It was discovered that the bacteria Ideonella sakaiensis could effectively break down small plastic particles of polyethylene terephthalate (commonly referred to as PET) at 30⁰c. With what seems to be a huge breakthrough in regard to tackling this global environmental issue, there has been little information emitted from scientists since then. Can this automatically be perceived as bad news?

Although it is clear that this is impossible to replicate within the marine environment – and work with different variations of microplastic – the idea of harnessing a (questionably) natural process, and the possibility of genetic engineering to modify the micro-organism is promising. On the other hand,  these manufactures tiny lifeforms have the potential to be just as lethal as they are to be beneficial. With researcher Dr Mincer stating the experiment as “carefully done” last year, this may suggest some more time is needed for another potential breakthrough.

Overall, although the wait may be long we must cling onto this hope for the eradication of microplastic pollution. The thought of a future with clean oceans and healthy ecosystems is amazing.



Is nuclear the way forward?

The United Kingdom’s sources of electricity are said to be20% reliant on atomic energy. Nuclear power has been all over the news during the past year, but is this the best direction to take for “cleaner” energy?

Nuclear energy works by using uranium as a natural heat source, an element which cannot be created, there is only so much of it on the planet. I have read various articles about how long this supply of uranium will last, an article from Scientific American states that at current rates the uranium on this planet will last us for 230 years. However, (that article was published in 2009 by the way) as the consumption rate of uranium and demand for nuclear energy increases, the amount of uranium will decrease quicker. This is not the definition of a sustainable source of energy, in fact, it is the opposite!

The new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK will be up and running by 2023. The cost has risen from the original plans by £23 billion, it is now said it will cost £37 billion… That’s a hell of a lot of money to buy something when you don’t know how much it will last.

If the decisions were up to me, I would use the money to implement renewable energy using a tidal energy source. This is because the energy source is predictable; unlike solar or wind. Plus the UK is an island so there is plenty of coastal areas to put power stations. I thoroughly believe that all countries should harness their geographical location to their advantage (another example could be China using geothermal heat to conduct electricity instead of coal).

Any other opinions? I would love to hear them.

Bethan Nicole.

(Illustration of Hinkley Point C nuclear station. Photograph: EDF Energy/PA)

Eyes down phones up.

You’ve seen that “Look up” video bout technology taking over our lives right? Well if not watch it and then and have a little read at my thoughts on it.

Technology has been a big part of our lives, or maybe all of your life if you’re younger than me. As humans we enjoy watching things develop and grow; such as a TV programme or your child (weird to compare I know). I don’t have a child but I’m pretty sure when they start blowing raspberrys and crawling it’s a pretty big deal right? This day and age, the development of technology is probably just as big of a deal for some people as it is for a parent watching their child blossom. Like Google’s self – driving car for example (below.) Or shit tonnes of rumored pictures of the new iPhone spreading across twitter (you know the ones. That look wayyy too good to be true).

Technology never fails to make its way into the news.

I do agree with what this guy says, it annoys me when I see children on an iPad alone instead of playing with their little buddies in the park, or even playing together on an interactive game. Parts of adulthood can be afforded to be missed out a little bit because of the latest gadgets, but not childhood. It’s far too precious to loose. And yes I also agree a bit that maybe friendships and relationships may be lost a little due to popular social media, but if people want to see others they will, I do, and I use the internet a lot. Plus technology makes relationships (I wouldn’t do this myself because I like to meet people in person…like the romantic tale of meeting my boyfriend by working at Pizza Hut…yeah ok maybe not) by people using apps like POF and Tinder. I have a few friends who have actually met their current boy/girlfriend by using these.

But I do find it ridiculous is that he says that we never see our friends, that we’re too busy looking at our phones. If we never saw our friends then who would we “check in” with? who would we tag in our photos? Without actually having friends social networking wouldn’t have “taken over our lives” as much as it has done.

Plus…errrgggh what angers me is. Why make a video about this (using top of the range cameras and editing software, taking up a lot of your time), upload to to YouTube and then proceed to tell people to share it. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical of this guy?

Not to mention how over the top it is. If I asked someone for directions, it wouldn’t develop is to some love story. He would simply tell me where to go and be done with it. We wouldn’t get married, have a kid and sell our laptop. DEFINITELY (most probably) NOT. Especially if you love in the most anti-social capital of the world (London).

Think of it like when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and people would say “DON’T USE IT! IT’LL MAKE YOU STAY AWAKE TOO LONG. NEVER GET MARRIED AND HAVE FRIENDS. YOU’LL DIE ALONE”. Ok I may be being a little over the top but you know what I’m getting at.

We just have to accept what the world is now, there’s no point trying to make the world the past when the only way we can head is the future.


YouTube. The site that keeps growing.

Pretty sure that we all remember when the video sharing site YouTube was released in 2005. When it did, it’s prior function was to look at funny videos of cats and a child biting his brother’s finger. Which it is pretty much still like now to some viewers; mainly the older generation. But to the younger generation it is seen of more of an information source and a reality TV series, anything can be found on it. From make-up tutorials to D.I.Y furnishings to cooking channels.

In only 9 years YouTube has developed and improved way beyond what people originally thought it would be. It is now seen as more of a community, where “YouTubers” make content for their audience and make friends with other Youtubers. Examples of these uploaders (whos videos I enjoy most) are DanIsNotOnFire, AmazingPhil, CharlieIsSoCoolLike, EmmaBlackery, SprinkleOfGlitter and Zoella. These people who started out simply saying their thoughts into their old family camcorder, now use top range DSLRs with soft box lights and microphones in order to deliver the best quality to there audience (audiences could be up to 5,000,000).

Google is now seen as these YouTuber’s employer, depending on how many subscribers and views these people get they can earn some serious money and use YouTube as their full time job! Even more money if companies such as Nike or Benefit ask YouTubers to review or promote one of their products. Even people have got jobs because of posting videos on the site, for example DanIsNotOnFire and AmazingPhil are now radio presenters every Sunday for BBC Radio 1 and Jim Chapman is now a presenter for the new TV series “Viral Tap”.

Great so when can I get started? Well the bad thing about YouTube now is that the people who watch videos and subscribe to people’s channels are getting more picky. Because back in the day you could set out with a poor quality camera and nobody would batter an eyelid. However now, people are more used to seeing high quality videos and therefore want to see more of that. It is very hard to break into YouTube unless you possess all of this amazing equipment, without even been given the security that you will actually get viewers and subscribers.

The main question on both viewers and Youtubers lips are “is YouTube ever going to fizzle out?”, we all know social media sites like MySpace and Bebo that lasted for a few years and soon died out as people moved to new social media like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. However, my opinion of YouTube is that as long as technology continues to improve (such as cameras) then YouTube is going to improve. Who knows where YouTube will stand in 5 years time.