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Our planet is changing. We need to help it change for the better and we're asking for your help to do that! There are a lot of things that affect our planet in a bad way but the good news is that everyone can help to reduce them and do their bit for the environment.
Here’s a list of important topics and with them a list of big ways that you can help. So read on and start protecting the environment today.
Energy is everywhere. We use energy to move the mouse for a computer, to jump and shout and walk and run. It takes energy to power a light bulb, and the light that the bulb gives off is also a form of energy called radiant energy. Radiant energy from the sun enables vegetables, plants, trees and us to live and grow! Other forms of energy include heat, chemical energy, kinetic (motion) energy, gravitational energy and nuclear power.
Electricity is a form of energy and this is what powers the TV, the kettle, dishwasher, hairdryer, toaster, remote control, mobile phone, fridge, stereo, electric toothbrush, mp3 player and more!
Detectives - Can you guess how many things need electricity in your house? Take a guess, then go on a detective mission and write down all the things you find. Set up a competition in your family and see who's guess is the closest!
Our growing need for energy is one of the problems facing the world today, because producing electricity also produces our next topic - pollution. We also have some cool downloads, here’s two - Energy and Alternative Energy.
How to help
When you’re using electricity think about where it comes from and how you can use less to take the strain off of the environment - here are some simple ways to make a big difference:
Pollution is caused when harmful or poisonous substances are released or found in the air, rivers, seas, animals, plants or even our bodies. Now, we live on a strong planet with robust plants and hardy animals and humans - but there’s only so much we can take.
Did you know? Pollution is one of the main causes of asthma, which affects a whopping 1.1million children in the UK
Unless we are using renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines, producing the electricity that powers our homes and gadgets causes pollution. Some of the petrol or diesel that we put into our cars turns into pollution, which is contained in exhaust fumes. Diesel fumes contain particulates - a fine dust, which is not good for asthmatics, for example.
“What about cow farts?” I hear you ask. Actually, I didn’t hear and you probably weren’t asking that but yep, that’s right - we can’t leave out the massive impact of farming. The livestock we rear for meat emit more greenhouse gas than all the world’s transport! The greenhouse gas that livestock produce is called methane. Methane, together with other greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide contribute to global warming by acting like a blanket surrounding the whole planet, trapping the sun’s heat within the atmosphere and causing global temperatures to rise.
Chemical waste from factories and sewage works can also cause pollution that can get into our rivers and seas, which soon carry the harmful particles for miles. Litter is considered pollution as it can cause harm to wildlife and disrupt rivers, streams, seas and other habitats. Harmful chemicals can also be found in many household and garden items, from plastics to cleaning products, weedkillers and sprays.
But all is not lost. We can all learn a few little tips to help protect the environment and its future:
How to help:
There’s a lot more to know about pollution and knowing more will help you do more to protect the environment. For more information see these factsheets - Pollution, Sea Pollution, River Pollution, Ozone Layer, Global Warming.
We can’t live without it! With more than 7 billion people on earth the demand for food has never been bigger. In the UK alone we spend about £182 billion pounds a year keeping fed and watered. That’s a lot of food!
The first question is - where is all this food coming from? Our food comes from all over the world - your green beans might come from Egypt, coffee maybe from Africa, perhaps your bananas have travelled from Ecuador and apples flew across the Pacific Ocean from New Zealand. All of these ‘food miles’ amounts to a lot of transport and transport means fuel and fuel means pollution.
What else does food need to grow? Water and good soil! Plants and trees that give us fruit need to eat too you know. Some countries and farms add pesticides and insecticides to food to keep away pests and insects. These chemicals can sometimes be harmful to wildlife and their habitats and sometimes to humans too. Look at ‘How to help’ to find out more.
Here in the west we eat 7 times more than people in poorer countries. And one thing we eat a lot of is meat and dairy food. What do these foods have in common? Meat and dairy food both come from animals, and animals also need food and water. And as we saw above, they also fart a lot! Livestock farts produce a greenhouse gas called methane and all this amounts to 20% of the world’s climate-changing gases. Phwoar! A suggested alternative to meat is insects - Insect Burger anyone?
How to Help:
Turn on the tap and there it is. Getting water is so easy that you’d be mistaken for thinking that there was an endless supply. But the world has a water shortage. 70% of the world is covered in water - we should call our planet ‘ocean’ not ‘earth’! But most of this water is salt water, leaving only a small percentage of fresh drinking water. Countries including Spain, Italy, Peru, China and South Africa actually import water from exporting countries such as the US, Australia and Argentina. A staggering 1.1 billion people on earth have no access to clean drinking water. This global shortage is predicted to get worse as global temperatures rise.
Every person in the UK uses about 150 litres of water a day - compare this to some countries where they only have 5-10 litres! Poor countries would be shocked to hear that we use drinking water to flush our toilets. There are many simple ways that we cam reduce our water use. Let’s have a look at how you can help:
How to help:
For more information take a look at our fun free magazine download called The Yippittee - this issue is all about water, where it goes and what happens to it after it disappears down the plughole and more.
Let’s start with a fact. Every year the UK produces 280 million tonnes of waste - that’s about the same as 700,000 fully loaded airliners. We throw away unwanted food, glass bottles, plastic bottles, cans, wrappers, paper and cardboard. Can you think of anything else?
Many of these things are made up of natural resources such as trees, coal, oil and aluminium and one day some of these resources will be used up completely.
Over the last ten years the whole of the UK has come together to do more about this. 40% of all household waste is now recycled compared to just 11% in 2000. Do you recycle at home and at school? Why recycle? Well, this takes us back to the topic of energy. Recycling glass, paper, cardboard and plastic should save the energy it would take to make new paper, glass bottles and plastic containers
According to RecycleNow, recycling in the UK saves more than 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the road. Recycling isn’t a new thing either. During World War II, the British people recycled everything they could to help. Toys were made with scraps of fabric and metal pots and pans were melted down to be reused. So, is all our rubbish really rubbish?
Detectives - We’ve seen some great projects where schools have collected all of their waste and weighed it every week - the results over 1 school year can be shocking! Why not see how much your school, class or family chucks out and try and set targets to reduce the waste.
How to help:
Thinking more about what we waste helps to protect the environment by saving energy, reducing pollution, cutting costs and preserving our natural resources.
For more information on waste download this free magazine 'What a load of rubbish'.
For more facts and figures on waste visit DEFRA’s website.
Rainforests are valuable habitats. About half of all the species of animals and plants in the world live in rainforests and thousands of rainforest plants contain substances that can be used in medicines. The tribal people of the forests have great knowledge of them. Rainforests are also important because the huge number of plants and trees there provide us with oxygen through a process called photosynthesis and help to regulate the world's climate and atmosphere. This is why they are often referred to as the ‘lungs’ of the earth.
Yet despite their value, an area of rainforest the size of Britain is destroyed every year, and this is called deforestation. One and a half acres are cleared every second, an area about the size of a football pitch. Rainforests now only cover 6% of the world as we cut down the trees for materials such as paper and wood and use the land for farming and crops.
Sometimes they're burnt down to make space to grow soya which is an animal feed and to grow palm oil. Palm oil is a bio-fuel used as an alternative to petrol and diesel, as well as being in 33% of products in your local supermarket! Everyone can do their bit to help reduce the need for deforestation, just follow our tips below.
We have lots of resources on rainforests. Check out these factsheets for more information - Rainforests, Rainforest Animals, Rainforest Tribes and download our free fact-filled and fun magazine for free - Conservation Education
You can also download our cool online magazine on Rainforests for free.
How to help:
Mongabay is an excellent website with hundreds of resources about rainforests. Here are some of their tips:
Some steps for saving rainforests and, on a broader scale, ecosystems around the world can be abbreviated as TREES: