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Volvo Ocean Race Scientific Data Reveals Millions of Tiny Plastic Particles in European Waters

The findings, revealed by scientists at the Cape Town Ocean Summit, have been discovered using data collected by Volvo Ocean Race yachts

by Jonno Turner
Volvo Ocean Race

Cape Town stopover. Dee Caffari during the Ocean Summit. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race. 07 December, 2017.

Cape Town stopover. Dee Caffari during the Ocean Summit. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race. 07 December, 2017.

Millions of tiny particles of plastic have been detected in European waters in ground breaking scientific research conducted as part of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The scientific research, using data collected by Race team ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’, identified over three million micro plastic particles per square kilometre of ocean.

The sub-surface data on micro plastic pollution levels was collected using a state-of-the-art instrument on board their Volvo Ocean 65 racing yacht.

The initial results, gathered during the Prologue stage and Leg 1 of the Race, between Lisbon and Alicante, were presented by Dr Toste Tanhua during the first morning of the two-day Volvo Ocean Race Ocean Summit, held in the event’s Cape Town stopover on Thursday. The samples collected during Leg 2 are currently being analysed and results will be revealed in due course.

“Our initial findings suggest that the levels of micro plastic in the ocean are significantly higher than we first expected,” said Tanhua, who works at GEOMAR, an ocean research institute in Kiel, Germany.

“This is alarming as the micro plastic not only harms a wide range of marine life, but, through entering the food chain, in species such as tuna and mackerel, can cause harm to humans, too.”

Micro plastic is small particles of plastic often invisible to the naked eye – and can take thousands of years to degrade.

Tanhua continued: “Existing scientific data only accounts for around 1% of all plastic in the ocean – but thanks to the support of Volvo Ocean Race and Volvo Cars, and the efforts of the Turn the Tide on Plasti c team in conducting this research, we’re building a knowledge base which is essential to ocean science around the globe.”

Read the full story here.

 

Sailors Tour Cape Town to Understand the Impacts of the Drought

Vestas 11th Hour Racing

Grant is given to Environmental Monitoring Group by 11th Hour Racing

Photo Credit: Vestas 11th Hour Racing

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (6 December 2017) – After sailing 7,000 miles from Lisbon, Portugal, the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, to realize that despite having been in the middle of the ocean, their access to fresh water was more consistent than what is available to many in Cape Town. Since 2015, this city and the surrounding area has been facing a severe drought, the worst in recorded history for the region, which climate scientists’ anticipate is a general drying trend for the western parts of southern Africa.

With this crisis in mind, 11th Hour Racing identified Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) as the recipient of their $10,000 grant in Cape Town – this is the third out of the 12 grants that 11th Hour Racing will award throughout the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean as part of their legacy project with Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

EMG is an independent, not-for-profit organization established in 1991. Its work covers a broad range of topics, tied together by the common thread to protect the natural environment and resources that sustain life. This includes fair trade farming, sustainable rural development, and raising awareness and highlighting solutions to the impacts of climate change in the region, including equitable access to water and social justice.

“The truth is that there is no silver bullet for Cape Town’s water crisis. There are no more rivers left to dam, and groundwater aquifers are finite. Desalination is energy intensive, and in South Africa, that means using more fossil-fuel and increasing CO2 emissions,” said Stephen Law, Director of the Environmental Monitoring Group. “At EMG, we are working with communities to reconnect with the value of water and respect for this resource. Discussing not only the best ways to conserve and reuse water, but looking to the future and asking if we should be changing the priorities of water use from swimming pools and green lawns to drinking water for all and water for local farming.”

To learn more about EMG’s work and mission, sailors from Vestas 11th Hour Racing, along with their partners at 11th Hour Racing, Bluewater, and staff from the Volvo Ocean Race, left the race village and headed on a tour of Cape Town.

Read the full story here.

Leading the Field

GEO Foundation

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona. (Nov, 28, 2017) – The 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open achieved another first in golf sustainability, becoming the first tournament in the world to attain “GEO Certified® Tournament” status from Scotland-based GEO Foundation (GEO).

2017.11.30-NewsFeed-Leading the Field-IMAGE

Photo credit: GEO Foundation

To become a “GEO Certified® Tournament” the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the largest attended tournament on the PGA Tour, followed principles set out in the newly released “Voluntary Sustainable Golf Tournament Standard” and achieved outstanding results in six categories: Planning, Site Protection, Procurement, Resource Management, Access and Equity, and Community Legacy. Sustainability highlights from the tournament include:

  • 100% landfill diversion through recycling, composting, donation, reuse and waste-to-energy.
  • 63.3 million gallons of water restored to the Colorado River Basin and Verde River through the Waste Management Phoenix Open Water Campaign with Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
  • 720 MtCO2e of carbon offsets with a strong socio-economic focus purchased, to cover more than double the emissions from tournament operations, player travel and volunteer travel.
  • Zero Waste Stations used to engage attendees, educating and encouraging involvement in sustainability.
  • An annual Waste Management Phoenix Open Sustainability Report with detailed metrics and program explanations.
  • A venue Environmental Management Plan and commitment to become a fully GEO Certified® golf facility.
  • Protection of ecologically sensitive areas and minimized impact of temporary structures and heavy machinery through a Site Protection Plan.
  • Over $10.1 million raised and awarded to local charities through The Thunderbirds and $100,000 donated to environmental organizations from Green Out Day.
  • Local youth engagement and free admission for local police, firefighters, active and retired military personnel.
2017.11.30-NewsFeed-Leading the Field-IMAGE2

Photo credit: GEO Foundation

The accolade is the culmination of many years of commitment, planning and delivery on the part of Waste Management, the tournament host The Thunderbirds and other tournament sponsors, stakeholders, and vendors to ensure a comprehensive sustainability effort covering all aspects of the tournament.  Sustainability efforts of the tournament have been validated through in-depth third-party verification, including the Council for Responsible Sport, UL and GEO.

Read the full story here.

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