March 2021 ~ Ship Happens

5th April 2021

Erin LynchErin Lynch

It would be hard to talk about March 2021 without mentioning the giant container ship hopelessly stranded in the Suez Canal for over a week, holding up $59 billion in traded goods. From the plethora of resulting memes sprang the website, which went very viral. Its creator Tom Neill selflessly used his newfound fame to promote Tythe, bringing in a wave of subscribers. A warm welcome to you all! The internet is wild.

But what other relevance does the Suez ship have to the climate crisis? A closer examination of the events in Egypt reveals a tapestry of issues connecting animal exports to deforestation and an increased prevalence of infectious diseases. It’s a stark reminder of how the climate crisis implicates us all.

When the Ever Given container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal on March 23rd, Animals International warned of a ‘ticking biohazard timebomb’ and the potential for the ‘worst maritime animal welfare tragedy in history’. A staggering 200,000 ‘live export’ livestock were thought to be trapped aboard 20 ships stuck behind the Ever Given. Live export animals are bred to be sent abroad for breeding, fattening, or slaughter. The live animal export industry has been criticized by environmentalists who argue that the industry exacerbates the climate crisis, and increases the likelihood of zoonotic diseases. Live cattle exports are disproportionately linked to the deforestation of the Amazon, especially in Brazil where they carry nearly five times more ‘deforestation risk’ per tonne than other cattle product exports.

For years, epidemiologists have warned us about the disease spreading dangers of agricultural deforestation. In 2019, National Geographic published an article about the worrying connection between farm-related deforestation and infectious diseases in humans. Viruses like Nipah, Coronavirus, Ebola, Zika Virus and Lyme Disease all originated in animals and lept to humans via intermediate hosts. Deforestation displaces animals and increases the likelihood that viruses will spread. While the identity of the intermediary behind COVID-19 has yet to be proven, the pandemic has been described by many as ‘a manifestation of our dangerously unbalanced relationship with nature’.

Take a step back, and a global web of interconnected actors and economic interests begins to emerge. The path out of the pandemic and out of this climate crisis will require big-picture thinking, international collaboration, and perhaps very different ways of living and consuming. Here at Tythe, we’re glad to support charities that are valiantly sticking up for nature.

Good Tythings

  1. The World Land Trust has launched a campaign to save Tanzania’s Coastal Forests. After decades of deforestation, what’s left of East Africa’s coastal forests would easily fit within half of Scotland. But the landscape that remains is an extraordinary conglomerate of microclimates — misty forests of minute chameleons and bushbabies, and sandy soils full of lions, butterflies, and elephant herds. It’s an area of ‘extraordinary biodiversity’. The WLT is partnering with the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) to save the wildlife corridor between the Rondo Forest Reserve and the Nyere National Park from deforestation.

  2. Campaigning from Blue Marine Foundation and the #HelpOurKelp coalition resulted in the first-ever ban on trawling in UK waters. Sir David Attenborough hailed the ban as a “vital win” in the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises, and a “landmark decision” for the management of UK coastal waters. Now 300km2 of Sussex kelp forests can regenerate, capture carbon and create habitat for hundreds of new species.

  3. SolarAid announced that will provide all households in Ntchisi, a largely off-grid district in central Malawi, with affordable pay-as-you-go solar lighting. The pilot project will provide affordable electricity and energy while keeping money in the community through a scalable and sustainable social enterprise model. The initiative was featured in Forbes who hailed it as a potential ‘game changer’ for rural energy poverty.

  4. Know a young climate activist? Action for Conservation CEO, Hendrikus van Hensbergen just published ‘How You Can Save The Planet’, a ‘treasure trove of practical advice and inspiration’ for 9 to 12 year-olds. The book features inspiring interviews with intrepid young activists, a guide on how to make DIY bird feeders, and tips on how to lobby your school or MP for change.

  5. Petrochemical giant Ineos announced that it had dropped its permit for a plastics plant expansion in Belgium after Clientearth and 13 other NGOs launched a court challenge arguing that the project was environmentally damaging.

  6. Hubbub is celebrating a major win in its pursuit to save good food from going to waste. Last year Hubbub launched ‘Food Connect’, a food surplus redistribution service in Milton Keynes that uses electric vehicles. The trial was a resounding success, Hubbub saved 110 tonnes of good food from waste — that’s 260,000 meals’ worth, created six new green jobs, and avoided 1.7 tonnes of transport emissions. Hubbub is now looking to scale its project up to other locations and partner with major retailers.

More Ways to Help

  1. Local elections are coming up across England and Wales. Who Can I Vote For have put together a tool that explains how and where you can vote, and who’s standing in your local area. If you haven’t registered to vote yet, be sure to do so, and take some time to familiarise yourself with where your candidates stand on environmental issues.
  2. If you’re in London, A More Natural Capital is hosting the London Mayoral Environment Debate on Monday, April 12th. Tune in to hear Mayoral candidates put forward their policies on issues like air quality, green spaces, wildlife protection, and cycle lanes.
  3. Push your local MP to commit to an ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) to tackle the waste crisis. A Deposit Return Scheme provides a small cash sum to consumers who return their bottles, cans, and glass. The rollout of the initiative, announced in 2018, has been significantly delayed, and government officials have yet to decide which recyclables will be included.
  4. Encourage your local school to sign up for #PlasticFreeSchools and ‘kick our addiction’ to single-use plastics by changing the systems that produce them.
  5. Download the Safer Seas Service app to get real-time data on the water quality where you live

Thank you for supporting our charity partners to protect the natural world and vulnerable communities from irreversible climate change, deforestation, and pollution. We’re in this together.