After two years collecting samples from the Atlantic Ocean, a research team working for the Global Oceanic Environment Survey has discovered there’s virtually no plankton left. Researchers have issued the dire warning that the Atlantic is “pretty much dead” after results showed that 90% of the plankton in the Atlantic has been wiped-out since the 1940s. Unless something is done, we could be heading for an environmental catastrophe which risks the extinction of fish, dolphins and whales, all of which have knock-on consequences for humanity.

The loss of plankton is due to increased C02 in the atmosphere combined with chemicals toxic to the marine environment being released into the seas: fertilisers, drugs, plastics and manmade chemicals in sunscreen and cosmetics. The chemicals increase the acidity of the water which then dissolves the plankton.

Can Scotland be part of the solution?

The head of the Edinburgh-based research team, Dr Howard Dryden, told The Sunday Post that more must be done and called upon the Scottish authorities to lead the way. He believes that improvements can be made by the production and use of non-toxic and biodegradable plastics, the introduction of regenerative agriculture, and taking greater control of sewage treatment and wastewater pollutants.

Dr Drynden commented that Scotland currently has “a combined stormwater and sewer system, so when it rains the municipal treatment systems are by-passed. This means we may only be treating as little as a quarter of our wastewater.”

However, the solution may not be as easy as replacing the sewage infrastructure, as Dr Alex Murdoch, Castle Water’s Technical Relationship Manager, points out. “Replacing the existing combined sewer arrangement with separate dedicated sewer and rainwater drainage is not only impractical, it would also be prohibitively expensive.”

Dr Murdoch thinks an important solution lies in creating drainage systems that are better adapted to prevent flooding. “Sustainable drainage systems allow rainwater to be temporarily stored and slowly released. This will help prevent the sewers from exceeding capacity, which is the point at which raw sewage is discharged directly into the natural environment.”

It is clear that urgent solutions need to be found to prevent further loss of marine life and restore the Atlantic.


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