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Only One Earth: World Environment Day 2022


World Environment Day 2022 asks us to think about our only home – the planet. World Environment Day explaining, “in the universe are billions of galaxies, in our galaxy are billions of planets, but there is only One Earth”.

As the key message for this year, ‘Only One Earth’ asks for transformative environmental change on a global scale. Our environment is changing around us due to the impacts of pollution and the development of our growing urban centres – and it is estimated that our cities are responsible for over 75% of our global emissions.

We are impacting our environment on many levels – from pollution to removal of habitat. Our environment is vulnerable, and we need to take steps to protect it – such as phasing out plastics, creating more green infrastructure and capturing pollution at the source.

Seagrass & Sugar: Protecting our Carbon Sinks

Our seagrasses are one of Earth’s greatest carbon sinks. The Max Planck Institute for Marine Biology has conducted studies into our seagrass meadows to understand the mechanisms behind this carbon storage.
Seagrass is a major component of the Dugong’s diet. The Dugong is the only marine herbivorous mammal.

Surprisingly, researchers discovered vast amounts of sugar being stored in seagrass beds across the globe – largely in the form of sucrose. They estimate that almost 1 million tonnes of sucrose are stored in our seagrass meadows, which they report is ‘enough for 32 billion cans’ of soft drink.

Usually, these sugars are broken down by microbes and release carbon dioxide. However, seagrasses ensure this sugar remains buried underneath meadows in phenol rich environments. Phenols are commonly found in red wine, coffee, and fruits, and are known for their antimicrobial qualities. These properties inhibit nearby microbes and stop them from digesting any sugar in the surrounding area.

Whether it’s our tropical rain forests or our seagrasses, protecting our carbon sinks is an important part of protecting our planet.

With ‘Only One Earth’ to protect and save, we need to ensure these environments are protected for future generations. A large part of this is ensuring that our stormwater is treated properly, and pollutants and contaminants are removed before they enter our waterways and oceans.

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