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Environmental Changes: Challenges Ahead | Thisun Sandeeptha Kuruppuarachchi (Grade 8) | Dunedin

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ශ්‍රී LankaNZ is a free distributed Sri Lankan Community Newspaper that aims to reach a Sri Lankan population of over 18,000 all over New Zealand. The demand for entertainment in literacy media itself gave birth to ශ්‍රී LankaNZ

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. In the last 800,000 years alone there have been eight cycles of ice ages and warm periods, with the end of the last ice age around 11,700 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate age and human civilization. Most of these climate changes are due to tiny shifts in Earth’s orbit that alter the amount of sunlight on our planet.

The current heatwave is different as it is the result of human activity since the mid-1800s and is warming up at a rate not seen in the past few millennia. It is undeniable that human activities have produced atmospheric gases (mainly CO2 by burning fossil fuels and deforestation) that have trapped more and more heat from the sun resulting in higher temperatures across the globe.

Higher temperatures worsen many types of disasters, including storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts. A warmer climate creates an atmosphere that can collect, hold, and release more water, changing weather patterns, and making wet areas wetter and dry areas drier. This causes many challenges to people and animals around the world as their climate is changing faster than they can adapt.

Another issue we currently have is environmental pollution. Pollution is caused by many things, like single-use plastics being dumped in landfills or the ocean. This can take up space for people and animals to live on. Plastics in the ocean can harm aquatic life as many types of fish get entangled in plastics and turtles sometimes eat plastic bags confusing them for jellyfish. There are many ways we can slow down our carbon emissions such as using renewable sources of energy like solar panels and wind turbines, having as many electrical appliances as possible that don’t rely on fossil fuels to function, recycling materials as much as possible, and avoiding single-use plastics. 

Governments have been implementing many actions to stop pollution. In New Zealand, the government announced a three-stage plan to phase out different types of hard-to-recycle plastics during each of its stages. By late 2022, stage one will phase out PVC meat trays, polystyrene takeaway packaging, EPS grocery packaging, degradable plastic products, plastic drink stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds. By the Mid-2023 stage, two will phase out single-use plastic produce bags, plastic tableware, plastic straws, and non-compostable produce labels. Stage three during Mid 2025 will phase out all other PVC and polystyrene food and beverage packaging. This plan will roll out across four years. There are many New Zealand government-funded projects working on protecting the marine nature of the Pacific Ocean as well. All of us can do something to protect this world for ourselves and future generations to have a healthy, liveable globe.

By Thisun Sandeeptha Kuruppuarachchi (Grade 8) – Dunedin

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