Austraila / Brazil - Just Dump it In The Ocean!

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Austraila / Brazil - Just Dump it In The Ocean!

Post by  on Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:34 pm

Garbage Dump Offshore Australia - Raw Sewage / garbage greets attendees at Rio Envio Conference

By now, many of us have heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a pair of massive, swirling islands of floating trash in the Pacific Oceanone of which is roughly twice the size of Texas.
But in Australia's Sydney Harbor, the refuse isn't just floating: It's on the bottom.

Groups of volunteers divers are working to remove the "carpet" of trash covering the sea floor.

The stuff on the bottom has been accumulating for 200 years. And its only now we're really trying to pull it out in any sort of quantity.

Over 900 tons of garbage wash up on Sydney's beaches per year, city officials say. But that trash is easy to see.

"It's been out of sight and out of mind," Thomas said. "If it was on
land you would be disgusted and you would do something about it."

It's not just plastic bags and Fosters cans, either.

There are bikes, "lots of bikes," scattered at the bottom of the harbor.

The toxic trashwhich flows into Sydney Harbor from the city's waste wateris
often ingested by fish and other marine life, environmental experts
say, threatening the underwater ecosystem. Tides then take debris from
the undersea scrapheap and deposit it into the Pacific.

The cleanup effort isn't terribly elaborate: Divers have been filling bags with trash and bringing them to the surface.

"Unless someone cleans it up, it could be there for years, it could
there for hundreds of years," Dean Cropp, a member of the environmental
group Two Hands, said, "doing damage the whole time."

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Rio de Janeiro
(AP) — The throngs streaming into Rio for a sustainable development
conference may be dreaming of white-sand beaches and clear, blue waters,
but what they are first likely to notice as they leave the airport is
not the salty tang of ocean in the breeze, but the stench of raw sewage.
That's
because the airport sits by a bay that absorbs about 320 million
gallons (1.2 billion liters) of raw waste water a day: 480 Olympic
swimming pools worth of filth.
As they head into the city, they
will note soda bottles bobbing on the water and the colorful detritus
that wreathes the shore: discarded television sets, couches and broken
toys snarled in plastic. They will likely get caught in a traffic jam,
peering out at the acrid haze of diesel fumes and exhaust from the
commercial port that lingers over the city.
The United Nations
Environment Program warned this month that the planet's environmental
systems "are being pushed towards their biophysical limits," and for the
50,000 visitors from 190 countries streaming in for the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development,
the welcome here is a rank reminder of just how hard it will be to
balance economic growth and environmental protection elsewhere across
the globe.
"Rio, the host city, has a range of urban problems: air and water pollution,
social exclusion, water supply," said Carlos Bocuhy, who heads the
Brazilian Institute of Environmental Protection. "But what we have here
is a crisis in a civilizational model. We are nearing a moment when all
these crises will start feeding into each other. We are facing the
possibility of collapse if we don't change course."
The problems
visitors will see in Rio alone are daunting. Take the bay. Twenty years
ago, when the last UN Earth Summit was held here, promises were made to
clean it up. Since then, seven waste treatment stations have been built,
but due to poor planning and corruption, only three of them work, and
at a fraction of capacity.
Even on Governor's Island, which houses both the international airport and the federal university of Rio de Janeiro, waste water pours unfiltered into the environment. The treatment plant there doesn't work either, said Sandra Azevedo, a biologist with the Carlos Chagas Filho Biophysics Institute.
"We
are living here in a time and space warp. We have problems like, 'My
wi-fi is down,' 'I'm stuck on this problem in my stem-cell research,'
and at the same time, we are right next to open, running sewage," she
said. A five-minute walk separates Azevedo's office from the bay's shore.
"We work next to a massive toilet," said Azevedo. "There is no recycling. It's not acceptable."
Many of Rio's poorest residents still count on the bay, polluted as it is, for food. Even as Azevedo complained about the bay, Severino Raimundo Batista was getting his boat ready for a few hours of fishing.
Tourists
who catch a glimpse of the bay will often see several of Batista's
neighbors in the nearby shantytown throwing a net, hoping to catch
something for dinner, he said.
"It used to be much better, the catch here," he said. "Recently, it's been very dirty, a lot of trash floating."
The
Inter-American Development Bank and the state are funding a $553
million cleanup project meant to dredge canals, build new sewage plants
and restore marshlands.
Batista is waiting for the day it's finished.
"This used to be good for fishing," he said. "It was a beauty. It would be good to see it like that again."
The
30-mile (50-kilometer) taxi ride from the airport to the Rio Centro
convention center offers visitors a cityscape that could double as a
to-do list of issues to be tackled.
To the side of the highway,
you can often see children playing in the dirty canals that run below
unfinished brick buildings clinging to vertiginously steep hillsides.
That's the shantytown of Manguinhos. When it rains, homes like those run
the risk of collapsing. Last year, more than 900 people died when
torrential rains caused mudslides and tore down similarly fragile
housing in the mountains north of the state.
The taxi slows down
in a sea of red brake lights. The topographical features that make Rio
so pretty to visitors — the mountains, lakes and rivers — also make it
difficult to lay down a straight road. Add to that a 40 percent hike in
the number of cars over the last decade, and you've got an idling,
polluting transit mess.
"It's much worse now," said Mauricio Pinto
Gama, a taxi driver who has been working Rio's streets for 14 years.
"Before, you knew what the rush hour was. Now you don't. It can be bad
at any time. You never know how long it'll take."
That traffic is
one reason the level of Rio's air pollution index is triple what the
World Health Organization considers acceptable.
In preparation for
the World Cup and the Olympics, Rio is laying down new thoroughfares
connecting the far ends of town. But the transportation along these
corridors will be by buses — newer, cleaner ones, but still, fossil-fuel
burning hulks.
At the convention center, the contrast of extremes
that mark this city repeats itself. Rio Centro is set against a
stunning backdrop of soaring granite mountains topped by lush forests.
It is surrounded by marshland that sparkles with interconnected coastal
lakes. Nearby is a vast beach whose white sands go on for miles.
On
closer inspection, this landscape also reveals how much it has been
abused. Trash and sewage accumulated over the years choke channels that
let water flow between the lakes and the ocean. Pigs root through
islands of clotted refuse just hundreds of yards (meters) from where
world leaders will nail down shared goals on topics like ocean acidity
and biodiversity.
A heritage of poor infrastructure dating back to
when Brazil was a Portuguese colony, coupled with untrammeled
development in recent decades and negligible monitoring, has left many
of the communities surrounding the convention center without a
connection to wastewater treatment centers. That is as true for the
expensive high-rises in gated communities that have sprouted on the
marshy fields as for the low-income squatter communities housing the
maids, doormen and landscapers who work there.
Occasionally,
cyanobacteria blooms, coating the lakes with a vivid green film that
produces toxins that can sicken even in small doses, said the biologist
Azevedo.
"Twenty years ago, these lakes were nurseries, places
where fish reproduced," said Azevedo. "Now you have places with zero
oxygen, with a pH of 0 or 1, very acidic."
The pollution spread
via channels, including one that travels right through the heart of the
convention center, where the visitors will sun themselves on grass
beside waste water.


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