Whales and wind power bring climate crisis hope

Gentle giant: Blue whales are the biggest creatures on Earth. They eat only tiny plankton and are friendly towards humans. © Getty

Will 2021 be a turning point for the climate crisis? An activist who started cleaning oceans as a teenager says this year is the time for change – and new technology could make it possible.

What’s happening

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a huge underwater mountain of old bags, toothbrushes, shoes, toys and tyres. It swirls around, caught in currents like a tornado.

The Pacific Trash Vortex is the biggest collection of rubbish in the world. One man has made it his mission to get rid of it.

Find out more

Boyan Slat was 16 when he invented a floating platform for collecting plastic from water. Now, he is 25. His company removes rubbish from rivers and oceans to turn into recycled sunglasses.

He predicts that 2021 will be a turning point for the climate crisis. He is hopeful because people are “willing” to address the problem.

Others are inventing new ways to help the environment. One city in Norway is building an eco-friendly skyscraper from wood. A new robot that fixes wind turbines could mean more people have access to green energy.

And there are other reasons for hope. There are more blue whales in the ocean than there have been for over 100 years. In New Zealand, the Kakapo has returned after nearly going extinct.

Is 2021 a turning point?

Some say…

Yes! People around the world are creating new ways of fighting the climate crisis. Technology is making it easier than ever to live greenly. More electric cars were sold last year than ever before. It’s not just about technology: world leaders are meeting in November to make more plans to reduce global warming in their countries.

Others think…

Not necessarily. There is still a lot of change needed. Plans do not always work. In the past, governments said they would reduce CO2 to slow down global warming, but have failed. Ice caps are melting, meaning ocean levels are rising. Animals, plants and people will be at risk if we do not work harder to fight the problem.

You Decide

  1. Is it too late to fix the climate crisis?

Activities

  1. Make an infographic about blue whales. Draw a picture and label it with parts of the whale’s body. Use the internet to find three interesting facts and put them on your graphic.

Some People Say...

“The Earth is what we all have in common.”

Wendell Berry, American writer and environmental activist

What do you think?

Word Watch

Currents
A current is when a lot of liquid moves in a specific direction at the same time. For example, a current runs through a river in the direction of the sea.
Tornado
A type of wind that forms a tall column that reaches down to the ground and spins around. For this reason, it is also known as a twister.
Vortex
A spinning flow of liquid. Although the Pacific Trash Vortex is made up of rubbish, it is moved by water.
Eco-friendly
Something that is good for or does not harm the environment. Wood is a sustainable building material, meaning that it will never run out because we can always grow more. Concrete is bad for the environment because making it produces CO2.
Wind turbines
A huge windmill that turns in the wind to create electricity. Wind turbines are often in big collections known as wind farms. They are sometimes found on hills or out to sea where there is a lot of wind. Fixing them can be dangerous for humans, so a robot will help make wind power safer.
Blue whales
The largest creature ever to have lived on Earth. Blue whales grow up to 25m long and can live up to 90 years. Despite their size, they are gentle creatures. They eat tiny plankton and are harmless to humans.
Kakapo
A rare parrot found in New Zealand. It is a flightless bird, which means that it cannot fly – like a penguin.

Subjects

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