It is a well-known fact that animals living within water enclosures are regularly bombarded with disinfecting agents, to ward off contaminations and diseases. “On a visit to the zoo, I noticed that the sea lions were suffering from cataract,” says Owen.
He asked the zookeeper for an explanation, who “was sure that it is the chlorine they use to keep the water clean that causes the problem. I found this unacceptable. The sea lions were suffering. We knew why. And yet there was no alternative available to keep the enclosure clean,” Owen remembers.
Fuelled by this frustration, Owen embarked on seeking an alternative. The aim was to find a non-chlorine and non-ozone based water sanitisation solution while being at least equally effective, safe to animals, humans and the environment, with none of the adverse effects of chlorine or ozone.
Owen’s research branched in several directions. “One of them was focusing on understanding the impact of electrical charge, frequency and light on living organisms,” he explains. Through this research, Owen came across the scientific principles of electro-chemically activated solutions (ECAS).
Through the application of electrical current to saline water, it becomes electrochemically activated. It is in a metastable state. Characterised by exceptional antimicrobial activity – based on the interaction of the oxidative ions, the high redox potential (> 1,100 mV) and the low pH – ECAS are superior to common chemical disinfectants.
“Advanced ECAS are effective against a wide range of pathogens upon contact – removing viruses, bacteria, germs, fungi and their spores. It is an environmentally friendly, fast-acting disinfectant solution with no petrochemical ingredients,” says Owen.
In Russia, ECAS were used for the treatment of drinking water in their national space programme and hospitals for disinfecting purposes since the 1970s. In the 1980s, ECAS became popular in Japan as well, used to sterilise medical instruments, followed by applications in the cultivation of plants and livestock farming.
#Explained 1|4 with Prof. @Reynolds_UWE, @UWEBristol
Interested in the #Science behind #ECAS | #ESOL? Let’s look at the historic development and use of Electro-Chemically Activated Solutions (ECAS) first. https://t.co/sKpbBAR9j0
— Global Ecology Group (@gegecology) June 30, 2020
After some time has passed, the so-called relaxation time, ECAS reacts back into its original state. Thus, only water and salts remain. “The ECAS principle seemed feasible for the problem of the sea lions in the zoo, and I founded Pure Water Science and developed a ‘free radical’ generation chamber for commercial applications in the United Kingdom,” says Owen.
Since then, Owen has been fully committed to researching and developing a wide range of eco-technologies – alternative environmentally friendly solutions for water, soil, air and waste remediation. Owen’s know-how has been instrumental in meeting real-world disasters with ethically responsible countermeasures.
Up to now, Owen promotes and furthers the use of affordable and versatile ECAS. Amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, he developed and advanced an ECAS fogging system, keeping surfaces in our homes, offices, hospitals, stores and vehicles safe at all times, with no adverse effects on humans or the environment.
Meanwhile, the ECAS technology has also evolved. With new high-performance materials for electrolysis systems, the industrial application of ECAS has become more established as an eco-friendly and user-friendly technology in many different fields all over the world.
And the sea lions? They can attest to the positive effects of ECAS: systems installed in water parks and zoological centres prove to be highly effective at replacing chlorine dose systems in zoological water enclosures and significantly reducing the occurrence of cataracts in sea lions and penguins.
→ To maintain best practice animal husbandry and staff and visitor hygiene, Zoos Victoria rely on a range of chemicals for cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting. For better environmental outcomes, Zoos Victoria plans to reduce their dependence on chemicals by using electrolysed water [page 43].
In just over four decades, wildlife populations around the world have decreased by 60 percent, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s (WFF) Living Planet Report. More than 4,000 mammal, bird, fish, reptile and amphibian species have shrunk dramatically between 1970 and 2014.
And if business as usual continues, the global demand for water will exceed viable resources by 40 percent by 2030. “Water is something that we should all be focusing on. As a resource, we should really make sure we keep it, as much as we can,” says the Global Ecology Group (GEG) Founder and CEO Owen J. Morgan.
We also “have damaged the soil matrix”, adds Owen. By now, a third of the planet’s land is severely degraded, and fertile soil is being lost at the rate of 24 billion tonnes a year, according to the United Nations.
Ninety-three percent of children worldwide inhale poisoned air. Experts estimate that 600,000 children died in 2016 as a result of air pollution.
Pollution, deforestation, climate change and other human-made factors have led to a severe crisis. And yet, the younger generations have been for long excluded from the conversations about conservation.
→ The Fridays For Future “Declaration of Lausanne” | August 2019, by 400 climate activists from 38 countries.
But, in recent years, this has changed. Young environmental activists like Greta Thunberg have gained international recognition for promoting the view that humanity is facing an existential crisis arising from climate change.
In August 2018, the by then 15-year-old Greta and other young activists sat in front of the Swedish parliament every school-day for three weeks, to protest against the lack of action on the climate crisis.
She posted what she was doing on Instagram and Twitter, and it soon went viral, inspiring the global #FridaysForFuture movement. “Kids have a voice now, and they have a voice on a global scale. Because they can network at a level that we have never been able to,” says Owen.
Within the debate of equitable sharing of responsibilities, it is essential to include the younger generations. It is also crucial to build upon global and multigenerational collaboration to start addressing climate change and environmental degradation.
We are meeting unprecedented challenges, and “I really believe that it is the time for us to actually listen to the next generations”, says Owen. It is upon all of us to give their ideas and visions the required space to flourish and spark the difference.
The global coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating effect on economies worldwide. However, one of the few positive consequences of travel restrictions and the industry downturn has been a temporary reduction in air pollution. This has made skies cleaner and clearer.
Both of Africa’s tallest peaks, Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya clearly visible from Nairobi this morning at almost 180° apart. Photos by @marquington pic.twitter.com/ssfVa257Kn
— Kenya Pics (@kenyapics) April 16, 2020
In places like China, for instance, satellites captured the sharp drop in air pollution amid the pandemic lockdowns, but levels quickly bounced back once the restrictions were eased.
Urban residents across Europe do not want to see air pollution return to pre-COVID-19 levels. They support profound changes to protect clean air, according to fresh YouGov opinion polling in 21 European cities.
“Air is the one thing we can’t live without,” says Owen J. Morgan, Global Ecology Group Founder and CEO. Yet, the air we breath is one manifestation of our poisonous ambition. “We have damaged air so much,” Owen adds.
“There is currently a PhD student in London who is monitoring the air over the university where they are, and there are nanoparticles of plastic in every sample they are taking,” says Owen. “It’s insane.”
And indeed, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone – more than 90 percent of children worldwide inhale poisoned air. Dirty air is the “new tobacco”, the Guardian quotes the World Health Organisation Director Tedros Adhanom.
→ Now, anyone can monitor the nitrogen dioxide concentrations at any place from anywhere in the world using the ESA’s new online platform that allows people to track air pollution, whether on a global scale or for their particular regions or cities.
Experts estimate that 600,000 children died in 2016 as a result of air pollution. 1.8 billion children are exposed to air that is so polluted that it seriously jeopardises their health and development.
Air pollution is the most significant environmental health risk in Europe, according to the European Environment Agency. It caused about 400,000 premature deaths in the EU in 2016, the EU agency estimates. And those living in polluted, big cities are more at risk from COVID-19, EPHA has warned.
Yet only 13 percent of Brits believe air pollution to be “a very big problem”, according to a YouGov poll.
As levels of air pollution plummeted when countries imposed pandemic lockdown measures, it is evident that it is in our hands to improve the air we breathe. With combined efforts, like those proposed in the European Green Deal initiative, we can make a change.
“We really need to make sure that the air we are breathing is good. Water – doable; soils – doable; air – not so much. I really don’t know how we fix air. Maybe we can’t. Maybe we have to learn to live with the air that we’ve got. But let’s not do more to it than we have already done.”
GEG’s ethos is respecting the sanctity of the natural world and our place in it. Through innovations like Ennea, the Harvester and ESOL™ solutions, GEG’s Research and Development paves the way towards improving current industry practices by meeting complex environmental challenges like air pollution.
P.S.: Owen’s got one more suggestion…
Together we can act #ForNature
One easy way → take your bicycle more often and ride for nature… #Nature #NatureNow #NatureLove #GEG #BicycleWaltz #WorldEnvironmentDay https://t.co/NwLry1XVse
— Global Ecology Group (@gegecology) June 5, 2020
Agriculture has been a foundational component of our evolution as a species. The agricultural revolution over 10,000 years ago led to settlements, which in turn led to cities, contact diseases, architecture, trade centres, currency, technology and the modern human.
We owe much of our daily comforts and existential questions to agriculture. Our diets changed, and so did our lifestyles and our understanding and our moulding of the world.
Today we face questions that should have been answered long ago: How healthy is the food we consume? How does climate change affect the quality of our produce? And to what extent shall we sacrifice our personal comfort for the good, and most probably the survival of the next generations of our species?
To start answering these questions, we must be aware that one element upon which our whole agricultural system relies is now at risk. “We have damaged the soil matrix,” says Owen J. Morgan, Global Ecology Group Founder and CEO.
In addition to erosion, soil quality is affected by other aspects of agriculture. These impacts include compaction, loss of soil structure, nutrient degradation, and soil salinity.
By now, a third of the planet’s land is severely degraded, and fertile soil is being lost at the rate of 24 billion tonnes a year, according to the United Nations.
Whether it is pesticides, mono-cropping or synthetic fertilisers, the ways through which we damage the soil are many. And the alarming decline is forecast to continue as demand for food and productive land increases while pressure from climate change, population growth, urban development, waste, pollution, and the need for more (and cheaper) food mounts.
According to WWF, half of the world’s topsoil has been lost in the past 150 years only. Barring any imminent and successful widespread adoption of hydro-culture (an up-to-now unattainable proposition that comes with its own environmental drawbacks), we simply cannot and will not grow food to feed 7.8 billion people, and counting, without soil.
To access more soil for agriculture, we cut down forests. However, as noted by WWF, “When agriculture fields replace natural vegetation, topsoil is exposed and can dry out. The diversity and quantity of microorganisms that help to keep the soil fertile can decrease, and nutrients may wash out. Soil can be blown away by the winds or washed away by rains.” And cutting down forests has, in any case, a litany of dangerous effects on our ecosystem.
It is evident; things need to change and fast. All farmers, growers and consumers should have a common goal to protect, maintain and build their most vital asset – soil.
→ The Soil Association, UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use.
What can be done to save our soils? We first need to think of them as alive: The soil matrix is a combination of organisms, minerals and organic matter, which interact with and impact one another.
“In fact, one teaspoon of healthy soil can contain as many as one billion bacteria, plus fungi, protozoa and nematodes”, explains FoodPrint. Soil is alive, and it is vulnerable, for it takes anything between 100 and 1,000 years to develop.
To protect our soils, and help them regenerate, we need to rethink what and how we eat. We need soil for agriculture, but it is agriculture that is killing our soil.
We also need to remember that we are connected to our soil: We eat what comes from it, so if it is bad for the soil, it is bad for us, and if it is good for the soil it is most probably good for us too.
“Let’s try and organically grow crops […] you don’t need to think about large scale farming as being pesticide-driven mechanical farming”, says Owen.
Following sustainable agriculture practices means limited to no synthetic pesticides use, relying on compost, green manure and mulching.
“Farmers are getting into what is called cover crops. They realise that instead of ploughing the land, you are better off planting a cover crop, and let that cover crop effectively replenish the soils”, Owen adds.
These practices not only improve the health of our soils, but they also lead to healthier produce, containing more and higher quality vitamins and minerals, therefore making us healthier.
Alternatively, we can let nature do what nature does best when left alone: “Let nature take it over for a while because it is amazing what happens,” says Owen.
There is an increasing realisation that soil life may be the key to crop productivity, but little research is being invested in this area, and substantial knowledge gaps remain. The Global Ecology Group dedicates time and resources analysing soils and soil organisms, an essential first step to support soil health.
After all, GEG’s research and development is inspired by nature. We apply this inspiration to human needs by respecting our interconnectedness and interdependence with nature, and by working sustainability for the future of our species and our planet.