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.
Over the last century, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase globally, and it is still increasing in all sectors. The effects of climate change will intensify the risk of droughts as well. While some regions are experiencing heavy floods, others are suffering from increasing aridity.
In both cases, the affected people face the same problems: a lack of clean drinking water and often lack water for agriculture. Poor access to water is not only a threat to people’s health but also livelihoods. It limits the potential to irrigate crops or undertake other water-dependent activities.
In some countries, water scarcity is so pronounced that humans cannot reach many of the desired economic, social, and environmental goals. Over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress today and the numbers will continue to increase. The need for greater access to reliable and clean water has therefore risen to the top of the development agenda of many countries in recent years.
In contrast, in Europe, the average person directly consumes between 100-150 litres of water a day – like drinking water, for washing clothes, bathing and watering plants. But each person also indirectly consumes anywhere between 1,500 and 10,000 litres of water per day, depending on where they live and their consumption habits.
-> Save Water: Reduce Your Water Footprint
If business as usual continues, the global demand for water will exceed viable resources by 40 percent by 2030. Therefore, using the critical elements water more efficiently is a top priority. “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.
The global water crisis has many causes, requiring many different solutions. These solutions must span policy, behaviour change and innovative technology, such as water conservation and recycling technologies, to make a real difference.
Industrial water use accounts for approximately 22 percent of global consumption. The corporate footprint includes water that is directly and indirectly consumed when goods are produced. Much of this cannot be returned into the natural cycle or used for consumption leaving a huge untapped resource of water remain unfit for purpose.
However, GEG’s Founder and CEO Owen J. Morgan has already proven restoration of water from some of the most polluted sources, for example, mine water, drilling discharge and medical waste.
“We don’t need to go down the road of putting huge amounts of chemicals into the water to make it better. We can fix water by actually looking at what nature does,” says Owen.
Since the early 1990s, Owen has been developing a number of water recovery processes. These key technologies follow specific approaches to recovery of contaminated water to a natural balanced and in many cases a potable water supply.
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.
He was sitting in his mother’s garden at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, probably contemplating some profound philosophical idea, when while vaguely gazing at the horizon, he saw an apple fall from his mother’s apple tree. This prompted him to ask: “Why sh[oul]d that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground […].” This is the myth around Sir Isaac Newton’s first contemplations of his law of universal gravitation. This is also one example of how nature can inspire us, lead us and teach us about ourselves, our surroundings and our potentials.
When we look at the scientific advances we have achieved as a species, it is easy to discount the role nature played and continues to play in pushing forward these developments.
We have built our planes by first observing birds, manufactured our submarines by learning from whales and tuned our sonars by listening in to bats and dolphins. This is what is generally referred to as biomimicry, the practise of looking deeply into nature for solutions to engineering, design and other challenges. We simply try to figure out where our challenge can be found in nature, and what strategy or pattern nature developed to overcome or transcend it. This process of observation is the first step to learn from nature truly.
The second step is to creatively scale up nature’s solutions to fit our human frameworks. While working on this, we must be aware of the challenges this scaling and fitting processes may present. Generally, it is not difficult to transpose nature’s solutions to fit our needs. What is challenging is to achieve this without violating nature’s laws of interconnectedness, interdependence and sustainability.
The story of morphine, for example, has gone through the steps described above. The pain-relieving qualities of opium have been known and exploited for centuries. These qualities had always been extracted from the natural plant itself. In our modern age, however, “the pharmaceutical industry believed nature could not provide enough of the actual raw materials, to grow enough poppies to feed an opiate market. Much easier [they thought] is to synthesise the molecular structure”, explains the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Ecology Group, Owen J. Morgan.
Synthesised morphine was the result of the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to take something that nature provides and fit it into a human framework of consumption. However, as explained by Brook, Bennet and Desai in their paper entitled ‘The Chemical History of Morphine: An 8000-year Journey, from Resin to de-novo Synthesis’, “our attempts to synthesise morphine, despite our advanced knowledge in synthetic chemistry, are still no match for the plant-based extraction of morphine from the poppy plant”. As we are part of nature, “if we put a synthetic into our body, it doesn’t matter how close we have replicated nature, we have missed parts of those building blocks, because we don’t understand all those building blocks”, explains Owen.
Nature is filled with examples that can benefit us, from healing plants to creative, cooperative networks. The mass scaling of nature’s solutions has always been the problematic sequence in our attempts to learn from nature.
How do we bridge this gap? Only by always respecting nature’s laws of interconnectedness, interdependence and sustainability. If our mass scaling claims to be “independent” from nature, this is a first sign that we are off track. If we do not consider the impact of our innovations on us, our environment, other species and the future, it is then a sure sign that we need to reconsider our steps. In the words of Owen, “nature can provide us with all these life-giving and healing properties, why don’t we figure out how to work with nature to actually have a beneficial relationship, so that we coexist?”
GEG seeks to do precisely that. Our research and development, as well as our innovations, such as Ennea and the Harvester, are 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.
This resonates with many in the younger generations. These same thoughts echoed in Greta Thunberg’s words when she declared that “we are facing a mass extinction”, denouncing her audience at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York for stealing her dreams and her childhood, to the applause of that same assembly.
What Greta and other individuals and organisations, such as Extinction Rebellion are referring to when they level this criticism, is something inherent to any positive change: Responsibility.
Responsibility, in the sense of being accountable, is greatly lacking in our politics, our policies and our businesses. The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was coined as a way to signify Big Business’ steps towards acknowledging this responsibility. CSR is at best, however, a superficial remedy dealing with symptoms only. Responsibility cannot mean diverging some of our income to “do good”, it means to be accountable throughout all aspects, processes, goals and achievements of our businesses. This, in turn, requires a shift in vision.
Popular wisdom dictates that business’ only creed is profit. Consequently, using all measures necessary to achieve this goal is a given and a right. Nature is also a means to that end. Talking about care for nature as a necessary and integral part of a business model was for a long time a laughable proposition. Up to now, many businesses view this as a matter of secondary concern, while for others, it is a direct threat to their profit-making principle.
A shift in vision means a fundamental change in our business philosophy. Such a change, however, takes time – time that we cannot afford. So how do we start, as businesses, to ‘be responsible’? We need to ‘feel responsible’. This feeling of responsibility starts, as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Ecology Group, Owen J. Morgan describes, by viewing ourselves as “caretakers of life itself”. It is only when we hold this view that everything else falls into place: Care for nature and profit-making are no longer mutually exclusive realities.
At the Global Ecology Group, we act as a catalyst for this vision change, by providing working systems and solutions to different industries and sectors, enabling them to make real steps towards ‘being responsible’.
Through innovations like Ennea and the Harvester, GEG’s Research and Development paves the way towards establishing industry practices which bring together the two sides of the responsible-business equation – both reaching business goals and meeting complex environmental challenges. This is our way to build a legacy of symbiosis, where human growth connotes care for life itself.