Plastic waste and art

In Alcoutim, we saw a beautiful creature on the shore. Very big and bright. She is called: LONTRA. 

Plastic Otter, 2020, Bordalo II, created out of plastic waste for the Festival do Contrabando, Alcoutim. Photo: Chris Costa

The artist created her out of waste plastic. He is called Bordalo II. On his website we read why he makes this kind of art. “The excessive production and consumption of ‘stuff’ results in a constant production of garbage (…) and leads to the destruction of the Planet.” Bordalo II uses this garbage as raw material in the construction of small and large scale pieces that he has spread around the world. They bring the universal ‘manifesto’ against waste. 

Bordalo II also makes more provocative art, which you might find interesting. So here are two more pictures:

Selling The Truth, Lisbon, Portugal, 2015. Photo: Bordalo II


Mourning The Oceans, Covilhã, Portugal, 2014. Photo: Bordalo II

We were quite impressed by Bordalo’s work and hope you like it too; his message speaks for itself.

The miracle of insulation

The Ya spent Christmas on a beautiful spot in the Guadiana river. In the morning, we could hardly believe what we saw: there was a beautiful thin layer of frost on the deck. Apparently, it had been freezing. Inge quickly took a picture and went straight back into the comfortable cabin of the Ya. Contrary to most yachts, Ya hardly ever needs a heater to keep it warm inside, even in wintertime. Is this a miracle? No. We will tell you our secret: it‘s just about three things.

The secret of Ya keeping warm inside in wintertime is in three things:

  1. Insulation
  2. Insulation
  3. Insulation

1.    Insulation – a lot, and neatly built in

Before we started with the carpentry, the hull of the Ya was insulated. This was done very precisely with high quality foam, called PIR foam (not PUR!). It is built up in layers up to 11 cm thick. Every foam plate is tightly closed to the other, with some caulk or PUR in between. So, there are no heat leaks.

Before and after the insulation: Tsjerk built the PIR foam up to a layer of 11 cm thick. As a real ships carpenter, he sealed all seams with great care, so, no heat can leak through and no condensation can occur.

2.    Insulation – PIR as an affordable quality foam

How good is this PIR foam? Well, it is a great insulator and very affordable, and it is self-retardant, so it slows down fire. In the table below you see some numbers.

The Lambda number says how many Watts of heat goes through the material if it is 1 m thick and when there is 1 degree (Celsius or Kelvin) difference on each side. So, the lower the Lambda, the better the insulation. As you can see, the very expensive Vacuum Insulation is doing best. The PF Quod Core (0,015) is second best, but it can only be applied flat, and it is rather expensive. And the third best is PIR: this can be used on yachts. It is also self retarding. Materials like cork or expanded clay are doing much worse. Better not use them on yachts, they also weigh a lot.

On board of steel yachts, often glass wool is used. It is easy to put it neatly in any corner. But, once wet, it insulates only as good as the water in it. And it can go down and hang, a disadvantage. When it is dry, it insulates OK. But PIR does that better and PIR can’t take water (condensation). Disadvantage of PIR is that you need to work very precisely. Every open seam is a heat leak and that also creates condensation.

The final column in the table shows the resistance value (R-value). As the Lambda is a theoretical number, the R-value shows the effective heat resistance when the insulation is used in houses, caravans, boats. The higher the R-value, the better. It confirms that PIR is the best affordable choice.

 MaterialAverage LambdaR-value for 100mm thickness
 W/(m-K) M2K/W at 100mm
Brick (sand lime)0,80,125
Glass fibre 2,5
Core cell foam 2,6
Cellulair glass0,0442,78 
Expanded clay0,044
PF/ Quad Core0,0155,56 
Vacuum Insulation0,004223,8


3.    Insulation – to get comfort

On Christmas night it was minus 3º Celsius. We were having a Corona-proof dinner with some fellow-sailors. It was nice, we had fun, lots of olives and almonds, little alcohol and no heater Then, our friends asked where our heater was. Well, somewhere packed deep down in a bilge; we can’t remember using it. Yet, the atmosphere on the Ya felt as comfortable as in a house, or even better. How is this possible?

Now, let us compare the insulation of the Ya with that of a normal house built in the 70’s or 80’s. How well is it insulated? Or, to put it technically: What is the heat resistance of the house’s walls and the Ya’s skin?

Suppose you live in a house with brick cavity walls and 5 cm of rockwool insulation. The two layers of 10 cm bricks each have an R-value of 0,125. So, this is 0,25 in total. 10 cm of rockwool has an R-value of 2,6. Your house has 5 cm, with an R-value of 1,3. So, for the house the total R-value is 1,3 + 0,25 = 1,55 which is the total heat resistance of your wall.

 Here you see the intersections of the skin of the Ya and a cavity wall of a normal house. The heat resistance -the R Value – of the skin of the Ya is 3 to 4 times higher!

Now the Ya

The skin of the Ya is made of 6 mm of glassfibre, 20 mm of core-cell foam, then 4 mm of vinylester/glassfibre. In addition, on the inside the skin is covered with 110 mm PIR foam.

So, the skin has glassfibre (6mm +4 mm) 10 mm. The R-value of 10 cm is 2,5, so the R-value of 1 cm = 0,25. It also has core-cell foam 20 mm. The R-value of 10 cm is 2,6, so the R-value of 2 cm = 0,52. On the inside: PIR foam 110mm. The R-value of 10 cm PIR is 4,4, so the R-value of 110 mm = 4,84. So, for the Ya the total R-value is 0,25 + 0,52 + 4,84 = 5,61.

The total heat resistance of the skin of the Ya is more than 3 times higher compared to an insulated house. No miracle Ya keeps it warm inside in wintertime.

Sun Power for Your Shower: the Heat pipe panel and a multipurpose system

The sun power can be used to really heat everything.  In this last episode show we show the heat pipe panel, for even hotter water. And on top of it, we show a multi purpose system to really make a beautiful water heating system on board, or at home.
Too technical? Then go to the end of the article. There you find a picture with a cute model (says Inge) trying out the shower!
This Heat pipe panel becomes hot by the sun. Each pipe is dark, and surrounded by a transparent pipe, so with a vacuum in between for splendid insulation. There is a little bit of fluid in each pipe. This fluid will evaporate. The hottest damp will go to the top. There a cooling fluid flows along the outside skin, taking the heat and cooling the skin down. So the damp inside the top of the pipe condenses and runs downward to get heated and evaporate again.

The heating panel collects the heat and gives it to a cooling fluid. The fluid circulates through (or around) the boiler and gives the heat to the colder water. But that is just one function. The beauty of this system is that it is a multipurpose system: for heating and cooling. In this film you see a short description.

If you want to know more, check the drawings and the text here below.

The Heat pipe in a basic system

This closed circulation system is filled with cooling fluid. The circulation pump  makes the circulation. The fluid goes through the heat pipe panel. Only a first sunray through a cloud will heat up the water there.

The fluid then runs to the boiler, where it goes throught the boiler spiral , so that it heats the water in the boiler.

Then it runs back to the panel.

To a multi-purpose system

You can put a stove in the form of a radiator on board. It works sufficient in autumn; it will not give much heat.
There is a valve before it in the circulation system and you can choose if you want to let the fluid go through the radiator. If the valve is closed, it runs further.

You could for example use this stove in the evening, using the heat from the boiler. With an extra valve you close the heat pipe panel out of the system so you let the circulation go from the boiler to the stove and back.
And you can do more. Here we show it on video:

A multi purpose heating system with Heat pipe panel, stove, boiler, and motor built in. Also the motor, because you can cool the motor, or use your diesel to heat.

You connect the circulation system of your motor into the circulation system. So, the motor is also a heater. An electromotor is highly efficient, so you won’t get much heat of it, but it works more efficient if it stays cool.

Especially for combustion motors it is interesting to build its cooling system into your cooling system. Combustion engines are terribly inefficient and the mostly produce more heat than propulsion. A diesel engine converts about 50% of the diesel into heat.

And on the other hand, your system can warm the motor up. A cold running combustion engine wears the engine out, so why not first heat it up? It saves your engine from wearing out.

Regulating the system

To get a high heat intake from your heat pipe panel, the circulation pump should run slow. That is the main thing to regulate. You can put a by-pass in it with a valve to lower the flow. Or if you like it the electrical way, put a resistor in your feed to lower the power to the pump. There are also electrical regulators with a pot meter.

Put many valves in the system, so that you can do whatever you want, such as:

  • Heat your boiler with the heat pipe panel
  • Make your stove/radiator work with the heat of the boiler
  • Cool your (electric) engine and controller, or your combustion engine
  • Heat your boiler and/or your stove with your engine.

When you want to heat in the night, put a valve before the heat pipe panel, to prevent loosing heat there.

Simply use valves that you can open and close by hand. Just make sure that there is a flow in the system, because the circulation pump must be able to do its work.

Often, you see three-way valves in such systems. These valves always give way to or one way, or the other way. Disadvantage is that you must choose. You swith or/or, and sometimes you want and/and.  For example if you want the radiator to be warm and the boiler, donot use a three way valve, but put just regular valves in, as drawn. Advamtage is that you can even regulate how much you want to feed to e.g., the radiator, and to the boiler. Or, when the motor produces heat, you open that valve.

First do it manually, and when you are experienced, you automize the options you want. You could put sensors everywhere in the system and connect them with valves. But that could make it much more complex than you want. Start with the basics first.

The system can be drawn very schematic, but as you can see here on board Jaap his yacht, is that you have a spaghetti of hoses, lines, pumps and wires near your boiler, simply because you put a boiler in your bilge as big as possible so the space is so small for everything..

The test

With this heat pipe added, you can get really hot water and not only during summer. The spiral heater is doing great, and you can build it yourself. But the heat pipe panel is directly handy to build in. and it looks like it can take more heat out of the sun. Great to get a big hot shower, even in winter time.

The test: showering all over everything!

You want to know more? Email  

From the Ya we wish you a healthy and merry Christmas and a fossil free future!

This is the Ya sailing fossil free south of the Algarve, Portugal, October 2020.  ©Vernoomedia

Because of COVID we started our fossil free tour around the world later than planned. But, never waste a good crisis. COVID can be a turning point in the fossil fuel consumption.

More and more of us see, that working at home works. In 2020 there are more electric cars sold then all years before 2020. In some countries the CO2 emissions lowered. Since 2020 is again a year where we break meteorological records on high average temperatures, more and more people become aware of the climate problem.

Good intentions for 2021? Be the one of the growing many to act. Reduce your fossil fuel consumption. Insulate your house. Only take the car if you need to. Stop cooking with gas, put solar panels on your roof and cook with an induction cooker. Ask your local government to stimulate solar panels on buildings and industrial quarters. Ask your MP to reduce or stop the aid to fossil companies such as airlines.

It saves money, and it is a start to stop compromising the future of our children and grandchildren.

Wherever you are, we wish you a merry Christmas in (fysical or virtual) good company and a happy, healthy and fossil free 2021.

SilentWind sponsors “Ya”

We are proud that SilentWind sponsors the Fossil Free Around the World project. The Ya had already the low noise blades of SilentWind on our last windmill. But now it is all SilentWind in our mizzen mast. The specifications of the windturbine promise a high yield, a good efficiency and, important, a low noise. We will keep you posted and tell you about our experience.

Sun power for your shower – The spiral heater

Last week you read about the shower bag. Now we describe a system with the Spiral Heater that you can build in on board, even by yourself.
It is a rather simple system, with some technical things, so sometimes boring. But we have a cliff hanger: would the story end up with a beautiful model under the shower head? Male or female?

2.    The spiral heater

The cupper spiral is just visible through the double skinned insulation plastic, that prevents that the heat gets lost.. The sunrays go through it, heat the spiral and the water circulatiing through it.

You can make a 30 cm diameter spiral of thin cupper pipe. This solar spiral heater consists of two spiral pipes connected to each other. It is not that difficult to make. Just buy a 30 meter roll of cupper pipe 6 mm that a plumber uses for oil and butane gas lines. This pipe is rather flexible and with a bit of feeling for the material you ‘mould’ the line in a spiral without kinks. Connect the outside end of one to the outside end of the other, and the flow of the one runs against the flow of the other, which is most effective. In the middle you have to ends: one is the inlet and one is the outlet.

How the system schematically works, with the spiral heater, boiler and taps, is shown in this film.

Interested? Here is the schematic drawing and the description of the complete system.

In general: the Pressure pump keeps the water system under pressure, so the (cold and hot water) taps can give water. The circulation pump circulates the water first through the spiral heater, to the hot water tap and into the top of the boiler, pushing the cold water under into the circulation system.

We start under with the water tank containing water.

A pressure pump pumps water in the system: the water lines, the spiral and the boiler. From now you can use the cold water tap and the hot water tap (although the latter one is still cold now, but wait).

Then, a little circulation pump pumps the water into the spiral heater. The sun heats the spirals, so the water gets hot.

The water leaves this spiral heater through a line going along the hot water tap further to the boiler. It will be led into the top of the boiler. Hot water is lighter than cold water, so the hot water will be stacked on top. The cold water goes downwards. Down in the boiler there is the outlet, so from there the cold water will be sucked up by the circulation pump. Then the water is pumped to the spiral heater for a new circulation. Easy.

Only one safety issue. If water becomes hot, it expands. The pressure would get too high and it would damage the system. Therefore, there is an overpressure valve mounted in the system. It opens when the pressure becomes too high. Mount it just after the pressure pump. The water coming out, can be led to the water tank, or directly before the pressure pump. (this is not drawn here).

 This pump is a typical robust circulation pump. It works on 12 Volt. It switches on when the temperature of the boiler is lower than the temperature of the spiral heater.

Regulating the heat of the water

The pressure pump has a pressure regulation: if the pressure drops, the pump starts running till the pressure is (mostly) about 2 Bar, the minimum water pressure for drinking water.

The spiral heater and the boiler each have a temperature sensor:

  • If the temperature of the heater is higher than the temperature of the boiler, the circulation pump will start running.
  • If the temperature of the heater is lower than the temperature of the boiler, the circulation pump will stop running.

The shower test

It works!

Sun power for your shower (1/3)

A simple black water bag makes you shower fossil free. Just use the sun power for your shower.

The sun loves the colour black! In a black bag, container, or barrel your water heats up whenever the sun shines. Check the solar water bag. You fill it up in the morning, hang it where the sun can reach it, and in the afternoon, you have a nice, warm shower.

Here on the picture a better shower head is mounted, so the spray is not that drizzly dribble. But still, if you want a real strong shower spray, then connect a hose to it and hoist the bag in the mast (as long as your hose is). The longer the hose, the higher the water, the stronger the spray. Check this movie to see how it works with a 3-meter hose.

By the way, put a drop of chloride or baking soda in it to prevent bacteria growth.

Here you see what I bought to connect the shower head to the hose and to the water sack:
Shower spray head including washer; ½” to ¾” adaptor ring; valve ¾”in – ¾” out; ¾” washer; hose with ¾” in – ¾” out; adaptor ¾’ in – hose tail; 5 cm hose 14 mm. With the shower head comes a hook, to screw on the wall. Screw it in your shower/toilet. You can watch the movie above to see how that works.

The black bag with standard shower head costs you 20 Euros. The better shower head (with hook) costs 15 Euro and the hose with fittings about 10 Euro. A fossil shower in the harbour mostly costs 1 Euro so your pay back time is 20-35 times. And it makes you independent.

Next week we show how fellow-sailor Jaap made a simple system with a boiler that anyone with a pair of right hands can make.

You can increase the seas’ CO2 absorption

Clean Wave

We must stop the poisoning of the coral reef and the plankton in the oceans. If we do that, plankton and ocean life will restore itself. You can increase the seas’ CO2 absorption. This restores the oceans capacity to solve the CO2 problem.

This unknown world of plankton has a great capacity to restore itself. But, it needs help.

Stop or at least reduce using toxic chemicals

You probably already know that eating organic food and minimizing your energy consumption -like we do on the Ya– helps to make a better world. Perhaps you did not know that some chemicals can have a dramatic effect on climate change. However, the good thing is: you can do something very effective about it yourself. Yes, it takes some effort to read the small letters on the everyday products you use. Also, it will take some effort to find alternative products. But it’s worth it. Take a deep breath, here’s the list:

  • Oxybenzone or benzophenone-3 or BP-3 is top on our list because it’s really bad. This hormone-disrupting UV filter is used in sunscreen and many products exposed to sunlight. For example cosmetics, plastics, paint, rubber, cleaning agents and detergents.
    • Don’t buy sunblockers or other products containing oxybenzone. Tradenames are Milestab 9, Eusolex 4360, Escalol 567, Kahscreen BZ-3. Bring them back or throw them away responsibly. Use alternatives (hyperlink, there’s plenty of them. Or, for example, make your own sunscreen.

1 drop of Oxybenzone from a bottle of sunscreen, can kill 140 billion tonnes marine plankton. 70 thousand tonnes would destroy all life in the oceans, and the global production is in excess of 300 million tonnes. Oxybenzone does not stop working when in the water. They change the wavelength of the sunrays into heat rays and thus kill the coral reefs. The reefs are necessary for life in the oceans.

  • Other harmful chemicals used in cosmetics: this list is very long and you will not like what you see. However, please take some time and check for example on
  • Dioxins mostly exist as by-products of industrial processes such as bleaching paper pulp, pesticide manufacturing. Most pollution comes from combusting electronics and plastics, and waste incinerations.
    • Don’t buy bleached paper. Don’t use pesticides. Reuse and repair your electronics, before you remove them. Try to produce as little waste as you can. Buy only things you love and need and use them carefully.
  • Methyl mercury can be found in nature, so also in coal and biomass, combusted in power plants. Only in the US the incinerators emit 80 ton per year. 
    • Stop using electricity from coal and biomass power plants.
  • DDT Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) kills marine life. It is meant to kills insects, such as the malaria mosquito. It is advised to use as minimal as possible, but it is not forbidden.
    • If you need to use it (malaria), make sure it doesn’t get into the marine environment (water waste treatment).
  • Plastics contain chemicals and the chemicals mentioned above ‘stick’ to it in the environment. They disintegrate into microplastics and accumulate in organisms that eat it. Also, chemicals ‘stick’ to it. 
    • Reduce your plastic consumption (bags, small bottles etc.) Re-use whatever plastic you have. Make sure it doesn’t end up in the environment. If you can, pick up the plastic waste you see on your way and put it in the garbage.
  •  In 2009 all countries (Stockholm Agreement) agreed to stop using the next substances: 
    • PCB’s (or Polychloorbifynil), used as electric isolation fluid, cooling fluid. 
    • PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), makes fabrics water repellent, for example raincoats.
    • PBDE’s (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers), used for flame retardants. 
    • Has this Stockholm Agreement been translated in your national laws? If not, you can write your MP about it.

The good news: if we succeed, the plankton will restore itself

If we can take the brakes off the ecosystem by allowing the plankton to grow, then recovery could be really quick. It would take ten to twenty years for plant biomass to double on land. But, it just takes only 3 days for biomass to double in the oceans! 

Trees take many years to remove CO2 from the atmosphere 

Marine Algae take just a few days to remove CO2 from the atmosphere

Marine Bacteria take a few hours to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and grow 1,000,000 times quicker than terrestrial plants.

And the damage done? Plankton that is killed by toxic combinations end up on the ocean floor. We don’t know the impact of the plastic and toxic chemicals on the sediment. But, it may be that the chemicals and plastic could be locked out and no longer create a hazard. This would be a good news story and would give hope for the future of the oceans.

Start now

If we follow the current strategy of climate change mitigation, we will be too late to stop the acidification of the ocean. In ten years, the pH will reach 7.95 which will cause run-away climate change. If we just could stop the use of Oxybenzone, we could probably gain an extra 10 or 20 years to fix the ocean pollution problem. We must do this now because in a decade it will be too late; the oceans are going to be too acid. And we need healthy oceans to stop climate change.

If we stop toxic chemical pollution and clean up our plastic environment, we will be able to develop a sustainable ecosystem and reverse the effects of climate change. You can stop being worried and start taking care. Do what you can yourself. Use your consumer-power. Help your government reach the climate-goals and question them about the chemical pollution. Create a clean wave!

Motivation is plenty. It is good for the economy. It prevents a climate migration of millions of people. And, if we start now, we can restore the health and beauty of our planet. 

This is the last in a series of articles based on the presentation and articles by Dr. Howard Dryden from GOESfoundation and Diane Duncan from Clean Waterwave Foundation.  For more detailed information and insight please check their websites.

You can read the previous articles on our website:

Why plankton has decreased by 50% in 50 years 

Two causes of climate change 

Ya hears a warning from the ocean 

Why plankton has decreased by 50% in 50 years

Plankton, so important for our oxygen and to absorb our CO2 production, is in danger.

picture showing plankton life with toxic danger in the background

PCB’s, DDT, PFOS, Dioxins, Methyl mercury, oxybenzone or microplastics… We don’t see most of what is harming marine life – and ours.

Since the 1950s, the chemical revolution, it has decreased by 50%, and it continues to decrease with 1% per year.  Reduction of plankton is most likely caused by chemicals that kill the plankton and the coral reef.

Vivid colors of coral become increasingly rare

Even very small amounts of PCB’s, DDT, PFOS, Dioxins, Methyl mercury and UV-filters like oxybenzone are toxic for marine life. Also add plastic to this list, because either these substances are a component in plastics, or they will easily bind to it in the environment. 

46,000 pieces of macro plastic per square kilometer, killing more then 1,000,000 seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals, whales and seals every year.

Microplastics adsorb many of the chemicals and concentrate them by the thousands. Plankton eat micro plastics. This is why the plankton are dying at a rate of 1% year.

This is a shrimp. Every shrimp, fish, or  living organism in the oceans contain chemicals and 1 in 15 contain micro-plastic.

A sour story of the oceans

CO2 is highly soluble. It dissolves in seawater. Then it forms carbonic acid. And with less plants and plankton in the water to absorb the CO2, the amount of carbonic acid in seas grows. Organisms can’t live in an environment with much acid. So, more plants and plankton die, et cetera. 

Before 1950 the ocean was constantly alkalic (the opposite of acidic). But since then, it is acidifying rapidly. The acidification will soon come to a critical point where many life forms cannot survive.

The IPCC worked out several scenarios for the acidification. If we continue our present consumption and production (scenario RCP8.5), the acidification will continue.  Only with the strictest scenario on reducing CO2, methane and sulphur dioxide (RCP2.6) we can turn the tide – if we start now.

Graph showing pH levels with 2 IPCC scenarios (RCP2.6 and RCP8.5)

Before the chemical revolution in the 1950s the pH of the oceans was 8.2 to 8.3. Currently, the oceanic pH is about pH 8.06. The acidification will continue to a pH of 7.9-7.95 in about 25 years. From then, most carbonate-based life forms will not be able to survive.

Dominos falling

With many marine life dying, the ecosystem will change rapidly. Like a set of dominos: when one group of organisms dies, another group depending on it, will die, and so on, through the complete food chain. After a couple of years, we will then lose all the whales, seals, birds, fish as well as the food supply for a big part of our world population.

Magnificent marine life, something we can only watch in aquaria in the years to come?

We humans, at the end of the food chain, lose our life support system. The survival of the next generation, of the humanity, comes into question. This is not supposition, or even a hypothesis. When we continue as we do, the dominos will fall in 25 years. 

This is about us, not only about whales

Plankton are the lungs of the planet upon which we all depend, but toxic chemicals are killing them. 

You and me, we, all the people, in industry, government and households, have 10 years to stop pollution of the ocean. Now we can prevent an immense loss of marine life, and life on earth, including human life. This is not about whales and dolphins, but about you, me and our beloved ones.

So, there’s work to be done. Read about it in our next blog on the warning from the oceans.


If you are interested in more literature, follow our links in the text or check out, where this blog is based on. 

Previous blogs in this series:

Two causes of climate change

Climate change is caused by the fast growing concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

picture showing the uneven balance between CO2 production and CO2 consumption

CO2 is a gas and creates a sort of ‘shield’ or ‘filter’ that makes less heat escape from the earth. So, the temperature of the atmosphere rises. The problem is caused by two things. First, by burning fossil fuels.

Just to give you an idea of how much each of the various sectors use:

figure showing the sources of CO2 emissions by sector worldwide

Sources of CO2 emissions by sector worldwide (

Second by less absorption of CO2 (the conversion back to carbon and oxygen). What can we do to influence these things?

1. What we can do: Reduce burning fossil fuels. 

Fossil fuels contain carbon. When fossil fuels such as coal, oil, or gas are burned, the carbon connects to oxygen from our air and so carbon dioxide or CO2 is created. This comes into our atmosphere.

NASA measures how much CO2 has increased in the last century and shows it in the picture below.

graph showing the growth of CO2 since 800.000 BC

For hundreds of thousand years the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has been about 200-250 ppm. But since the 1950’s we see the CO2 concentration rapidly growing. It has a strong correlation with the world growth of the industries on earth (picture:

What can we do?

We can reduce CO2, by burning lesser fossil fuels. Off course the government should moderate industry and entire sectors, for example by taxing the production of CO2. You can try influencing them. But don’t underestimate what you can do yourself right now. Every action you take can have a positive influence. So, if you want to stop worrying and start taking care, it basically comes down to one thing: Only use what you need (so, not more than you need). See if you can reduce your carbon footprint in a pleasant way, a way that works for you.

On the Ya we show some simple examples that you can easily follow: 

  • Buy (only) the products that you love and that will last for a long time. 
  • Heat only the rooms that you use and see if you can reduce by turning it down half an hour or an hour before you go to bed. 
  • Take shorter or less showers – better for your skin. 
  • Try vegetarian food: surprisingly good. 
  • Do your shopping locally so you don’t need to take the car. 
  • Avoid flying as much as you can. 
  • Install some water saving taps. 
  • Use a pressure cooker and a haybox.
  • If you need to change your kitchen appliances, choose replacements that use less energy.
  •  Or very simply: boil the amount of water that you need for your tea or your coffee, not more. 

All these things will help you to lessen your carbon footprint and in the meanwhile they will probably also save you money. For sailors we can add: if you can make the wind and the tide work in your advantage this saves you trouble and motoring hours. And it rewards you with more pleasant sailing.

picture showing fossilfree sailing yacht Ya

The ‘Ya’ gives various examples of staying fossilfree and live comfortably. Generally: just use what you need. For example: an induction stove  saves you 55% of CO2, compared to a gas stove.

2. Increasing the capacity to absorb CO2

We saw what produces CO2 and what we can do to reduce its production. But we can also look at the absorption capacity. Many organisms absorb carbon dioxide and convert it to carbon (for themselves, to grow) and to oxygen, that goes back in the atmosphere. In the sea it is the immense amount of plankton that is doing the main work, on land it is the growing plants. 

2a. The plants on land

You might think that our beautiful rainforests absorb most of our CO2. But when they die, they decompose, and will release exactly the same amount of CO2 that they absorbed while growing. Also, we burn parts of the rainforest, which also creates CO2. Over all, the rainforests are not the lungs of the earth. Mind you: the rainforests should be saved exactly for what gives them their name: the rain. They help regulate the temperature and humidity on our planet. 

Some plants on land do not release CO2 into the air when they die. The reason: because they stay under water. These plants grow in marsh lands, peat bogs, wetlands and mangrove swamps. The peat bogs of Scotland are therefore more important than the Amazon rain forest in terms of capturing CO2 and producing oxygen. But they only represent a small percentage of the planet. However, it’s good to be aware of this and, if you have the opportunity, help protect these environments.

picture showing the equilibrium of CO2 consumption and production of trees
picture showing the CO2 absorption capacity and the O2 generation capacity of plankton and wetlands

Plankton is our main absorber of CO2; the terrestrial plants in wetlands also contribute.

2b the plankton in the oceans is critically important

Our oxygen production and CO2 fixation mostly take place in the oceans. The water plants and organisms like plankton ‘eat’ the carbon of the CO2 and let the O(oxygen) go into the atmosphere. When they die, they fall down and sink incredibly deep, and so a high percentage of the carbon is locked and can’t be used to create CO2.  This is why our oceanic plankton is critically important. Think about it, plankton delivers most of the air we breathe. And this plankton is decreasing rapidly since the ‘50s. This takes away your breath doesn’t it? We’ll tell you more about the causes of this decrease and what you can do about it in our next blogs.

This article is the second in a series of four “Ya hears a warning from the ocean”. 

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