Climate change as a human rights issue: Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland, Former United Nations High Commissiner for Human Rights and CEO of Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice speaks about looking at climate change as a human rights issue.

The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice is a centre for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change who are usually forgotten – the poor, the disempowered and the marginalised across the world.

The Blaschka models


A special collection housed in the National University of Ireland, Galway Marine Biology and Zoology museum consists of over 100 ‘Blaschka models’. The father-and-son team of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka produced beautiful, intricate glass representations of marine animals, originally developed as educational models. They are now considered to be works of art, with a value that makes them irreplaceable.

The models were acquired in the late 1800s by Professor R.J. Anderson. They consist of beautiful representations of marine life including delicate sea anemones and radiolarians, intricate nudibranchs and many complex models of dissected animals such as that of the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis.


The Blaschkas came from a family of glass craftsmen that originated in 15th century Venice. Initially, the Blaschka family made a living from manufacturing jewellery, scientific apparatus and glass eyes. However, when Leopold moved to Dresden, Germany in 1863, he was brought into contact with the director of the local natural history museum, where his plant models were exhibited. Thus he began a sideline producing natural history models, and was eventually joined by his son Rudolph. In total, the Blaschkas produced intricate glass models for a period spanning over 70 years in the late 19 th and early 20 th century.


The Blaschkas are best known for the collection of glass flowers that they produced for Harvard University, a collection that included approximately 850 life-size plants and 3,000 enlarged flowers. In recent years, however, the Blaschka’s earlier work, glass models of marine life, has attracted more attention. These models were originally based on zoological illustrations of the time, which led to some mistakes in accurate reproduction of specimens. Learning from this, they later based their models on preserved animals, and finally, live animals housed in an aquarium in the Blaschkas’ studio. Reproducing such intricate patterns in glass required a high level of technical skill, and the Blaschkas have been recognised as gifted craftsmen. The scientific accuracy of the models, combined with the beauty of the coloured glass, makes the models very valuable to natural history museums.

via Welcome to the Zoology and Marine Biology Museum.



Protecting Grenada’s Marine Life

From their earliest memories, Cecil McQueen and Coddington Jeffery have always loved the water. One a fisherman, the other a scuba diver, they both have spent their childhood and adult lives on the Eastern Caribbean island of Grenada. McQueen and Jeffery are the first two wardens of the Molinière-Beauséjour Marine Protected Area (MPA) along the southern coast of Grenada. The Grenada Fisheries Division, with support from the Chemonics implemented USAID Caribbean Open Trade Support program, has created three MPAs around Grenada to raise awareness about environmental threats to marine life and also provide these areas with the same protection given to many national parks.

Plastic pollution

Surprising Amount of Trash Found on Deep-Sea Floor
Surprising Amount of Trash Found on Deep-Sea Floor

One of the greatest threats to the ocean is also one of the most insidious because chances are it’s so mundane you don’t even notice it. Look around you right now: how much plastic do you see? The ocean is downstream from all of us so no matter where we live, so we can all help address the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean. Each year a huge amount of plastic eventually makes it into coastal waters and harms ocean life. Many animals such as seabirds, sea turtles, dolphins, and whales die every year from plastic entanglement or starvation because they fill up their stomachs on plastic they mistake for food. Take action for the oceans and prevent plastic from harming ocean wildlife!

Reduce plastic use . Help stop plastic pollution at its source! As consumers, we each have the power to reduce demand. And if you encourage family and friends to do the same, the more the more good we can do to keep the ocean clean and safe. Here are a few disposable plastic products everyone can reduce in our daily lives:

Plastic water bottles. Invest in a reusable water bottle, and filter water if necessary. Help the ocean and save money; it’s a win-win for you and the blue. On average, Americans now use 4 plastic water bottles a day—the highest ever recorded! Let’s turn the tide against wasteful plastic consumption.

Plastic bags. People use nearly 1 trillion plastic bags each year, and unfortunately, many of those end up ingested by sea turtles that mistake plastic for jellyfish. Remember to bring a reusable bag for food (including vegetables) and other shopping and save a life!

Straws, cups to-go, food containers, and utensils. Bring your own reusable products like mugs when you get coffee and take a pass on the plastic utensils when you get take-out food. And if you must have a straw, there a number affordable options!

Be aware of packaging. Pay attention to how much incidental plastic that comes with what you buy—your candy, headphones, pens, etc., all come in plastic packaging. Strive to cut down on your daily plastic consumption and reward corporations that package responsibly!

Take action!

  • Hold a ‘Switch for the Sea’ contest! Ask friends and family to switch one of their disposable plastic habits for a sustainable, ocean-friendly one: such as bringing reusable food containers from home when eating out for your ‘doggie bag.’
  • Organize an aquatic clean-up! Head out to your nearest and dearest body of water with some friends and pick up all the trash you find. You’ll be surprised at how much of it is plastic.
  • Ban the bag in your town (or country!). Many communities around the world are banning plastic bags from being used at their stores. Learn how to start a campaign to stop plastic bags use in your town!