Goal 12 of the Sustainable Development Plan is “responsible consumption and production.” It is important to regulate the resources we consume to ensure that we are able to keep the environment healthy.
Goal 12 of the Sustainable Development Plan is “responsible consumption and
production.” It is important to regulate the resources we consume to ensure that we are able to
keep the environment healthy. Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay relates to this goal because
oysters are often over-harvested. They have many uses, but are primarily harvested for food.
Oysters are the keystone species of the Chesapeake Bay; they filter water through their gills
and collect the particles, expelling purified water. If oyster populations decreased drastically,
the health of the Chesapeake Bay would plummet. Limestone is similar to oysters in this way.
Limestone has several uses, so it is mined to a great extent. This harms the ecosystems
where limestone is being mined. The overconsumption of oysters and limestone greatly harms
their environments, causing animals to die and ecosystems to crumble. The amount of oysters
and limestone that we take from the environment must be reduced in order to meet Goal 12
and use natural resources responsibly.
Oyster farming is harvesting and replacing oysters back into their environments where
they belong, a perfect example of responsible production. This is a responsponsible tactic that
the oyster industry should apply to all their work. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Because of the overharvesting of oysters, the water risks contamination, which could harm the
animals, environment, and us. The loss of oyster reefs cause other animals to lose food and
habitats. Oyster reefs can actually be man-made and put in the ocean to help these animals.
This is one of the ways we can solve the oyster issue. Another big way is by using the millions
of oyster shells thrown away per year to make cement, instead of the vast limestone that is
also mined. “ We reuse oyster shells to grow new spat ‘baby oysters’. Baby oysters love to
attach themselves to other oyster shelves. So by us reusing oyster shells and putting them
back in the water, instead of the trash, gives new baby oysters a place to attach and grow.” (K.
Boyle, Personal Communication, February 21, 2018). If we regulate our consumption of
oysters like Kevin does then we would be able to replenish the oyster population as we deplete
it. By doing this we will be able to meet Goal 12 of the Sustainable Development Plan and
preserve the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystems.
Limestone is a mineral with many uses like cement, paper, and paint. Limestone
contains a key ingredient for Portland cement; calcium carbonate. When limestone is being
mined, the runoff from quarries flows into rivers and waterways that lead into the ocean. The
calcium carbonate enters the shells of oysters and forms a healthy shell. Cement is necessary
for construction and building, which creates high demand. Unfortunately, mining limestone is
negative for the environment because mining produces runoff which creates water pollution,
damaging animals habitats and the overall safety of water. Mining and blasting from the
quarries form sinkholes. Decreasing the amount of limestone mining in places like Portugal
would affect the limestone production rate but help the environment. The biggest natural
limestone reservatory in Europe is located in Western Portugal. In Portugal, there is the Serra
dos Candeeiros and the Serra d’Aire which belong to the Natural Park of the Serras d’Aire e
Candeeiros. This is where the extracting process of the limestone happens. There are about
400 quarries on these two mountains and they provide an enormous amount of jobs, giving
them a large economic value. While being a valuable source, there are many companies that
‘’break’’ the rules and over extract this resource. Many companies have to pay fines to local
governments, but continue to over extract causing substantial damage to the fauna and to the
flora of the mountains. To fight these issues, there are many laws that have been implemented
in Portugal to protect the area from the damage of this massive exploration such as the Plano
Ambiental e de Recuperação Paisagística (a plan to protect the environment and, in some
cases, regenerate the affected areas in order to recreate the landscape). The main objectives
of this plan are to guarantee that the impacts associated to the exploration of these quarries
don’t go further than the limits given by the government. Other objectives are to integrate the
quarry areas on the surveillance and territory management, reduce the amount of dust and
noise, minimize the visual and landscape impact, and assure the low costs of the flora
maintenance leading to a permanent equilibrated landscape. This is one of the most important
issues in Portugal, but most times, authorities do not give it the importance they should.
Oysters and limestone are both very important parts of the environment. Recently, there
has been a shortage of Portland cement. When the United States had a shortage of this
resource, the price steadily increases. Consumers started finding materials such as wood and
insulated steel they could use instead of cement and sometimes redesigned buildings to
eliminate the amount of cement they needed. This can be tied to our class goal of responsible
consumption and production because consumers had to think about how much cement they
were using and change their ways to not waste any resources. Recently, oyster reefs have
been under stress due to climate change and over-harvesting. The shortage of oysters is
similar to the shortage of cement because both cause consumers to use resources responsibly
and negatively affect the environment.
Overharvesting oysters and mining limestone has negatively affected its environments
and the species that rely on them. A positive way to achieve Goal 12 is by reusing oyster
shells to make cement, which helps conserve the limestone mined and keep space in landfills.
Making cement from oyster shells will help create more oyster reef balls, which positively affect
and help the environment.