The world crossed several serious thresholds over the last couple of months and not in a good way either – highest ocean temperatures, lowest Antarctic sea ice, record breaking wildfires in Canada, heatwaves in Siberia, so it's easy to lose sight of the good things which are happening around the world. Just so we don't all become paralysed by inaction, I want to mention some of those today. This list is not comprehensive. If you’d like more of the same including good news in medicine, literacy and Human Rights see Future Crunch. Other info has come from various sources such as Twitter, The Guardian and other independent news outlets as indicated.
China has officially reserved and area the size of western
Europe on the Tibetan plateau to safeguard wildlife, water supplies, reverse
environmental degradation such as deforestation, desertification and to mitigate
against the effects of climate change. If successful, this will have a profound
impact not only upon major rivers which flow from it such as the Yangtze, the
Yellow River, The Brahmaputra, the Indus, The Mekong and the Irrawaddy, but also
the surrounding nations such as India, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan. It is also greening approximately four million acres in the Loess Plateau.
In Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia have come to a transboundary conservation agreement about their shared river basins on the lower Zambezi and Mana Rivers. These incorporate many protected areas including the UNESCO recognised Mana Pools World Heritage Site.
India has continued to increase its Tiger reserves from 9 to 54, improving not only Tiger numbers but protecting many other species as well. It also sees the reserves as providing a mitigating factor in the fight against Climate Change because they would otherwise have been cleared, resulting in the release about one million tonnes of CO2.
Australia has tripled the size of the protected area around Macquarie Island which lies between Tasmania and Antarctica and is home to many species of vulnerable birds, marine mammals and fish. Now approximately as big as Germany, the protected area will exclude fishing, mining and any other extractive industry.
In other good news for marine mammals in Australia, this year is expected to be a bumper season along the eastern seaboard as approximately 50,000 humpback whales make their annual migration from southern waters to the tropics for breeding between May and July.
As far as Australia's beleaguered Great Barrier Reef goes, commercial gill – netting is to cease by 2027 which will protect species such as dugongs, dolphins, turtles sharks and other endangered species. Queensland will asked to include Hammerhead sharks in its “no take” species and to remove nets and drumlines from more areas. Doing so in some places has already increased local fish stocks.
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell 68% in
April as soon as President Lula came to power.
Peru has restricted industrial fishing on its coast so that the first five miles are reserved for its 50,000 local fishermen who use more traditional methods. It specifically bans bottom trawling which damages and scrapes the sea floor of every living thing. Just as importantly it will use science -based quotas to determine allowable catches.
Better fish farming
In recent times ocean fish farming has been getting a bad rap for polluting, overcrowding and generally being unhealthy for fish and the environment. Now Norway, that pioneer of the farmed salmon industry, is once again revolutionising the industry by bringing it indoors.
The Biden Administration has protected a further 10-mile area around Chaco Culture National and Historical Park from mining for the next 20 years. This fascinating region in New Mexico is full of artefacts from an elaborate civilisation which occupied it until about the C12th. I studied this as part of an Archaeology course in Canada and it was just beginning to emerge that Climate Change may have played a role its decline as it depended heavily on irrigated agriculture, so this should be a lesson to all of us. It is also of significance to local and indigenous populations in the region.
UNESCO has recently recognised another 18 Geoparks – nominated for their outstanding geological and cultural importance and bringing the total of such parks to 195. Among the newly recognised are important sites in Brazil, two in Iran, four in Indonesia, one each in Malaysia, Spain, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland and Japan. While each is unique, they collectively tell the story of the earth – of vulcanism, dinosaurs, great upheavals such as the formation of oceans and the breakup of continents.
France is investing in 50,000 km of bike lanes by 2027 and 100,000 km by 2030. It is also providing funds for bike parking, for training 850,000 school children to ride and for helping people to purchase bikes.
Brussels reported that in May the EU produced more energy
from renewable sources than fossil fuels with 31 % coming from wind and solar with only 27% coming from fossil fuels. Only 10% came from coal and 15% came
from gas. In January renewables hit an all time high at 17%.and that trend is also set to continue.
In February 2020 the USA also generated more energy from
renewables than from coal, despite it being the dead of winter, another record which is likely to continue. Energy production from coal fell 25% in the first quarter of 2022, pushing it's market share to 17% while that of wind, utility- scale solar and hydro increased to 22%.
Denmark plans to remove all gas heating from homes by 2030. Fifty per cent of homes currently rely on gas and 30 -40% will be converted to district heating.
In the state of Victoria, Australia, the first of several large former brown coal fired power stations has just been converted into a giant battery for energy storage. More will follow as they reach the end of their working life.
Good News for Animals
New Zealand has banned live exports of livestock as of April 2023.
Canada will phase out toxicity tests on animals
The UK is issuing no new licences for animal testing in the cosmetics industry.
A completely vegan supermarket has opened in Nottingham, UK.
Good News for Activists
Despite draconian new protest laws being enacted in many countries - e.g. Australia, the UK and Canada, Australian climate protester, Deanna “Violet” Coco arrested in April 2022 for blocking one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, has had her sentence overturned. Her partner in crime has also been released, but under more stringent conditions. A scientist who blocked a Berlin bridge had all his charges dropped as well, though I don't recall his name.
The Scientist’s Rebellion
The world's scientists have had enough. No longer content to sit in their laboratories and issue dire warnings about where we are headed, they have taken to to the streets, chained themselves to banks, glued themselves to bridges and poured fake oil on the footpath outside the Shell headquarters in the UK.
All of the above and more have not come about by accident. They have happened because dedicated individuals, dedicated organisations, the general public and a few enlightened politicians have made it so. And let’s not forget the work of scientists and researchers who have been working away to not only gather the information we need, but also the means by which we may be able embark on a better course.
If all else fails and you feel despair creeping in, drop everything, admire the sunrise, spend time on the beach, in the forest or in your garden, to remind yourself how beautiful the world is and why it's worth saving.