It’s easy to focus on bad news concerning the environment. More coverage of climate change, reusables, and pollution have created heightened concern worldwide. The IPCC’s Climate Report warned of grave and possibly unavoidable consequences.
Fortunately, governments and organizations across the planet have proved that change is possible. Here’s some of what they accomplished in 2018:
‘Single-use’ was Collins Dictionary’s word of the year.
Single-use, commonly referring to one time use plastic, became a buzz word after BBC’s Blue Planet II, which depicted Albatrosses regurgitating plastic to feed their chicks. The docuseries is streaming on Netflix.
Countries and companies worldwide have pledged to phase out a variety of plastic items, with a focus on plastic straws and bags. In fact, the European Union has vowed to ban all plastic products that have alternatives by 2021. Those without alternatives, such as sandwich wrappers, will be reduced by 25% by 2025.
Read more about the EU’s targets here: BBC News
Ecosia, an online search engine, helped to plant over 30 million trees.
These trees removed 1.3 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and helped those who really needed it.
The search engine, founded in 2009, uses ad revenue to support planting projects worldwide. Typically, it takes around 45 searches to plant 1 tree – this means that one new tree is planted each 1.1 seconds. While over 30 million trees were planted in 2018, almost 50 million have been planted thus far.
You can check out their progress and personal finance reports here: Ecosia
In California, a patch of redwoods will be preserved.
Patch is a relative term. At 738 acres, it is a 1/3 larger than the legendary Muir Woods and has almost 50% more old growth trees.
It was purchased this past year by San Francisco’s Save the Redwoods League from the Richardson family, who had owned it for the past century. Harold Richardson, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 96, considered the trees priceless and protected them his entire life. Until recently, even conservationists were unaware what his forest contained.
Now, the appropriately named Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve will be opened to the general public as a park and research observatory.
Read more about the reserve here: Save The Redwoods League
Floridian scientists stumble upon an accidental discovery.
Right before retiring, Dr. David Vaughan of Mote Marine Laboratory made a surprising discovery. As the Executive Director of Mote he worked with the facility’s research program on various projects, including the development of coral nurseries and reef restoration.
After years of little progress, scientists at Mote found that breaking one coral organism into multiple fragments helped it grow up to 25 times faster. This means that 2 years of growth can now happen in as little as 4 months with monitoring and care.
The lab is also experimenting with different pH in tanks to find corals more resilient to ocean acidification. These corals will buy time in helping protect fragile reef ecosystems around the world.
You can access an in depth interview with coral scientists here: PBS Coral Interview
Swiss business man donates $1 billion to preserving the environment.
Hansjörg Wyss, a swiss businessman, philanthropist, and conservationist, has pledged to donate $1 billion over the next 10 years. In turn, he hopes to protect 30% of the planet by 2030.
The donation will assist in sponsoring local conservation efforts and scientific studies, as well as raising public awareness on environmental issues. Wyss is confident that ambitious changes will be made while still attracting visitors and supporting economic growth.
To read his article in the New York Times, click here: Wyss Article
Environmental news isn’t always bad. Check out all the other good things that happened this past year:
5 year old convinces restaurant to ditch straws
Australia reduces plastic bag usage by 80% in 3 months
Scientists are replacing plastic with algae
World’s largest shipping company banning fossil fuels
Scientist finds a way to make energy from gravity
Tiny wind turbines for city dwellers
Marathon runners utilize edible water pouches
20 Year old gets hired to UN after planting 1 million trees by age 12