5 reasons to be positive about the environment in 2018
Safe to say, there isn’t a great deal of good news about the environment at the moment. After a summer of record heat, some of the worst wildfires in history, never ending feeds of pictures showing plastic filling the worlds oceans and drought in five states in Australia it’s easy to feel downbeat and wonder if your efforts to live a lower impact life are futile.
And whilst we cannot deny the signs are bad and that now more than ever the world needs people like you to stay positive, to keep on fighting the good fight both in your everyday life and on a wider scale, there are reasons to be positive.
Here are just a few of the brilliant things to feel positive about regarding the environment.
The five pence plastic bag charge has been a catalyst for tackling plastic pollution in the UK
In 2015, the UK started charging shoppers across the country for plastic carrier bags. Today, if a customer needs a plastic carrier bag, they must pay five pence for it. The goal? To encourage consumers to consider whether they really need a plastic bag.
The charge had an almost immediate effect; in 2016, the Great British Beach Clean organised by the Marine Conservation Society found that the amount of plastic bags on British beaches was down 37% just a year after the charge was introduced. Today, in 2018, plastic bag usage has dropped by 85% in the UK.
The plastic bag charge has also been a catalyst for wider conversation and calls for change leading to plans to ban plastic straws and to bring back bottle return schemes. Plastic pollution is now in the news daily in the UK and people are putting increasing pressure on the Government and Corporations to effect change.
The World Bank has announced it will no longer fund oil and gas exploration
At the end of 2017, The World Bank took a major stand against the fossil fuel industry. The organisation will withdraw almost $1 billion in annual loans from oil and gas groups. Their goal? To end all investment in fossil fuels by the end of 2019. By 2020, they are also aiming to invest a minimum of 28% of their lending into environmental causes.
Excitingly, in the same vein, this July Ireland announced that it will become the first country to divest from fossil fuels. A bill passed by the Irish parliament means more than €300m shares in coal, oil, peat and gas will be sold ‘as soon as practicable’ and investments made in sustainable energy solutions.
Just last month Ireland was ranked the second worst European country for climate action, so the passing of this bill is a huge step forwards and marks a significant positive change.
Scientists have bred coral from the Great Barrier Reef and transplanted it back into the wild
Sadly, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the negative news stories you have likely seem about the environment recently. It is in a period of massive decline due to coral bleaching; a process where coral (a living creature) expels algae. The algae is in a symbiotic relationship with the coral and without it, bleached coral loses 90% of its energy and is unlikely to survive. The cause of coral bleaching? Rising sea temperatures.
This is a huge challenge as coral reefs, as well as being a site of incredible natural beauty, are areas of huge biodiversity and the bleaching of these reefs can have a huge impact on other ocean life.
In 2017, a study showed that devastatingly between 29% and 50% of the Great Barrier Reef had been lost to coral bleaching. However, a trial in late 2017 showed that a new method of coral growing could work. Scientist collected coral spawn and eggs that they grew into larvae and matured into a coral in a lab. They then transplanted these young coral growths into damaged areas of the Great Barrier Reef. The coral thrived and have gone on to spawn showing that this could be an effective way to regrow the reef.
Honeybee populations are on the rise
Yes, that’s right! If you’re anything like us you follow the news about honeybees avidly and find their plight possibly one of the most preoccupying aspects of put environmental challenges. As bees are pollinators for a huge number of plant species on Earth, there were plenty of doomsday warnings related to the disappearing bees. And they’re not to be ignored.
We often hear that bees are disappearing and about the disastrous consequences this is having on our natural ecosystems. In 2006, ‘colony collapse disorder’ was first named. This is a phenomenon sees all worker bees leaving a hive and never returning. This leaves the queen and just a few nurses to care for the immature bees. Experts are not sure what causes colony collapse but infectious diseases, parasites, and pesticides are all suggested factors. From 2006 to 2012, beekeepers lost ten million beehives, nearly twice the normal rate.
However, and this is definitely a tentative however and a positive sign that we need to continue to work very hard to maintain, honeybee populations are slowly showing signs of recovery. The Department of Agriculture released a report ion 2017 showing an estimated 2.89 million bee colonies in existence in America. That’s 3% more than in the previous year.
We can all do our part to keep this trend going in right direction. Check out this article from Food Rush with details on how we can all help to save our bee populations.
Solar power is breaking records
2017 was a great year for renewables, but one particular source is proving extremely efficient; solar. According to reports from the UN’s environment division in 2017, alone solar power projects received $160.8 billion in investment. That’s 18% more than in 2016 and made solar power the most invested-in energy source in the world.
98GW of new solar capacity were installed around the world in 2017; far more than any other kind of energy generation. Excitingly, countries commissioned a record 157GW of capacity for renewable energy last year. That’s far higher than the amount of fossil-fuel generating capacity that was installed that year.
Global investment in green technology is growing year on year with more and more countries choosing to move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources.
What can you do? Choose a renewable energy supplier. It really is as simple as switching from an energy provider in fossil fuels to one investing in renewables. For example, at Acala we power our headquarters with renewable energy provided by Ecotricity. The cost is the same as a conventional supplier but this simple switch helps us reduce our carbon footprint significantly.
Check out this handy guide to choosing a renewable energy supplier written by our founder Hanna.
So there you have it, five exciting reasons to be positive about the environment and the future of our planet. We are by no means suggesting we should rest on our laurels but what is clear is that change is happening and that change is positive. We've all just got to keep fighting the good fight.
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