With everything going on this past year, environmental news and its importance has been placed on a back burner, overtaken by pandemic related issues as well as social and political chaos. While it may be understandable that we are focused on other important news stories right now, 2020 is set to be the hottest year on record, and 2019 currently ranks 2nd. We’ve seen dramatic wildfires raging in the west and watched intense tropical storms brew in the oceans. Our planet is our home, and when your home is burning, polluted, over crowed, and carelessly neglected, its inhabitants are bound to suffer the consequences to their health, resources, and future sustainability. We owe it to ourselves, our children, future generations, and the other life that shares this planet with us to do all we can to repair the damage we have caused. Luckily, science is finding new ways every day to help replenish and sustain our aching Earth and its plants and animals.
If we are to make serious changes and save our home before it is too late, we must all play our part in paying attention to, voting in support of, and re-energizing the environment. While economic and social issues are incredibly important, we must realize that supporting the health of humanity and the natural bounty of Earth should come first. I took some time to read into some news stories from a few trustworthy sources that I thought you’d find interesting!
The Arctic Is the Warmest Its Been in 3 Million Years, and Its Having Devastating Effects
Temperatures in the Arctic have sky rocketed, and devastating heat waves continue to cause damage in the already delicate Arctic circle. Sea ice is receding faster than ever before, and these changes could result in major issues for the planet as a whole going forward. Water availability problems and food shortages could be a result of this devastation and climate change. “Zombie fires”, or holdover fires, are releasing dangerous amounts of carbon into the air and represent a major global problem, causing the Earth to warm at an accelerated rate. To add to the problems this delicate land is already facing, an article from the Environmental News Networks says, “Arctic dimming, the interference with sunlight caused by extreme pollution such as that at an industrial complex in northern Siberia, is killing trees and possibly affecting how trees respond to climate change.” Extreme pollution is literally preventing light from reaching the forest floor and regrowing any trees or vegetation that may show some resilience. The health of the Arctic and its life is incredibly important to the sustainability of the planet, and if we don’t take this issue seriously we will be greatly impacted in the near future. Ice loss is also increasing significantly in both Greenland and the Antarctic, with “Greenland being on track to lose ice faster than any century in 12,000 years.” Check out the articles below.
ENN – Arctic Dimming
Science Daily – Zombie Fires
PHYS.org – Warmest in 3 Million Years
Growing Demand For Metals Raises Risks for Communities and Environment
While moving towards renewable energy sources will be a great victory for the environment in the end, the hurdle of accessing resources, such as cobalt, nickel, lithium and iron to produce those technologies and electric cars will pose environmental risks of their own. Researchers have been looking at “hotspots”, or at-risk areas that will see major damage to the land and surrounding community if there is a mining boom. Dr. Lebre, one of the researchers at, says: “Major metals like iron and copper are rarely talked about in the energy transition discussion, but they will be needed in large quantities, and are set to disturb big chunks of land as production volumes increase. Australia, the United States and China will be the most affected, having the largest clusters of mines located in potential high-risk contexts. Good governance in these countries will be key to ensure the energy transition happens without unleashing unacceptable social and environmental impacts induced by mining.”
It is incredibly clear that no matter where you live, paying attention to what the elected officials in your area plan to do about the environment, mining, and natural resource protection is of utmost importance. As we near election time in the U.S., please make sure you’re voting for candidates who believe in renewable energy and have the knowledge and conscience to do so responsibly. We must find the balance between creating a world built on renewable resources and protecting the natural lands, waterways, and beauty we still have access to.
Plastic Eating Enzymes Will Help Us Combat Pollution
Scientists have been studying plastic eating enzymes that can break down this waste and help save us from pollution and littering. By combining a previously studied enzyme, PETase, with another partner enzyme known as MHETase, they have created a “cocktail” that can eliminate plastic waste 6 times faster than the original enzyme alone!
“PETase breaks down polyethylene terephthalate (PET) back into its building blocks, creating an opportunity to recycle plastic infinitely and reduce plastic pollution and the greenhouse gases driving climate change. PET is the most common thermoplastic, used to make single-use drinks bottles, clothing and carpets and it takes hundreds of years to break down in the environment, but PETase can shorten this time to days,” the article reads.
Carmakers’ Leather Use is Fueling Rapid Deforestation
Mega car brands BMW and Land Rover are being scrutinized for their contribution to heartbreaking deforestation and land loss in South America, much of which is threatening some of the most vulnerable tribes in the region. “the automakers buy leather for vehicle interiors initially sourced from cattle ranching on illegally grazed land in a part of Paraguay that is home to one of the world’s last tribes with no contact with outsiders. Our investigation highlights the urgent need for EU and UK legislation mandating car companies and other industries to conduct proper due diligence,” major group Earthsight reports. However, despite efforts to bring this urgent matter to attention and ease environmental suffering, trade groups working with the automotive industry have lobbied European governments to take these laws less seriously or even deny regulations entirely. It is extremely important we hold these car giants and lawmakers accountable moving forward.
Australian Fossil Fuel Projects Approved
Approval was announced in New South Wales for two new fossil fuel projects to begin, joining a recent approval in Queensland for a massive mining project as an effort to relieve the economy and create jobs since the destruction of both the bushfires and pandemic outbreak. However, the projects have been largely opposed by Australian residents.
“Almost 90 percent of Australians believe that climate change is a critical or important threat, according to a recent poll by Sydney’s Lowy Institute. Drought and water shortages—worsened by climate change—are seen as the top threat facing the country, above even the pandemic and the global economic crisis,” the article reads. The problem is that Australia is extremely rich in natural resources and fossil fuels, and has rose to become the world’s 3rd largest exporter; many officials see these projects as a way to revive the country.
These projects will disturb a large area of koala habitat, much of which was already lost to the most destructive bushfire season in history.
Rooftop Farming Success in Singapore
Singapore is a small and densely populated city-state that has grown dramatically, now packed with high rise buildings and skyscrapers. Farming used to be common in the region, but now less than 1% of land is dedicated to agricultural use due to this growth. Currently, Singapore is importing 90% of its food. This is a problem the area has been seeking to solve, especially since trade tensions and the pandemic have brought further awareness to the severity of the issue.
“Authorities last year said they were aiming to source 30 percent of the population’s “nutritional needs” locally by 2030, and want to increase production of fish and eggs as well as vegetables. With coronavirus increasing fears about supply-chain disruption, the government has accelerated its efforts, announcing the rooftops of nine car parks would become urban farms and releasing Sg$30 million ($22 million) to boost local food production,” the article explains.
So far, the city seems to be seeing excellent results and positive impact to human health, environment, and food supply! Wouldn’t it be amazing if this trend continued in cities around the world?
Pesticides Harmful to Bees Approved For Use in U.S.
“In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of sulfoxaflor on crops that attract bees, such as cotton. In 2019, the agency approved its use in most circumstances, but it retained restrictions on applying the insecticide to blooming plants that may attract bees. The second insecticide involved in the study, flupyradifurone, is currently approved for agricultural use by the EPA without these restrictions.”
Under the current administration and against rising concerns about environmental policy and pollinator health, the EPA continues to reduce protections and approve measures such as these.
Researchers at the University of Texas Austin have been reviewing 19 studies done on the pesticides sold as “Sivanto” and “Transform WG.” These pesticides have effects similar of neonicotinoids, which have been banned in several other countries around the world. These pesticides can cause death or other harmful effects such as loss of reproductive ability to the over 4,000 species of bees in North America as well as other beneficial insects.
By purchasing organic food and protesting, speaking out, and voting against pesticide use we can help protect the life of our pollinators as well as the survival of our own kind. Here are some other ways you can help protect bees.
Even with so much going on all around us, it is vital that we do not forget the importance of environmental health, as it is a direct connection to our own. We only have this one beautiful planet to treasure and preserve, and it is the job of each of us to stay informed and vigilant about what is happening to our world. We can change the course of the future by making decisions each day that benefit the environment. ❤ The Earth appreciates it in ways we’ll never know!