Coming closer to the end of the year, it is quite natural to take a step back and review what has happened in the course of the past 12 months. When it comes to making steps towards better environment, there is quite a lot to ask for, this is for sure. Nevertheless, we managed to make some great leaps forward as well.
So let’s take a look at the Top 10 environmental milestones, which we should be proud of this year.
1. Record breaking use of renewables
2018 is a record breaking year for renewable energy in the U.S. (despite the great efforts of some politicians to bring back the nation to the dark ages). The huge success comes thanks to companies like Apple and Facebook, who continued to invest heavily in clean energy. Across the ocean, in Europe, another milestone was reached. Here the renewables became the leading energy source, overtaking coal for first time in history. And yes, of course, China is following very closely.
2. The ozone hole became smaller
This is almost unbelievable. The United Nations announced that the ozone hole is finally becoming smaller, and there is a high possibility that it disappears within our lifetime. We just have to ensure that the imposed environmental policies continue to be strong, and continue to raise in number.
Let’s keep up the good work!
3. Latin America gained new protected areas
If we could, we would protect all natural areas that are homes to millions of species, both plant and animal. Unfortunately, due to many different reasons, often not even well-justified, many of these areas are unprotected, making them vulnerable and available to be destroyed. Peru and Chile, however, decided to put an end to this, and created two new enormous national parks. The one in Chile spreads over one million acres, while the one in Peru is twice as large.
Super Well done!
4. Also in Latin America- official protection of environmental defenders
It is hardly news anymore that Latin America is quite dangerous for outspoken activists. Unfortunately, the environmental defenders are among the easiest targets. However, this year, twelve countries signed a treaty, which protects environmental defenders and gives them the right to speak louder when it comes to development projects.
5. Launch of a new weather monitoring satellite
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched the highly anticipated GOES-17 satellite in March, 2018. Since then, the sensors on board have provided key data, which help scientists make much more accurate predictions of weather temperatures and devastating events. The benefits are many, from saving lives by issuing early warnings for natural disasters, to helping farmers adopt climate-smart agricultural practices with much stronger confidence.
6. Signed act to clean up marine garbage
This is something that you would not expect to read when the sentence starts with “President Trump..”, but he actually did something good for the environment this year. He signed the Save Our Seas Act in October this year, acknowledging the problem of marine pollution, and putting a start to cleaning it up.
7. The Pacific islands- leaders on environmental issues
It is quite understandable that the governments across the Pacific islands are concerned about the consequences of climate change. Raising sea levels will affect these islands first and the most. Almost all nations took some measures these year, which are remarkable. In November, Palau banned sunscreens, which are harmful to the coral reefs. Fiji’s prime minister made a strong statement, urging the world to start acting towards reducing emissions and global temperatures. And of course, the president of the Marshall Islands,led the first virtual climate summit. The setup aimed to show that leaders can meet, without having to fly across the world on polluting airplanes.
8. Climate change conference in Katowice
The United Nations once again gathered all the greatest world powers, this time in Katowice, Poland. The aim of the meeting is to discuss the progress following the Paris agreement, signed in 2016, and make sure all actions are carried out. All forces are directed towards cutting down emissions and reducing the rate of raising temperatures.
9. Species show recovery
This year was very special for the lesser long-nosed bat. In April this year, it became the first ever bat to make it out of the Endangered Species List. The recovery of the species happened thanks to many years of strict conservation work, and complete transformation of farming practices, which previously endangered the bat. Another animal that can celebrate is the Yellowstone’s Grizzly bear, which also came off the list a few months after the long nosed-bat. Conservationists consider these cases a huge success and a clear proof that the Endangered Species Act works.
10 ..and a special for our American friends- wave goodbye to Scott Pruitt
I am very sure that most of our US readers know very well, who Scott Pruitt is and why we are celebrating his downfall. However, for those, who are not familiar, here are some details. Pruitt was the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency- the only one in the history of this position to not only deny climate change, but also to stop key environmental legislations from being put forward. Luckily for all environmentalists, Pruitt was using tax-payers money for personal travels and security, which ultimately brought him down.
Image (c) NASA