4 bits of genuinely wonderful news to brighten the eco-gloom on World Environment Day
When reading about the environment, it’s easy to get the impression that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Temperatures are rising, natural disasters are becoming more common, and graphs are becoming increasingly worrisome — yet humanity’s countermeasures are tragically inadequate.
But, as tempting as it is to descend into doom mongering – or, even worse, defeatism – the news isn’t all terrible.
Here are a few bits of real excellent eco-news that have transpired since World Environment Day 2020 (June 5) to commemorate World Environment Day 2021 (June 5).
Species that were once thought to be extinct have resurfaced.
It’s nearly impossible to prove a negative, and the term “extinct” actually refers to anything that hasn’t been seen in a very long time. It’s not quite Jurassic Park, but numerous extinct species, including mammals, amphibians, and reptiles, have resurfaced on scientists’ radars in the last year.
Prior reports of three wild New Guinea singing dogs – long assumed to be extinct in the wild – living 14,000 feet up a New Guinea mountain were confirmed by DNA research. A 100-year-old Voeltzkow’s chameleon was discovered in a hotel garden in Madagascar, and a Bolivian expedition discovered lost species of frog (devil-eyed) and butterfly that had been thought to be extinct for the same time period.
The global share of wind and solar energy has doubled.
Carbon emissions may be the most soul-destroying of all the eco-areas most likely to depress you. Week after week of dismal news, but if you squint hard enough, a big 2020 Ember study on global energy did offer a glimpse of light.
Wind and solar energy generation has doubled in the last five years (2015-2020), accounting for roughly 10% of global electricity. Unfortunately, coal utilization declined by less than 1% throughout that time period. We’ll take everything we can get at this time.
Eastern behemoths make net-zero pledges.
Japan and South Korea, two massive East Asian economies, pledged in late 2020 to attain carbon neutrality by 2050, the same goal established by the European Union in 2019. The countries are currently the 5th and 7th highest carbon dioxide emitters, respectively. (This is a brief piece.)