Positive Sustainability Stories
With the current climate status and our global pandemic, there has been a lot of negative news emerging about the development of climate change and new variants. When deciding on what to write about, I realized something: I do not remember the last time that I read something that made me smile. Knowing that there is a lot of negative environmental news progressing, I decided to dig deep, and I learned that there is in fact a lot of positive progress in the environment. Maybe not as fast growing as the negative issues, but this is the hope we need to encourage more positive change. So here are some things that the world is benefiting from.
As many of us know, The Great Barrier Reef is bleaching and dying. As time goes on, the threat of the world losing one of its largest world wonders looms. Due to this, scientists have come up with a creative solution dubbed as “coral IVF”. Once a year, coral go through a process called spawning. This is when corals release hundreds and millions of little egg-like structures. If these spawns were left in the Great Barrier area, there would be little chance of them to thrive due to the surrounding conditions. To improve their odds, scientists gather the coral spawns during this season and grow these corals in healthier water and tanks. Once the corals are mature enough, hundreds of mature coral are replanted in the damaged reef. The goal is that over time these healthy coral will multiple and take over the current damage (Coral).
The Giant Panda
In the 1980’s the giant panda was officially considered endangered. Their population dropped drastically, and this was due to the desire for the giant panda. Wealthy people and zoos wanted them for their fur and exotic appeal, respectively. The Chinese government considered this to be an urgent matter that needed to be fixed. Years later as of 2021, the Chinese government has declared pandas to no longer be extinct. This was because of large efforts put in by the Chinese government and zoologists around the world. Strict laws have been passed in order to protect pandas from poaching, with punishment including a minimum jail sentence of 10 years or even death. In addition to this, China and surrounding countries have committed to raising and breeding pandas in captivity and then releasing them. It took 30 years to get to this point (Obermann). China also has declared the habitats of the panda will be protected by law. All of these rigorous efforts have led to a new, healthy, and growing population of giant pandas in the wild (How).
The Tequila Fish
This fish is native to many rivers in Mexico. It is very small, about 2.5 inches in size. It plays a very vital role in the ecosystem. They eat mosquito larvae which helps to decrease the spread of dangerous diseases carried by mosquitoes. As well as an essential food source for many local birds. They have been going on a population decline since the 2000’s, but little effort was been made to conserve this species. In 1990, scientists tried to stop the low population pattern towards extinction but had little to no success. In 2003, the Tequila Fish was officially considered to be extinct. There is little information as to why they went extinct, but the prediction is that the combination of river pollution and the introduction of invasive species killed them out. 15 years ago, Michoacán University began their conservation efforts. Many doubted them, but as of today they have reintroduced 2,000 Tequila Fish to freshwaters in Mexico. As of 2022 and recent conservation efforts, the Tequila fish is no longer considered an extinct species (Durn).
The Discovery Of A New Reef System
It has been in the news that there has been significant amounts of coral bleaching happening in our oceans. Reefs have been deteriorating slowly, and scientists are coming up with new ways to nurse the reef systems back to health. In 2021, a new and large reef ecosystem was found off the coast of Tahiti. It spawns over three kilometers and is mainly dominated by a rare rose coral. Researchers say that this reef system appears to be over 20 years old and has no signs of coral bleaching or disease. This is amazing news and not commonly heard when talking about reef systems in the 21st century. This span of coral has created its own community filled with thousands of different species of fish and habitats for these creatures. Fingers crossed humans can learn from their mistakes and protect this beautiful piece of nature (Horton).
Larger Marine Reserves
The Galapagos Islands have been known to have some of the world’s most unique and beautiful creatures. For conservation and climate change efforts, the president of Ecuador created a protected marine reserve of 133,000km2 that is one of the largest in the world. As of the beginning of 2022, the president of Ecuador has declared that this large marine reserve will be extended 66,000 km2. Making this one of the largest reserves in the world. This is amazing news for marine life as they have been threatened by overwhelming human activity off coast lines and also an overwhelming amount of human waste and pollution (Al Jazeera).
The EU Going Carbon Neutral
As of July 2021, the EU proposed a plan to go carbon neutral by 2050. This is major news as it is one of the few governmental powers to be making a plan to create a huge shift within sustainability. The goal for this will be to tax things such as jet fuel, diesel, and at home heating materials (Gas) to discourage extensive use and to raise funds. In addition to this they will provide services to lower income households to increase insulation of their homes so they can start using less heat and power. They pledge to shift their local industries to become more sustainable. They want to “give humanity a fighting chance.” It is expected that there will be a lot of backlash from industries that heavily produce carbon emissions. Many business people claim that this will cause a crash in their stock value. The EU claims that this will have no impact on the economy as previous goals similar to this one have been put into place and successfully completed (EU).
Stop Invasive Plants In New York
New York City has had an issue with multiple invasive plants such as English ivy, mugwort, poison ivy, and many more. A creative solution to controlling these growths has been introduced. The Riverside Park Conservatory has been releasing dozens of goats around the park to graze on these invasive plants and encourage population control. According to the organization, the free food makes the goats happy, and the goats make the park goers happy! Invasive plants have been a problem for 15 years, and the city has finally found a successful, effective, and cheap solution. The introduction of the goats has also stopped gardeners from using harmful pesticides which is another positive coming out of this project for the local environment. After the project date most goats were removed, but five of them stayed at the park to continue grazing. Many local scientists have also approved that it is indeed safe for the goats to be consuming these plants as some people expressed concern for the goats eating plants such as poison ivy.
Al Jazeera. “Ecuador to Expand Marine Reserve around Legendary Galapagos.” Climate Crisis News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 2 Nov. 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/11/2/ecuador-to-expand-marine-reserve-around-legendary-galapagos-islands.
Arsenault, Chris. “Five Good-News Environmental Stories from 2021.” Environment News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 28 Dec. 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/28/five-good-news-environmental-stories-from-2021.
“Coral IVF.” Great Barrier Reef Foundation, https://www.barrierreef.org/what-we-do/projects/coral-ivf.
Durn, Sarah. “Inside the International Effort to Save One Tiny Mexican Fish.” Wired, Conde Nast, 29 Jan. 2022, https://www.wired.com/story/inside-the-international-effort-to-save-one-tiny-mexican-fish/.
“EU Unveils Sweeping Climate Change Plan.” BBC News, BBC, 14 July 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-57833807.
Horton, Ben Anthony. “Oceanographers Rejoice after Pristine Coral Reef Discovery in Tahiti.” Euronews, 21 Jan. 2022, https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/01/20/we-know-so-little-oceanographers-rejoice-after-pristine-coral-reef-discovery-in-tahiti.
“How China Protects Giant Pandas – Pandas Now Not Endangered!” How China Protects Pandas, Pandas Now NOT Endangered!, https://www.chinahighlights.com/giant-panda/protect-panda.htm.
Obermann, Kyle. “China Declares Pandas No Longer Endangered-but Threats Persist.” Animals, National Geographic, 2 Sept. 2021, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/pandas-are-off-chinas-endangered-listbutthreatspersist#:~:text=China%20declares%20pandas%20no%20longer%20endangered%E2%80%94but%20threats%20persist,Competition%20with%20native&text=But%20this%20summer%2C%20pandas%20also,efforts%E2%80%94are%20no%20longer%20endangered.