It’s been a tough year. Instead of focusing on more bad news, we’ve rounded up the most encouraging environmental stories that made headlines this month
The climate crisis is overwhelming—and while we can easily get discouraged, we would rather focus on the amazing environmental wins each month to keep us motivated to protect our planet.
Here's our roundup of good environmental news from December...
1. How Black US farmers are reclaiming soil
Photo by Dan Meyers on UnsplashA growing movement towards encouraging Black-owned farms is addressing the lack of fresh, healthy food and land ownership in communities of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) in the USA. Portland State University’s Learning Gardens Laboratory is home to micro farms, including one called Black Futures Farm, which sells produce like west African Mustard Greens to restaurants. Micro farming is becoming a way to address the systemic racism that prevents Black people from gaining land and food sovereignty.
2. Newcastle to start new e-scooter project to get people out of their cars
Photo by Okai Vehicles on UnsplashAround 250 electric scooters are set to arrive in Newcastle, England by early 2021 and more are expected to be added throughout the year. This is in an effort to cut carbon emissions and encourage residents to get out of their cars. While there are safety concerns, plans are in place to create slow-zones, no-ride zones and no-parking zones. Electric scooters are a very green method of transportation and they’re fun to ride too.
3. Portuguese youth are leading a climate lawsuit against 33 countries
Photo by Pedro Santos on UnsplashA group of six Portuguese youth have been leading a climate change lawsuit against 33 countries. They recently cleared a major milestone in their legal action by getting the European Court of Human Rights to green light their climate lawsuit. The next step is for each defendant country (including Germany, France, the UK and Greece among others) to respond by February unless a settlement can be reached before then. This lawsuit aims to hold countries responsible for their climate inaction that is putting the future of youth worldwide at risk.
4. Scientists look to bright spots to revive coastal ecosystems
Photo by LI FEI on UnsplashScientists are now looking to bright spots to help revive coastal ecosystems. Bright spots are areas of coral reefs, salt marshes, mangroves, oyster reefs and kelp beds that have been able to achieve successful restoration in the past. By studying these areas, scientists can help save other coastal ecosystems still struggling to recover.
5. Climate change legislation included in USA coronavirus relief deal
Photo by Tim Hüfner on UnsplashNot only are environmental hopes running high in the USA after Biden’s win, but new legislation included in the coronavirus relief deal could help significantly too. The new legislation would require manufacturers to use significantly less coolants (also called hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs). HFCs make up just a small portion of greenhouse gases, but they have 1,000 times more heat-trapping power than CO2. They are mainly used in refrigerator and air-conditioning machinery.
6. Poland promises to close its last coal mine by 2050
Photo by Lachlan on UnsplashPoland still relies on coal for about 80 percent of the country’s power so its goal to close its last mine by 2050 is going to be no small feat. The country’s Belchatow coal-fired power station is the EU’s "single largest greenhouse gas emitter." Steps to reach Poland’s goals are already being taken. Just last week the country announced that its first electric car plant will begin operations in 2024. PGE, Poland’s largest utility which runs Belchatow, also has promised to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
7. Sustainable seaweed farming could help environment and Indian economy
Photo by Prabhu Jeganathan on UnsplashSeaweed is a very sustainable food source. The plant is actually a macro algae and absorbs carbon dioxide which is not released after the plant dies, but instead is deposited in ocean floor sediments. This means that growing seaweed is actually a kind of carbon sink that helps to fight climate change.
Under the sea’s surface surrounding Pamban Island or Rameshwaram, a sacred pilgrimage site in Tamil Nadu, a seaweed boom is taking place. Seaweed has been used as medicine in India for thousands of years but it hasn’t been used as much as in other Asian countries. Not only is seaweed farming helping the local economy, but seaweed farmers do not have to worry about soil degradation that many of the country’s land farmers do have to worry about. Another benefit is that seaweed is a great source of iodine, vitamins and proteins, so it’s not just a sustainable food source, but a healthy one too.