Monday, 30th October 2017

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It’s not just a planet, it’s home: Environmental victories of 2019

With climate change already upon us, the world needs to combat threats to the environment on war footing.

By Abhirup Dam in Kolkata
  • Published 30.12.19, 5:24 PM
  • Updated 31.12.19, 1:52 PM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Every passing day we are bleeding the earth dry. From depleting forest reserves, natural food sources, to incessant mining and drilling – our greed feeds the hunger for more. Shutterstock

Our everyday lives are replete with glorified images of consumption. We keep content, and often take pride in our modern lifestyles and conveniences. But little do we think that much of it comes at a great cost. Every passing day we are bleeding the earth dry. From depleting forest reserves, natural food sources, to incessant mining and drilling – our greed feeds the hunger for more. Global climate change is already upon us and 2019 heralded a global clarion call for immediate action with activists and conservationists at the helm of the movement. But when it come state polices, not much has happened after the resolution adopted at the Paris Accord in 2015. Like every year, the annual UN climate talks brought together the world’s nations to discuss imminent threats to the environment. Unfortunately the Conference of the Parties (COP25) had those, nations squabbling and evading responsibility. But thanks to a few concerted efforts, 2019 heralded some hopeful pieces of development for bettering the environment.

1

Plastic fees

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Akshar accepts plastic packets as school fees. The plastic is recycled for construction.
Akshar accepts plastic packets as school fees. The plastic is recycled for construction. Akshar Foundation's Facebook Page.
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Instead of collecting cash for tuition fees, a school in Assam asks student to students pay with plastic waste. Every week, the students of the Akshar School in Pamohi line up in front of the school with bags filled with bottles, straws, and wrappings. The plastic waste is then recycled in the schools recycling center.

2

A greener world

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Human activity in China and India dominates the greening of Earth, NASA study shows.
Human activity in China and India dominates the greening of Earth, NASA study shows. NASA Earth Observatory website.
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Thanks to human activity in India and China, the world is greener place than what it was twenty years ago, a NASA satellite study revealed. 

3

Iguanas are back

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Galapagos land iguana.
Galapagos land iguana. Shutterstock
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The last person to officially record seeing a land iguana on Santiago Island in the Galapagos was Charles Darwin in 1835. After that, iguanas were erased from the island, wiped out by invasive predators like the feral pig. But now, 184 years later, the lizards have made a return, thanks to an initiative by the Galapagos National Park authority. More than 1,400 land iguanas were taken from the neighboring North Seymour Island and released on Santiago Island.

4

Clean energy

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One-third of the global power capacity is now based on renewable energy. Image used for representational purpose.
One-third of the global power capacity is now based on renewable energy. Image used for representational purpose. Shutterstock
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According to data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a third of global power capacity is now based on renewable energy.  

5

New homes for wildlife

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A group of five islands is being developed on the Markermeer Lake in the Netherlands. Image used for representational purpose.
A group of five islands is being developed on the Markermeer Lake in the Netherlands. Image used for representational purpose. Shutterstock
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A group of five islands is being developed on the Markermeer Lake in the Netherlands to bring animals back to the area after it became devoid of wildlife.

6

Perishable plastic

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Prickly pear cactus.
Prickly pear cactus. Shutterstock
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Researchers from the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico have created a biodegradable plastic from the juice of the prickly pear cactus. The new material begins to break down after sitting in the soil for a month and when left in water, it breaks down in a matter of days. Plus, it doesn’t require crude oil like traditional plastics.

7

No to deforestation

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Peru has committed to ending palm oil-driven deforestation by 2021. Image used for representational purpose.
Peru has committed to ending palm oil-driven deforestation by 2021. Image used for representational purpose. Shutterstock
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Peru has committed to ending palm oil-driven deforestation by 2021. The National Wildlife Federation named the move a “momentous win” for wildlife and sustainable agriculture.

8

Bee vaccine

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Scientists in Finland have developed what they believe is the world's first vaccine to protect bees against disease.
Scientists in Finland have developed what they believe is the world's first vaccine to protect bees against disease. Shutterstock
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Scientists in Finland have developed what they believe is the world's first vaccine to protect bees against disease, raising hopes for tackling the drastic decline in insect numbers which could cause a global food crisis.

9

City homes for bees

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"Green roofs” are covered with sedum flowers and other plants, which act as an oasis for bees. Shutterstock
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Utrecht, a city in Holland, the Netherlands, gave makeovers to 316 bus stops, outfitting them with "green roofs”. The roofs are covered with sedum flowers and other plants, which act as an oasis for bees. 

10

Ducks to the rescue

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In Japan, farmers are now using ducks to protect their rice crops against pests instead of harmful pesticides.
In Japan, farmers are now using ducks to protect their rice crops against pests instead of harmful pesticides. Shutterstock
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In Japan, farmers are now using ducks to protect their rice crops against pests instead of harmful pesticides. The specially trained ducks are released into the paddy fields and feast on insects and weeds, which allows the rice crops to grow. The ducks even eat the weed’s seeds, preventing new weeds from growing around the plants.

11

Nature trumps oil

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Sunset aerial panoramic view on stunning mountains and village of Reine in Lofoten islands, Norway.
Sunset aerial panoramic view on stunning mountains and village of Reine in Lofoten islands, Norway. Shutterstock
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The largest party in Norway’s parliament withdrew support for explorative drilling off the Lofoten islands in the Arctic, which are considered a natural wonder.

12

Our land, our rights

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The indigenous Waorani people of Ecuador. Image used for representational purpose.
The indigenous Waorani people of Ecuador. Image used for representational purpose.
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The Waorani people of Pastaza won a historic ruling in Ecuadorian court, protecting half a million acres of their territory in the Amazon rainforest from being earmarked for oil drilling.

13

Saving White Rhinos

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White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.
White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum. Shutterstock
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After successfully harvesting 10 eggs from the world's last two northern white rhinos, Najin and Fatu in Kenya, an international consortium of scientists and conservationists announced that 7 out of the 10 eggs (4 from Fatu and 3 from Najin) were successfully matured and artificially inseminated. This might save the species from extinction.