Struggling to keep up with the latest environmental news around the world? Well don’t worry we’ve got you covered! This week we’ve got some of the most popularly read stories about wildlife conservation, renewable energy, agriculture and pollution. If there’s a story or a topic you think we should’ve included, leave us a comment, message us on social media or send us an email and we’ll make sure to add it next week.
We’re going to start this list off with the wildlife conservation subject, as the majority of Bioweb’s writers and readers are wildlife nuts. 1st up is an excellently written article from The Economist, describing the controversial exploitation of sage grouse habitat for oil and gas exploration. The author provides as much adoration for the grouse as they do condemnation of Ryan Zinke. For all the non-American readers: Zinke is the Secretary of the Department of Interior, which is the department responsible for managing federal lands, like the protected areas native to the grouse. Now that you understand the context, follow link number 1 for more details
500 million Australian Dollars sounds like a lot of money, right? Well according to the website Quartz, it isn’t enough to save the great barrier reef, which has a global economic value of $9.9 trillion and is a habitat for 25% of the worlds marine life. While the Australian government’s sizeable environmental budget will be spent on important issues, the number one cause of coral bleaching, global warming, will require the efforts of more than one nation.
The longest story on this list comes from the Smithsonian’s website and is about a topic one of our own contributors has written about; the pet trade (http://bioweb.ie/trade-not-trade/). Why is it that we’re able to purchase species that are struggling in the wild? What kind of impact are we having on these animals and plants? Harrison Tassof goes into great depth on the subject and it’s worth setting aside some time to read it.
Now for our first bit of good news, via the World Economic Forum: A solar power plant is being built in Morocco that will take up as much space as the city of Paris and will generate enough electricity to power 650,000 homes. The development of this plant will undergo multiple phases and will play a big part in the Moroccan governments environmental goal to generate over half of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Did you think we’d leave you with just the one piece of good news? Well guess again. One of our pet peeves with the news in general is the tendency for it to be depressing and focus on the negative. This is particularly true when it comes to environmental news. So as we compile these lists, we’ll be making an effort to find at least a few stories to ease the blows from the usual emphasis on mass extinction and climate change. One boost for the environment that you may have read about a couple weeks ago was the EU’s decision to ban neonicotinoids, AKA the world’s most common insecticide. Well according to Reuters, the German government has decided to go further, cracking down on the use of other agrochemicals and offering subsidies to farmers that use more sustainable farming methods. Here’s hoping our own government follows suit.
When harmful pesticides are mentioned, the one company that comes to many people’s minds is Monsanto. Unfortunately, it is a company that is so much more than that and not in a good way. In Telesur’s article, the famous company’s history of damaging the environment and human lives is examined. While the topic of GMO crops is a complex one, which our contributors have written about both positively and negatively, Manmeet Sahni makes a compelling argument for the latter. Another interesting aspect of the article and something our vegetarian readers should be wary of is the focus on soybeans.
Now, for a product the Bioweb team have been meaning to write about ourselves. It is an ingredient that is so common, it is practically impossible to cut out entirely: Palm Oil. Greenpeace have just released a video of the deforestation of 400,000 hectares of rainforest in Indonesia. The article connects multiple companies to the destruction of protected areas, despite previously claiming that they are sustainable and avoid deforestation. It brings into question whether there is such thing as sustainable palm oil? To see this video, follow the link to EcoWatch.
On to our final topic: Pollution… Air pollution is something many people believe is localised in certain areas. We see images of the smog in places like Beijing and consider it unusual. Well according to the WHO, (no not the band, the World Health Organisation) 9 out of 10 people on the planet are exposed to toxic air pollution. Not only that, but an estimated 7 million people are dying from air pollution every year. For more on this check out The Hill.
While the previous article may have horrified many readers, over in Wales an amazing breakthrough has happened: A Welsh company has developed technology that can clean 99.5% of metals from river water. Environmental consultants from all over the world are eager to find out more about this portable treatment plan. “I don’t know how much more excited I could be in relation to the results that have been shown here” stated one expert from Natural Resources Wales. For more information visit the BBC’s website.
And finally, buried at the end of our list, due to the embarrassment of having this nation as Bioweb’s base of operation: Ireland has been found to be the worst culprit for plastic pollution in the EU… Actually, not only are we the worst, we dump almost twice as much plastic per person than the average European does! Up until recently we’ve been shipping 95% of our plastic to China, who have made the sensible decision to stop importing waste from overseas. To read more on this visit the World Economic Forum link above.