August has come and gone. We’ve heard alot of news stories of late, that simply cannot be ignored.
As we’re sure youre aware, thousands of fires continue to ravage the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Much of the devastation is the result of man-made deforestation. They’ve been reported as the most intense blazes for almost a decade.
The nothern states of Roraima, Acre, Rondônia and Amazonas have been particularly badly affected. Huge fires have also been burning across the border in Bolivia. These fire have devastated swaths of the country’s tropical forest and savannah.
The Great Barrier Reef has also hit the headlines recently. It’s stablility has been officially downgraded from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ in a new report. This reports calls for urgent action on climate change and other threats to the natural wonder. Rising sea temperatures remain the biggest threat to the reef. Actions to save it “have never been more time critical”, the report goes on to read.
With all this negative press (and rightly so), we have once again scoured the media for some good news stories to share with you.
Read on to see our favourite good news stories from the month of August.
University bans hamburgers ‘to tackle climate change’
Goldsmiths, University of London, is removing all beef products from sale – and charging a 10p levy on bottled water and single-use plastic cups to try to fight global warming.
The University also plans to install more solar panels across its New Cross campus, in southeast London, and switch to a 100% clean energy supplier as soon as possible. It will spend money on its allotment and identify other areas where planting could help to absorb carbon dioxide.
The university currently emits about 3.7 million kg of carbon each year but is hoping to become carbon neutral by 2025. And it will try to increase the number of students studying climate change.
Scientists say beef is more damaging to the environment as cows produce more methane and require more land and water than other livestock.
The college’s new head, Prof Frances Corner, said:
“The growing global call for organisations to take seriously their responsibilities for halting climate change is impossible to ignore.”
Rosie Rogers, of Greenpeace UK, said:
“It’s encouraging to see an institution like Goldsmiths not simply declaring a climate emergency but acting on it. From energy use, to food sales and plastic pollution – all universities and organisations with campus sites can make changes across their facilities that are better for our planet. We call on others to urgently follow suit and to include cutting all ties from fossil fuel funding in their climate-emergency response.”
One of the most polluted landscapes on Earth now has some of the cleanest air
Forty years ago, the Canadian city of Sudbury was a blackened landscape that had been devastated by pollution from mining sites and industrialisation. Now, its good news thanks to decades of restoration and conservation work. The air quality is ranked as some of the best in all of Ontario. The landscape has also come alive with trees and greenery once more, whilst the lakes that were once acidified and destitute have become thriving ecosystems.
The transformation of Sudbury has become such a positive example of environmental restoration, Laurentian University launched an entire course based on its revolutionary recovery back in March—and it will now help future college students apply its lessons to other polluted landscapes around the world.
Dr. John Gunn from Laurentian University said:
“The Sudbury story is a story of success. One of the most damaged landscapes on Earth—with industry, government, universities, and the public working together—has made a remarkable improvement in the landscape and the lives of people.”
Leonardo DiCaprio launches $5 million emergency fund to help combat Amazon Rainforest fires
Leonardo DiCaprio has always been an outspoken environmental activist and conservationist and now, he is helping to lead the fight against the wildfires raging through the Amazon Rainforest.
While wildfires in the Amazon are not uncommon, there has been an increase of 32,000 blazes recorded in Brazil this year compared to the same time in 2018. During one week alone, there was about 9,000 fires recorded throughout the region.
The Earth Alliance was created by DiCaprio and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth last month. The independent non-profit has thus far recruited teams of scientists and conservationists to protect vulnerable ecosystems, promote renewable energy growth, and secure the rights of indigenous people worldwide.
The organization’s website states:
“Earth Alliance has formed an emergency Amazon Forest Fund with an initial commitment of $5 million to focus critical resources on the key protections needed to maintain the ‘lungs of the planet.”
These funds will be distributed directly to local partners and the indigenous communities protecting the Amazon, the incredible diversity of wildlife that lives there, and the health of the planet overall. Collectively, the fund will help finance conservational groups such as the Instituto Associacao Floresta Protegida, Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), Instituto Kabu, Instituto Raoni, and Instituto Socioambiental.
This emergency fund is not the only way that governments and citizens are helping to fight the Amazon wildfires. Tree-planting search engine Ecosia says that they recorded a 1,150% increase in downloads as global media coverage of the wildfires intensified.
The group uses ad revenue to finance tree-plants around the world. Since their launch, the nonprofit tech group says that they have helped to plant over 650 million trees around the world. On an average day, they usually welcome 20,000 new users—but on Thursday, over 250,000 new users downloaded the search engine.
Additionally, the Bolivian government recruited the help of the largest airtanker in the world to help firefighters extinguish the blazes from above.
San Francisco airport share good news this August as they announce ban on sales of plastic water bottles
The days of picking up a plastic bottle of water to stay hydrated during a long flight will soon be over for people flying out of San Francisco’s international airport (SFO).
The airport, which restricted the distribution of single-use plastic straws when the city law went into effect in July, is now banning convenience shops, restaurants and vending machines from selling plastic water bottles. Starting on 20 August, only water in glass, recycled aluminum, or certified compostable materials can be sold.
The change is a part of SFO’s five-year strategic plan. Launched in 2016, the plan includes SFO becoming a zero “waste-to-landfill” facility by 2021, asstated on its website.
According to SFO, each airport guest creates a half pound of trash. In an effort to reduce the waste, the airport is limiting single-use food accessories such as napkins, coffee cups and chopsticks. In addition to plastic, SFO is banning items with “unsubstantiated claims” about their sustainability. Now, water bottles with messages like “environmentally friendly” or “bio-based” will have to be approved by the Biodegradable Plastics Institute (BPI) before they are sold.
Before the plastic bottle ban was announced, the airport installed almost 100 water-bottle filling stations, and mandated that restaurants only give customers single-use accessories such as condiment packets upon request instead of with each purchase.
“We waited until now because a few years back there was really no market in place to provide an alternative to water in a plastic bottle,”
SFO’s public information officer, Doug Yakel, said in an interview.
SFO’s new policy comes amid an international reckoning around the problems within the recycling industry.