Reading the headlines on the environmental state of affairs can be very discouraging. You’re trying to live a green life, but every other day a doom and gloom story tells you things are on the brink of disaster. It can make you feel like your tiny contribution is pointless, especially in the face of large-scale pollution from industry, mining and transportation. But take heart eco-warrior, you really are making a difference. You see, it’s not just you giving up straws and reusing your shopping bags, a whole army of people, industries and countries are working with you to change the future of our environment. Here are just a few of the ways you rock:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
You’ve all been affected by climate change by now. Whether you’ve lost your home to a storm, gotten lime disease from ticks that never lived in your area before or maybe you can’t get your veggies to grow with all this rain, you’re already feeling it. That’s why you’ll be pleased to know that international carbon emissions actually plateaued in 2014, even in the face of global economic growth. They even dropped by 0.6% in 2015 and promise to keep doing so as countries the world over opt for renewable energy sources and make plans to ban combustion-engine cars. IEA Chief Economist Faith Birol: “This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today.”
Having a Whale of a Time
Manatees and humpback whales have been removed from the endangered species list. Moves to protect habitats have meant that manatee populations have increased 500% in Florida from only 1,367 in 1991 to 6, 300 with 13, 000 manatees worldwide.
The ban on whaling (that’s everyone except Japan of course) has seen the number of humpback whales increasing. When the ban on whaling was proposed in 1966, only about 1,400 humpbacks were left but today there are around 21,000. In 2010, only 1% of the world’s oceans were protected compared to around 3.5% today which is better, but not nearly enough (still looking at you Japan!)
Eat Less Meat
Beef farming is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions with a recent study showing it utilizes 28 times more land, 6 times more fertilizer and 11 times more water than other meat sources. Thanks to vegan and vegetarian movements and campaigns like the ‘Meatless Monday’ drive, the consumption of beef is dropping from 59 kilograms a year in 1977 to just 37 kilograms per year.
The palm oil industry has a bad reputation for deforestation but, in 2014, the majority of companies committed to stop cutting down rainforests and draining peatlands in order to create new palm oil fields. Global Forest Watch is an organization that tracks deforestation in real time so that environmental groups and governments can take action in time to save vital forests. Organizations like this one in Brazil has been credited with the 60% reduction in deforestation.
That doesn’t mean our work is done-it is only just beginning. What it does mean is that it is possible for you to make a change in your backyard, in your neighborhood, in your community and country and, with all your fellow eco-warriors, across the globe.