10 Environmental Success Stories of 2016
The Sustainability NGO, Ideas for Us has produced a list of environmental success stories which show that sometimes things can progress.The NGO, based in the US, is global in scope . See its specific projects at ideasforus.org . While some of the apparent successes realized in 2016 may be in peril in 2017 these examples prove that real actions, causing positive change are possible.
- The price of solar has dropped…again. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, “The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 60% over the last 10 years, leading the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of systems nationwide.” This is great news as we continue to transition into a cleaner energy country and world. Solar panels can help reduce energy costs for businesses, government buildings, and homes. The average cost for installation, labor and panels is around $3.00/watt with the cost of the panel itself averaging around $.50/watt. This is a major drop in price from the cost of solar in 1977 at $76.67/watt!
2. Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument
For those of you who don’t know, former President Barack Obama designated 4,900 miles of the Atlantic Ocean for conservation and preservation. This is the FIRST national marine monument in the history of the United Stares. The location (pictured below) is about 150 miles off the coast of New England and is similar in size to the state of Connecticut! This area is an abyss of underwater canyons filled with rare and often endangered aquatic species. Although much opposition has been made by fishing industries in the New England area, President Obama has given these fisherman 7 years to continue fishing before they get the boot.
3. Certain endangered species are making a comeback.
There are two particular success stories that hit close to home. 1) The West Indian Manatee and 2) The Green Sea Turtle have both been removed from the IUCN’s Red List as endangered species and are now classified as threatened species. Now I’m not doing cartwheels over the fact that they are still threatened but I am happy about the progress that we can make as human beings when we work together for conservation efforts. On a final according to Scientific American,”… its (West Indian Manatees) numbers in Florida have increased 400% in the past 25 years.”
4. The State of California Bans Plastic Bags
You heard me correctly, the STATE of California banned the distribution of single use plastic bags at grocery stores and many major retailers. Many ordinances had already been in effect at the city and county level but it was not until the state election in November that voters approved what is known as Proposition 67 with a victory of 53% of the votes for a state-wide ban. The proposition also states that retailers must charge at a minimum $.10/cents for paper or compostable bags if offered at all. This comes at some opposition from plastic and petroleum companies alike as they see the proposition as a move for grocery stores to make a profit off of the “hefty” $.10/bag price. If you ask me, I’d rather pay bring my own bag or pay $.10/bag if it means conserving wildlife!
5. Paris Climate Accord Signed on Earth Day
The Paris Agreement was signed on April 22nd 2016 or Earth Day of last year to deal with issues concerning greenhouse gas mitigation and how to finance said provisions. The agreement is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Due to it’s association within the UN, it has global implications which is wonderful news for the sake of our planet. 195 nations took part with the negotiations of the agreement, 194 have signed it and 127 have ratified the accord. One of the provisions of the accord include, ” Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;”
6. New Jersey Passed the FIRST Environmental Justice Ordinance
The city of Newark, New Jersey now requires builders to inform the city of any environmental impacts that may occur during construction. The ordinance was put into place for several reasons including high prevalence of asthma among school children around 25% and for high air pollution in the city. The city is very dense, home to a major airport and the largest trash incinerator in the United States which intensify pollution. The ordinance has the hopes of decreasing pollution in the city.
7. Hong Kong Proposes Ban for Ivory
In June of last year, the city of Hong Kong, submitted a plan to its government to phase out ivory in the next 5 years. At the time, permits existed allowing for the selling of “legal ivory” within a specific amount of ivory allowed per permit. But things got out of hand with the illegal black market of ivory from poached elephants. Even with elephant populations on the decline, the market continued to grow. Luckily, the city of Hong Kong has stepped in to phase out this practice once and for all.
8. U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Temporary Halt on Construction of Dakota Access Pipe Line.
Although this was has since been overturned by our current administration, at the time it was seen as a major environmental victory. After months of peaceful protest by the Sioux tribe and supporters from all around the country it, temporary victory had been served. Concerns over the construction of a pipeline stemmed from its proximity to the native’s sacred land and burial sites and possible contamination of the tribes only water source.
9. Mayors From all over the world unite to combat climate change
The initiative is known as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and was pushed by former New York City Mayor, Micheal Bloomberg. Some of the goals of the initiative include cutting down on emissions, implementing cleaner energy sources and tracking emissions for data collection. Mayors from over 1,700 cities came together to propose the formation of this covenant!
10. Canada Protected 9.1 Million Acres of Forest
The Great Bear Rain forest in British Columbia, Canada has legal protection as of February 1st 2016. The protected land is the largest coastal temperate rain forest in the world and is home to a unique furry creature called the, “spirit bear”. The area was protected after groups of environmental organizations and indigenous people banned together due to extensive logging and mining in the area. Although logging has not been banned in the area, it must be done sustainably by the logging industry.