Keeping up to date with Mother Nature should be a high priority for all of us. The world is always in a state of change, but we can do our bit to protect the unwanted changes. Recycling and reusing where we can and making sure to limit our carbon footprint should be basics. Here’s a bit of what’s been going on recently in our beautiful world.
11,000 Scientists Warm of “Untold Suffering”
The world’s people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless there are major transformations to global society, according to a stark warning issued by more than 11,000 scientists.
“We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” it states. “To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live.” The statement was published in the journal BioScience on the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference, which was held in Geneva in 1979. It calls for people to take urgent action. “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”
The statement was a collaboration of dozens of scientists and endorsed by further 11,000 from 153 nations. The scientists say the urgent changes needed include ending population growth, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, halting forest destruction and slashing meat eating.
By the end of October, fire had ripped through more than 90,000 acres of land in the US state of California in a particularly brutal wildfire season there, making the real-life scenes you see on TV look like something out of a Hollywood movie. The worst may be yet to come with very strong Santa Ana and Diablo winds predicted for the coming weeks. The warm temperatures, low humidity and strong winds have been a recipe for disaster for the past three years, making intense wildfires feel like the new normal in autumn. But why? Well, in the last decade, the state has endured the deepest droughts ever measured, dry spells so intense that more than a hundred million trees died. A hundred million! Scientists warned their carcasses could “produce wildfires on a scale and of an intensity that California has never seen”. The drought has alternated with record downpours that have turned burned-over stretches into massive house-burying mudslides. To prevent even more wildfires, power companies turned off power, fearful high winds would knock down power lines and spark more blazes.
Mourning a Glacier
Iceland held the world’s first ever funeral for a glacier in August. The Okjökull glacier was the first in the country to be lost to climate change after the warmest July ever on record. Scientists fear all the island’s hundreds of other glaciers will be gone by 2200 as about 11 billion tonnes of ice per year are melting currently.
Good News for Coral
A scientific breakthrough at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa could potentially save America’s Barrier Reef, the third-largest reef in the world, which lies just off the Florida Keys. The project made history when a group of coral reproduced two days in a row for the first time in a lab setting. Being able to grow coral in a lab is good news as a disease is wiping out pillar coral in the reef. Who knows? Maybe the process can save all at-risk reefs.
Trouble for the Earth’s Lungs
Brazil declared a state of emergency in August over the number of fires in the region, most of them in the Amazon. More than 74,000 fires have been detected by Brazil’s space research centre. That’s an 85 percent increase from 2018. The fires are so bad that smoke completely darkened the skies in August over São Paolo, 2,700km away. The fires were caused by humans, either accidentally or deliberately. The Amazon produces more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen so these fires could potentially have a global effect.
Farewell to an Icon?
Giraffes may not be around for your grandchildren to see. Two subspecies have been added to the critically endangered red list for the first time. Giraffe numbers plummeted by a staggering 40 percent in the last three decades, with less than 100,000 remaining today. Loss of habitat and poaching are two big causes for the dramatic slide towards extinction.
Gift for Bumblebees
Holland has covered hundreds of bus stops in Utrecht with plants as a way to support the honeybee population. The roofs, which are primarily covered in sedum, also capture dust and rainwater. (They also look pretty cool!) The honeybee population is in danger globally because of insecticides.
See more in our Environment section!