This post is just a brief one highlighting some of the top, positive, environmental news from September 2020. Enjoy.
Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) and Generation Z (late 90s- 2010s) are becoming increasingly more aware of environmental issues by using the Internet, with one notable example being the video-sharing platform Tiktok. Many users share videos of native biodiversity, restoring habitats and practical tools to help create a more sustainable life – and this isn’t a niche corner of the Internet either – these videos are being watched and liked thousands of times, with the hashtag “biodiversity” being viewed over 12.6 million times. Creators such as “Ecotok”, a collaboration of environmentally motivated young video creators, help keep young people informed and aware of a range of environmental issues from rewilding to plastic pollution and oil companies (find Ecotok’s videos here).
“Educators have also been using biodiversity memes to get their messages across in the classroom and lecture halls, while environmental organisations have been attempting to inspire younger audiences on social media, which can ensure the accuracy of information shared.” – Mersinoglu, 2020
Mersinoglu, Y.C. (2020) Green teen memes: how TikTok could save the planet. [online] Available at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/28/green-teen-memes-how-tiktok-could-save-the-planet-aoe (Accessed: 26/09/2020)
The Swiss food company Nestlé has developed a new vegan make of tuna out of six ingredients including pea protein and wheat gluten. Named “Vuna”, the new product has been made to compete with other companies also pushing for meatless alternatives, but also to reduce consumption of the popular fish in the world, now almost extinct (Prestige Online, 2020). There are loads of other recipes online showing how to make similar “vegan tuna”, but this represents the first attempt at a widescale product available in supermarkets. In the UK, Wagamama also launched a vegan tuna this year made from watermelon, though they admit that it does not have much of a fish taste (Gallagher, 2020).
Prestige Online (2020) Vegan Tuna is the latest addition to the world of plant-based dining. [online] Available at: https://www.prestigeonline.com/hk/wine-dine/dining/vegan-tuna-plant-based-dining/ (Accessed: 26/09/2020)
Gallagher, S. (2020) Wagamama launches vegan “tuna” made from watermelon, but it costs £13. [online] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/wagamama-vegan-tuna-watermelon-veganuary-a9267646.html (Accessed: 26/09/20)
Carbon neutral China
China is raising its commitment to carbon neutrality (when a country produces as much carbon dioxide as it absorbs through sequestration) in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic. This has been hailed by many as a positive sign ahead of next year’s COP26 climate meeting (Climate Home News, 2020). However, this announcement should be taken with a pinch of salt, since the number of coal-powered plants has increased this year in an attempt to speed up economic recovery in the country (Climate Home News, 2020).
Climate Home News (2020) “China is willing to contribute more”: Beijing signals carbon neutrality intent. [online] Available at: https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/09/16/china-willing-contribute-beijing-signals-carbon-neutrality-intent/ (Accessed: 26/09/20)
Climate Home News (2020) Guterres confronts China over coal boom, urging a green recovery . [online] Available at: https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/07/23/guterres-confronts-china-coal-boom-urging-green-recovery/ (Accessed: 26/09/20)
Successful conservation stories
Recent research has shown that conservation activity over the last 30 years has contributed to the maintenance of populations of tens of critically endangered species, including the Iberian Lynx and the Przewalski horse (Newcastle University, 2020). In fact, findings report that the extinction of 28-48 bird and mammal species was prevented between 1993-2020, and between 11-25 species between 2010-2020 (Bolan et al., 2020). Researchers came to this conclusion after identifying species with a population of less than 250 since 1993, then looking at population change with a range of conservation actions, and assessed the importance of such changes in keeping the species alive (Bolam et al., 2020).
“Our results should motivate the world’s governments currently negotiating goals and targets on nature conservation in the CBD’s [Convention on Biological Diversity] post-2020 biodiversity framework to redouble their commitments to prevent extinctions. Not only is this hugely important but also, as we have demonstrated here, eminently feasible” – Bolam et al., 2020
Newcastle University (2020) At least 28 extinctions have been prevented by conservation action in recent decades. [online] Available at: https://phys.org/news/2020-09-extinctions-action-decades.html (Accessed: 26/09/20)
Bolam, F.C, Mair, L., Angelico, M., Brooks, T.M, Burgman, M., McGowan, P. J. K & Hermes, C. (2020) How many bird and mammal extinctions has recent conservation action prevented? Conservation Letters (2020)
Return of the world’s largest bee
The Wallace’s giant bee (Megachile pluto) has been rediscovered in Indonesia, after not being seen since 1981. An elusive species with a wingspan “about the size of an adult human’s thumb” (according to the original description by Alfred Wallace in 1858), the giant bee was found alive in an Indonesian forest by a team of conservationists and photographers following the exploration route that Wallace took 170 years ago (Bolt, 2019). This discovery is important considering that the species is listed as one of the IUCN’s “25 most wanted lost species”, which includes other species such as the Himalayan Quail, Sierra Leone crab and the Attenborough Long-Beaked Echidna (8).
Bolt, C. (2019) Rediscovering Wallace’s Giant Bee. [online] Available at: https://www.globalwildlife.org/blog/rediscovering-wallaces-giant-bee-in-search-of-raja-ofu-the-king-of-bees/ (Accessed: 26/09/20)
Global Wildlife Conservation (2020) Lost Species List. [online] Available at: https://www.globalwildlife.org/lost-species-list/ (Accessed: 26/09/2020)
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