The number one spot this week is an article called Climate change may not claim as many species as we thought. This is a very promising article; it that it shows that while climate change is going to cause some species to go extinct, the rate at which this may happen will vary. Further, the total number will depend upon how well we manage to keep in line with the 1.5 degree increase of Paris accord agreements. One thing many people miss is the fact that it is entirely within our ability to reduce the increase even further – if we as a society decide to do more than the bare minimum. There is growing support for leaders who not only understand the challenges ahead but also have the will to make this a priority.
The ability of nature to recover from the pressures of human development is truly astonishing. It has been shown again and again that animal populations and wild areas can bounce back from extreme damage if we just leave them alone and give them time to heal. It is why I have hope that we can turn this problem around. In doing so, we will not only reduce the impacts of climate change on our wild creatures and places but make our own lives healthier and better as well.
In number 2 and 3 spots this week are two stories showing that the population numbers of certain species of whales are increasing. After having been hunted almost to the point of extinction, Western South Atlantic humpback whales were reduced to a few hundred animals in the 1950s (once totaling a number of 27,000). Now, the Western South Atlantic humpbacks are making an impressive comeback and are at about 93% of their historic pre-whaling numbers.
Blue whales are also on a comeback of sorts. In the waters of the South Atlantic, East of the most Southern point of land in South America, lies South Georgia island. Once a known hotspot for social blue whales, there were more than 33,000 killed there over a 20-year period starting in 1904. By the time a whaling ban was implemented in the 1960s, very few animals were found in the area any more. For the next 50 years afterward, only two sightings of blue whales around South Georgia were reported. To go from basically no animals to 55 in one year is unprecedented and surely a positive sign of things to come.
In a shift to keeping the lights on, number 4 place in the top 5 is about the shift to green energy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has historically been extremely conservative in their estimates about a clean energy transition. In fact, until this year their predictions were simply that natural gas would continue to dominate the market until 2050. However, something has changed. The EIA is now predicting that renewables like solar and wind will account for 39% of the energy mix going forward – the largest of any sector. The EIA’s new view on renewables is striking; even in a country with cheap natural gas, solar and wind will claim all of the market-share gains in the American power market over the next thirty years.
And lastly, in number 5 spot this week, the science article titled Electricity could soon be generated from raindrops shows that the energy released from one raindrop falling from a height of 15 centimetres can generate a voltage of over 140V, and the power generated can light up 100 small LED lights. Early stages of research yes, but very exciting to know that scientists are looking at all ways of producing energy – even from the most obscure sources.
It makes me feel very optimistic that the students of today will soon be bringing products like this to market. I believe the power of nature to heal, combined with humanity’s ability to solve problems will carry us to a clean future.
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