Sunday, 16 November 2008

Top 10 Environmental Successes of 2008

Following on from, here is part 2. (please not this is a guest blog, so the opinions are mine)

hat tip

There’s so much doom and gloom everywhere at the moment, I figured I’d spread a little joy last week by delivering a batch of environmental success stories from around the globe.

Strangely, according to my blog stats, that post was one of the least popular posts I’ve ever produced! (As is immediately obvious to anyone by how few comments it received.)

I know many people love to revel in other people’s misery, not to mention it’s misery that the media force-feeds us all on a daily basis, but this was a really unexpected outcome.

10 Desert Oasis
The Sahara Forest Project proposes combining Concentrated Solar Power and Seawater Greenhouses to produce renewable energy, water and food in one of the hottest places on earth. The project will create fresh water for crops and power cities both in Africa and Europe. As an added bonus, it will combat desertification.

9 Saving the Everglades
In one of the biggest environmental acquisitions in U.S. history, Florida will buy 187,000 acres of land for $1.75 billion. This land will be allowed to revert to marshes and waterways, returning the incredible Everglades ecosystem to its former glory.

8 Poorest Nation Builds Biggest Wind Farm
Okay, so it may not be the poorest economically, but you wouldn’t think that when you see it in the news. Ethiopia is only ever featured by the mainstream media when there are swathes of pot-bellied people lying in the dirt, dying of starvation. Well, now it’s building the biggest wind farm in Africa which will supply a full 15% of the its energy needs.
Isn’t that a kick in the pants to rich Western nations - when poor countries can embrace green technology to such an extent, why are we taking our pretty time?

7 President Bush - Eco-Warrior Supreme!
President Bush wants to protect 891,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean, an area larger than Texas and Alaska combined. This will protect some of the world’s most bio-diverse coral reefs and habitat: one survey found 19 types of whales and dolphins, the highest density of sharks in the Pacific, and 250,000 seabirds.
If this goes ahead, President Bush will have established environmental protections for more of the Earth’s surface than anyone in history.

6 Oil Builds World’s Biggest Wind Farm
Oil multi-billionaire T Boone Pickens is errecting 2,700 turbines in Texas over the next four years, creating the world’s biggest wind farm five times bigger than the world’s current biggest. When finished, 4,000 megawatts will power one million homes.

5 China Bans the Bag
Amongst other problems, plastic bags clog waterways and sewers, are harmful to animals, and take hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years to break down. This year China banned free plastic bags. China had been using a staggering three billion plastic bags PER DAY, costing an annual 37 million barrels of crude oil to produce.
The ban’s added benefit, particularly for China’s many poor, is that the price of free plastic bags used to be incorporated into the price of food: now food prices should be lower.

4 Rainforest Rescue
Indonesia is initiating a first-of-its-kind project to lock up 100 million tons of carbon dioxide in rainforest - the equivalent of 50 million flights from London to Sydney. The scheme will protect 1.8 million acres of rainforest in northern Sumatra, saving not only the environment, but endangered species such as tigers, elephants and orangutans.

3 Greening The Whole World
After establishing The Clean Technology Fund and the Strategic Climate Fund, The World Bank estimates G8 nations will donate $4 billion to $5 billion to help developing nations switch to clean-energy, so curbing carbon emissions and helping poor countries adapt to climate change.

2 Cow Crap - Saviour of the Universe!
The humble cow is going to save us all. How? By turning our… ‘waste’… not just into clean, fresh drinking water, but by turning cow… ‘waste’… into clean, green electricity.
From the inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen’s Slingshot can run on dung and turn puddles, seawater, even urine into drinking water (up to 1000 litres per day) or provide electricity to power basic appliances.

I know many of you will be EXTREMELY PUZZLED to see this story grab such a high spot, but…
Not only will the Slingshot save the environment by providing clean energy from a truly ‘green’ fuel in places where antiquated, gas-guzzling, pollution-belching machinery could be the norm, but it will save lives: every year in the Third World, millions of people die through drinking contaminated water. Addressing environmental and human rights issues simultaneously… could this be the greatest invention of all time? Think what a blessing this device could be if it was installed in every Third World community in the world. And that’s why it hits the top three!

1 The Amazon… Saved?
Come on, what other story could possibly deserve the number one spot?
The Brazilian government says deforestation of the Amazon will end by 2015. They’ll achieve this through a two pronged attack:
Firstly, an enormous tree planting campaign will be undertaken to ‘rebuild’ the rainforest increasing the planted forest from 5.5 million hectares to 11 million.
Secondly, they’re going to sue the top 100 illegal loggers. Environment minister, Carlos Minc said, “We’re going to blow all 100 of them out of the water and then some.”
Sadly, we all know corruption and greed are at the heart of deforestation, not least from those with the power to stop it. Let’s hope this proves to be the turning point and not merely another hollow gesture.

Okay, that’s your lot. Enough good news to quash even the most voracious of appetites.

Feel free to share your personal favourites in the comments below. (Though listing too many urls may see your comment get caught by my spam filter!)

So go. See. Feel. Live.

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