How We Are Making a Big Difference to the Environment
The combined efforts of eco-living individuals are changing the world
One of the most pervasive arguments for not adopting green initiatives is that one person’s efforts aren’t going to make a difference. It’s a perspective that makes sense when you consider the enormous impact of industry and transport, and you may be tempted to feel that your small changes don’t matter. However, you’re not just one person adding their small contribution. By now there are armies of eco-living individuals whose combined efforts are changing the world. Here are some of their stories.
International carbon emissions plateaued in 2014, despite global economic growth and actually dropped by 0.6% in 2015. Carbon reduction efforts by governments and individuals meant that, for the first time since record-keeping started forty years ago, the level of carbon emissions stayed constant. IEA Chief Economist Faith Birol: “This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today.”
Manatees and humpback whales have been removed from the endangered species lists. With so many of our favorite animals facing extinction, it is heartening to hear that some are making a comeback. Thanks to improvements in habitation and threat reduction, manatee populations have increased 500% in Florida. When first surveyed in 1991, only 1,367 could be found in the sunshine state, but that number has grown to 6, 300 in Florida with 13, 000 manatees worldwide.
Thanks to the banning of whaling, humpback whale numbers are steadily climbing. When the ban on whaling was proposed in 1966, only about 1,400 humpbacks were left. Today, that number has grown to 21,000. This is thanks, in part, to an increase in the protection of our oceans. In 2010, only 1% of the world’s oceans were protected compared to around 3.5% today.
One of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions is beef farming which accounts for a whopping 14-18%. A recent study estimates that beef farming utilizes 28 times more land, 6 times more fertilizer and 11 times more water than other meat sources like poultry or pork. Thankfully, the per capita consumption of meat is dropping from its zenith of 59 kilograms a year in 1977 to just 37 kilograms per annum. Let’s hear it for meatless Mondays!
Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change but, in 2014, the majority of companies in the palm oil industry committed to stop cutting down rainforests and draining peatlands to make way for new plantations. A new watchdog body, Global Forest Watch, tracks deforestation in real time so that environmental groups and governments can take action. A similar organization in Brazil has been credited with the 60% reduction in deforestation that has occurred there.
Of course, there is still a long road ahead for us to establish a workable balance between humans and the environment, but these stories show that, when people support an idea whose time has come, there’s no limit to what we can achieve. Your eco-living efforts do matter, so keep up the great work!
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