Hello everyone! It’s been a while since I featured some good news on the blog, so today I’m coming to you with 5 more pieces of great news for the environmentalism movement! Personally, I think this may be the best one yet. Keep reading to see how countries across the world are working to protect the environment!
- 3D coral reef tiles are helping restore marine ecosystems!
A Hong Kong-based startup named Archireef is doing great work to protect damaged coral reefs with their new technology. In response to the heavy damage done to beautiful reefs by increased runoff and pollution, Archireef founder David Baker and his team have been 3D printing artificial reef tiles derived from terracotta and planting them across the ocean floor. After seeding the nontoxic, biodegradable, pH neutral and ocean-friendly tiles with living corals, Baker and his team saw a 98% survival rate in the corals.
They report that their technology is “4 times more effective in keeping corals alive than conventional restoration methods”. The tiles’ hexagonal design allows them to expand and adapt to their surroundings, thus maintaining even more oceanic stability. Plus, they’re largely cost-effective and can easily be customized for their specific area. This is a big win for marine ecosystems, as they’ve been bearing the brunt of many environmental issues for years to come and going largely unnoticed while at it. Archireef’s new design signals a new wave in the effort to protect our waters!
- The US approves the first vaccine for honeybees!
Yes, you read that right. Just last week, the FDA approved the first vaccine to protect the nation’s honeybee populations from deadly diseases that cripple their numbers, especially the disease foulbrood, which the vaccine specifically targets. Commercial beekeepers will be able to administer this vaccine, which contains a small amount of the bacteria that causes foulbrood, to their hives by injecting it into the royal jelly fed to the queen. The bacteria will be incorporated into the queen’s ovaries, who will then be able to pass it along to the developing bee larvae, giving them some immunity against the disease. This solution looks promising, especially since no definitive cure for foulbrood, which originated in the US, has been identified before. The vaccine’s developers are hoping that their research can be of use in battling the “cocktail” of diseases honeybees all around the world are routinely exposed to. And if you’re wondering why exactly honeybees need to be protected in the first place, then let me remind you that humans, especially those that live in the US, greatly depend on honeybees to pollinate the crops that we eat on a daily basis (apples, melons, blueberries, etc) – according to the FDA, honeybees are responsible for a third of the food Americans eat. And, some crops are entirely dependent on bee pollination for survival, so the next time you see a honeybee, you can thank it for the food we eat! Jokes aside, this is an amazing development towards animal and crop conservation!
- The ozone layer is recovering!
In what I believe is the most exciting news on this list, a recent UN report found that the ozone hole is on track to fully be patched up within the next 4 decades, largely in part to the combined and dedicated efforts of the world to phase out substances that were damaging the ozone layer in the first place. If you’re unfamiliar with the ozone layer, it is an atmospheric layer made up of ozone, as the name suggests. Ozone works to trap ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, which can cause DNA damage to living organisms such as humans if transmitted.
During the 20th century, a massive hole in the ozone layer was created due to the mass emittance of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were present in just about every product back then (hairsprays, fridges, etc). Since then, we’ve been working to repair this damage through the Montreal Protocol, and it looks like it’s finally paying off. That’s not to say it was a smooth journey – the hole actually increased in size back in 2020 and CFC levels have not been falling as quickly as they should. Nonetheless, we were able to prevent the complete collapse of the ozone layer, demonstrating just how powerful the global community can be when working together!
- Greece just ran entirely on clean energy for the first time!
Back in October, Greece reached a significant achievement for the first time when it came to renewable energy. For 5 straight hours, green energy powered the entire electrical grid, and hit a new peak of 3,106 megawatt hours of electricity provided! This follows widespread efforts to move the small country entirely over to a clean, low-energy lifestyle – in 2019, each resident used about a third of the energy that each US resident did. Like other European nations, Greece has focused on cutting oil and gas out and transitioning to cost-effective renewable energy for power. Now, they have established systems for harvesting solar, wind, and hydro energy, which they are aiming to have contribute 70% of their energy usage by 2030 (they are currently at 46%). As Green Tank puts it perfectly, this news is a “record of optimism for the country’s transition to clean energy.” Keep making waves, Greece!
- Spain is fining tobacco companies to raise funds for cigarette clean ups!
Not too far over from Greece, Spain is leading the way in mass clean-up efforts with their new tobacco fines. If you’ve ever been in a city, chances are that you’ve seen used cigarette butts just about everywhere, and Spain is no stranger to that. Cigarette butts, like any type of litter, take years to naturally decompose, and cigarettes specifically emit toxic substances such as arsenic and lead in the process. Starting January 6th, Spain’s new environmental regulations require big tobacco companies to pay for the costs associated with cleaning up discarded cigarettes, and will also be required to educate their customers about proper removal of their products.
Other previous measures to decrease oceanic cigarette pollution, which the Ocean Conservancy says is the most common form of pollution, included outlawing smoking at beaches and further restrictions. And if it couldn’t get better, this ruling is actually part of a larger package of environmental legislation aimed at reducing other types of waste, especially single-use plastics, by banning them in restaurants and finding alternative packaging materials. I commend Spain for taking such comprehensive action!
Well, that’s all for today! Hopefully this post was a nice reminder that positive change can come from our actions, and that together, we can work to protect the environment. Is there any other good news you’ve seen around lately that wasn’t on this list? Tell me about it in the comments below! Until next time, everyone! Stay safe and healthy!