As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, governments across the world engage in a performative display of concern for the environment which they will promptly abandon at 12:00 am April 23.
The annual celebration of Earth Day, though well-intended in its creation, has resulted in little action on the part of international governments and continues to be a day on which climate activists scream into the wind for a chance at survival.
While it’s clear that I have a healthy dose of cynicism when it comes to the possibility of any government willingly abandoning its big oil profits for the sake of humanity, I don’t want to be all doom and gloom because I truly believe that the solutions we so desperately need are out there.
The only real obstacles we face to accessing and implementing those solutions are the people and the systems currently in place that are actively preventing us from doing so.
You know, just the federal governments of the world — no big deal.
Here’s a look at where good old Planet Earth stands as we celebrate Earth Day in 2018.
On the downside…
- The highest atmospheric CO2 recordings so far in 2018 were 411.21 and 411.14 parts per million (ppm) on April 21 — an increase of 1.69 ppm from the same time last year
- Whales have been dying in steadily increasing numbers due to the rampant ingestion of plastic products and subsequent starvation
- Roughly 300 million tons of plastic are sold each year and approximately 90% ends up in landfills and the ocean
- 73% of fish caught in the Northwest Atlantic tested positive for microplastics
- A new study shows that the microplastic problem is so pervasive that it is affecting our land and freshwater systems as well as the ocean, entering the soil and groundwater through composting
- Climate change is so far advanced that it is weakening ocean currents
- Two-fifths of the plastic in the world is produced in the U.S.
- The world lost its very last male northern white rhino
- Polar ice caps are melting a lot faster than we thought or expected
- 2017 was the most expensive year on record for natural disaster clean-up and rebuilding
But, on the upside…
- Regulations on pollution emissions have resulted in the resurgence of native seagrass in the Chesapeake Bay
- The California Academy of Sciences announced the classification of 85 previously unknown species
- Of the six Goldman Environmental Prizes awarded in 2018, five of them were claimed by women
- Renewable alternatives to plastic straws are becoming all the rage
- A renewable alternative to plastic bags made from cassava (yucca) has been created and it is so safe that you can literally dissolve it in water and drink it
- Portugal generated more than 100% of its energy in March from renewable sources
- France has voted to ban fossil fuel vehicles by 2040
- Germany has shifted to an almost entirely green power grid
- Sweden has gotten so efficient at recycling it has started importing waste from other countries
- Revolutionary advances in aeroponics have opened up the possibility for vertical farms that use 95% less water than a conventional farm called “aerofarms“
- Many entrepreneurs and environmentalists alike are exploring the possibilities and benefits of vertical ocean farming for both food production as well as climate mitigation
- Virtually every nation on the face of the earth (with the notable exception of the U.S.) has signed on to the Paris Climate AgreementFormer New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today that he will personally contribute the remaining $4.5 million to fulfill the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement left after the current president withdrew the nation from the agreement
So, there’s a somewhat comforting balance between good and bad, progress and regression, when it comes to the climate in 2018.
It’s important to remember, however, that the fight against climate change is a fight for the survival of humanity more than it is a fight for the planet itself.
Famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson perhaps put it best: