The International Union for Conservation of Nature assessed the state of cactus populations around the world and found almost a third of all species are endangered. The report summarizes that human activity is threatening hundreds of species with extinction. This includes illegal trading, agriculture and aquaculture, but also land-use change.
In a monumental decision, British Petroleum (BP) was fined $20.8 billion for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; this upgrades the initial deal from the $18.7 that were previously discussed and represents the largest corporate settlement in US history. This money is additional to the reported $28 billion spent on cleanup and compensation.
China has set up an ambitious goal of getting 5 million or more electric cars on the streets, and this is not just a pipe dream – the government is taking active measures to speed up the production by building more charging stations.
In the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in 1987, hundreds of thousand had to move immediately without notice. Their lives changed forever. Many didn’t have time to pack anything, as documented by the ghost towns around the fallout site still littered with toys, valuable items and other personal belongings. But while humans had much to suffer, the same can’t be said about the wildlife. In the almost four decades since the dramatic disaster, wildlife and vegetation has simply sprung to life like never before. In some instances, there are more wildlife per square meter than in some of the busiest protected natural parks in neighboring Belarus. Turns out wildlife doesn’t mind that much radiation – what they mind is humans.
An asteroid impact wiped out the dominant life forms on the planet, both on land and in the oceans, some 65 million years ago. Like in all matters of life, there are winners and losers, and incidentally those who had most to profit from the demise of the dinosaurs were also the weakest: mammals. Small, battered and restricted to only a couple of ecological niches, not only were the mammals more adapted to a post-apocalyptic Earth devoid of sunshine and with little food to spare, but once everything cleared they simply took over. Now, paleontologists have come across a totally new genus of ancient mammals that used to share the planet with the dinosaurs, but managed to survive the fallout and continued its lineage for millions of years after.
A group of NGOs has filled a lawsuit in federal court against a ridiculously controversial law which makes it illegal for any citizen to take samples or photograph open lands in public or private property. As such, a person who isn’t acting under governmental approval – say a concerned citizen – can’t take samples from a contaminated river, photograph it or collect any meaningful evidence in these lines for the purpose of alerting the authorities.
The third largest emitter of carbon emissions, India, pledged it would reduce its emissions relative to its GDP between 33 and 35% by 2030 relative to 2005. India, a rapidly developing country, will continue its industrial expansion which includes, of course, building more coal plants and releasing more carbon emissions than it does today, however what the government, in fact, pledges is decoupling emissions from economic growth. It’s a sound victory for the planet, but to achieve its goals India will require help from developed nations. Hopefully, this might be possible under a common climate-protection framework on a global level which will be discussed in Paris during the UN talks scheduled in November.
After the recent Volkswagen fiasco which revealed that their cars emit much more than they should (and claimed), a new study revealed that diesel cars made by Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo and many others also emit more.
The Scandinavian nation has set its mind on ridding itself of fossils fuels. To this end, the government announced it will increase spending on climate-protection measures for the next year bringing it to $546 million. That might not sound like much but Sweden is a small country which already uses energy very efficiently. It also gets three quarters of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources, mainly nuclear and hydro.
When it comes to human waste products and pollutants, plastic claims the crown. There are very few things our planet can throw at it to get rid of the polymer. It becomes bendy and rippy and shredy but it just won’t go away. When you compound the resilience of this headstrong material with the sheer quantities of it that we dump into the oceans, it looks like a pretty one-sided battle that nature can’t win, despite all our desperate efforts to increase recycling and take it out of landfills.
But now it seems that mother nature still had a trick up her sleeve, and the non-biodegradable reign of plastic is about to come to an end, undermined by the heroic appetite of the mealworm.