Welcome to another week of our Climate Joy Series where we document and collate joyful news from across the globe in the fight to save our climate. Now the list presented to you in this series every week are by no means exhaustive accounts of all the positive news there are; they are merely offerings shared with you to inspire hope.
That said, here’s what we’re celebrating this week:
According to recent studies, a key population of humpback whales is in recovery after it was pushed close to extinction by centuries of exploitation. These are the Western South Atlantic humpbacks and there were reduced to a few hundred in population back in the 1950s, after once totaling an estimated number of 27,000.
The wider humpback whale species was devastated by commercial whaling in the mid-1900s but fortunately, conservation efforts to preserve the animal have now been rewarded. Their numbers are now estimated to stand at 25,000 and 93% of their pre-exploitation levels.
This positive result shows that despite the killings and animal cruelty, conservation effects can have positive impacts.
Bike riding in the Netherlands is about to get a major boost. In a nation with more bikes than people, finding a space to park one’s bike can be a problem (like the problem car drivers face). The Dutch city of Utrecht has come up with a solution– the world’s largest parking area for bicycles. The concrete-and-glass structure holds three floors of gleaming double-decker racks with space for 12,500 bikes, from cargo bikes that hold a family to public transport bikes for rent.
The national railway service NS is investing tens of millions in bike parking, and its spokesman, Geert Koolen relayed that… “We have over one million train passengers a day and in our bigger cities – like Utrecht – more than half arrive at the station by bike,” he said. The bike park is part of a larger strategy in which hundreds of millions of euros are being devoted to enhancing cycling infrastructure across the Netherlands.
Bike riding uses minimal fossil fuels and is a pollution-free mode of transport. More people cycling reduces the need to build, service and dispose of cars and reduces public spend on road infrastructure. Cycling 10 km each way to work can save 1500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Also, as traffic delays and interruptions to traffic flow account for a degree of greenhouse gas emissions each year, cycling during peak hours can further reduce emissions, congestion and improve traffic flow.
Florida Senator Linda Stewart has proposed a bill that will effectively ban the sale of sunscreens that contain chemicals that potentially harm the coral reef. Under the bill, the sale of sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate, would be banned without a prescription.
The two chemicals found in most sunscreens are known to effectively protect against UV radiation but, researchers suggest, can also cause coral bleaching and eventually kill reefs. Such sunscreens will be replaced by “Reef-safe” sunscreens made with FDA-approved zinc oxide.
Similar laws have been passed in Key West and Hawaii, where coral reefs are home to marine biodiversity and play a crucial role in protecting coastlines, absorbing 97% of a wave’s energy to prevent erosion and potential property damage incurred from currents and storms, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Israel has taken another bold step in moving from fossil fuels to environmentally friendly renewable energy. The Electricity Authority (TEA) and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz have recently approved the commercial activation of the Ashalim photovoltaic power station.
The plant is located in the Negev Desert, south of the city of Be’er Sheva and would be activated for a period of twenty years. The plant consists of 360 photovoltaic solar panels – which operate without generating harmful substances – making it Israel’s biggest photovoltaic-based power plant, supplying power to roughly 60,000 households throughout Israel.
And that’s it for this week. Thank you for dropping; we look forward to seeing you here next week. And don’t forget to spread the positivity by sharing this post!
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Feature image of Siargao Island in the Philippines by Roland Varsbergs/Unsplash.
Feature image of a humpback whale by Christopher Michel/Wikimedia Commons.