You can probably name 10 doom and gloom news stories without even breaking a sweat. But what about the good news? When faced with climate crisis, it’s easy to overlook the positive. However, thanks to the efforts of good people around the world, there are things to celebrate this Earth Day. Here are a few of the positive things that have happened to the environment since last year.
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1. Solar panel recycling solution
Solar is awesome, right? Yep. Until the panels give out and you have to figure out what to do with them. So far, it’s usually cheaper to throw them in the landfill than to extract valuable components. But a team or researchers at Deakin University in Australia have devised a system using heat and chemicals to extract silicon from the panels.
Related: 6 unconventional solar panels designs we love
“There are many other technologies around the world, but most of the technologies are complicated, multi-step, time-consuming,” said Mokhlesur Rahman of Deakin University, as reported by EuroNews. This one appears to be easier.
2. Swiss solar panels on railroad tracks
In other solar news, a Swiss start-up called Sun-Ways is rolling solar panels out like carpet on Swiss railroad tracks. The squares fit neatly in between the railroad ties. Will Switzerland’s entire 5,317 kilometers of railway soon be generating solar power? Sun-Ways estimates the solar rail network could supply 2% of Switzerland’s energy needs.
“There are over a million kilometers of railway lines in the world,” Sun-Ways co-founder Baptiste Danichert told the Swissinfo news site. “We believe that 50% of the world’s railways could be equipped with our system.”
3. Floating solar panels
Okay, one more solar update. A study in the journal Nature found that if we covered 30% of the world’s 115,000 reservoirs with floating solar panels, we could generate 9,434 terawatts of power every year. Which is more than three times the EU’s energy production. Is the world ready for “float-ovoltaics?”
4. Gigantic carbon credits plan for Gabon
The small but mighty central African country of Gabon is a big leader in green thinking. And lucky for the world, since it’s the second most-forested nation (after Suriname). Gabon announced its intention to create 187 million carbon credits. Almost half of these would be sold on offset markets. This is the single largest issuance so far in eco-history. Gabon’s government was working on this plan with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s REDD+ mechanism in order to create the offset credits.
5. Nature-related financial disclosures in Hong Kong
Now for some finance news. Hong Kong now has a Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD). The World Economic Forum has determined that more than half of the global gross domestic product — $44 trillion — is “moderately or highly dependent on nature.” Lost nature means lost dollars, a realization which has stabbed bankers in their collective heart.
“The reality is that we are 100% dependent on nature at some level,” said Tony Goldner, executive director of TNFD. “Without functioning ecosystems, our prosperity would collapse, and business would face extreme risk. We need to think about nature as a source of mainstream risk to the future of businesses. That’s why TNFD is so important.”
6. In Spain, tobacco companies pay for clean up
Have you ever been walking along a pleasant street, only to notice disgusting discarded cigarette butts? Of course you have, because they’re all freaking over the place, tossed there by litter bugs too lazy to transport their stinking butts to a trash receptacle. But instead of blaming smokers, Spain has decided to go to the source and make tobacco companies pay for cleaning them up. Cigarette butts take about a decade to decompose. Meanwhile, they’re leaking lead and arsenic into the gutters. They’re also the most common type of marine pollution.
7. Norway gets a loooooooong bike tunnel
This month Bergen, Norway is opening the world’s longest purpose-built bike and pedestrian tunnel. At 2.9 kilometers, it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to walk through or about 10 minutes if you’re on a bike. The Fyllingsdalstunnelen cuts through Løvstakken mountain. It will have separate lanes for cyclists and walkers.
8. Edinburgh endorses Plant Based Treaty
The Scottish city is promoting a plant-based diet to fight against climate change. The new Plant Based Treaty aims to decrease emissions from animal agriculture and to eventually introduce carbon labeling on restaurant menus. It also wants to offer more plant-based meals in council buildings and schools.
“By declaring our endorsement, we are acknowledging that food systems are a main driver of the climate emergency and that a shift towards plant-based diets can go a huge way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” City Councilor Steve Burgess told Euro News. “Plant-rich diets are also a ‘win-win-win’ for society: they have a lower environmental impact, significant health benefits and reduce animal welfare impacts.”
9. City of London combats light pollution
London’s financial district is planning to dim the lights of skyscrapers after dark. The project is still in the works, but the aim is to conserve energy and decrease light pollution, which is bad for biodiversity and human health.
10. First European-born pangolin
Let’s end this roundup with some cute news. A Chinese pangolin — one of the world’s most adorable creatures — was born at the Prague Zoo. It was the first time one of these critically endangered anteaters was born in Europe. Nicknamed “Little Cone” because of her resemblance to a spruce pinecone, the critter had an unlikely savior: A local cat donated milk when the pangolin’s mother was initially unable to produce enough of her own.
Lead image via Pexels