Staying Positive and Saving the Planet

Sometimes it is hard to stay positive about the environment and the future of our one and only planet, so while travelling in Europe recently, I collected as many inspiring stories as I could find.

Yes, it seems that world leaders are not taking effective steps (or even any steps) to manage climate change, but at lower levels of power and influence, practical positive steps are being taken right now by lots of people in lots of places!

Hope you enjoy my list of positive stories!!

1          Just plant trees!

Research published in July and front-page news in Britain shows that planting 1.2 trillion native trees across the world could remove two-thirds of all carbon already in the atmosphere. There is room to plant enough trees without hindering agricultural production or encroaching on urban areas. This practical solution is over-whelmingly the most effective solution to combating the effects of climate change, and we already know how to do it!    IMG_0365

Push for it to happen in your local area/region/city/state!!    Science Vol 365, Issue 6448, pp 76-79.

2          Greta Thunberg and the Climate Strikes

One girl in Sweden decided she needed to take action on climate change. She chose to go on strike from school outside the Swedish Parliament in August 2018 and a year later there is a world-wide movement of school strikes to raise awareness and demand action. Greta Thunberg never imagined the impact she could have and now she just sailed on a carbon-neutral yacht from Europe to the USA to deliver her message at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.

3          The Extinction Rebellion

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) is establishing itself as a new kind of climate protest movement. It started when the first activists proclaimed a ‘rebellion against the government’ in London’s Parliament Square on Oct. 31, 2018. Now it has expanded into dozens of countries, including the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, Australia and the United States.

Their motto is ‘uprising or extinction’. XR’s supporters are using peaceful civil disobedience to bring traffic, business and government affairs to a standstill, with the ultimate goal of forcing a turnaround in climate policy.

Watch for mass demonstrations and city blockages on an international scale from 7 October!

4          Wind and Solar Expansion in Europe

Massive fields of windmills are operating in shallow coastal waters off England and Denmark, I counted more than 120 giant windmills in just one field off Harwich. In addition, solar fields can be found all over the UK and Denmark, not known for their high solar exposure. One village in Denmark has been operating their heating-by-hot-water service on solar power for more than 10 years. If Denmark and the UK can invest in so much solar energy, then Australia with its massive solar exposure can do so much more!!

5          Bringing Back the Insects

With science raising alarm bells about the loss of insects world-wide, danmark41it was heartening to see so many projects in the UK and Denmark which aim to bring back wildflowers and their associated insects. Local towns in the UK are planting community wildflower strips instead of cultured garden beds and Danish farmers are allowing insecticide-free strips on the edges of fields where wildflowers like daisies, poppies and cornflowers are appearing again.

6          Göthenberg to be Fossil Fuel Independent by 2030

Swedish city Göthenberg is aiming to be fossil fuel independent by 2030. It has held top spot in the Global Sustainability Index for three years in a row. 65% of public transport runs on renewable energy and there are 1000 city bikes available to rent. In 2013, the city issued a ‘green bond’ for investments that benefit the environment and established Sweden’s first LGBT advisory board.

7          The Film ‘2040’

Look out for the film ‘2040’ which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The director set out to show what the world will be like for his daughter by collecting positive stories about inventions and projects which address current threats to the planet. It includes a whole range of solutions already working somewhere in the world, to solve the big problems like energy, climate change and traffic. Be inspired to join in telling the new story of a sustainable future.

8          Commercial Business Responses to Green Consumers

The push for ethical green investment and sustainable operations from investors and customers is influencing company operating policies. SAS Airline is operating ‘green flights’ which aim to fly at optimal cruising speeds and altitudes to reduce fuel consumption. These are adapted on every flight to take account of winds, temperature and weight. The routing of each flight is calculated by advanced software using up-to-date weather data. SAS has a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 25% by 2030. They are moving to the most advanced and efficient short-haul aircraft, and using more biofuel, as well as dry-washing aircraft. They aim to use 100% recyclable materials for food service by 2030, as well as using local and seasonal ingredients in meals.

9          Skjern Community Project on Kirke Å, Western Jutland in Denmark

In the city of Skjern in western Jutland, a community committee is taking ownership of the local creek and green space, managing the Kirke Å (Church Creek) precinct which runs through suburban areas. In the past it was managed as a manicured city park, with cultured beds of flowering plants and mowed lawns. kirkeaaIt now features a natural water meadow full of butterflies and bees, native water plants flowering in the stream and along the banks, and nesting boxes constructed by local people and decorated by local artists. The local community have a sense of ownership for the reserve and its ecosystems, as well as looking after the four cows whose job it is to apply light grazing pressure to the meadow.

10        Denmark has a Happiness Research Institute

Yes, really! Denmark frequently tops the list of the world’s happiest countries, so no wonder it has a Happiness Research Institute.

The Institute explores the causes and effects of human happiness and works towards improving the quality of life of people across the world. The research by their happiness scientists aims to understand what matters for happiness, life satisfaction and quality of life. An important key to happiness is to look for the good in the world, and the positive stories — like these!

About redgumgirl

Dr Anne Jensen is an environmental consultant with a passionate interest in sustainable management of our natural resources, particularly the River Murray and wetland environments. She is particularly interested in using photographs and stories to explain issues around water and protecting natural ecosystems in terms that are understood by the wider community, so that we can manage our environment sustainably for our common future.
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