Australia has been making waves in the environmental newsfeed this past year with some fantastic headlines: its energy sector powered 70% of the country’s homes using only renewable sources, a huge permaculture farm fed dozens and dozens of families with only organic produce, and even without human help, a supposedly extinct species of insectivore suddenly showed up. But this Sunday, Australia made just about its biggest wave yet.
Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull pledged more than 500 million Australian dollars for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef — the greatest single investment that this reef or any other coral ecosystem in the world has ever received.
[T]he Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a national non-profit . . . will use the money to counter water pollution, combat coral-eating starfish, increase public awareness, boost reef monitoring, and improve the environmental impact of surrounding businesses . . . The funds will also be used to expand reef restoration efforts, including trialling new techniques that can breed corals resistant to high temperatures and light stress.
For a while now, the Great Barrier Reef, which hosts about 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of fish, is known to be in great danger. Its damage — including coral bleaching and ocean acidification — can be traced to climate change as a consequence of burning fossil fuels, harmful coastal development, and continuous fishing despite the already-present negative effects. A 2016 study even said that more than 90% of the reef has already been affected by coral bleaching.
However, Australia’s environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, is confident that “the right plan and the right investment” will help secure what he describes as a “remarkably resistant” reef . . . “The more we understand about the reef, the better we can protect it . . . Millions of dollars will go into science and to better data management and to be able to test the impacts on the reef.”
Of course, we must inevitably mull over the damage humans have caused the beautiful coral ecosystem in the past decades, but it seems to have been resilient in maintaining itself and in forgiving us. Perhaps the millions of dollars pledged to its protection can finally help us start to make up for the damage and deserve its forgiveness. I honestly can’t help but hope it’s better late than never for us and the Great Barrier Reef.
Wild tigers are resurfacing in Kazakhstan after a 70-year absence and it seems Italy may be experiencing something quite similar. Wild wolves, a symbol of the country, are making a comeback in the outskirts of Rome after nearly a century.
“This is the first time in more than 100 years that wolves have been found living near Rome,” [said professor of natural sciences] Alessia De Lorenzis.
“We think they probably arrived here from the area around Lake Bracciano, north of Rome, where wolves have always existed, even when the species was pushed towards extinction,”
Biologists spotted the wild wolves roaming a reserve in Castel di Guido. They are of no apparent threat to livestock, as they survive on a diet of wild boars. Researchers have blamed their initial demise on hunting.
Killing wolves was encouraged in Italy until the 1970s, by which time only 100 or so individuals remained in Italy. But the species was given protected status in 1971 and has since gradually recovered.
There are around 1,500 – 2,000 wolves inhabiting Italy, with others bordering France. French farmers have claimed that the slender beasts have been attacking their sheep. But then again, perhaps it’s time we listen more to the animals’ needs and less to ours. Based on studies of animal extinction or endangerment, we could surmise it isn’t really the animals crying wolf, is it?
America’s favorite sandwich is, without question, the classic burger. Despite every Mickey D regular’s praise of the tasty quarter pounder, few know what goes on behind the scenes. That isn’t, of course, the case for cattle farmers, and some opt to grow veggies after being in the know-how. Rancher Jay Wilde recently joined the vegan farming community when he couldn’t slaughter his cows.
“We did [our] best to look after them [the cattle], but you knew you were going to betray them. You really couldn’t look them in the eye.”
The 172-acre Derbyshire farm is a family heirloom. Committed vegetarian Wilde, as we all do, hopes his father would’ve been proud. Along with wife Katja, Wilde sent 70 of his cattle to a sanctuary in Norfolk. The remaining 12 are now family pets.
“What we were doing worked in the past, but it’s no longer fit for purpose really. It consumes too many resources, it’s morally indefensible if you think animals are anything more than meat.”
Vegans have applauded the dynamic duo, whose cattle still contribute to a flourishing ecosystem. Beef may make for a tasty meal, but to Wilde they’re just as loyal as any pup.
Across the globe, busts against wildlife smugglers have been more copious than nature can handle. Though species such as the crest-tailed mulgara have made epic and unexpected comebacks, it isn’t the case for most. Hoping to kill two birds with one stone, Greenpeace is shutting down climate change and poaching with a wildlife reserve in Antarctica.
Will McCallum, of Greenpeace’s new Protect the Antarctic campaign, said: “The next few years are absolutely essential for the future of our oceans and we are in desperate need for governments to come together and do what is best for these amazing ecosystems.”
As city dwellers, we often remain oblivious to the consequences of melting ice caps and hits to the food chain. Nonetheless, there is much value in keeping our polar wonderland’s seals, penguins, and whales afloat.
“This will bring huge benefits in protecting this amazing ecosystem, in preserving the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of the ocean and in the wider fight against climate change.”
The reserve will cover 1.8m square kilometers of the Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula. Not only will the eventual rise in fish populations excite seafood lovers — the world may not go down sinking after all.