In recent news, researchers have been studying the idea of installing solar panels over the top of canal systems. In short, this can help reduce evaporation of water, help plant growth and be used as a space for renewable energy. An article published in the Nature journal also argued that the idea of installing solar panels over canal systems outweigh the ecological and financial alternatives of installing them elsewhere; concluding that this method produces 20%-50% more solar power than conventional methods.
Marine protected areas or no-take zones are areas designated by government where no extractive activity is allowed by law. Such activity includes hunting, fishing, logging, mining and drilling. These zones do not just apply to areas of water on certain oceans but also to bodies of water on land such as certain lakes or rivers. Unfortunately, these zones are often rare as sporting or commercial fishing often make up a large percentage of industry for coastal areas. No-take zones are often used to protect the spawning grounds for different marine life to prevent population extinction and conserve wildlife.
Due to current issues such as overfishing, the surreal amount of plastic in the ocean and decaying coral reefs; the importance of these protected areas are becoming more necessary as we progress through the 21st century. Therefore, it is integral that the benefits of these zones are understood so that we can increase their use and help protect marine life from further degradation.
One of the major benefits of marine protected areas is obviously the increase in population size for all marine life. With nature allowed to reinstate itself, a healthy ecosystem is allowed to reform for the most part. These pockets of sustainable life help repair an ocean which is currently being riddled with plastic and overfished.
Some may feel that this is a considerable loss for the fishing industry or unfair to isolated fishing villages with no other source of livelihood. However, this is not the case at all. In time, as the population sizes grow in these marine protected areas, spill over occurs where different populations of marine life start to migrate. Therefore, allowing the continued fishing of these different species in the non-protected areas whilst also allowing a sustainable area to thrive.
Currently, only 2.7% of the ocean globally is protected. Protected areas are sporadically increasing however, with areas such as the Great Barrier Reef to smaller areas consisting in and around the United Kingdom. An atlas overview of the different areas can be found here.
In summary, as information on climate change continues to spread, one thing that is certain is that we need to start living more cooperatively with nature because if we continue to progress destructively without thought for other life then this will ultimately be the very thing which stops our progression altogether.
The past decade has witnessed an increased use of drone technology within different environmental roles. From farmers to scientists, drones are now being used to reduce farming costs or help survey plant and animal populations in remote areas. Below is a short list consisting of the different tasks drones can be used to help the environment and scientific research.
Reducing the cost of farming
Drones can help with farming tasks such as planting, crop spraying, monitoring and irrigation. Increasing the success rates of planting crops whilst also decreasing planting costs. In terms of crop spraying, drones can reduce the amount amount of chemicals that work their way into ground water whilst completing the task up to five times faster than traditional machinery.
Renewable energy maintenance
Inspecting tall structures such as wind turbines are another way drones help reduce risk and increase efficiency. Drones are now used to help with maintenance surveys and collect data on solar panel installation as well.
Drones can also help map and collect data on areas which may be hard to reach for people on the ground. For example, environmental scientists are using drones to help survey mangroves, coral reefs and tropical rainforests. Making the task more efficient and also safer for the researchers involved.
Drone technology is also used to monitor wildlife movement, track population numbers and survey habitats. This method makes it a lot easier for ecologists to get a more accurate number of a certain species whilst reducing the risks of interfering with the animals themselves.
Finally, drones are also used to help prevent and assess natural disasters such as wildfires or typhoons. For example, In the Philippines during 2013 drones were used to assess the damage of a typhoon and help migrate people whilst finding the most ideal places for reconstruction.
NASA are working on a new satellite which will be used to track hazards as well as measure the rates at which land ice is melting. Their new project will help provide more accurate data and estimations for scientists and engineers to use to act upon this information.
This joint project between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation has revolutionary aspirations:
‘By tracking subtle changes in Earth’s surface, it will spot warning signs of imminent volcanic eruptions, help to monitor groundwater supplies, track the melt rate of ice sheets tied to sea level rise, and observe shifts in the distribution of vegetation around the world. Monitoring these kinds of changes in the planet’s surface over nearly the entire globe hasn’t been done before’ – http://www.climate.nasa.gov
This is hopefully going to be a big step forward into how we collect data from Earth and also the measures we can take to put large-scale action into motion.
A recent study consisting of data from 62 sites globally has found that the conservation and restoration of land outweighs the benefits of using land for agriculture or logging. Although, they have stated that this did not provide greater net value across the board, conservation does benefit human prosperity overall.
Making your home more sustainable can be achieved in various ways and can introduce some interesting and exciting new ideas. Below are some practical ideas as well as some experimental prototypes.
Sustainable heating systems: Switching from a gas boiler can improve the sustainability of your home and in some cases save you money. If you would like more detailed information then check the hyperlink above. Three alternative heating systems I found from the website were the electrical resistance heating, biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps.
Sustainable water systems: Again, for more in-depth information follow the hyperlink in the title. One important point I found from the website was that two central branches for sustainable water involve introducing water-efficient devices and/or using alternative water sources to supply the household.
Tesla solar panelroofing: This involves replacing typical roof tiles with roof tiles that are also solar panels. Efficient as they maximise the space a roof can capture solar energy whilst demonstrating a modern style.
Solar panel windows: A new innovative design that replaces normal windows with clear solar panel windows. This idea is still in its infancy and being tested but could prove to be a valuable investment. Given time for transition, with enough buildings installing solar windows this could alleviate our dependence on fossil fuels for energy usage.
Growing your ownfood: This is a fun and relatively easy way to reduce your dependence on supermarkets, all it takes is a little patience and saves a little money. Plastic used by supermarkets creates a lot of waste and vegetables tend to always be packaged in plastic wrapping. If you’re growing food indoors, growing near a window seal is beneficial or using artificial lights. Regardless of where you decide to grow your plants, there are sustainable techniques to growing food that are universal. Different techniques involve composting green waste, saving seeds from vegetables and mulching. Growing your own food whether in little pots by your window or in big planters in the garden is a simple solution toward being more sustainable.
Hopefully this post offers some insight on how to make your home more sustainable, given you an activity to do during lockdown or at the very least been an interesting read.
‘as a compilation of the impacts of ACC, we find that in the UK since 2000, at least 1500 excess deaths are directly attributable to human-induced climate change, while in Puerto Rico the increased intensity of Hurricane Maria alone led to the deaths of up to 3670 people’ – Clarke, B. Otto, F. Jones, R. (2021)
This is alarming but not surprising given the increased amount of floods occurring in the UK. Furthermore, this demonstrates the direct and severe impact climate change can have on human life as well as the importance we must pay toward the environmental health of the planet.
This study should at least act as a wake up call for those still in denial and encourage those to think differently about the destructive lifestyles we have all taken for granted.
‘In 2015, an estimated 50 percent of the planet’s wild forests had gone. And the destruction of forests has continued since. If the trend is not stopped, we will only have 10 percent of the world’s original forests left by 2030’ – www.theworldcounts.com
A private corporation or government may want to deforest an area for agriculture, grazing or urban development. It is mostly a concern with countries in tropical regions like Brazil or Indonesia where rainforests rich in biodiversity are being lost at a rapid rate. Before looking at the causes of deforestation, it is important to distinguish between the agents and the causes:
‘The agents of deforestation are those slash and burn farmers, commercial farmers, ranchers, loggers, firewood collectors, infra-structure developers and others who are cutting down the forests. Causes of deforestation are the forces that motivate the agents to clear the forests’ – Deforestation: Causes, Effects and Control Strategies
To go in to detail about each cause would make this post several pages long, therefore I will provide a list of direct causes which can be looked at by following the link provided.
Some of the direct causes of deforestation (as referenced on page 7 in the article) are:
Expansion of farm land
In relation to the direct causes, this demonstrates that deforestation can be caused for various reasons in many different ways. However, the impacts this can have on local communities and internationally is mostly concerning.
The impact of deforestation increases global warming which has a collateral impact on the Earth and all its inhabitants.
‘Forests have a big influence on rainfall patterns, water and soil quality and flood prevention too. Millions of people rely directly on forests as their home or for making a living. But the risks from deforestation go even wider. Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide. If forests are cleared, or even disturbed, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Forest loss and damage is the cause of around 10% of global warming’ – WWF
Not to mention the vast amount of habitat and species loss to many plant and animals which are exclusive to certain rainforests and ecosystems which are then destroyed.
Therefore, when looking into solutions to deforestation there are many different approaches corporations or nations can adopt. Greenpeace offer an array of different solutions such as:
⦁ Corporations operating with ‘zero deforestation’ policies
⦁ Supporting Indigenous communities
⦁ Promoting sustainable lifestyle
⦁ Changing the politics
In summary, we must remember that when thinking about ways to solve deforestation it will often entail a multilateral solution. As it has already been established that:
‘Rarely is there a single direct cause for deforestation. Most often, multiple processes work simultaneously or sequentially to cause deforestation’ – www.earthobservatory.nasa.gov
Therefore, it is evident that there needs to be more cooperation with nations like Indonesia or Brazil, as they have some of the largest rainforests, to prevent the increase rate of illegal deforestation and rapid decline in forest and species loss.
In recent news, the University of Aberystwyth have conducted research funded by their Change project, reporting predictions based on the early signs of climate change. Using prediction models and climate data from 1901 to 2100, Aberystwyth University has found that eco-systems and water run off may be gone in the near future, as well as contributing to sea levels rising.
This will not only affect the eco-systems amongst the mountains themselves but also negatively impact people and other areas nearby. Negative implications for drinking water, crops, irrigation, sanitation and hydro power will start degrading, making life surrounding the vast regions encompassing the Alps more inhospitable.
Not only has the university reported that looking at the Alpine mountain range is one of the most visible and early warning signs of climate change; they also concluded that by 2050, the majority of glaciers below 3.500 meters in this region are likely to be gone by this point.
In summary, this highlights the early warning signs researchers are starting to recognise in relation to climate change and the negative impacts for life on our planet which will follow if we do not change in the coming decades.
The increased warming of the planet since industrialisation began has caused many different changes to the planet’s characteristics. One visible and alarming change has been the melting of mountain glaciers which was first observed in 1850. Now there is widespread scientific research which shows that mountain glaciers are diminishing all around the world from the Alps and Icelandic glaciers to the Himalayan mountain range.
Specifically concentrating on the Himalayan mountain range, which has been described as the planet’s third pole, the former Prime Minister of Bhutan highlights some interesting points on mountain glaciers and the issues of climate change.
As explained in the video above the melting of mountain glaciers is problematic for a number of different reasons. One of those reasons being sea-level rise and flooding which will create unprecedented amounts of climate refugees and destroy habitats for certain species. Similar to permafrost thawing, the melting of glaciers may also expose lethal diseases and methane gas, which is more harmful than carbon dioxide, causing them to re-enter the atmosphere due to unfrozen earth which both damage human and environmental health.
Not only do these problems have collateral affects but scientists have estimated that at the rates of melting currently being observed, our planet will lose some of its glaciers before the end of the century and heavy glacierised regions will continue to contribute to sea-level rise beyond 2100. The melting of glaciers is already evident as in 2019, Iceland lost their first mountain glacier and people came together with a plaque to acknowledge the problem and spread awareness that climate action must take place if we are to prevent more degradation of our planet’s health. This is worrying as these problems are relatively new to us, meaning that the solutions are also new and not yet obvious.
However, one of the most obvious solutions to melting glaciers would be to prevent global warming and transition toward renewable energy but as I identified in a previous post, global warming itself involves many complex issues. Additionally, to fix such a major issue cannot simply be done by transitioning to renewable energy as the transition itself is a slow and complex problem.
Although, transitioning to renewable energy is a arduous and complex task, with each year seeing more technological advancement there is still some hope. For example, the International Energy Agency documented that the rise and growth for renewable energy increased in 2019 and using scenarios predicted that it will continue to grow considerably from 2020. This demonstrates a clear trend that people are working internationally to help mitigate some of these complex and daunting issues.