Jenny Howell - Down to Earth

Jenny Howell - Down to Earth

DOWN TO EARTH: The power of numbers

A look at the good news

The number 2022 is a satisfying number with all those orderly, aesthetic and even twos. It just feels like under this number, the year should be more predictable, straightforward and hopefully even a bit boring. Stable twos should be able to make pandemics recede and weather patterns stabilize, so that Zoom become a nostalgic and distant memory (‘remember that time when we used to meet on screens?…!’) and we can count on getting to the coast as needed.

Maybe I’m attaching just a bit too much significance to some nice-looking numbers, but I’m going to go with it anyway. In that vein, I’m going to highlight a few more good news environmental stories since my last article drifted towards environmental darkness; I didn’t even throw in my usual good news story as it felt a bit out of place. There are still plenty of those worrying stories out there for those of you that want to go looking for yourselves…

Good News:

1. The Ozone layer is closing. It is still about the size of North America, and will take until 2060 to fully close but is healing at a rate of one-three per cent every 10 years. An interesting statistic is that this will save nearly 443 million Americans from getting skin cancer by the end of the century.

2. Micro-organisms are evolving to eat plastic. It’s sad that they have been put in this situation, but both soil and ocean microbes are evolving enzymes that can break plastic into its building blocks. Deep ocean microbes have developed higher levels of degrading enzymes where plastic pollution is higher (https://journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/mBio.02155-21)

3. Renewable energy production set records in 2021, adding 290 gigawatts of renewable power production capacity. (https://www.iea.org/news/renewable-electricity-growth-is-accelerating-faster-than-ever-worldwide-supporting-the-emergence-of-the-new-global-energy-economy).

For comparison, Canada’s total electricity generating capacity is about 145 gigawatts.

4. (see 3) The price of Solar Energy has dropped 89 per cent in ten years. Electricity from a new coal plant is 177 per cent more expensive than electricity from new solar panels.

5. Giant Pandas are no longer on the Endangered list (though they are still ‘vulnerable’). China has increased its protected land areas to cover about 18 per cent of the country’s landmass which has benefited pandas, among other species.

The Conservation Society is looking forward to 2022 with the optimism that we know we can continue on with our programs in whatever form will work with the changing pandemic landscape around us. We wish you all a Happy Water and Waste Wise New Year!

Waste Wise Tip:

As estimated 16 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away each year. Many coffee shops are accepting reusable mugs again. Help reduce waste by remembering to bring yours with you!

For more information on Water Wise or Waste Wise and any of our school and community programs, contact the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society at coordinator@conservationsociety.ca visit the website at conservationsociety.ca

Williams Lake