Seven Wonders of a Hopeful World
Exisitng Opportunities for Today’s Environmental Challenges
January 5, 2014 — Seven billion people and growing. A quarter of them living in poverty. Unsustainable — and unequal — resource use. Landscapes vanishing, along with their nonhuman inhabitants. Global warming upending natural systems. These are tough times on planet Earth. But while sustainability remains far from a global edict, hopeful signs of progress are poking up around the world. In some places, in some cases, we are doing things right, taking steady steps toward a smarter future. Here we offer seven of them — seven concrete answers to seven of the most pressing and vexing environmental dilemmas of the 21st century. None is perfect. But each elegant effort attests to the fact that effective and relatively simple solutions are already within our reach. The main missing ingredient is one that’s seemingly scarce but in fact unlimited, and which we’ll need to gather and harness in order to change course and stay that way: resolve.
1: Great Barrier Reef
Challenge: Ocean fisheries collapse
Opportunity: Marine Protected areas
Across the planet’s oceans, more than 70 percent of fish species are either over-harvested or at the very brink of what their populations can tolerate. A groundbreaking 2006 study painted a grim picture: At current rates, every seafood fishery on the planet will collapse by mid-century. We are drastically altering ocean ecosystems — and at the same time threatening the food security of 200 million people….
2: Germany’s Energiewende
Challenge: Greenhouse gas emissions
Opportunity: Boosting renewables
Perhaps no environmental problem is more complex, fraught and fundamental than how to drastically decrease greenhouse gas emissions. If we can’t solve this dilemma, all the others may well turn out to be moot. But international progress is maddeningly slow — and here in the U.S., change still feels decades away….
3: Brazilian Rain Forests
Challenge: Rain forest loss
Opportunity: Policy and pressure
Each year, we burn and bulldoze approximately 50,000 square miles of rain forest — disrupting ecosystems, pushing wildlife toward extinction and sending vast stores of carbon dioxide into the air.
In Brazil, though, a decade of smart governance has slowed the rate of Amazon deforestation by 67 percent below its average from 1996 to 2005 through a combination of good policies, beefed-up enforcement and a little help from the market….
4: City of Vancouver
Challenge: Unsustainable Urban Expansion
Opportunity: Comprehensive Planning
More than half the world’s population currently lives in cities; by the middle of this century, that figure could hit 75 percent. Cities are responsible for two-thirds of human energy use and 70 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, consume vast quantities of water, and produce enormous amounts of waste…
5: Bridges & Bicycles in India
Challenge: Population Growth
Opportunity: Improving education for girls
As world population careens toward 9 billion, all the planet’s systems will be strained. Lowering fertility rates is a complex endeavor, and no one path leads directly there. Poverty, access to contraception, education, job prospects, cultural mores — all of these influence family size…
6: Tree Regeneration in Niger
Challenge: Unsustainable agriculture
Opportunity: Regenerating native trees
7: Water Funds in Latin America
Challenge: Freshwater depletion/deterioration
Opportunity: Payments for ecosystem service
Reposted 2-28-2015, Article can be found at: Ensia