Humanity is celebrating its 47th annual Earth Day! Did you know that this is among the most celebrated holidays in many schools around the United States? This global recognition of our planet started in 1970 and involves more than 190 countries. Which makes this one of the most globally celebrated times of the year as well.
It’s a time when people come together regardless of religious or political backgrounds and recognize this ball as our home. Until humanity masters space survival and flight, it’s the only home we have.
While the statistics I’ve found paint a bleak picture on humanity’s future, I wanted to find something that can be inspiring. We’ve all heard about species of animals and plants disappearing, deforestation and climate change. However, I wanted to go a different route this year.
Why not celebrate the accomplishments of Earth Day and its global unity? Human kind does have the potential to fix these problems. Let’s embrace that aspect and realize there are so many things that are changing today.
So, here are 10 facts that I’ve found that demonstrate how many of us are putting in the effort to correct the problems that face the existence of humans.
1. Forestation is Still a Goal for Many
Although deforestation is still a problem for the world, humans have stepped up to try and offset the issue. Approximately 52,000 square kilometers of forests are developed every year.
Finding alternative solutions to many of the problems in the list below would reduce the amount of trees that are cut down. For example, solving agricultural issues would eliminate the need for commercial cutting. Between 2000 and 2010, as much as 70 percent of the deforestation in Latin America was committed by commercial agriculture.
Food isn’t the only thing that can replace wood usage, either. In fact, many companies are looking into creating products that are more sustainable given the declining resources on this planet.
2. Forest-Friendly Products Continue to Rise
Experts believe that by the end of 2017, forest-friendly products could control as much as 45 percent of the market share.
Approximately 250 million trees could be saved each year if every newspaper was recycled. Unfortunately, less than a third of American newspapers are. This plays more into why forest-friendly products are so important. If it were feasible to move all media to digital, more than 413,000 acres of trees could be saved annually.
Because forest conservation is a growing trend, everything from tissue paper to house-construction materials are using alternative manufacturing. For instance, Trex creates a composite material made from recycled plastic and wood that is more durable and retains its color longer than traditional wooden products.
3. Improvements Wildlife Conservation
A growing concern for many is the extinction of creatures around the globe. In the last 100 years, more than 50 species of animals have died off because of our impact on the globe. Humans have played a major role in the extinction of these creatures thanks to deforestation, hunting and declination of habitation.
However, there is light at the end of this dreary tunnel. Many supporting organizations and groups are working diligently to protect the remaining 1200+ endangered animals from vanishing from the face of the Earth. In fact, even politicians and businesses are going green to help protect wildlife and the environment.
By the end of 2010, it was believed that only 3,200 tigers remained in the wild. This is a drastic 97 percent drop in the population of the species viewed 100 years ago. Because of this, the governments of areas where tigers are prominent have put in the effort to double the populace by the next Chinese year of the tiger in 2022.
4. Waste Management Continues to Develop
In 2014, approximately 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide were eliminated thanks to recycling and composting of various materials. This is about six times more than what is produced annually by automobiles. However, there is still a long way to go to make up for the rest of these toxic emissions.
The average person throws away roughly four pounds of trash every day. Luckily, there are all kinds of methods we can recycle nearly everything we use. Some ways can even bring in a bit of extra money. For instance, many people recycle metals as a full-time job. You can even recycle old computer and consumer electronic devices for cash thanks to various recyclers around the US.
Not only would reducing trash per person shrink the need for landfills, but it would also reduce the need to use other resources. For instance, recycled paper greatly reduces the impact of using wood to make new sheets. In reality, going digital eliminates this need altogether, but you get the point.
5. Solar Power Use Continues to Drive Forward
Combining solar with steam generation is one way that SolarReserve, a company specializing in solar power development, is meeting the demand of power needs. According to the plant’s design, it has potential to supply power to approximately one million homes by generating as much as 2,000 megawatts of power. This is because the plant uses a method of using heat to offset low-sun levels.
By September of 2016, about 30 percent of the solar capacity in the United States was owned by third-parties. This means that nearly a third of the power generated from solar is due to private companies providing energy needs or equipment to collect sunlight for energy. Although the commercial aspect of solar use still needs to be increased, it goes to show how many people are interested in the power of the sun to power their homes.
Like wind, once a solar array is established it does not require a fuel source to continue operation. While some might argue that the sun can be considered a source of fuel, it’s not one that can be exhausted. If the sun stops shining on this planet, humanity will have far greater problems than wondering how to turn on the light in the dark.
6. Wind Power Continues to Benefit More than the Grid
In 2015, wind power-related jobs reach approximately 88,000. In fact, it contributes to an astounding growth rate for employment. It is believed there will be a workforce of nearly 400,000 by 2030 in this industry alone.
One important facet we need to take into consideration is how many people understand the importance of renewable energy. Since 2001, wind turbine use has continuously been on the rise. One of the most notable growth spurts was between 2011 and 2012 as production increased by roughly 20 to 25 percent.
Wind is often viewed as a more reliable source of power over sunlight because air currents are active whether it’s day or night. While a calm and still day can still affect the productivity of these units, they have potential for being effective overall in certain areas. This is aside from the technology being cheaper to establish per unit than a solar array.
7. Geothermal Energy Continues to Grow
In 2015, the total global capacity for geothermal energy use grew by four percent. Although this may not sound like an overwhelming number, the use of this technology is becoming more apparent.
In reality, geothermal energy production is more stable than that of solar or wind. It creates more of a load for the grid because it is a constant source rather than intermittent. For instance, traditional solar is only at its peak during certain times of the day. Geothermal is at its peak 24/7.
Goethermal energy production is one of the most efficient for costs and load. In fact, it is one of the lowest-cost, cleanest and with greater capacity for power than other common forms of energy production. Geothermal energy even has a higher capacity for power than advanced nuclear plants. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the least used in the United States.
8. Measures to Protect the Ocean Continue
It is believed the weight of trash in the oceans will surpass the weight of actual fish by the year 2050. This includes any materials that are floating in the Western Garbage Patch or the North Pacific Subtropical High Garbage Patch. However, you should also bear in mind that about 70 percent of the trash in the oceans has already sunk to the bottom.
Luckily, there are a number of ways everyone can contribute to reducing this flow of refuse. For example, California’s bag ban easily reduces the amount of plastic that finds its way into water ways and along the beaches. However, this doesn’t prevent containers falling off of ships or the garbage tossed out by other countries.
You don’t have to be an animal lover to appreciate the life within the ocean, either. More than three and a half billion people rely on the ocean as a primary food source. This also means that it accounts for millions of dollars in value from an economic standpoint. Contaminating these waters directly starves others while hurting profits of fishing organizations.
9. Improvement in CO2 Emissions
After peaking in 2007, the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States has slowly began to decrease. Although there was a one percent increase between 2013 and 2014, the overall numbers are still nine percent lower since 2005. This is a move in the right direction.
Although the emissions are decreasing slightly, it’s still not enough. Countries like China are frequently blanketed by toxic smog to the point where governments advise the populace to stay indoors where it is safe. Which makes sense given that nobody wants to breath in a toxic cloud because they need to go to work.
Solar, wind, nuclear, hydro, geothermal…these are all exceptionally clean methods of power. And thanks to wind and solar energy becoming more cheaper in the long run, these methods may become more prevalent in the near future. Not only will this improve the way of life on the planet, but it will also help people keep more money in their bank accounts over time.
The point is that humans have all kinds of ways to generate electricity without massive CO2 production.
10. Can We Improve Global Ice Melt?
Many believe that climate change contributes to the melting of the polar ice caps. In fact, the northern cap experienced another record low in 2016 in terms of total arctic sea ice. Thanks to imagery taken from space, humans can actually see the extent of polar melting. However, this record was only slightly beating the previous.
Some speculate that ice melts are a natural occurrence and that not all CO2 emissions are human-based. While it’s true that the Earth undergoes a peak in these emissions every 100,000 years or so, the amount being thrown in to the air now supersedes anything in the past half a million years by almost double.
It is believed by many the increase of CO2 is what’s leading to the melting of ice on a global scale. While this may be a natural occurrence, it leads many to wonder if the ice is melting twice as fast thanks to the increase in carbon in the atmosphere. By decreasing the emissions humanity produces, we may be able to stave of the ice melt.
Bonus Fact: GreenGeeks Contributes to Environmental Healing
Not to sound like a sales pitch, but GreenGeeks contributes to improving the environment thanks to our use of renewable energy. We put back three times the power used by our customers into the grid. It’s our small contribution to reducing the carbon foot-print of hosting a website. Considering how much power a data center can consume, this is a great deal of effort on our part.
So if you need web hosting, you can rest easy knowing that your site is being used to improve the environment by reducing the carbon used to create energy for the server it is on. Think of it as a way to address environmental issues which may affect your business.
What Will You Do This Earth Day?
While not everyone has the time to do something grandiose this Earth Day, it doesn’t take much to impact your own carbon footprint. Whether it’s relying on pedestrian or cycle power to get to work for a week or planting a few trees, nothing is really stopping you from doing your part to spruce up the planet. You don’t have to be a member of Green Peace to recognize Earth is currently our only home.