The 3rd Monday in January is now widely known as ‘Blue Monday’, the most depressing day of the year. So, on a day where it would be easy to get fixated on the negatives, we thought we’d share positive examples of communities, governments, businesses, and individuals coming together to improve the world.
- The hole in the ozone layer is closing up
A hole in the Antarctic ozone Layer, first identified in the mid-1980s, is recovering. After recognising the issue, countries around the world agreed to ban chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The ozone layer is now back to early-80s levels. As the hole heals, it should, in turn, help to ease the issue of climate change: A victory for global communities working together to heal our environment.
- Great Britain has successfully reintroduced wild beavers
Eurasian Beavers, once native to the British Isles, were hunted to extinction in the 16th century. They were reintroduced in the River Tay in Scotland, and the River Otter in England. As a keystone species, beavers reshape the environment, improving water quality and supporting other species. They also help to mitigate against flood damage by keeping water out of towns. Breeding in the wild has been successful, and populations are expanding. There are now over 400 beavers in the UK, with the government looking to release more.
- Global life expectancy is now above 70
The average global life expectancy for both men and women is now over 70 for the first time. Life expectancy rates have climbed thanks to improved access to medicine and reduced infant mortality. And in some regions people can now expect to live up to twenty years longer than they might have in the 1960s.
- Rhino populations are growing
Multiple rhino populations around the world are rebounding. There are now 3,700 Indian rhinos in the wild, compared to only around one hundred a century ago. Top rhino populations in Africa have also improved to more than 5,3000 individuals. The black rhino, which was nearly extinct in the 1970s, now has a population of 5,600. It’s good news for conversationists around the world who are working with endangered, and hunted, species.
- And Giant Pandas are no longer ‘endangered’
In a win for conservation, Giant Pandas have been downgraded to ‘vulnerable’ instead of ‘endangered’. The ruling by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reflects long-term efforts. In the 1980s the surviving Chinese Giant Panda population numbered just 1,114. The wild population now numbers over 1,800 individuals. Efforts to improve those numbers and increase habitats available are ongoing. This iconic success story will inspire more conservation battles in years to come.
- World leaders are committed to reversing deforestation by 2030
More than 100 world leaders representing over 85% of the planet’s forests joined the COP26 agreement. It commits their countries to ending and reversing deforestation and land degradation within the decade. The world’s forests represent a major carbon sink, so this will have an impact on climate change. Moreover, maintaining our forests enriches our world with biodiversity and providing habits for wildlife across the globe.
- Scotland has demolished its last coal power plant
The Longannet coal plant in Fife was demolished in early December, echoing commitments from COP26. It was once the largest coal plant in Europe and used four million tonnes of coal per year. It generated around 11,440,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The two million homes it powered will now use less polluting energy sources. This moves Scotland a step closer to its goal of becoming net-zero by 2045.
- Europe has committed to phasing out animal experimentation
The European Parliament has voted to demand an action plan to phase out animal experiments. They have historically been used to test pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and behavioural psychology. However, in many cases, animals can now be replaced with tissue samples without invalidating results. This vote represents a move towards a more modern research environment. The overwhelming vote in agreement underlines that sentiment.
Working together, we can imagine a better world and create it
Sometimes it is easy to miss that there are positive things happening around the world. But the way we globally tackled the repair to the Ozone layer shows we can all make small changes, that together, deliver huge impact.