Positive Eco News From January 2022: Flying Into The New Year Sustainably

2022 is off to a promising start, with many glimmers of eco-hope popping up across the globe, and new ideas revolutionising the way we interact with the world around us …

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What’s rarer than twins?

Elephant Watch Camp guides have spotted a pair of twin elephant calves in the Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. Elephant twins are just as rare as human ones, making up only 1% of all births in the wild. And sadly, they have rarely survived in the past due to mothers not having enough milk to support two babies.

Like other native species, they fall prey to poaching and habitat loss, and as a result have made it onto the red list of threatened species – though numbers have been on the rise thanks to stronger efforts to stop poaching across Kenya. They were recorded at 34,000 in 2018, more than doubling the last count of 16,000 back in 1989. Even still, this recent birth is a double rainbow of sorts for the population of African elephants, and all fingers are firmly crossed for the twins’ survival.

Conservationists are confident that the recent downpours in Samburu will promote healthy vegetation, which in turn should keep these ancient, little beings well-fed and tooting (their trunks).

Passengers, prepare for landing

The skies between Chicago and Washington D.C. were lined with progress, as the first passenger flight running on 100% sustainable fuel set an example to airlines and jet fuel companies everywhere.

The United Airlines flight is a major milestone, proving that these sustainable fuels are just as efficient as the standard blends. The super mix is a concoction of cooking oils, fats, and grease, blended with plant sugars (in place of synthesised compounds usually made from fossil fuels).

Though the supply, for now, is scarce, and governmental support is still pending, this achievement cannot and should not be overlooked – and is a taste of how human innovation is pushing back against climate change.

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Hold your breath and cross your fingers

A new coral reef has been discovered off the coast of Tahiti. The reef stretches on for nearly two miles and has been found in the ocean’s Twilight Zone – a layer of water lying around 200 to 1,000 metres below the surface, that still receives enough sunlight to sustain life.

Oftentimes, hope sinks with news on coral reefs, as most patches unfortunately feel the full impact of our climate crisis, and act as one of the first indicators that we continue to drift off course.

However, this discovery offers a ray of hope – reassuring researchers that there are still stretches of aquatic biodiversity, untouched and hidden deep in the unexplored areas of the ocean.

No more trophy hunting

Efforts to ban the import of hunting trophies in December has finally been successful. The scale of this ban is huge, protecting a whole host of species including nearly 6,000 animals currently under threat from international trade.

‘Studies show that trophy hunting does not aid conservation or uplift communities as hunters have claimed,’ says wildlife director of Humane Society International/Africa, Dr Audrey Delsink. ‘It is nothing but a sad PR spin to cover an indefensible act.’

A blanket ban of this magnitude should see a rise in the populations of Africa’s ‘Big Five’ – lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos. In the last 50 years, we have seen their populations, along with many other species’, decline by a whopping 68%. So, with the UK making its stand, we should start to see the rest of the world following suit, and working together to abolish trophy hunting culture for good.

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Fresh air and fresh ideas

Up until now, we have relied on somewhat invasive methods of measuring the biodiversity of animals in the wild. Sometimes-unreliable camera traps and potentially disruptive in-person observation, to name a couple. On a new spin, researchers based in Denmark, England, and Canada have been researching the potential for gathering the same information from the air.

This new perspective may glean greater rewards in the long run, as all the researchers found that on testing the DNA samples found in the air, they were able to not only track the animals in the zoos, but also nearby wildlife – whose genetic signatures were travelling in from all directions.

So, overall, this could be a far-reaching and less-invasive practice that may find itself used more frequently by environmentalists in the future.

This is only a glimpse into all that is happening across the land, sea, and sky. In just one month we have seen a cluster of bright and shiny eco news, and with eleven more to go we are itching to see the progress and potential this year has in store for us!

We hope you enjoyed this month’s Positive Eco News! Did anything else put a smile on your face this month? Join the Wearth London community and conversation on Instagram at @wearthlondon.