Sustainability Summarised - August edition
Back in the early 20th Century, the month of August was traditionally celebrated with a festival on the 1st of the month to mark the annual wheat and corn harvest. Nowadays we don’t celebrate the harvest like we once did, but if you want to tuck into a loaf of bread (as was tradition) while you read this month's sustainability summarised, we won't stop you!
As a summertime treat, we’ve selected a series of environmental stories, from the revival of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, to new floating wind farms in Wales. Read on to find out what’s been happening in habitats across the world and outer space…
Australia's Great Barrier Reef appears to be on the recovery
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has made a recovery after suffering from mass bleach contamination. The reef has been reported to have the most amount of coral in 36 years, showing that is it recovering from the bleaching.
However, programme leader Mike Emslie said that while the recovery of the northern and central regions is encouraging, “the frequency of these disturbance events is increasing, particularly the mass coral bleaching events”.
Conservation efforts are helping fin whales make a comeback
Fin whale numbers are bouncing back, as a result of the conservation efforts over the course of several decades. The species were reduced to one or two percent of their original population size, said the lead author of the research, University of Hamburg's Helena Herr.
More than 700,000 fin whales were lost to commercial whaling over the years. This explains why before the most recent sighting, scientists had only caught a glimpse of up to 13 fin whales eating together at once.
Renewable energy brings new job opportunities
Plans for floating wind farms off the southern coast of Wales could welcome thousands of new job opportunities. The new industry could create about 29,000 jobs, including 10,000 in Wales. Until now most offshore wind farms in the UK have been built into the seabed on fixed foundations.
Floating wind farms can be deployed in deeper water than conventional offshore wind farms, where there is often higher wind, such as off the coast of Pembrokeshire. The Crown Estate tenders will be issued in summer 2023 and could potentially inject £43.6bn into the UK economy by 2050, according to industry body the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.
Households dispose of nearly 100 billion pieces of plastic annually
Households across the UK throw away almost 100 billion pieces of plastic every year, a recent survey has revealed. The Big Plastic Count saw nearly 100,000 homes keep track of every piece of disposable packaging in the space of a week.
The campaign was launched by Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic, and found that the most common piece of plastic disposed of is fruit and vegetable packaging, snack bags, packets and wrappers. Out of the discarded plastic, the scheme found that 46% is incinerated and 25% is dumped in landfill.
Greenpeace UK plastics campaigner Chris Thorne added that: "This is a jaw-dropping amount of plastic waste and should give ministers pause for thought," he said.
NASA collects dust from space to inform climate knowledge
On the 14th July 2022, NASA launched its Mineral Dust Detector, designed to identify airborne dust and collect data to help scientists fill in knowledge gaps around how dust affects the environment and the climate.
EMIT’s state-of-the-art imaging spectrometer, developed by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, will collect more than a billion dust-source-composition measurements around the globe over the course of a year; and in doing so, significantly advance scientists’ understanding of dust’s influence across the Earth.
Have you seen any other stories about sustainability and environmental news and issues that you think we should include? Let us know in the comments below!