Sustainability Summarised - January edition

Just like that, the first month of the new year is nearly over. Christmas feels like a distant memory and many of us have already abandoned our New Year resolutions. But, if your goal for 2022 is to be more sustainable, try your best not to give up in a hurry. 

The climate crisis isn’t going away in 2022. In fact, the effects of our planet heating are being felt increasingly all over the globe. So, this month, we’ve compiled some of the most important bits of environmental news that bring to life the real impact of climate change. 

Dangerous Heat Across the Globe

We know the planet is heating, and global warming has been a phrase in the headlines for many years. But, just how quickly is our planet heating?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) July 2021 was the hottest month in recorded history for the world. Our planet is heating up like never before, and “ground temperatures” in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere have hit all-time highs.

While many of us in the UK wouldn’t mind some warmer weather, global warming doesn’t mean more opportunities to get a tan in the summer - it actually spells disaster for worldwide infrastructure. 

Hot temperatures can cause power lines to sag, it causes steel-comprising damage to drawbridges or train tracks. According to the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency), cities are hit the worst when exposed to extreme heat. Heat conditions are magnified in cities by up to 15°C above surrounding rural conditions, effectively turning major cities of the world into furnaces of trapped heat. 

Los Angeles skyline at sunset

 

Incomes dip for South Asia's women home workers as heat rises

However, it’s not just infrastructure that’s at risk due to global warming. Increasing temperatures are detrimental to people, their homes and their livelihoods. 

In South Asia, global warming is driving up temperatures and increasing rainfall and flooding and this has been particularly damaging to women who work at home. 

In a survey of 202 women in cities across India, Nepal and Bangladesh, more than 40% said they were spending less time on their informal jobs and earning less, Thomson Reuters Foundation revealed. This is often because women are having to cut down the hours they work due to their homes being too warm or frequent flooding, resulting in a loss of income they cannot afford. 

A huge iceberg dumped nearly 1 trillion tons of freshwater in the ocean. The effects could be massive

An iceberg, larger than the US state of Delaware, has released 167 billion tonnes of freshwater in just three months, USA Today reports

The iceberg was part of the Larsen-C Ice Shelf on the Antarctica peninsula before it broke off in July 2017. It then became the largest iceberg in the world (2,208 square miles), however since then it’s dumped nearly 1 trillion tonnes of freshwater into the ocean. 

The iceberg began to melt as it travelled into warmer waters, and luckily broke apart before colliding with the seabed and causing devastation to its wildlife. 

However, the melted freshwater could still have a significant impact on ecosystems. Scientists believe it will change or produce new plankton in the area, which affects the local food chain. What that means for the environment in the long term is not yet known.

Iceberg in the ocean

 

‘The treeline is out of control’: how the climate crisis is turning the Arctic green

If you fancy a longer read, this piece by the Guardian explains how the impacts of climate change are minimising the arctic. 

As the planet warms, the Arctic treeline is moving quickly towards the pole, turning the white landscape to green. Before this warming, the arctic trees would creep forward a few centimetres every year, but now they’re moving north at a rate of 40 to 50 metres a year. 

In some northern regions of Norway, the trees are rapidly taking over the tundra and turning the arctic green. Ben Lawrence claims, ‘The people and animals that live here are trying to make sense of the rapid changes with a mixture of confusion, denial and panic’.

City of Los Angeles considers banning new oil and gas drilling

Finally, some good news from the US as the City of Los Angeles is considering banning new oil and gas drilling immediately. Existing gas wells in the area would also be phased out over a five-year period. 

Despite being the city with the second highest population in the United States, LA is home to something rarely found in urban areas, an oil field. 

Pollution from these oil fields is not only damaging to the environment, but it’s thought to be responsible for a wave of chronic health impacts, according to a study last year in the journal Environmental Research. While it’s difficult to prove a direct connection, people living near wells reported significantly higher rates of wheezing, eye and nose irritation, sore throat and dizziness than neighbours living farther away.

Have you seen any other stories about sustainability and environmental news and issues that you think we should include? Let us know!

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