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A Mundane Comedy is Dom Kelleher's new book, which will be published in late 2024. The introduction is available here and further extracts will appear on this site and on social media in the coming months.

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This site addresses what's changing, at the personal, organisational and societal levels. You'll learn about key changes across more than 150 elements of life, from ageing and time, through nature and animals, to kindness and love...and much more besides, which will help you better prepare for related change in your own life.

Halcyon In Kaleidoscope features irregular and fragmentary writings - on ideas and values, places and people - which evolve over time into mini essais, paying humble homage to the peerless founder of the genre. The kaleidoscope is Halcyon's prime metaphor, viewing the world through ever-moving lenses.

What's Changing? - Environment

Environment

 

Please see below selected recent environment-related change.

 

See also:

 

April 2024

  • For the first time, global emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases might finally stop rising and head into long-term decline. For most of the last 200 years, emissions have risen steadily, interrupted only briefly when something like a financial crisis or pandemic causes a global economic shock. The rate of this growth has been slowing globally, and emissions have now declined in more than 40 nations as countries become more energy efficient, switch from coal to cleaner gas and swap fossil fuels for renewables, but this has yet to add up to a global fall in emissions. Once it does though, some analysts think the politics, psychology and even the financing of climate action could shift profoundly.
  • Coral reefs experienced their fourth global bleaching event in just 30 years. More than 54% of the colourful algae turned white between 2023-24 because of warm waters.

 

March 2024

  • Between 2019-2024, the number of active satellites grew from fewer than 2000 to nearly 10,000, with over half-a-million new satellites planned in the coming years. What was once the last unpolluted refuge of the environments that affect planet Earth - outer space - is now teeming with pollution, with living creatures facing such consequences as: changes to Earth’s reflectivity and heat-trapping properties; the destruction of stratospheric ozone molecules and the disruption of atmospheric circulation at a variety of altitudes, warned Big Think.

 

February 2024

 

January 2024

  • Greenland is starting to look greener and that’s not good. New data shows the island is losing 30 million tons of ice an hour, warned Quartz.

 

November 2023

  • Heat-tolerant microalgae might help save coral. While the tiny organisms would have eventually evolved to a warming climate, speeding up the process in a lab could help limit bleaching now.
  • A Pakistani project to revive mangrove forests in the Indus River Delta could absorb as much as 142 million tons of carbon dioxide over the next 60 years. Mangroves not only prevent erosion, they also sequester huge amounts of greenhouse gasses. However, the project stirred controversy, as it was backed by a company promoting it to sell carbon credits to polluting companies.

 

October 2023

  • Droughts in the Amazon worsened as scientists warned that the rainforest could be approaching a tipping point: when the Amazon would no longer be able to recover from droughts and much of the biodiverse forest would turn into savannah. Drought also makes extreme wildfires more likely: that in turn could undermine the Brazilian government’s recent successes in reducing the rate of deforestation.
  • Global forest loss peaked in the 1980s, but there’s now a lot of variance in where trees are being knocked down and where they’re still standing.

 

September 2023

  • Around 37,000 invasive species have been identified worldwide. They cost governments at least US$423 billion per year in damages and control, according to a report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a division of the United Nations Environment Programme. The estimate, dating back to 2019, is conservative and the real price tag is now likely to be higher, considering that around 200 new invasive species are recorded each year.

 

August 2023

  • Increased air pollution correlates with increased antibiotic resistance in humans. A study found the link between the two issues has become stronger on every continent.
  • A study showed that almost 60% of all species on Earth live in soil, making the ground our planet’s most biodiverse habitat.
  • Leaders of eight Amazon nations converged in Brazil for the first time in 14 years to devise a plan to save the Amazon rainforest, but they appeared to fall short of finding common ground on how to end deforestation. A joint statement released after the summit implied that countries would set out their own conservation goals rather than adhere to a shared regional policy. There was also no consensus on how to end illegal gold mining in the Amazon.

 

July 2023

  • Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon fell by 34% in the first half of 2023, according to government figures. The data comes just six months after President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office promising to end deforestation - the mass clearing of trees - by 2030.

 

June 2023

  • Glaciers are losing more mass than either the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets, according to a study published in Nature. The study, the first to look at how fast the world’s glaciers are melting, observed about 200,000 glaciers between 2000 and 2019. The researchers found that the annual rates of glacier thinning have nearly doubled, from 36cm in 2000 to 69cm in 2019.
  • Despite ambitious COP26 pledges, rainforest deforestation increased by 10% from 2021-2022, destroying a combined area the size of Switzerland. The major contributors were Brazil, the DRC, Bolivia, and Ghana, prompting renewed calls for economic incentives for countries that keep environmentally critical rainforests standing.

 

March 2023

  • UN member states agreed on an updated framework to protect marine biodiversity in what is known as the "high seas" -vast areas of the oceans outside of national boundaries that account for about half of the world's surface. This followed nearly 20 years of discussions aimed at strengthening the Convention on the Law of the Sea, which came into force in 1994 but needed an upgrade, especially after 2022's COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference reached a landmark deal to protect 30% of land and water considered “important” for biodiversity by 2030.
  • Denmark became the world’s first country to import and store CO2 captured in other nations. The government-sponsored Greensand project will see the creation of a CO2 graveyard 1,800 metres beneath the North Sea. Engineers hoped the reserve would store up to eight million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030; that’s more than 13% of Denmark's annual CO2 emissions.

 

January 2023

 

December 2022

 

November 2022

  • Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo plan to form a new “OPEC of Rainforests.” The three countries are home to more than half of the world’s total tropical forests, which environmentalists say are crucial “lungs of the earth” to mitigate the global warming effects of greenhouse gasses. The grouping would coordinate on limiting deforestation while also advancing proposals for developed countries to help finance conservation efforts in the Global South.

 

September 2022

  • Globally, indigenous peoples represent 6.2% of the world’s population, hold tenure over 25% of the world’s land surface, steward 80% of the world’s biodiversity, and manage at least 24% of the total carbon stored above ground in the world’s tropical forests. The IPCC’s 2022 report cited indigenous land tenure 58 times as a key lever for limiting climate change.
  • The amount of forest lost to fire annually has doubled across the last 20 years. This includes forest lost both to wildfires and fires that were intentionally set. In 2021, nine million hectares of forest burned; that amounts to an area the size of Portugal, or 16 football pitches every minute.

 

August 2022

 

July 2022

  • A record 1,500 square miles of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest were destroyed in the first half of 2022, more than in all of 2021. What’s worse, the deforestation occurred during the rainy season, when it's harder to cut trees.

 

June 2022

  • Air pollution is more dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol. Breathing toxic gasses can shave off two years from a person’s average life expectancy.
  • Microplastics were discovered for the first time in freshly fallen Antarctic snow. Researchers from New Zealand's University of Canterbury discovered tiny plastic particles in 19 samples taken from sites along the Ross Ice Shelf. They warned the plastics may accelerate melting of snow and ice.

 

May 2022

  • Researchers claimed that ocean life faces a mass extinction event if we don’t reduce carbon emissions. Published in the journal Science, the research said that we’ll see a catastrophe to rival the Great Dying of 252 million years ago, when more than two-thirds of all marine life went extinct.

 

April 2022

  • Global methane emissions rose a record amount in 2021. The second largest increase on record came in 2020, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

 

March 2022

  • Due to rising ocean temperatures 14% of the world’s coral reefs were lost between 2009-2019. This is not just a disaster for biodiversity, but also for local coastal communities. Alongside attracting tourism, coral reefs provide the best natural defence against coastal erosion and wave damage from (increasingly) stormy seas.
  • A study warned that Europe’s permafrost peatlands are close to a climate tipping point. The peatlands of northern Europe and western Siberia hold around 40 billion tonnes of carbon, which will be released if they thaw.
  • An ice shelf the size of New York City collapsed in Antarctica. It’s the first time an event like this had been recorded in human history.

 

February 2022

  • Currently, buildings produce 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, 50% of the world’s energy consumption, and 40% of raw materials, while the concrete industry alone produces 4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

 

anuary 2022

 

November 2021

  • Some 100 countries committed at COP26 to end deforestation - the removal of trees from land that's then converted for non-forest use - by 2030. The pact accounts for 85 percent of the world's forests, and is a significant commitment because deforestation is a massive cause of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
  • More than 100 countries signed up to a global initiative led by the EU and US to reduce methane pollution over the coming decade, representing 46% of global methane emissions and 70% of the global economy, although China, Russia and India are not signatories.

 

September 2021

  • A report claimed that air pollution is a bigger global killer than smoking, car crashes, or HIV. Scientists at the University of Chicago said the average citizen loses 2.2 years of life due to polluted air. In India, the worst affected country, that figure is 5.9 years.
  • Some 65 environmental activists were murdered in Colombia in 2020, according to environmental rights group Global Witness, making it the deadliest country in the world for those devoted to defending nature. The group found that a record 227 environmentalists were killed worldwide in 2020, three-quarters in South America. "Land and environmental defenders that have stood up to powerful interests have paid a heavy price - with their freedom, livelihoods and even their lives," the report said.

 

August 2021

 

July 2021

  • A study tracking Earth's "vital signs" found that 16 out of 31 indicators of planetary health are getting worse due to climate change. 2020-21's pandemic-induced shutdowns did little to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, stop the oceans from warming, or slow the shrinking of polar ice caps.
  • The Amazon is no longer a carbon sink. The rainforest is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it swallows, thanks to climate change and fires used to clear land.
  • A wobble in the moon’s orbit could cause devastating coastal flooding across the US in the 2030s. That’s according to a new study led by the NASA Sea Level Change Science Team, which says the wobble will amplify rising sea levels caused by global warming.
  • China is trying to do something about its emissions. It opened the world’s largest carbon trading market, which covers about 2,200 power plants that account for 40% of the country’s world-leading carbon footprint. But because of the market’s byzantine structure, it is unlikely to have much of an impact on China’s emissions, warned Quartz.
  • Brazil's Amazon rainforest lost 2.5 billion trees following drought and floods caused by the El Niño event in 2015, according to a report that tracked the biome over eight years.
  • Gabon has become the first country to be paid for taking action to slow deforestation. The payments came via the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI). Launched by the UN in 2015, CAFI is a project that sees a conglomerate of rich nations – including the UK, Germany and France – offer monetary incentives to countries in Central Africa that act to protect their forests. Central Africa is home to the second largest rainforest in the world, after the Amazon. And because rainforests absorb and store carbon, halting tropical deforestation and allowing regrowth could mitigate up to 50% of net global emissions to 2050 according to the Rainforest Trust. Gabon was paid $17 million for protecting its forest. And it stands to take a further $133 million in coming years if it stays on track, noted New World Same Humans.

 

April 2021

  • Tropical forest cover - crucial to maintaining biodiversity and offsetting global carbon emissions — declined by 12 percent globally in 2020 compared with 2019, according to a study by the World Resources Institute. The area of lost forest is roughly the size of Switzerland, and added twice as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2020 as US cars do annually.
  • EU governments reached a deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent from 1990 levels by the end of the decade. The commitment is in line with the bloc's broader goal of going carbon-neutral by 2050.
  • The US will aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by the end of the decade. The Biden administration's commitment was announced to coincide with a virtual Earth Day climate summit attended by dozens of world leaders.

 

March 2021

  • Extreme soil erosion is being intensified by climate change on a level not seen in decades, yet, there are pathways out of this situation. According to Scientific American, both “erosion and climate change can be mitigated by incorporating more carbon into soil. Photosynthetic carbon fixation removes carbon dioxide from the air, anchoring it in plant material that can be sequestered in soil.”

 

February 2021

 

December 2020

  • Annual deforestation in Brazil's part of the Amazon rainforest reached a 12 year high in 2020, with more than 4,200 square miles burned, n increase of 9.5 percent over the previous year. Destruction of the Amazon increased under Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who favoured economic development of the rainforest.
  • Around 1.67 million Indians died from exposure to toxic air in 2019, roughly 18 percent of all fatalities that occurred in the country that year, according to a study by The Lancet. Air pollution briefly declined in India in 2020 due to pandemic lockdowns, but immediately returned once economic activity resumed.
  • US emissions hit their lowest levels since 1990. The pandemic brought a steeper drop than seen during the 2009 recession. A study suggested that the biggest drop was in transport, one of the hardest hit sectors by pandemic-related lockdowns

 

November 2020

  • The global response to the Covid-19 crisis had little impact on the continued rise in atmospheric concentrations of CO2, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said. Carbon emissions fell dramatically in 2020 due to lockdowns that saw transport and industry grind to a halt, but this has marginally slowed down the overall rise in concentrations, the scientists said. The details were published in the WMO's annual greenhouse gas bulletin, which highlighted the concentrations of warming gases in the atmosphere.

 

October 2020

  • Humans are overusing Earth's biocapacity by at least 56%, according to WWF's Living Planet Report in 2020. This means that our "ecological footprint has exceeded the Earth’s rate of regeneration," which has significant consequences for the natural world and humanity's future. 
  • Something happened on the ocean floor off the east coast of Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.
  • Of the world's 20 most polluted cities, 14 are in India. As seasonal air pollution worsens, irritating eyes and lungs, that could spell even more respiratory trouble for a country that had already suffered more than 7 million COVID-19 cases by October 2020.
  • Despite the pandemic-driven economic downturn and a slowdown in production, methane leaks from the oil and gas industry increased by 32 percent by late 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. 
  • 95% of marine life on the sea bed died. Crabs, fish, molluscs, octopi and sea urchins have washed up dead in their tens of thousands. No one knows why. It could be something natural, like a subsea seismic event, but pollution looks more likely. The deaths all happened in Avancha Bay, near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the region’s biggest settlement, and kite surfers there have been complaining of sore eyes for weeks. Greenpeace said petroleum levels at a nearby beach are four times normal, reported Tortoise Media.

 

September 2020

  • Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels were 62 percent higher in 2019 than in 1990, according to a UN report. The report noted that while pandemic-related lockdowns will curb emissions slightly in 2020, the global response to COVID-19 will have a negligible impact on global progress on mitigating climate change, with many impacts already "irreversible."
  • Deutsche Welle reported in late 2020 that there were more than 6,000 fires burning in the Amazon - more than at any time in the past two decades. It’s illegal to clear land by burning it but ranchers do it anyway. And why not, asked Tortoise Media? President Bolsonaro has their back. 
  • Leaders from 64 countries and the European Union pledged to enact stronger environmental protections ahead of the (virtual) UN Summit on Biodiversity, including commitments to eliminate plastic buildup in the oceans by 2050. The leaders of some of the world's top polluting nations - the US, China, India, Russia, and Brazil - did not sign up.

 

August 2020

  • the World Bank warned that “without urgent action, global waste will increase by 70 percent on current levels by 2050, Innovative solutions are around the corner. MIT Media Lab is producing reusable N95 masks that solve both waste and PPE supply chain challenges. Waste recognition software like Greyparrot helps waste managers identify what might belong in recycling bins, keeping more items out of landfills. The smart waste management sector is expected to be worth $4 billion by 2025, or more if COVID-related waste trends continued. Waste piled up during the coronavirus crisis, with disposable masks and gloves littering streets and dotting the oceans. Thanks to PPE and take-out containers, single-use plastics made a fast comeback
  • The symbolic day of the year when humanity “overshoots” the Earth’s carrying capacity is creeping steadily earlier. In 1970, “Earth Overshoot Day” was in late December. In 2020, it was August 22.

 

July 2020

  • Spreading rock dust over half the world’s farmland could make it more fertile and, crucially, remove 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. The news, published in Nature and reported by the Guardian, is a solution, not a problem, claimed Tortoise Media, There are no obvious harmful side effects and it could remove CO2 from the air for as little as $80 a tonne in places with low labour costs, like India, compared with around $600 a tonne for energy-intensive “direct air capture” machines used so far only in pilot schemes. 

 

June 2020

  • GZEROMedia reported that, under Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro's push to develop the Amazon, more than 10,000 square kilometres of the rainforest were destroyed in 2019, That's an area equal to the size of Lebanon, and it's a 34 percent increase over 2018. In the first half of 2020 alone. destruction of the Amazon went up 55 percent. The Amazon's vast absorption of greenhouse gasses is critical for limiting global warming, scientists say.
  • Research by Utah State University has found “there’s no nook or cranny on the surface of the earth that won’t have microplastics”. In a paper published in the journal Science, researchers found microplastics in 98 per cent of 339 samples collected from the remotest parts of the US, accounting for 4 per cent of the dust particles that were tested. It looks likely that these deposits come during rainfall, and the lead author warned that the presence of such fine particles in the air means “we’re breathing it, too”, reported Tortoise Media.

 

April 2020

  • The US announced a $12.1 million aid package to the semi-autonomous Danish territory of Greenland, which has become the site of a new US-China-Russia scramble for Arctic influence. The Danish government reacted coolly to the cash, expressing concerns about any possible strings that the Trump administration might attach. in 2019 Trump said he wanted to "buy" Greenland.

 

February 2020

  • The Amazon rainforest is emitting more carbon dioxide than it absorbs, with around 20 percent of the total forest area now a net source of CO2 in the atmosphere, according to a new decade-long study. The main cause, it says, is deforestation, which raises for GZEROMedia further concerns about Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's policy of prioritising development of the Amazon over conservation.

 

November 2019

  • Rising sea levels will affect cities inhabited by 150 million people by the mid-century, threatening to wipe out some of the world's largest coastal cities, according to a new report. By 2050, three times more people will be living on land below the high-tide line than originally projected.

 

October 2019

  • Breathing dirty air is linked to aggressive behaviour, according to a paper by Colorado State University and the University of Minnesota. Using crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and air-pollution data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the authors analysed the link between air pollution and violent crime in 397 American counties between 2006 and 2013.
  • Home appliance manufacturer Arçelik announced a new washing machine which will help keep microplastics out of the ocean. The Turkish company’s machine targets the tiny plastic fibres that are released when clothes are washed; it contains a filter that Arçelik say captures 90% of those fibres. According to the company around one million fibres are released per load of laundry; these end up in water systems and from there can be ingested by fish and people. The company planned to open-source its filter technology, so that other home appliance brands could use it.
  • The tradition of doing business in person - attending meetings, closing company deals over a handshake or meeting a potential customer for lunch - can be a burden not just to jet-lagged business travellers themselves, but to the environment. Each trip, whether it is a transatlantic flight to a conference or a day spent in cabs meeting clients, generates CO2 and can therefore swiftly ramp up a company’s carbon footprint. Businesses which consistently pump out high levels of greenhouse gases are falling under growing state and public scrutiny.

 

September 2019

August 2019

  • Over the past 50 years, the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by an area equal to the size of Turkey. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian government supported settlement of the sparsely populated region for security reasons. Since then, huge swaths of the forest - which is crucial for limiting the world's greenhouse gasses - have been cleared for farmland used to feed Brazil's population and support its massive agricultural exports. 
  • In the US alone, annual toilet paper consumption comes at an eco-cost of 437 billion gallons of water, 253,000 tons of bleach, and 15 million trees. 
  • Savannas and grasslands are home to nearly one billion people, many of whom raise livestock and grow crops. Tropical grassy biomes were the cradle of humankind – where modern humans first evolved – and they are where important food crops such as millet and sorghum originated, which millions eat today. And, yet among the usual threats of climate change and wildlife habitat loss, these ecosystems face a new threat – tree planting. Increasing the tree cover in savanna and grassland can mean plant and animal species which prefer open, well-lit environments are pushed out. Studies from South AfricaAustralia and Brazil indicate that unique biodiversity is lost as tree cover increases.

 

July 2019

  • Ethiopians planted a record 353 million trees in a single day in 2019, according to a government official, as part of a state-led project to plant 4 billion trees to combat deforestation in a country historically plagued by droughts. India set the previous record of 50 million in 2016.
  • The world is 5% greener now than it was two decades ago, according to a study by Nasa. The US space agency claims that leaf cover on Earth has increased by two million square miles since the early 2000s, which is roughly equivalent to the area covered by the Amazon rainforest. Around a third of the greening is attributed to ambitious tree-planting schemes in India and China, the world’s most populous countries. 
  • The world currently generates 2 billion tons of solid waste every year, according to the World Bank. By 2050, that figure will rise to 3.4 billion, with most of the increase coming from low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia, where greater urbanisation and prosperity will generate more consumption, and more trash. 
  • Studies about the impact of pollution on our health have existed for decades. But this research has largely focused on ambient, or outdoor, air where governments are responsible for enforcing pollution policies. But there is little awareness about the existence or impact of indoor pollution. Some 3.8 million deaths every year are caused by household exposure to smoke from dirty stoves and fuels, according to the World Health Organisation.

 

June 2019

  • Maritime shipping accounts for 90% of all global trade and ships tends to burn the dirtiest, lowest-quality fuels available, making them one of the most significant sources of global pollution today.

 

May 2019

  • For Quartz, shade is an environmental justice issue. The ability to step into a shadow - of a tree, building, or shelter - should be widely accessible. Shade is not just a vital refuge from the burning sun, it can also help cool surface and air temperatures. In a warming world, shade is essential. Poor urban planning and deforestation in cities leave shade in short supply, which can be fatal during extreme heat. And that’s not the only reason policymakers should cast a light on the issue. Shade trees can also reduce electric bills and carbon footprints, all while sequestering the carbon produced by urbanisation.
  • CNN reported that the world's rivers are now widely contaminated with antibiotics, according to a 2019 global study, the first of its kind. Researchers from the University of York analysed samples from rivers in 72 countries and found that antibiotics were present in 65% of them. Dangerous levels of contamination were most frequently found in Asia and Africa, with sites in Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria exceeding safe levels by the greatest degree. The worst case was found at a site in Bangladesh, where concentrations of the drug Metronidazole - which is used to treat bacterial infections, including skin and mouth infections -- exceeded safe levels by up to 300 times.
  • In China alone, air pollution reportedly results in over a million premature deaths per year. Of course, air pollution is a worldwide problem, with an estimated 90% of the world’s children inhaling polluted air daily.
  • Hanhwa Galleria Seoul, a mall in South Korea, now changes the colours on the outside of the building to inform pedestrians of current air pollution levels. If the city’s levels of fine dust are high, the exterior’s lighting and video displays are red; if the levels are low, the building will display shades of green.
  • In the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2019, environmental concerns dominated results of the Global Risk Perception Survey for the third consecutive year. They accounted for three of the top five risks by likelihood and half of the top 10 by impact, with extreme weather not surprisingly ranking highest. However, some sectors are already realising the reward-potential inherent in this redirection, with climate change and environmental drivers already transforming markets, as the debate has moved on from mitigating business risk to seizing opportunities that come from disruption.
  • The Financial Times noted that, although companies are more likely to recycle when it is profitable - such as with batteries - improving a corporate image with the public is another potent driver of change. Public concerns over plastic waste were piqued after widely watched TV footage showed turtles tangled in bags and seabirds who had died after consuming plastic microbeads.
  • The head of the Centre for Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste at Cambridge University in the UK, claims that little of the estimated 8 billion tonnes of plastic produced since the 1950s has been recycled.

 

April 2019

  • "It is the most important news humanity has ever received: the general collapse of life on Earth." So environmentalist George Monbiot proclaimed the vast international assessment of the state of nature, as revealed  in 2019, that he believes tells us that the living planet is in a death spiral.
  • Choked, chronicled a journey – from the UK to the US; India to Poland – following those impacted by air pollution, the scientists exploring its effects, and the people battling for a healthier future. In short, the book argued that air pollution is one of the most pressing issues of our time. At a population level, when scientists look at a larger group of people - a city, a county - they can say when air pollution goes up, the death rate - people who literally die young, prematurely - goes up. The number of heart attacks, the level of cancer, the rates of dementia. Every month, almost, with every new study, there are more and more illnesses that are related to dirty air.

 

March 2019

  • The World Economic Forum warned that air pollution is an insidious killer. If you are among the 91% of the world’s population who breathes air the World Health Organisation (WHO) deems unsafe, then every time you inhale, microscopic particles are being drawn into your lungs. They get into your bloodstream, causing cancers, strokes and heart disease, stunting children’s growth and development, and even reducing your intelligence. A study by IQAir AirVisual and Greenpeace identified the cities where air pollution is highest: the list is dominated by India, with seven of the worst 10 cities, and 22 of the worst 30.
  • Swedish automaker Volvo completed a two-day ocean waste cleanup by the Zapallar Cove in Chile. In partnership with event space Casa Las Cujas de Cachagua, the company recruited professional divers to extract over 200 kilos of garbage. Notable items fished out of the ocean included tires, a chimney, and PVC pipes. The mission is part of Volvo’s global environmental efforts, which also include a 3D-printed a seawall in Sydney, and a commitment to make 25% of its cars out of recycled materials by 2025.

 

February 2019

 

January 2019

 

December 2018

 

November 2018

 

October 2018

  • The BBC screened 'Drowning in Plastic', a 90 minute documentary which uncovered the devastating impact plastic is having on our fragile planet, and also explored the innovative solutions to this global epidemic.
  • From plastic straws to condoms to discarded temple flowers, consumers are waking up to negative environment consequences in places they never thought to look before, believes TrendWatching.  
  • A commission made up of 24 countries and the EU met in Hobart, Australia to decide if they should create the world’s largest protected area at nearly 2 million sq km, reported Quartz.
  • Attitudes towards the environment, and how packaging affects it, vary wildly from country to country. A Raconteur infographic explored the views of different nations when it comes to waste, recycling and what’s needed to reduce packaging’s impact on the planet.
  • Polar bears are hogging the limelight in Arctic conservation, believes Quartz, arguing that too much attention is being paid to non-endangered species at the expense of other dangers facing the polar region.
  • Air pollution has recently been linked to dementia and found to harm infantsbefore they are born, warned Futures Centre, adding that if 90% of the world's population breathes polluted air, what level of particulates is marine life up against? Tackling micro-plastics is beyond the scope of some major projects, such as the Ocean Cleanup's 600 metre-long barrier, which aims to sweep up five tonnes of plastic a month from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and Denmark's new 'aquadrone' WasteShark.
  • PM2.5 is the technical term for fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter. It’s the smallest unit of air pollution, the kind spewed out of wildfires, car exhaust, and power plants that burn fossil fuels. It’s small enough to invade human airways and slip into the bloodstream. Exposure to PM2.5 air pollution, warned Quartz, has detrimental effects on the heart and lungs. It hits babies and the elderly hardest, and exposure in the womb has long been associated with an array of adverse outcomes that include preterm birth and low birth weight.

 

September 2018

 

August 2018

 

July 2018

  • Only 13% of our oceans are unpolluted, warned Quartz. Just Earth’s poles and a small portion of the Pacific remain largely unaffected by fishing, shipping routes, and pollution.

 

June 2018

 

May 2018

  • Around the world there is a desperate need for low-cost, affordable accommodation, according to the 2017 World Resources Report. It estimates that the global affordable housing gap is 330 million urban households. This is forecast to grow by more than 30% to 440 million households, or 1.6 billion people, by 2025.
  • According to GZEROMedia, Chinese President Xi Jinping is looking to burnish his legacy with a massive urban development, the Xiong’an New Area, that will cover an area of 1,770 kilometers, more than twice the size of New York City. It will include an estimated 20,000 sensors for facial and sound recognition.
  • China's Sponge City Initiative, launched in 2015, invests in projects that focus on absorbing floodwater. The current aim of the initiative is that, by 2020, 80 percent of urban areas in China will re-use at least 70 percent of their rainwater. The 30 cities included in the initiative have received more than $12 billion in funding for sponge projects. For example, the Lingang district in Shanghai is piloting an ecologically friendly alternative to traditional flood defences and drainage systems in the coastal city which faces long-term risks from rising sea levels.
  • In November 2017, over fifteen thousand scientists from 184 countries issued a dire warning to humanity. Because of our overconsumption of the world’s resources, they declared, we are facing “widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss.” They warned that time is running out: “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory.”
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