Hello friends, thanks for taking the time to read this second installment of my sustainability news round-up! I’m going to be honest, there is a lot of depressing news out there at the moment. I always try to include positivity in my posts, but in the past few months I’ve seen more negative environmental news than positive. Nevertheless, these are important events and issues to be aware of so that we can be mindful in our own actions and continue supporting activism. Here are my top picks for sustainability news for summer 2023.
UN Water Conference
In the spring, there was the first major UN conference on water since 1977. Given the record heat and forest fires this summer, it’s important to highlight the ever-increasing concerns about water shortages, and threatened access to sanitary water around the globe. The BBC article UN warns against ‘vampiric’ global water use from March 2023 shared the UN’s warning about impending water shortage crises. It’s not a cheerful read, but it’s important to be mindful about our own water consumption and advocate for more sustainable water usage. For more information, see UN World Water Development Report.
Another report from the UN, this time about climate, was also published earlier this year. This new addition to the IPCC work, AR6 Synthesis Report, includes a call for countries to bring their net zero targets ahead by a decade due to concerns about overshooting. For more information see IPCC Synthesis Report. The report emphases the role politics places in determining the success of climate change mitigation.
Effective climate action is enabled by political commitment, well-aligned multilevel governance, institutional frameworks, laws, policies and strategies and enhanced access to finance and technology. Clear goals, coordination across multiple policy domains, and inclusive governance processes facilitate effective climate action. Regulatory and economic instruments can support deep emissions reductions and climate resilience if scaled up and applied widely. Climate resilient development benefits from drawing on diverse knowledge. -IPCC Synthesis Report
El Niño is back
You’ve likely already heard about the return of this hot weather pattern. As we’ve seen in recent months, many parts of the world are experiencing catastrophic flooding, while others have devastating fires. When El Niño is combined with the increasing severity and instability of weather events caused by climate change, it seems like we are living in an apocalyptic reality. As this The Guardian article notes, a particular worry is the effect El Niño will have on food security in the coming years.
This news story is like something out of a sci-fi novel. Great, now the mushrooms are going to destroy us all! The reason I include this article in my round-up is because it gives a glimpse of what we could be facing in the future. It’s not actually “mushrooms”, but pathogenic fungi which are capable of causing life-threatening diseases in humans. Fungi are adapting to their changing environment and the World Health Organization has created the first ever list of fungal pathogens that pose a risk to us. The article (link above) focuses on fungi research in China, and it’s a fascinating and disconcerting read.
Groundsel back from extinction
Let’s end on a positive! This article on York Groundsel was a breath of fresh air. Britain has had its first ever de-extinction event, and that is something worth celebrating. Essentially, there was a species of yellow flower specific to the city of York that went extinct in 1991 due to weedkillers and it’s been brought back to life. The species was a hybrid between Oxford ragwort and native groundsel. Fortunately, some of the seeds were stored in Kew’s Seed Bank and then Natural England (the UK’s conservation watchdog) authorised a de-extinction attempt. Now the plants are back in bloom in the verges of York! Full information can be found in this Guardian article.
I’ll be back again in the autumn with more sustainability news. In the meantime, have a good rest of your summer and share this news with your family and friends – knowledge is power!
For more sustainability content – see:
- Sustainability News Spring 2023
- The Reality of Living Sustainably
- Meet Seven Inspirational Climate Activists