Spotlight

From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Published December 24, 2013 11:53 AM

Environmentally a year in review

Environmentally 2013 is a remarkable year. A year in review marks the good and the bad. Below are some highlights in various areas of environmental concern.

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Energy

Due to the emphasis on energy efficiency and power supply sourcing, greenhouse gas emissions are slowing for the first time ever. We are using and finding new sources of renewable energy and using what we have more effectively.  While we are presently increasing gas usage, this is likely to be quickly overtaken by a focus on green energy. This energy sector is growing faster than any other source. All types of green energy are making up this sector including solar, wind, hydro (wave, tidal and gravitational force), radiant, geothermal, biomass, compressed natural gas and nuclear power. Research in all of these sectors continues to develop at incredible rates to provide more options for improvements in this area.

Weather

The year 2013 can be marked as one of the most unpredictable weather years on record. As the seventh warmest year on record, 2013 also marks it as being among the top ten coldest springs for much of the North American mid section. Extreme weather events included droughts in Brazil, wildfires in Australia, wildfires in California, tornadoes in Oklahoma, flooding in southern Alberta, Canada, flooding in Colorado, Flooding in central Europe, monsoon floods in Northern India, cyclone Phailin in the Bay of Bengal, and Super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Each of these extreme events brought with it extreme costs to human life and global budgets.

Nature

Arguably the most devastating nature stories come from Africa this year. With one-fifth of Africa's elephants in jeopardy this year due to poaching and 751 rhinos killed by poachers in South Africa and Kenya conservation groups continue to struggle against the tragic and senseless carnage.

But other concerns from nature include declines of wildlife in Europe where more than 200 native species of birds, bats, moths, butterflies, rabbits and dormice have been reported in the UK alone. There are other huge concerns for the bee population in Europe as a whole due to overuse of pesticides.

Destruction of the Amazon rainforest continues to be a concern on the South American continent as almost one-third of the watershed was overtaken by development. This destruction will threaten the habitats and existence of animals such as the Jaguar, Ocelot, Giant Anteater, Golden Lion Tamarin, Red Howler, Toucan and Green Poison Dart Frog.

In North America the red wolf continues to be one of the world's most endangered canids. Its cousin the Grey wolf has been listed and delisted from various protective lists throughout the country but it is strictly monitored so as to protect both the wolf and human population.

In good news in the animal news world, the Puerto Rican Parrot has made a modest comeback with 100 being tracked in the wild currently, up from just 13  a few years ago. The Rio Abajo Nature Preserve in western Puerto Rico has been at the forefront of this effort as a result of the discovery of a wild nest.  This will allow scientists to recreate the natural habitat to further propagate the species.

Green Building

With an estimated 60,000 LEED certified projects around the world, 2013 has been a building and design inspiration for the ages.  Municipalities are creating more sustainable building codes for residences and businesses alike. Public schools in particular are becoming increasing more green, retailers are recognizing the benefits of being green by incorporating green elements in their buildings.

2013 certainly has been environmentally interesting with many important stories leaving lasting impact.

Puerto Rican Parrot image via USDA.

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