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Whales, Renewable Futures And Starving Zoo Animals: 25th July – 3rd August

Last week the world graced us with both a good and a bad range of news. This week we are giving you the run down on the positive news that plastic bag usage has begun to plummet, the scientific discovery of a new whale species, the world’s first successful solar plane and the devastating impacts of the failing economy on Venezuelan zoos. Here’s your weekly Frontier environment news roundup:

New Species Of Whale Confirmed

Uko Gorter/Natural History Illustration via BBC Last week scientists confirmed the existence of a new whale, a discovery that is both monumentally fantastic and equally worrying as it highlights just how little we really know of the world when it becomes clear that an entire whale species has gone unnoticed until the twenty-first century. While there is a hefty amount of research left to be conducted on this new species, it is now thought that this whale is the same one that has been reported to have been spotted in the past by Japanese fishermen. As it stands, not much is known of this species but it has been described as being black in colour with a distinctively shaped fin and beak and it has currently been placed in the Genus ‘Berardius’ along with the Baird’s and the Arnoux’s whales but until more research is conducted that allows for a formal description of the mammal to be drafted, this new species cannot be added to scientific literature. Following this, the whale will be given a common name, a Latin name and will have its distinguishing features listed to allow for further identification against other species to be made.

Find out how you can help to conserve whales on Frontier’s marine projects.

Plastic Bag Usage Plummets Across England

Flickr | Newtown grafittiLast October the introduction of the 5p plastic bag charge created a heavy divide across England, despite other parts of the UK having already implemented the same scheme with great success many were unsure on how successful the campaign would be. Fast forward to today though and newly released statistics have shown that the number of single use plastic bags being used within England has plummeted by more than 85%! Prior to the charge, it was estimated that around 8 million tonnes of plastic makes its way into the oceans each year but it is hoped that projects such as this one in which people are encouraged to make a small but dramatic difference to their lives will help to tackle this enormous figure. The subsequent impact this will have on the environment is undeniable and as the environment minister, Therese Coffey, stated this program has shown that “small actions can make the biggest difference.”

Find out how you can live a more sustainable life by making a few small lifestyle changes here!

The World's First Solar Plane Journey

Tony Bonnici via The TimesThe first plane powered entirely by solar energy completed its round-the-world flight early last week after landing in Abu Dhabi. Dubbed as ‘Solar Impulse 2’, the plane carries more than 17,000 solar cells on its wings and has completed its journey across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans using absolutely no fossil fuels. During the trip the plane has managed to smash a number of world records; after becoming the first solar powered plane, during the longest leg of the trip from Japan to Hawaii the plane also gained the record for the longest uninterrupted journey in aviation history. While the physical journey has come to an end, scientists and conservations are now hoping that this will pave the way for a more sustainable future.

Animals Are Starving In Venezuelan Zoos

CARLOS JASSO, REUTERS via National GeographicVenezuela has suffered a dramatic economic downfall in recent months, a fall that has largely been blamed on the plummet in the price of oil, a commodity that Venezuela is a major producer of. But when it comes to economic crashes as violent as this one, it isn’t just the humans that suffer and unfortunately this is a fact that has become undeniably obvious within the South American country. It was revealed last week that around fifty animals at the Caricuao Zoo in Venezuela had starved to death in the past six months as a result of the rising cost of food. Among those lost were Vietnamese pigs, Tapirs, Rabbits and Birds, many of which went weeks without eating.  The surviving animals are now facing a future that involves severe malnutrition among other underlying health defects due to the alternative diets they are now being fed.

It’s undeniable that some of the environment news needs celebrating, with the large breakthrough for the use of renewable energy and the plummeting usage of plastic bags there is now real hope for a sustainable future. However, it cannot go unmentioned that due to human influence and ignorance, an entire whale species has gone unnoticed until the 21st century while animals are starving to deaths in a captive life that we brought them into. So, in some ways the future of the natural world seems bright but in others it is evident that we still have a very long way to go…

By Shannon Clark - Online Journalism Intern

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