Another week has gone by and another week of interesting and important environment news. This week we’re looking at fishing, flying and flippin’ hot weather. Here’s your weekly Frontier environment news roundup.
Up, Up And Away
May 12th saw one more stage completed for the Solar Impulse Aeroplane, which reached Oklahoma in the dead of night local time. The plane which is powered entirely by solar and wind energy and uses no fuel at all has been circumnavigating the globe since March last year, making pit stops along the way. This latest leg is one of the shorter ones in recent weeks and months, the longest of which was an 8,000km trip from Japan to Hawaii. The round the world trip which should end in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates has already been split into 11 legs and covered nearly 20,000km. The trip is designed to exhibit the extent of renewable energy and promote green energy generation as the plane generates entirely its own electricity from 17,000 solar cells. The wings of the solar impulse are longer than those of a Boeing 747, though the plane doesn’t achieve anywhere near the same speeds. The pilot, Captain Piccard (yes, really), heads to New York on the next leg. The project has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for research and development of this technology as well as raised awareness for green renewable energy methods worldwide.
Despite whatever weather we may have experience here in the U.K during the month of April, the world as whole experience record high temperatures. According to NASA figures released last week, this April was the seventh month in a row to break monthly temperature records. This comes on the back of 2015 being the warmest year ever recorded. The rise in temperature is attributed to the presence of extensive greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere, a trend that has been growing for years now. The month’s climate was highlighted by extensive forest and ground fires as well as the prolonged drought in India. Looking ahead to May and beyond, monthly records are expected to keep being broken with potentially disastrous natural events being caused as a result. Yet more proof of how our climate is changing constantly and at an alarming speed and ferocity.
Mexican officials have been ordered to immediately and indefinitely close all fisheries within the habitat of the critically endangered Vaquita Porpoise. The Vaquita, only found in the Gulf of California, is one of the world’s most endangered mammals, with only 60-70 individuals believed to still be alive. That number is down by roughly 40% since 2014. Due to their size and their habitat, Vaquitas are threatened by fishing more than anything else as many have been caught up as a bycatch of local fishing or indeed don’t have the food available to them for the same reason. This extra effort to save the Vaquita from the destructive influences of fishing could end up putting more pressure on companies such as John West, which have been criticized heavily by organisations such as Greenpeace for their unsustainable fishing methods. Despite the John West Company and the Vaquita not living and working in the same waters, the extinction of a porpoise could become a rallying call for environmental organisations to hit fishing industry hard. In the meantime, a fishing ban has been imposed on their habitat in the hold of giving the Vaquita some breathing space for their populations to recover.
Some grim stories in the roundup this week unfortunately. The last things we want to report are potential extinctions and record setting climate change recordings. Yet this is the world we’re being faced with at the moment. Deterioration is a common theme in environmental news, but all the more important because of it. It shouldn’t be read with sadness at the state of the world, but with motivation to ensure that the next time you read it, it’s better news.
By Guy Bezant - Online Journalism Intern
See more from our volunteers #Frontiervolunteer