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  • July 31, 2019 5 min read

    Let's look on the bright side of environmental news!

    July has been a mixed news month for our planet. A crippling heat wave battered much of Europe; forest fires in the Arctic (yes, you read that right) have been worse than ever before; and, once again, Earth Overshoot Day arrived earlier this year than last. 

    That being said, all is not lost! There's good news too.

    We are making incredible strides towards stopping and reversing the damage we cause to the environment. Climate protests continue on a regular basis, political leaders around the world are passing laws to combat climate change, and companies are taking their sustainability efforts more seriously each and every day.

    All of that is positive and a reason to celebrate!

    Here are just a few of the most uplifting climate stories from the past month.

    1. A Welcome Return of the California Condor

    After hundreds of years of declining population, the endangered California condor has hit a major milestone in its conservation efforts - the 1,000th chick has hatched!

    In the 1980s, North America's largest bird was nearly wiped off the face of the planet with just two dozen of the New World vultures left. Today, their numbers are on the rise with 300 wild birds, increasing to some 500 birds when including those living in captivity.

    The hatching of the 1,000th chick at the Oregon Zoo is nothing but good news for this recovery project, as more and more hatchlings are being seen in the wild as well. 

    Appalachian Trail landscape

    2. 400 Square Miles of the Appalachian Mountains Saved

    Mo' money doesn't always mean mo' problems. Sometimes it can solve mo' challenges!

    Our friends over at the Nature Conservancy and some partners of theirs have made a major investment in protecting the landscape of the Appalachian Mountains. The purchase of over 400 square miles of forest and mountain landscape cost about $130 million, but it means important biodiversity hotspots will be connected and protected from further exploitation by the mining and timber industries.

    The project sets a precedent for how conservation efforts can be done in the future. It also invests in sustainable forest management education, and in helping small businesses transition away from the industries damaging the region's forests.

    There are so many ways to make our planet a healthier, cleaner, and greener place. This is just one way that big money can also be a part of that change. 

    close up of tiger face black background

    3. WATCH OUT! Tiger Population Growing in India

    Ever met a tiger in the wild? No? That's probably a good thing, but these days, if you head over to India you might have a better chance of running into one.

    The most recent census put the number of wild tigers in the country at 2,967, up 33% from four years ago. In the early 1900's more than 100,000 tigers roamed India's wild (and sometimes not so wild) areas. Heavy hunting, poaching, and clashes with humans spurred on the tiger population's precipitous fall, bringing it to an all-time low in 2010.

    While the positive numbers should be taken with a grain of salt (the higher numbers may just be due to better counting), it's a good sign there are more Shere Khans in the world than we previously thought. 

    4. India is the Newest Member of the Clean Air Coalition

    Also in India...

    The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) is a UN facilitated group of 65 countries dedicated to reducing air pollution and protecting our climate through innovative, solutions-oriented approaches - and India is the newest member!

    What does this mean? India has pledged to reduce air particulate by 20-30% by 2024, leveraging air cleaning technology, increasing vehicle emissions standards, as well as taking advantage of clean energy sources.

    Clean air in India is a huge problem. Smog and air quality warnings in major cities across the country have increased in number and intensity over the years, mostly due to a rapidly expanding industrial economy and insufficient regulation and enforcement.

    Now a part of the CCAC, India will be accountable to the other coalition members to improve air quality for the benefit of everyone. And all the trees we're going to plant there should definitely help in this effort!

    5. Ethiopia's Massive Tree Planting Initiative

    Trees, trees, trees, and more trees! How many trees is 350 million? ... A lot!

    Ethiopia has potentially set a tree-planting record by planting 350 million trees is just one day. The plantings were part of a larger effort to restore the drought-prone country's tree coverage by planting some 4 billion native tree species.

    Forest coverage in Ethiopia has long suffered the effects of industry, agricultural expansion, and climate change. In the early 1900's, forests covered nearly 35% of the country. By the 2000's that number was less than 5%.

    Those trees will be well received in the country - we just hope they are well cared for and withstand the test of time!

    snow leopard covered in snow

    6. Snow Leopards and Humans: A Match Made in Mongolia

    More good news for the cat lovers in your life.

    An interview with Mongolian activist Bayarjargal Agvaantseren in Yale's E360 online publication reveals the lengths that she went to ensure snow leopards and humans would live together in harmony.

    Over the last 20 years, Agvaantseren has been pushing the government to create a "safe zone" covering 31,000 square miles in which a third of the snow leopards live. She was able to bring everyone to the table including indigenous populations who worked alongside her in advocating for the protection of the endangered species.  

    Agvaantseren's efforts have won her environmental prizes, and the interview is an inspiring testament to how hard work and dedication can pay off and result in positive outcomes for wildlife and the environment. 

    7. Rewild Your Backyard

    Did you know you can fight climate change right in your own (literal) backyard? While this isn't really news, this article shows how anyone with a backyard can help improve the environment in a few simple steps.

    We've told you all about rewilding and how giving the land back to nature can be super beneficial, but there are things you can do to rewild your own land. It's as simple as cutting your lawn less often, letting wild flowers proliferate, or putting in a pond.

    I mean, who doesn't want to have a little piece of the wilderness right outside their door?

    Good things are happening!

    No matter how high temperatures rise, or how many resources we use up, it's clear that there are good people doing good work to ameliorate our changing climate. So don't despair! If you need more, check out the full list of 2019's good news.

    And there is plenty you can do as well. If you want to make a difference, get involved by planting a tree or becoming a tree ambassador 🌲

    We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?

    by Joseph Coppolino

    Organic Content Creator & Enviro-fabulist