This week's environmental news
On Wednesday this week, Sir David Attenborough turned 93! Over the course of his impressive and lengthy career, the climate change pioneer has been an authoritative voice on the damage humans are doing to the planet through global warming and waste production.
Sir David began his career as a naturist and broadcaster for the BBC in 1952, before creating a number of award-winning programmes about the natural world, including Blue Planet (2000) and Africa (2013). He gained his title Sir David Attenborough in 1985 when he was given a knighthood.
Since the release of Blue Planet II, Sir David has become a conservationist voice in the UK, highlighting the threat we pose to the natural world through our continuous use of single-use plastic.
Here's a couple of our favourite quotes from him:
"We have a responsibility, every one of us... we may think we live a long way from the oceans, but we don't. What we actually do here, and in the middle of Asia and wherever, has a direct effect on the oceans - and what the oceans do then reflects back on us."
- Launch of Blue Planet II, 2017
"If you give nature a chance, it recovers... if the world can get together and stop doing it, it will recover. And I am optimistic."
- Speaking to Sky News in 2018
Britain has gone a week without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since 1882. This is a landmark movement in the transition away from heavily polluting fossil fuel.
Coal-fired power stations still play a major part in the UK's energy system as a backup during high demand but the increasing use of renewable energy sources such as wind power means it is required.
Burning coal to generate electricity is incompatible with catastrophic climate change, and luckily our government is committed to phasing out coal-fired power by 2025.
The devastating impact of humans on nature is laid bare in compelling UN report, which shows one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.
Nature everywhere is declining at a speed never previously seen and our need for ever more food and energy are the main drivers. From the bees that pollinate our crops, to the forests that hold back flood waters, the report reveals how humans are ravaging the very ecosystems that support their societies.
While Earth has always suffered at the hands of humans, the last 50 years are pushing the planet too far. The rate of destruction is tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10 million years. The world's population has doubled since 1970 and international trade has increased 10 times over. To feed, clothe and give energy to this growing world, forests have been cleared at shocking rates, especially in tropical areas.
An average of around 25% of animals and plants are now threatened. Fish are being exploited as never before, with 33% of fish stocks harvested at unsustainable levels in 2015. The assessment also found that soils are being degraded as never before. This has reduced the productivity of 23% of the land surface of the Earth. As well, plastic pollution has increased 10 times since 1980.
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) is urging retailers to stop marketing and selling tents as single-use items. It is also calling on festival-goers to take their tents home with them at the end of the event.
The initiative comes are the AIF found that, while improvements have been made by festivals to reduce the amount of plastic they use, abandoned tents remain a real problem. A report published by the AIF in 2018 found that 93% of festivals have ditched plastic straws, while 40% banned the sale of drinks in single-use plastic on site.
However, it also found that 10% of people attending festivals has abandoned a tent that year - that works out as roughly 250,000 tents and equivalent to 875 tonnes of plastic waste.