10 items of good news re
the environment, since 1994
mostly been 'two steps forward, one step back' for the environment during the
first 10 years of the Time Capsule project, let's be positive. There have been some
real steps forward. Here are some examples, in no special order:
enormous Millennium Seed Bank
Crucially important, conserving genetic biodiversity
for an uncertain future. Long-time preservable seeds are a unique feature of
some plants; but as science
advances we can expect the "seed" model to be increasingly applied to
species also (ie conserving DNA for future use, a bit like in Jurassic Park!)
of many highly Endangered Species in the wild
Numerous individual examples of success, involving
enforced agreements and various biological conservation measures: golden eagles
and buzzards, otters, whales, big cats, frogs and cowslips... But much more
needs to be done, especially to preserve endangered habitats for multitudes of
creatures in the world's few remaining wild places.
Rights of Way Act, UK
A successful initiative of Friends of Earth, Ramblers
Association and other bodies to preserve wildlife and Sites of Special
beaches in the UK
More beaches have the blue flag for
cleanliness than 10 years ago.
Eden Project, St Austell (www.edenproject.com)
This environmentally-friendly project with a strong
educational component, growing tropical and subtropical plants in huge domes
within an old china-clay pit, has been developed entirely since 1994. The Centre for Alternative Technology (www.cat.org.uk), has been around longer and is also a
beacon of what might be.
6 Recycling more accepted everywhere,
facilities more available, and recyclability being
more often built-in when manufacturing new products (eg the Volkswagen)
environmental grounds is more widely understood
New building regulations require better insulation, but should be applied to old
as well as new buildings. Tax on fossil fuels to promote conservation (and
substitution by greener energy) is environmentally good: but advantages are not
often appreciated especially in the absence of good public transport!
energy sources being researched
Much progress has been made into improved
means of harnessing solar power, wind, wave and tidal power, and other options.
But: all have their own downsides, and are not so brilliantly simple and
convenient to use as oil and gas particularly for transport. We will have to
learn to live by each using LESS energy (fewer energy users would also help, ,
ie stable human numbers).
examples of using science and technology in "green" ways
Peat bogs being saved worldwide, through discovering recycled
substitutes for garden compost; or hydrogen as a vehicle fuel (still has to be made from
another energy source but at least it is 100% clean, burning to water only). There are dozens of egs here, involving
techniques to make fresh from salt water, better materials for longer-lived
products, better coverings to preserve materials from rust etc etc. But they
need more widespread application; and sadly science cannot "fix" everything, if
we continue to treat a finite world as if it were infinite.
10 Montreal protocol
on ozone-damaging CFCs
This is a success story, should be a model for similar
much-needed world conservation agreements. Since 1994, CFCs are very rarely now
used as propellants for aerosols, and substitutes are being found for
applications in refrigeration.