The end of another year is fast approaching and there will be conservation recollections and retrospectives from a variety of sources. As I came across some that pique my interest, I will post excerpts and links so that you can peruse them and get a feel for whether we are moving forward or backwards. In 2010, there have been setbacks for sure, the Deepwater Horizon/Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill being probably the biggest, but I would like to think we have also made some progress in the right direction. Judge for yourself.
From the U.K.'s Guardian, here is an excerpt from John Vidal's compilation:
2010 was UN's year of biodiversity and it culminated in 193 countries and 18,000 people meeting in Nagoya, Japan for a summit to address the alarming losses seen in forests, plant and animal species. Countries pledged to protect ecosystems, halve the rate of loss of natural habitats, protect marine, coral and coastal areas and restore at least 15% of degraded areas. Whether they have the political will to act and force though new laws is an open question. Meanwhile satellite imagery showed countries like China planting hundreds of millions of trees in 2010 but natural forests continuing to decline worldwide. Other research showed both the US and Canada with higher percentages of forest loss than Brazil, which in 2010 dropped its clearance rate almost 75%.
The stolen climate emails
What began in 2009 with the theft and the subsequent leaking online of hundreds of private emails and documents exchanged between many of the world's leading climate scientists, led to claims that they showed scientists manipulating and suppressing data to back up a theory of man-made climate change. This in turn threw serious doubts on the findings of the UN's Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its director Rajendra Pachauri. But four separate inquiries completed in 2010 cleared professor Phil Jones, head of East Anglia university's Climatic research unit, and his colleagues of the most serious charges. Instead, questions were levelled at the way in which they responded to requests for information. Pachauri survived attacks from right wing newspapers in Britain but proposed major reform of the Ipcc.
It was mostly a good year for oceans. The Obama administration reinstated a ban on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast, Chile saved a marine reserve known for its rare Humboldt penguins, blue whales and sea lions from the construction of a coal-fired power plant and the US banned bottom trawling in a 23,000 square mile area off the Southeast Atlantic coast. Sea protection group Oceana also reported that Belize became the third country in the world to ban all forms of trawling, Morocco and Turkey ended the use of illegal drift-nets and Chile announced the formation of the world's fourth-largest no-take marine reserve. Britain also announced a massive new marine park around the Chagos islands in the Indian ocean but outraged Mauritius when it became clear that this was to prevent exiled islanders ever returning to their homeland. The bad news was that the EU failed again to stop exploitation of over-fished fishing stocks, reducing the allowable catch by only 5% in 2011.
2010 was, provisionally, the hottest year recorded worldwide but it also saw some of the coldest temperatures and heaviest snow ever witnessed in Britain. Seventeen countries broke heat records, with an unprecedented heatwave and forest fires gripping much of Russia and the Middle east for weeks. An Asian record temperature of 53.7C (129F) in Pakistan and the third greatest loss of Arctic sea ice were also recorded. Strangely, while overall sea and land temperatures climbed to their highest levels in places where people mostly did not live, the more heavily populated temperate zones, including much of Britain, Europe and the US, experienced below average temperatures. The year ended with CO2 levels at their highest level ever recorded.
Read the complete year-in-review in the Guardian.