Earth Day falls on April 21 each year, and this year’s theme is ‘Together, we can Restore Our Earth'. First held on April 22, 1970, Earth Day now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally across more than 193 countries. In celebration of this important annual event, here are some inspiring environmental stories from around the globe.
1 - US announces plan to expand wind power
The Biden administration recently announced plans to expand offshore wind energy over the coming decade. The plan is part of President Biden’s efforts to transition the US economy to net zero greenhouse emissions. The White House said the plan would create more than 44,000 jobs and employ nearly 33,000 in offshore wind activity. The effort would also help avoid 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, a key step in the administration’s fight to combat global warming.
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2 - Australian Government launches National Plastics Plan
To help combat Australia’s mounting plastic crisis, the federal government has launched its first National Plastics Plan. The plan will include banning plastic on beaches, ending polystyrene packaging for takeaway containers, and phasing in microplastic filters in washing machines. A form of biodegradable plastic will also be phased out – a ‘fragmentable’ plastic that is so tiny it’s invisible to the eye, but still exists in landfills, waterways and soil. The National Plastics Plan aims to phase this ‘fragmentable’ plastic out by July 2022.
3 - The Iberian lynx back from brink of extinction
Less than 20 years ago, the Iberian lynx was extinct in its native Portugal and down to fewer than 100 animals in Spain. It was on track to become the first cat species to face extinction since the sabre-toothed tiger 12,000 year ago. But thanks to conservation measures the species has clawed its way back from the brink, with a wild population of around 1000 to date. Boosting prey species, and the creation of wildlife corridors and highway tunnels to reduce road deaths are some of the measures that have helped turn things around for the lynx.
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4 - Elon Musk collaborates on supersized battery farm
Elon Musk and Neoen are collaborating on a larger version of Tesla’s existing battery farm in South Australia. The Hornsdale Power Reserve has been a huge success, and the new battery farm will be double the size. After the success of Musk’s first battery farm, the Tesla owner and the government of Victoria, Australia are following it up by building a new 300-megawatt battery farm. It’s estimated the first battery farm saved South Australia more than $100 million in network costs. By storing power up to capacity of 100 MW, this ‘battery’ can absorb brief blips in the grid surrounding it, helping reduce outages for residents and easing the burden on businesses and families during those outages.
5 - Sand martin birds return to nest after 25 years in UK
A giant ‘sandcastle’ has been created by professional sand sculptors to encourage sand martins to nest at a nature reserve for the first time in 25 years, Surrey Wildlife Trust has said. The 400-tonne sand installation in Surrey, UK, was built by the sculptors using a giant bucket mould made from wooden boards, and with the assistance of diggers and dumper trucks. Sand martins visit the nature reserve when they migrate from sub-Saharan Africa each year, from mid-March until September. However, they have not nested there for 25 years. The 20-metre–long construction will allow hundreds of these tiny birds to nest and raise their young.
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