I have crouched over rain-soaked fields in the spring and made ball, after ball, after ball of soil in my hand. I have rolled these packed clumps around, dropped them on the ground, and then once more, just to be sure, during monsoon spells of utter inundation and concluded---“Nope, too wet to work these fields.” Why should I or any other farmer care whether a packed handful of wet mud is indeed, packed and mud? How will the future of our food systems be shaped by farmer knowledge and treatment of fields today? The answer is: soil health. The structure, integrity, and potential of our agricultural soil is paramount to the health of our collective growth as a society.
Soil health refers to the tilth, water holding capacity, compaction rate, and both nutrient content and ability to share those nutrients with plant life. Soil health means robust microbial activity and the long-term ability to support crop production, livestock graze, browse, or forage, and surrounding bioregion vitality. By treating soil as one of our most prized commodities—water sources, forests, fields, and local fauna also benefit as pieces of an interdependent system. Our soil is also our cradle within the food production cycle. We cannot incubate successful farms without solid platforms for growing nutrient dense farm products. There is no substitute for a diverse, biologically sound growing medium. Soil health begins with research, education, and dissemination of best practices to farmers young and old alike.
Research universities, organization, and on-farm demonstrations yield tremendous insight into sustainably managed soil health. Let’s look at cover-cropping as one example (as just one of many sustainable soil health improvement techniques). As farms trial various cover-cropping combinations aimed at equally various goals (tillage radish to remediate compaction, buckwheat to mine for phosphorous, winter rye to assist with organic matter) crucial research is also being executed. The results of these trials amount to hugely important educational opportunities for the entire national and global sustainable agricultural community. As we improve our methods of results transmission, such as the work of NCAT, we are creating a fibrous root system capable of tapping into the soil health of many farms in scattered and unique locations.
Disclaimer: I’m not even close to being a climate expert. I’m just a passionate, (still for the time being) optimistic Millennial who really thinks we can change the world.
If you have any doubts about anthropogenic climate change, I’d invite you to check out resources from the American Association for the Advancement of Science What We Know initiative or from NASA Global Climate Change to learn more about the scientific study of climate change. Discussions on the environment can be overwhelming. While conversations on impacted indigenous communities, non-renewable energies, ecosystem and biodiversity loss, global land use, and climate-related migration are all critical, I’m not sure a one-off blog post is the best forum for that (although if you want to learn more about any of those things, I’m happy to send resources or start the conversation).
We live in a strange world caught within the intersection of social activism and the comforts offered by convenience and complacency. For the environment, that intersection is a hypocritical one: we defend avocado toast, eagerly await the next chance to cure wanderlust, and are frighteningly reliant on cloud-based technologies but reluctant to admit the environmental brutality of an agricultural regime that allows us to eat avocados in the first place, of an airline industry that emits billions of tons of carbon dioxide each year, and of technological platforms supported by resource-intensive data centers. There’s no one solution that will reverse the environmental damages already done or change our egregious production-consumption patterns. But there are a lot of smaller changes that can and should be made. Sure, industries are the biggest polluters, but you know what? They respond to their bottom lines and to their shareholders: you and me. Changes in consumer demand is a powerful and effective tool.
But the ability to make changes for the benefit of the environment implies a level of privilege and necessitates a disposable income able to commit the monetary resources and research commitment into making consumption changes. For more about what the environmental movement gets wrong and what will bring about real change, I’d invite you to check out Alden Wicker’s post, “Conscious consumerism is a lie. Here’s a better way to help save the world”.
How do we change the status quo? Through political advocacy and lobbying. But for those who feel overwhelmed by the daily political fight for justice, there are also small choices we make as consumers that have a huge impact on the environment. Here are five things you can do now to decrease your footprint:
1. EAT BETTER.
The industrial meat, dairy, agriculture, and fishing industries are some of the largest global polluters in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, land conversion, reliance on antibiotics, and pesticide use. The human rights abuses associated with labor-intensive agricultural commodities, meat and fish processing, and the removal of local and indigenous communities from their land are not insignificant. Bananas, coffee, fish, tea, milk, meat, and chocolate are not cheap to produce. But they are cheap to buy because they are products of an exploited supply chain driven by demand in developed countries. We need to do better. Look for local products at the store and for certifications like free-range (meat, dairy) and the Marine Stewardship Council’s eco-label for seafood. To learn more about the impact of our dietary choices on the environment, check out this study from a team at Tufts University on U.S. agricultural land use or Seafood Watch from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which also provides regionally specific recommendations for what fish to choose and avoid.
2. CHECK THE LABEL.
This applies to pretty much everything--food, drinks, clothing, cosmetics--and pretty much every ingredient. You may be shocked to find just how (unnecessarily) global our economy really is. Chances are the ordinary products in your home like toothpaste, pickles, peanut butter, or shampoo are imported. When it comes to ingredients, just because just because an ingredient is listed doesn't necessarily mean it's safe for you or the environment: most products are tested for short-term rather than long-term health effects. Consumer resources are available from Green America, The Art of Simple, and The Good Trade.
3. CONSUME SMARTER.
There’s no convenient way around this one: micro-plastics are polluting our oceans and flying is bad for the environment. But it’s not just us flying…. it’s the cheap goods we consume on a regular basis that do a fair amount of pollutant-heavy travel (by land, air, and sea) before they get to our local store or online shopping cart. We need to rethink how we consume. Cutting out plastic water bottles and straws, bringing your own bags to the grocery store, and buying in bulk with reusable containers are all good starting points. Eating out less, buying less online, and contacting your retailers to let them know you actually care about their environmental and labor practices (and then proving that with your dollars) are also critically important. Read more about global plastic consumption in this recent exposé by The Guardian.
4. SPEND LESS TIME ON ELECTRONICS.
Those extra minutes of gaming and social media add up when it comes to energy consumption (not to mention the human rights abuses in the mining industry that fuel electronics consumption). Many states and companies in the U.S. are turning toward cleaner sources of energy, but our digital footprint is getting larger. It’s hard to avoid the use of technology at work and in school, but personal consumption has a big impact as well. Given the increased importance of local actors in light of the White House’s policies on mining, offshore drilling, and environmental protection, it’s important to continue pressuring state-level policymakers and industry stakeholders.
5. PUT YOUR $$ WHERE YOUR BRUNCH IS.
I get it, we’re Millennials who have been left by a reckless older generation with skyrocketing healthcare and education costs. But if we can afford those IPAs and that wanderlust, we can afford $10 now and then for environmental conservation and for products we know aren’t made in sweatshops. If we want supply chains that put environmental considerations and labor rights first, we are going to have to pay a more for those products. There are a lot of great organizations doing great climate policy research and advocacy work in addition to conservation. I’d add The Ocean Conservancy, Resources for the Future, and Wildlife Conservation Society to that list as well.
Behavior change is hard and slow, but we don’t have a choice. Climate change is here and there is no planet B. The number of climate migrants negatively impacted by severe weather events, pollution, conflict, and rising sea levels is expected to increase. It is often those in vulnerable or impoverished communities who are impacted most negatively by the decisions of those in power. Unfortunately, whether considering these communities in developed or developing countries, the impacts of climate change are the same. As comparatively wealthy, educated individuals living in one of the worst-polluting countries, it is our responsibility to act. Try eating meat just once or twice a week. Count the number of single-use plastics you throw out each week and try and use less. Track and reduce the number of hours you spend charging your electronics. Research where your state gets most of its energy and encourage your utility company to switch to (or keep using!) renewables. Advocate for climate policy in your region and support carbon pricing initiatives.
There is no panacea, but small changes make a big impact. We may not be in a political climate that encourages conservation, but the global conversation around climate change is bigger than the inadequacies of the current U.S. administration. It’s up to us to continue progress already made and become champions for the environment in our communities.
Written by Guest Contributer: Stephanie Swinehart
One of the most striking characteristics of the last American presidential election was the amount of fact-baseless claims politicians have made. Candidates simply made statements about climate change, whether or not it was true -without deeming to source their information at all. The man who perpetrated this most of all? America’s newest President: Donald Trump. Since taking office, he has instituted a number of policies that seem to bring America closer towards an industrialisation-era style of deregulation and lack of any thought given towards the environment.
Whether or not you voted for him, it brings about an interesting question. Why would the public vote for a man who routinely claimed that scientists had political bias? What does this say about how much the public trusts science?And, what does that have to do with climate change policy?
The Pew Research Centre asked both scientists and other respondents last year about their opinions on different topics. For example, while 88 percent of scientists say that genetically modified foods (GMOs) are safe to eat, 37 percent of American adults agree with them. That’s a huge 51 point gap between the two. Even worse is that once the respondents are broken down between Republican and Democrats, in 2014, Pew found that 42 percent of Republican voters view scientists as liberal - not independent.
That is a problem - because climate change policy is rooted in how scientists view what is happening on the planet today and where it will go in the future. Listening to scientists brought President Obama and the majority of other world countries to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, something that President Trump has already withdrawn from. He withdrew from this agreement because politically - it was the right choice to stand with his constituents, even if scientists in both his administration and outside stress the urgent need for global change.
Much of public distrust can be rooted in the fact that scientists are grouped with the “elite,” where Republicans often place much of their disagreements and problems. Further, in the past years, there have been many instances where false positives have gained national or international traction before being retracted. For every one study telling one result, there is another that boldly claims the opposite. What is published online does not include research methodology or the statistical significance of their findings.
Climate change policy, in the simplest form, is political solutions for climate related problems. It can also be called environmental policy and it should rely on facts rather than short-term political gain. How we can fix this has to do with regaining the public trust in science. That means better research, higher standards of statistical significance, more transparency, and learning how to talk about science in a way that is easy for everyone to understand. Public trust in science might be at a low right now - but creating good climate change policy relies on it being much higher. Where will scientists take the first step?
The Senate has no resolution to vote on a measure that would halt a government shutdown, and without a rare showing of bipartisanship - the government will shut down. Although the House of Representatives, during the last minutes of Thursday, passed a bill to avert the shutdown - the Senate provides no such hope. This might come as a surprise sinceboth the House and Senate are controlled by the Republican Party. A citizen might assume that they could pass anything.
However, the Senate has a supermajority rule - meaning that 60 out of 100 senators will need to approve this funding proposal. Therefore, the vote requires votes from both parties, Democrats and Republicans alike. The House of Representatives, on the other hand, has no such rule. The House Republicans were able to pass the government funding bill without the help of Democrats with a vote of 230-197. This bill will fund the government until February 16.
The issues at stake are: government funding, CHIP, and the continued DACA/Dreamers program. Republican Senators argue that continuing to support short-term government funding bills harms the military. Democrats on the other hand refuse to support the bill because it does not address the DACA issue. CHIP is the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, to which billions of dollars of funding was added in the House Republican bill.
DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is essentially a program designed to help young undocumented immigrants stay in the country who entered as minors. Dreamers, those who have received help from DACA, were eligible to receive deferred action from deportation and a work permit. President Trump plans to scrap it, thereby sending hundreds of thousands of young immigrants out from the United States, even though some have never lived anywhere else.
The top Senators from both parties, Chuck Schumer (D) and Mitch McConnell (R) fought for most of Thursday evening - however, no solution has yet been reached. McConnell said in an email that he would keep the Senate in session over the weekend if no deal was reached. However, without any kind of move towards compromise - there appears to be no agreement.
What happens if the government shuts down? Everything that is funded by the government will cease to operate unless a solution is found. That means government employees will not be able to go to work. Beyond that, teachers will not get their paychecks. National parks will be closed. In essence, it affects a lot of people. So when the Senate debates later today, will they keep in mind the millions of Americans impacted by their lack of ability to compromise or will the government shut down for a days, a week, a month or more and cause the country to lose millions of dollars in the meantime? We’ll find out later today.
Take a moment out of your day to read about the devastating impact of climate change on the Lake Chad area.
Shopping smart can be the first thing that could help cut on your carbon footprint, but it can also cut your shopping bills! This year make a choice to shop smarter by buying goods in bulk and items with less packaging. If you start off the year by purchasing household goods in bulk, such as flour, sugar, olive oil, along with spices, you will pay less per weight and also pay less for packaging since you won’t have to purchase these everyday goods for awhile!
Say No to Plastic
And say yes to reusable grocery bags, and your favorite water bottle. Plastic is something that never goes away, so making sure you play your role in cutting it out of your daily life is hugely impactful. You can make these bags and your water bottle your signature items. We love and use these:
Get There “Greenly”
Transportation is one of the largest environmental impacts. Within the context of the United States cars and trucks account for ⅕ of CO2 emissions, one of the primary fuelers of global warming and climate change. Each independent action has the ability to reduce overall emissions. There are many great options. If you live in a city where public transportation is a viable option: take that. However, if that’s not an option - bike or run to work! This is a great alternative to driving. If you invest in a great running backpack, you can bring your change of clothes, have your water, and enough room for lunch too. If you have to drive to work, but still want to reduce your carbon footprint, offer your car up as a car to share rides. Some great apps for this are Carma Carpooling and Trees for cars.
If you do not own a car, Cargo and Zipcar are great options. Whatever you can do, even if it is once or twice a week, has the ability to greatly impact the world around you, make you happier, and work towards a better world, where we all do our part.
Spring Cleaning? No Winter Revamping:
This winter, revamp your house and make it green. Again it will reduce your bills and your impact. Change all of your lights to LED (use less electricity-both a cut in coal burning and in your monthly bill), seal up your window seals and keep more heat in (use less heat). Most states offer free energy audits to find more ways you can make your living situation even more green!
Join a Local CSA
Joining a local CSA means two things —you will get wonderful, seasonal and fresh veggies all year long and because your produce is locally sourced your food will have a very small environmental brunt given that it must not travel long distances to get to your table. Also, in many places if you volunteer to help plant, weed, or help with sales at a CSA you can get your share of veggies in fruit in turn for your work. Check out some local recipes from Portland's Farmers Market Cookbook for inspiration!
It is the small things, done by many people that create a wave of change. In order to create a world that is more sustainable it is up to each individual to integrate sustainable practices into their lives to create this change. Please reach out to us with any ideas or contributions. If you own a company that is creating sustainable change we would love to interview you or highlight your product on our website!
The Aral Sea is located between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and has been cited several times in historical documents from the Silk Route era. The region was occupied by desert nomadic tribes and the Sea was often used as a source of fishing. How, then, did it change from local water basin to desert-like status?
The answer is simple: human intervention.
When newscasters talk about climate change, the usual suspects are rising oceans, changing weather patterns and the growing problem of smog in large industrial cities like Beijing. What is not as often focused on is the phenomenon of places like the Aral Sea. It was once the world’s fourth largest inland water body spanning around 68,000 square kilometres. Now it is nearly a tenth of its former size.
As early as the 1930’s through the 1960’s, the Soviet Union diverted water from two main regional rivers, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, so much so that the Aral Sea divided into smaller bodies of water. This was done in order to stimulate the production of cotton in Soviet satellite countries like Uzbekistan. The Soviet Union created canals and dams throughout the desert, in most cases, poorly - and not only diverted a large portion of water, but wasted many more tons of it.
Measuring this change amongst the sea not only comes from noting the difference in the Aral Sea’s surface area - which decreased 60 percent from 1960 to 1998 - but also from commentary on the ecosystem and livelihood for those who live there. There is no fishing industry that booms as it did in the early days of the Soviet Union. Due to weapons testing in the region and fertiliser run offs, the sea became so salty that even aquatic animals have difficulty surviving. Pollution also haunts the Aral Sea and has caused high rates of respiratory illnesses in the who live around the area.
Despite all this, the Aral Sea is making a revival. In 1994, regional powers Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan adopted the Aral Sea Basin Program to better understand and mitigate the effects of humans on the Aral Sea. Rehabilitation work continues through today with countries building the Dike Kokaral as recently as 2005 - which helps to balance the water levels in the North and South Aral Sea.
Satellite imagery photos taken by NASA show that all of these efforts have making an impact. The Aral Sea might be much smaller than it was in the 1960’s; however, there is evidence of growth in the eastern part of the South Aral Sea, whereas the it was completely dry in 2014. However, Philip Micklin, an expert from Western Michigan University cautioned against early optimism, “This year’s events do not signal a restoration of the eastern lobe as a permanent feature.”
In other words, even with the best human efforts to the contrary, long-term effects of bad climate policies can impact a country and its seas can and may never leave us. Still, there are signs of life in the Aral Sea region - from a higher diversity of fish and a burgeoning fishing population. One cannot say whether or not the Aral Sea region will regain a fraction of its former glory, but let’s hope it can make some strides towards fixing what happened in the past.
2017 can be seen as a dark year in our contemporary history. It was a year filled with environmental catastrophes, political change and the growing problem of the Islamic State. But we’ve had enough of bad news. It’s time to spread light on the good things that shaped this year. These positive events are often less talked about or even completely ignored. In this article we will try to review some of this past year’s positive events and promising initiatives.
JANUARY 01, 2017: Dutch electric trains to run exclusively on green energy.
In the beginning of January, a spokesman of the Dutch national railway company NS declared that 100% of their electric trains were powered by wind energy, coming from windmills. The goal of the company was to reach that percentage by January 2018, but they actually achieved it a year earlier! The ENECO and NS companies declared that their 600,000 daily passengers were the first in the world to travel thanks to wind energy. They also declared that one windmill working for one hour could provide a train with enough energy to run for 120 miles. They hope to even decrease that amount of necessary energy by 2020.
MARCH 08, 2017: Iceland becomes the first country to eradicate the gender pay gap.
Iceland has now made it mandatory for companies of more than 25 employees to prove they pay their staff the same amount, regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or nationality. Women should then enjoy the same salary as men for a same job. However, this move is part of a larger movement to completely eradicate the gender pay gap in Iceland over five years (so, by 2022). Although women were still being paid 14 to 18% less than men before this year, Iceland has long been engaged in giving equal rights to both genders and to fight inequality towards women. It has been ranked first country of the world in terms of performance on closing their overall gender gap for the ninth year in a row, by the World Economic Forum.
MAY 07, 2017: Emmanuel Macron wins the French presidential election.
This one is, of course, all relative. Not everybody wanted Macron to win, and many people are unhappy about his current domestic policies. But, the only alternative in this election was Marine Le Pen, who truly represents the most far-rights movements of Europe right now. We are aware and respect that many people voted for her and wanted her to win, however, many more people also saw her as a very dangerous threat for their country, and for Europe. Emmanuel Macron, regardless of his flaws, is a strong European-believer and is firmly engaged in the fight against climate change; Two things that Le Pen clearly opposed.
JUNE 30, 2017: Simone Veil dies at age 89.
Alright, this one is not good news, but we will try to use this moment to remember the battles and to salute the courage of this incredible woman. Simone Veil was a Holocaust survivor and one of France’s most influential states women. She survived Auschwitz concentration camp, and in 1974 became health minister of France. She fought for the legalisation of contraception and abortion. Her precursor work on the rights of women has marked the French political scene. Overcoming political and personal obstacles, she managed to pass abortion rights under the “Veil Law” name. In 1973, she gave a resounding speech on the right to voluntarily interrupt pregnancy before the French National Assembly, at the time, mostly constituted of men. Her speech is still often referred to and became one of those legendary speeches that marked their time. Simone Veil was a strong pioneering feminist and a firm pro-european believer. She served as health minister from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1993 to 1995. In 1979 she became the first president of the European Parliament and held that position until 1982.
JUNE 30: Germany legalises gay marriage. Finland and Australia as well.
After Angela Merkel dropped her long-standing opposition to same-sex marriage, the German Parliament passed the law, allowing everybody to unite under the same rights and to adopt children. Civil partnership has been legal in Germany since 2001, but full rights to get married were voted only this year. As the leader of the CDU (Christian Democrat Party), Angela Merkel has long been opposing gay rights, but she recently changed her mind, and allowed a snap vote.
Actually Finland passed the gay marriage legislation before Germany. On March 1st, the government of Finland legalized same sex marriage and the right to adopt. It was the last of the Nordic countries to legalize gay marriage. However, for now only civil marriage is allowed for all, as the traditional church wedding is still restricted to heterosexual couples.
On December 07, Australia also passed a historic bill legalizing same-sex marriage, prompting immediate celebrations in the parliament and throughout the country. After his speech on gay marriage, one MP proposed to his partner in the parliament.
JULY 06, 2017: France and the UK plan to ban petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.
France’s new environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, declared that France would stop using vehicles that depended on petrol and diesel by 2040, as part of an environmental plan. This announcement is part of a five-year plan focused on clean energy, decided under the Paris Agreement. This also came after Volvo declared they would only produce electric cars from 2019 on. Poorer households should receive an allowance to exchange their polluting vehicle for a green alternative one. Moreover, the entire country also plans to stop using coal as a source of electricity by 2022. The British government also announced in July that it would ban all petrol and diesel-fuelled cars and vans by 2040, in order to tackle air pollution. Similarly, the Netherlands and Norway have also said that they wanted to ban all combustion-powered vehicles by 2025, and Germany and India aim to do it by 2030.
AUGUST 29, 2017: Successful test for the Ocean Cleanup project.
Back in 2013, young Boyan Slat came up with the idea of creating a new technology to clean the oceans. At first, his idea seemed to be unrealistic, but he received funding and started his non-profit organization. After several successful tests in the North Sea, the Ocean Cleanup project should be fully implemented in May 2018 in the North Pacific gyre. The technology is based on a passive drifting system that absorbs all plastics contained in the ocean, thanks to the natural currents. The organization has the respectable ambition to clean up half of the Great Pacific plastic pollution in a 5-years time.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2017: Saudi Arabia announces the end of the ban on women driving.
It was the last country in the world to forbid women to drive, and on September 26, King Salman released a decree that will end the law. The order should be implemented on June 24, 2018. This event prompted great celebrations amid feminists and women who have been fighting for their right to drive for decades. The ambassador confirmed that women would now have the right to drive wherever they liked and that they would not need a man’s permission to take driving lessons. Moreover, on December 11, Saudi Arabia also lifted the ban on cinemas after 35 years in effect, causing immediate joy amongst film lovers, directors and movie industry workers. The theaters should start showing films in March 2018.
OCTOBER 06, 2017: ICAN is awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
The threat of a nuclear war weighs upon us all. Many countries are still in possession of nuclear weapons and, lately, North Korea and the United States have threatened to use their respective arsenals. Complete annihilation of nuclear weapons seems a long way away but organizations like ICAN still continue to fight for it. Last year, the Nobel Prize committee decided to award the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) organization for “its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons" ("The Nobel Peace Prize 2017". Nobelprize.org. 2 Jan 2018).
DECEMBER 09, 2017: Iraq declares victory over ISIS.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi declared in August that the armed forces have regained control over the ISIS occupied areas of Tal Afar and Nineveh. Although not the entire country has been liberated, most of it has been. This marks a real progress in the war against the Islamic States that has been ravaging Iraq for three years. This past year, the Iraqi military has reclaimed several cities and provinces from the terrorist group. On July 09, Mosul, the capital of the Nineveh province, was liberated. Following that, Raqqa was liberated on October 17, although completely destroyed.And, on December 09, the Prime Minister declared that the entire country had been liberated and that they had re-taken control of the Iraqi-Syrian border. Even though some terrorists are presumably still active in a small province of Iraq and that some others could still be hiding in the country, this declaration is a significant event.
DECEMBER 18, 2017: “The Silence Breakers” are TIME magazine’s person of the year.
The MeToo hashtag launched by Alyssa Milano on Twitter followed the Harvey Weinstein scandal. This year, more women than ever before started to speak out about sexual harassment. The American show business industry was the starting point of many accusations of sexual assaults. Then, millions of women shared their experiences on social media and reported their attacker. Sexual harassment is a deep problem rooted in our societies, and even if none of this is normal, it was often explained as “socially acceptable”. The MeToo campaign changed this perception. This year, the TIME magazine decided to honour all these courageous women who decided to follow the movement and to speak out.
DECEMBER 31, 2017: Ban on ivory trade in China enters into force.
China had declared earlier this year that it would progressively ban the ivory trade market throughout the country before the end of 2017. African ivory is widely pleaded in China, as it is seen as a status symbol. However, the illegal ivory trade has dramatic consequences in the African savanna. Thousands of wild elephants and rhinos are being poached each year causing severe issues in the local biodiversity. Activists see this move as a “gamechanger”, that could prevent the species from extinction. Nevertheless, now that the Chinese market is closed, Hong Kong could well become the traffickers’ new target to import illegal ivory on the legal ivory market.
SPECIAL MENTION to these people who restored our faith in humanity.
On April 11, Saffiyah Khan stepped in to defend a muslim woman who was being surrounded by EDL protesters (far-right movement) during a demonstration in Birmingham.
On November 10, Kate McClure created a GoFundMe account to help homeless man, Johnny Bobbitt, who selflessly gave her his last 20$ when she needed gas to go back home safely. She wanted to pay him back and created a funding campaign to help him get back on tracks. She has raised over 400,000$ so far!
In December 2017, a man saved a wild rabbit from the fire ravaging California.
2017 recently came to an end and we thought it was time to remember what happened in the past 12 months. It is hard to tell if 2017 was really worse than any other year, but it does seem like a lot of unfortunate events took place and that dark times repeated themselves. Marked by environmental crisis, political turmoil and terrorist attacks, this year was full of upheavals, so here is a summary of some of the most significant events of 2017.
January 01: A terrorist attack in a nightclub in Istanbul kills 39 people and wounds 70 others.
January 02: Three terrorist attacks kill 70 people in Baghdad, Iraq.
January 07: A car bombing in Azaz, Syria kills at least 48 people.
January 10: Three terrorist attacks in Afghanistan kill at least 57 people.
January 18: A terrorist attack in Gao, Mali, leaves 77 dead.
January 20: Inauguration of Donald Trump, as the 45th President of the United States.
January 21: Millions of people worldwide walked the streets and joined the Women’s March.
January 22: Chile is devastated by fires and declares a state of emergency.
January 27: Donald Trump bans travel to the US for seven mostly Muslim countries and suspends admission of refugees.
February 11: North Korea starts its ballistic missile testings and is internationally condemned.
February 26: The movie Moonlight receives the Best Picture Award at the 2017 Oscar Ceremony.
March 08: A terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, kills 49 people.
March 10: The UN warns that the world is facing one of the biggest humanitarian crisis in history with risks of large-scale starvation in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan.
March 11: A double terrorist attack in Damas, Syria kills at least 74 people.
March 22: A car drove into the crowd on a bridge in Westminster, London, killing 5 people.
March 29: The United Kingdom calls on the article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start the leaving process from the European Union.
April 03: A suicide bomber activated his device in a subway station in Saint-Petersbourg, killing 14 people and injuring dozens.
April 04: Two terrorist attacks in Egypt kill at least 44 people.
April 13: The United States drops the MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) on an ISIL base in Afghanistan. The MOAB is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the entire American arsenal.
April 20: Two people die in terrorist attack in Paris, two days before first turn of presidential election.
May 07: Emmanuel Macron wins the French presidential election against Marine Le Pen and becomes youngest president of France.
May 12: Computers in more than 150 countries are hit by a large-scale ransomware cyberattack.
May 22: Terrorist bombing attack kills 22 people and injures 500 at a concert in Manchester.
May 28: Floods and landslides kill at least 151 people in Sri Lanka.
May 31: A bombing truck kills 350 people and wounds 460 more in Kabul, Afghanistan.
June 01: The United States withdraws from the Paris Climate Agreement.
June 03: A terrorist attack in London’s Borough Market, kills at least 7 and wounds 48.
June 07: Two terrorist attacks are carried simultaneously in Tehran, Iran, killing 17 civilians and wounding 43.
June 10: The 2017 World Expo is opened in Astana, Kazakhstan. Its theme is “Future Energy”.
June 12: American student Otto Warmbier returns from North Korea in coma and dies a couple of days later, after spending 17 months in jail.
June 14: A large fire burns down the Grenfell tower in London, killing at least 30 people.
June 17: Large fires ravage Portugal, killing at least 64 people. More fires started again in October killing about forty people.
July 07: The G20 starts in Hamburg, and is followed by wide street demonstrations.
July 10: Mosul is officially liberated from ISIL.
July 24: Two terrorist attacks in Afghanistan kill at least 59 people.
August 05: The UN Security Council votes in favor of new sanctions against North Korean trade.
August 12: White supremacists march in the streets and are met with counter protesters in Charlottesville, amid rare violence that caused international outrage.
August 14: A terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, kills 18 people.
August 14: 320 people die under a mudflow in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
August 17: Two terrorist attacks in Barcelona, Spain, kill 16 people and leave 100 wounded.
August 25: Beginning of systematic massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, qualified as “ethnic cleansing” by the UNHCHR.
August 25-30: Hurricane Harvey strikes the United States and causes record-breaking floods, killing at least 90 people.
September 03: North Korea carries its sixth and most powerful nuclear test
September 06-10: Hurricane Irma strikes the Caribbean and the United States causing the death of 134 people. Saint Martin island is almost completely destroyed.
September 07: Mexico is hit by strongest earthquake in a century (8.2 magnitude) in Chiapas.
September 15: London is again targeted by terrorists. A terrorist attack happens in the underground station Parsons Green. The device partially exploded and wounded around 30 people.
September 19: Mexico is struck by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, killing at least 350 people and leaving 6,000 injured (and many more homeless).
September 19-20: Hurricane Maria strikes same areas as Irma, and causes at least 94 deaths.
September 25: Kurdistan votes in referendum in favor of independence from Iraq.
October 01: Crowd in Las Vegas is victim of the deadliest shooting in US history (perpetrated by a single gunman). Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd, killing 58 people and injuring 546.
October 08: Following several accusations of sexual harassment, Harvey Weinstein is sacked by his company. After this event, thousands of women started to speak against sexual harassment and to report their attackers. On October 15, Alyssa Milano launched the #MeToo movement by posting it on Twitter.
October 12: The United States decides to withdraw from UNESCO, Israel as well.
October 14: A truck bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia, kills at least 512 people, and injures 316.
October 17: Raqqa is declared liberated from ISIL.
October 27: Catalonia declares its independence from Spain, but is not recognized.
October 31: A truck drives into the crowd in Manhattan, New York, causing the death of 8 people.
November 03: Deir ez-Zor in Syria and Al-Qa’im in Iraq are both declared liberated from ISIL.
November 06: The COP23 is organized in Bonn, Germany.
November 12: Iraq is struck by a 7.3 earthquake, leaving more than 400 dead and 7,000 injured. This quake was the deadliest this year.
November 15: Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe is arrested and resigns after 37 years in power.
November 22: The International Court of Justice condemns Ratko Mladić to life imprisonment for committing the Srebrenica genocide during the Bosnian War.
November 24: A mosque is attacked in Sinai, Egypt, killing 305 people.
December 06: Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
December 06: California is struggling to contain the Thomas fire.
December 09: Iraq is declared fully liberated from ISIL.
December 12: The organization ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) receives the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
December 14: The Walt Disney Company declares it will acquire 20th Century Fox film studios.
December 14: The US Federal Communications Commission votes to end net neutrality.
December 22: The UN Security Council votes in favor of additional sanctions on North Korea.
December 24: Guatemala, Honduras and Panama declare they will also move their Israeli embassies to Jerusalem.
December 27: A bomb explodes in a mall in Saint-Petersburg and injures several people.
This list is obviously a non-exhaustive one. Only a few of all terrorist attacks are mentioned here, as 2017 counts hundreds of them. More earthquakes and storms have happened around the globe and even more political issues rattled the international scene. 2017 made us the helpless witnesses of an ongoing nuclear cold war between the United States and North Korea. Environmental catastrophes kept flowing and the reign of terror kept striking everywhere. But fortunately, 2017 was not only about tragic stories. Even though negative events are often the only aspect of our life that is featured in media, some courageous souls are working towards making the world a better place. We’ll be posting an article in the next days, about all good things that happened this past year, watch out for it!
And you? What 2017 event marked you the most? Have you experienced one of them? Leave your comments and impressions and don’t hesitate to share.
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