Some Good News for the Planet

As fellow advocates for the environment and human health, we often feel frustration when faced with data reports that seem rather grim. Sometimes it feels as though all of our efforts go in vain as we witness negative behaviors continue and politicians who won’t prioritize the important issues at stake. At times we even might ask ourselves “is there any good news on the horizon at all?” Or worse we might come to ask ourselves “why should we even bother to try to make a difference?” Well, it turns out that there is some good news out there and that positive results are in fact occurring. I saw three such examples come into light within the past couple of weeks.

First, a report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found that water use is dropping in the United States. In 2010, water usage was estimated to be about 355 billion gallons per day, which was 13 percent less than in 2005, according to this new report. The report found further that total water withdrawals in 2010 were at the lowest level since before 1970.

“This is tremendous news,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency.  “The analysis from USGS confirms the remarkable impact that water efficiency programs and policies are having across the US.  Water efficiency is a powerful and effective method to extend water supplies and protect the environment.” Read more about the report here.

The second piece of “positive” news came through in quite an interesting way. A negative news headline read “Fewer Consumers Say Recycling Electronics is Important“. However, after reading all of the information in this article it became clear that the information was not all negative. The article goes on to say that there the amount of electronics recycled increased by 4% last year. In fact the article title could have been titled “Electronics Recycling Reaches a New Record”. So why was the focus on the negative? It does make you wonder about the angle that media takes when presenting news stories and the impact that has on public opinion. Is there more good news out there that we are missing because the focus is on the bad?

But the most significant occurrence came when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last Wednesday, that New York State will be moving towards a ban on large-scale hydraulic fracturing.  The decision was based on a recommendation from state Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, who led a long-awaited review of the potential health impacts of large-scale fracking. Ultimately, Zucker concluded there are too many areas where the science on the technique is inconclusive, and he urged the state to prevent it from moving forward.

“Would I live in a community with (high-volume hydraulic fracturing) based on the facts I have now?” Zucker asked. “Would I let my child play in a school field nearby or let my family drink the water from the tap or grow their vegetables in the soil? After looking at the plethora of reports … my answer is no.”

Now, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will move to finalize its own lengthy report on large-scale fracking, which was initially launched in July 2008. The final report will include an outright ban and will be finalized next year, according to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. Read more here.

So, as these pieces of “good news” on the horizon offer hope as we approach 2015, I leave you with this image of our friend the polar bear finally getting one up on the naysayers.

Picture source

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