This week, we round up some headlines you might have missed amid the coronavirus coverage. Monsanto’s worse than we thought. And fires are ravaging Northern Thailand. But on the bright side, worldwide renewable energy capacity has hit an all-time high! Read on to get your weekly dose of environmental news.
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1. Revealed: Monsanto predicted crop system would damage US farms.
In their latest investigative report, The Guardian found internal documents describing how the controversial corporation wanted to profit from farmer losses and oppose independent testing. (Monsanto, if you didn’t know, is basically a bogeyman, labelled by many as the evilest corporation in the world.) According to The Guardian, they knew for years that their plan to introduce a new agricultural seed and chemical system would lead to damage on many US farms. They also planned to profit off farmers who would buy their new seeds to avoid the damage. And they even opposed third-party product testing to avoid possibly concerning data coming to light. Oh, and in some of the emails, employees even joked about sharing “voodoo science”, hoping to stay “out of jail”.
Disgusting. Read the full report here.
2. #ICYMI: Forest fires rip through Northern Thailand, causing air pollution levels to jump.
This has gone completely under the radar with the coronavirus coverage, but the raging forest fires have been happening since late March. They’ve destroyed 2,400 rai of forest, causing extremely high air pollution levels in some parts of Northern Thailand (still). Thankfully, the fire has been brought under control, but smog persists. Apparently, foragers, arsonists and villagers caused the forest fires. But the lack of rain and hot weather also contributed to the frequency of bushfires. (Much like in Australia earlier this year.)
So even as air pollution drops because of coronavirus, ongoing environmental disasters are still a cause for concern…
3. Good news—renewable energy capacity has hit record levels in 2019!
Almost three-quarters of new electricity generation capacity built last year uses renewable energy, which already sets an all-time record. Now, new data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) shows that green tech provided more than one-third of the world’s power. A new record! Fossil fuel power plants are on their way out in Europe and the US, with more decommissioned than built last year. But numbers have climbed in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Pointing to the fact that we have much more work cut out for us. Annual investments, according to Irena, have to double by 2030 to tackle the climate emergency.
“While the trajectory is positive, more is required to put global energy on a path with sustainable development and climate mitigation,” said Francesco La Camera, director general of Irena. “At this challenging time, we are reminded of the importance of building resilience into our economies.” (Instead of using a pandemic to promote environmentally unsustainable policies, which we’ve seen just last week.)
4. Coronavirus could wipe out Indigenous communities.
Indigenous people are incredibly important in the climate fight, yet they’ve always been disrespected and persecuted by governments all around the world. Unfortunately, the global pandemic is not going to be merciful on the Indigenous people. According to health experts, Indigenous people are in grave danger. But it’s not because they are inherently weaker. It’s because governments tend to heavily underfund key services for these Indigenous communities. (These communities face ongoing discrimination.) Additionally, Indigenous communities are also very concerned because their elders are especially vulnerable. For these communities, elders hold a very special place as knowledge keepers and language holders.
Since they’re relatively far out of densely-populated areas, they should technically be safe, but only if outsiders stay away. (In other words: stay out.)
5. Is Spain on its way to being the first nation in Europe to implement a universal basic income?
It appears so. A universal basic income is one of the many policies in the Green New Deal. Generally, it aims to do what it sounds like it would do. A set income for everyone, from the government. If implemented, it could redefine the way the world views work. (And perhaps even the way the world views capitalism!). In the midst of battling the pandemic, Spain is considering the implementation of a permanent basic income. Nadia Calviño, the country’s minister for economic affairs, said that enacting basic income was “mostly aimed at families, but differentiating between their circumstances.”
“We’re going to do it as soon as possible,” she said. “So it can be useful, not just for this extraordinary situation, and that it remains forever.” What do you think about this possible revolutionary policy?
Image credits: Wallpaper Flare