Environmental News: June 2021

Exams are over. The good weather seems inclined to stay put for a while. Life is beginning to transfer back to a more ‘normal’ routine. And environmental degradation and pollution continue to contribute to the instability of our climate in the background of summer. Included in this article is a very small selection of recent environmental events in order to provide an overview of some of the ongoing issues facing the field of environmentalism and our local, national, and international societies. 

An increase in littering. This month’s bank holiday weekends and sunny weather have seen a rise in the rubbish left behind by visitors enjoying popular tourist hotspots. Not only does litter obviously have an impact on local wildlife and habitats, but it also poses a danger to individuals. For instance, broken glass bottles left on the ground can cause injury and be a cause of fires in moorlands. See this example from 1st June: ‘Residents “devastated” by rubbish dumped at NI beauty spots’ (BBC). 

Biden’s act to hold Arctic drilling. In a flash back to the early months of 2021, we return to Biden’s presidency. One of the most recently reported stories is the suspension of Trump’s involvement in Arctic drilling. As a BBC article states, ‘the move reverses former President Donald Trump’s decision to sell oil leases in the refuge to expand fossil fuel and mineral development’. Acts like this hold potential benefits for local habits and species of the natural world, while also working to reconnect relationships between different groups. Despite it being only one step in a long journey towards environmental sustainability, tribal leaders of the affected area have indicated their approval of Biden’s act (BBC).

Potential oil spill near Sri Lanka. On 2nd June, a cargo ship carrying hazardous chemicals began to sink as a result of an on-board fire. A Guardian article reports that ‘the cargo ship had 278 tonnes of bunker fuel oil and 50 tonnes of gas oil in its tanks, and was carrying 20 containers of lubricating oil’. The impacts of the event include toxic chemicals bleeding into the local area and shoreline, the temporary closure of fishing in the area (‘thousands of locals depend on the industry for their livelihoods’ – Guardian), and the start of months and months of clean-up operations and assessments.

Lake Mead records lowest levels ever. With several countries recently reporting their highest temperatures records of the year, it is no surprise that the largest reservoir in the USA has been declared as having a record-holding deficiency of water. An ABC News article reports that ‘officials expect the water levels to continue to decline until November (Patti Aaron)’. This occurrence is highly significant because it affects the water supply provided to millions of people across several states and could lead to a serious water shortage in the near future (ABC News).

G7 Summit 11-13th June. The G7 Summit, which is currently being hosted by the UK in Cornwall, also finds itself intercepting with current environmental and climate issues. On the official G7 website, the environment is mentioned as part of creating a ‘greener, more prosperous future’ (G7 website); specifically, the targets of ‘moving to net zero’ and ‘protecting 30% of our land and of our ocean by 2030’ (G7 website). These targets are also mentioned in the shadow of the upcoming COP26 UN Climate Conference which is scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November of this year.

Image: Lucy Shell

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