The Earth is Recovering

by Charlotte Wiemann S4DEA

The earth is recovering? 

In an era filled with alarming reports of climate change, habitat destruction, and pollution, the news have never been that inviting. Who enjoys spending time discovering one issue that’s destroying the environment after another? To be honest, I don’t feel good after reading the news about our environment, as it’s mostly negative reports with no hopeful direction. Recently however, I’ve started to pay attention to the positive news. I realised, that in between these challenges, there are rays of hope illuminating the path towards a healthy environment. It’s true. Recent years have witnessed remarkable strides in environmental conservation and innovation, underscoring the potential for meaningful change through collective action and technological advancement. Once I learned about this, I felt much more hopeful. Maybe we are on the right track to heal our earth, right? So, I decided to do some research. Continue reading to explore some of these significant developments, backed by empirical evidence and inspiring examples from around the globe.  

Renewable energy sources 

You have probably heard about this one. A pivotal shift towards renewable energy sources is underway, signalling a departure from fossil fuels towards cleaner alternatives. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global renewable electricity capacity surged by an impressive 45% between 2015 and 2020. In 2023 alone, the United States witnessed a remarkable 50% increase in solar energy installations, marking a significant milestone in the transition to clean energy. Notably, renewable energy now employs nearly 12 million people globally, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), highlighting its potential to drive economic growth while mitigating climate change.  

Electric vehicles 

Have you also noticed that there are far more electric vehicles around in Brussels than a few years ago? Maybe your family or neighbours have switched to an electric vehicle. The adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is accelerating, promising to revolutionize transportation and reduce carbon emissions. Norway leads the charge, with over 80% of new car sales being electric in 2023. Globally, electric vehicle sales surpassed 7 million units in the same year, reflecting a growing preference for sustainable mobility solutions. Cities worldwide are investing in electric buses, bike-sharing programs, and infrastructure to support EV adoption. Notably, the transition to electric mobility offers significant environmental benefits, including improved air quality and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.  

Conservation of natural habitat 

Those photos of sad, grey chopped down forests are really not my favourite. However, there are also positive news. Efforts to conserve and restore natural habitats are gaining momentum, driven by growing awareness of the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. Brazil, a global biodiversity hotspot, witnessed a 15% reduction in deforestation rates in 2023 compared to the previous year, according to data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).  

Sustainable solutions promoted by companies and cities 

There are also lots of important ideas coming from business. Some innovative companies are pioneering sustainable manufacturing practices, incorporating recycled materials, and designing products for longevity and recyclability. Such circular economy models, which prioritize resource efficiency and waste reduction, are gaining traction among businesses and consumers alike. For example, you can now sell your old IKEA furniture back to the company, which will resell it. Depending of the state of the product, they will propose a reasonable price. I was thrilled to get more than half of the initial price back for a drawer I no longer liked, and it felt good to know that it will be of use for someone else. 

Cities and communities are taking proactive steps to address environmental challenges and promote sustainability at the local level. Brussels, for instance, is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 through a comprehensive set of measures, including expanding pedestrian zones, investing in public transportation, and implementing plastic reduction policies. Such initiatives demonstrate the potential for local action to drive meaningful change on a global scale, inspiring other cities and communities to follow suit. 

The journey continues 

While significant progress has been made in recent years, the journey towards a sustainable future and a recovered earth is far from over. As students, we can do our part trying to do things sustainably. By continuing to support renewable energy, promote sustainable practices, not to waste resources, and advocate for policy change, we can help heal the earth.  

All these positive environmental developments of recent years offer cause for optimism and hope but are often overlooked due to the many negative issues. Let’s focus on the brighter things while still making decisions to build a brighter future for our planet. Small steps are steps and with each, the earth is recovering.