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Glacier in Antarctica

Scientists Worried About Rapid Melting Of ‘Doomsday’ Glacier In Antarctica

Climate scientists have always regarded Thwaites glacier in Antarctica as a key factor in terms of climate change and global sea-level risings. The glacier itself is seen as one of the most vulnerable to be impacted by climate change, as its collapse would raise global sea levels by more than half a meter on its own. Its melting would also cause a chain reaction for other major bodies of water in Antarctica, potentially causing sea levels to rise by three meters!

Coastal cities across the globe would be severely impacted if this were to occur, and it’s one of the reasons the glacier has the nickname “Doomsday glacier.” This year, scientists noticed there was warm water near an integral part of the glacier that has never been there before. This warm water has already caused parts of the glacier to deteriorate.

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Thwaites glacier is 76,000 square miles, about the size of England. Ice has already melted from the glacier into the Amundsen Sea and caused 4% of global sea-levels to rise. As the world continues to warm, scientists are worried for the future of this glacier and its impact on the rest of the planet. Paul Cutler is a program director for Antarctic glaciology at America’s National Science Foundation, and he recently spoke with the media about the severity of this glacier melting.  

“The big question is how quickly it becomes unstable. It seems to be teetering at the edge. It is a keystone for the other glaciers around it in Antarctica if you remove it, other ice will start draining into the ocean.” 

Antarctica contains 90% of the world’s ice, most of which remains out of the water and on the continent’s land. The average thickness of ice in Antarctica is 1.6 miles deep, but it can reach depths of up to three miles. 

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The current sea level on Earth is almost 8 inches above what it was before the industrial revolution. The main cause in this rise is an increase in global sea temperatures brought on by intense sun exposure. The sun exposure is brought on due to a depletion in the Earth’s ozone layer, which is meant to protect all of us from intense UV radiation. For nearly 2,000 years before the industrial revolution, global sea levels remained almost completely static. 

Burning fossil fuels has only increased as society has become more modernized, and that burning has only further depleted the ozone layer in Earth’s atmosphere. Additionally, increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere act as heat traps for the sun. These warmer temperatures obviously cause major ice sheets and glaciers to melt, as they’re not only experiencing a rise in sea temperatures, but air temperatures as well. 

The annual rate in which our global sea-levels rise has doubled since 1990. As time has gone on, the rate at which these glaciers melt has only become more unpredictable, making it difficult for scientists to understand how to better preserve them. However, this more recent melting of Thwaites was specifically brought on by a massive heat wave in the Arctic; which is on the other side of the planet. 

Both the Antarctic and Arctic regions should be our number one priority, as they’re the coldest locations in the world, however, they’re both warming at rates faster than the rest of the world as well. Global warming has already caused such massive natural destruction within the past year alone, it’s time that our world leaders understand we’re currently battling a whole other pandemic in terms of our planets temperatures.

Architects working Together

Antonio Citterio Discusses Resilience And Sustainability In The Architecture Industry

Antonio Citterio’s aim as a designer and architect has always been to create spaces that evoke a sense of quality. Spaces that are useful for the individuals daily life while being creative enough to embody a sense of the client’s personality.

Ozone Layer

Research Team Discovers Evidence Of Mass Extinction Event From 359 Million Years Ago

Researchers at the University of Southampton recently published findings in the journal of Science Advances that revealed evidence of a mass extinction that took place on Earth nearly 360 million years ago. The extinction was a result of high levels of UV radiation that destroyed the planet’s forest ecosystems and killed thousands of species of fish as well. This influx in UV radiation was a result of one of Earth’s climate cycles that collapsed part of the ozone layer.

The ozone layer depletion was a direct response to the rapid warming of the planet brought on by the ending of an intense ice age. The researchers behind these findings were adamant about sharing this evidence, as Earth’s current climate status is showing parallels to what it was like 359 million years ago when this mass extinction took place. The team’s research consisted of collecting rock samples from the mountains in East Greenland. The area of land they were specifically collecting from used to be the location of a huge ancient lake that was “in the arid interior of the Old Red Sandstone Continent, [which] made up of Europe and North America.”

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“This lake was situated in the Earth’s southern hemisphere and would have been similar in nature to modern-day Lake Chad on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Other rocks were collected from the Andean Mountains above Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. These South American samples were from the southern continent of Gondwana, which was closer to the Devonian South Pole. They held clues as to what was happening at the edge of the melting Devonian ice sheet, allowing a comparison between the extinction event close to the pole and close to the equator,” according to media reports.

In a lab setting the researchers dissolved the rocks in hydrofluoric acid which, according to the research, released microscopic plant spores that looked like pollen. These spores had somehow managed to remain preserved for hundreds of millions of years, and upon further exploration, the team discovered these spores had strangely formed spines on their surface. The spores also had dark pigmented walls, which led the team to believe both abnormalities were a result of UV radiation damaging the DNA of the spores themselves. 

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The conclusion was now that during a time of rapid global warming millions of years ago, the ozone layer must have collapsed for a short period, which then resulted in the Earth and all its living inhabitants to be exposed to extremely harmful levels of UV radiation, and thus triggering a mass extinction on both land and in shallow waters. 

“During the extinction, plants selectively survived, but were enormously disrupted as the forest ecosystem collapsed. The dominant group of armored fish became extinct. These extinctions came at a key time for the evolution of our own ancestors, the tetrapods. These early tetrapods are fish that evolved to have limbs rather than fins, but still mostly lived in water. Their limbs possessed many fingers and toes. The extinction reset the direction of their evolution with the post-extinction survivors being terrestrial and with the number of fingers and toes reduced to five,” said Lead researcher Professor John Marshall, of the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science. 

As previously mentioned, Professor Marshall’s main goal with releasing all of this newfound research is to warn humanity of how similar our planet’s current climate looks to how it did right before this mass extinction that killed thousands of species and redirected the way we evolved. The team plans on continuing their remote research in Greenland in hopes to further learn more about past climate emergencies, and how to better prepare for them today.

Hurricane

Hurricanes Continue To Get Stronger As A Result Of Climate Change, According To New Study

Climate change is still just as much of an issue as it’s been for the best decade, however, the intensity of concern over our planet’s climate crisis has subsided due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even so, it’s becoming increasingly evident to scientists around the world that major natural events such as hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical cyclones have the potential to become much more deadly as the planet continues to heat up. 

According to a study performed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the probability of storms reaching a hurricane status of category 3, with winds exceeding 110 miles-per-hour, has consecutively increased every decade for the past 40 years. 

“The change is about 8% per decade. In other words, during its lifetime, a hurricane is 8% more likely to be a major hurricane in this decade compared to the last decade,” said Jim Kossin, author of the study.

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The idea that natural disasters get stronger as climate change worsens is not a new concept, and the data has clearly proven this to be correct within the past four decades. The study states that initially researchers were just looking at data from 25 years ago, however, looking back even further would give them even more evidence as to what aspects of man-made global warming that have had the most detrimental effects on the planet. 

“Almost all of the damage and mortality caused by hurricanes is done by major hurricanes (category 3 to 5). Increasing the likelihood of having a major hurricane will certainly increase this risk. The study reveals that global warming has increased sea surface temperature in regions where tropical cyclones form. The combination of these warm temperatures along with changes in atmospheric conditions, have allowed storms to more easily reach higher intensities,” Kossin said.

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Within the past few years specifically, Kossin and his team have been noticing these trends more in the Northern Indian Ocean, but he believes that’s mostly because data collection in that part of the world isn’t as advanced for this type of research, so the disaster occurrences seem much more random when they’re not. This study in particular neglected to include the past two years as well, which Kossin also knows could have skewed the data. 

The research also concluded that global cyclones should be the planet’s top concern for future natural disasters, as they’ve shown the most evidence for growing in intensity as a direct result of global warming. This is due to our ocean temperatures increasing, which results in stronger hurricanes to build out in the middle of the ocean and grow even larger before they hit land. 

“Here, the authors apply an objective technique on four decades of satellite data to create a consistent record of global tropical cyclone intensity, their results are consistent with the theory that increasing sea-surface temperatures are indeed increasing the intensity (but not frequency) of the strongest storms of at least major hurricane strength,” said Ryan Maue, a private industry meteorologist not involved in the recent research.

There are a multitude of natural reasons why these natural disasters have also increased in intensity, however, the evidence is clear. If we want a shot at a more healthy planet in the future, it’s up to us and our world leaders to fix all the damage we’ve caused.

Writer

Dara McAnulty: Meet The 16-Year-Old Author Who’s Trying To Save The Planet

Dara McAnulty is a 16-year-old published author who, in his novel, discusses life in the Northern Island, advocating for climate change policies, living with autism, and finding peace in a world that is often so cruel.

Great Barrier Reef

How Coral Bleaching In The Great Barrier Reef Has Impacted Its Inhabitants

Climate Change has caused countless environments throughout the world to be destroyed, ecosystems to change, and species to face endangerment/extinction. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has faced some of the greatest challenges throughout the past decade, and now, its enduring its third mass bleaching event within five years.

The last time the reef endured a mass bleaching event as intense as this one is gearing up to be, a third of all corals were killed, and fish populations declined rapidly, which also caused the specific ecosystems/species within the reef to change for the worse as well. A recent study wanted to analyze what actual effects these bleaching events have on the fish species that live among the coral reefs, as that could help us better prevent these types of things from occurring in other reefs around the world.

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The scientists behind the international study used something called “gene expression” as a tool to understand how well fish are able to handle hotter temperatures, which is an effect of coral bleaching. According to the study, gene expression is “the process where a gene is read by cell machinery and creates a product such as a protein, resulting in a physical trait.” Using this process, scientists were able to predict which fish species would specifically be the most at risk/affected by repeated heat waves that lead to bleaching. 

The study initially began in 2015 when the researchers collected liver biopsies from several species of coral reef fish after global ocean temperatures increased by 1 degree Celsius that year, however, at the time the team of scientists had no idea how different everything would look in just 5 years; in terms of coral bleaching, ocean temperatures/acidification, and climate change in general. 

It wasn’t until one year later that things took a turn for the worse. In 2016, Jodie Remmer, a lead author on the study, along with one other researcher on the project went to the Great Barrier Reef to work on a completely different project when they realized that the ocean temperature around them read as 33°C. This was absolutely shocking in the worst way possible, as 33°C was the same temperature that Remmer claims to have been used in a climate change simulation where scientists predicted what the world would look like, environment wise, by the year 2100, meaning climate change has intensified to a much more urgent level than anyone expected by 2016.

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After one week, Remmer claimed they watched entire patches of coral reef turn bone-white, as fish populations abandoned their homes in search of new resources for food. During that time, scientists collected genetic samples from a multitude of fish and coral species. What they were looking for is how these species “switched their genes on and off” based on environmental conditions. Some genes should always be on, and others should be regulated and used as a response to things like temperature stress (like during a bleaching event). 

The ability to turn these genes on and off is what gives all species the ability to maintain proper metabolic, respiratory, and immune responses to environmental changes. When this gene expression is compromised, so is the ability to survive, hence the massive decline in coral reef ecosystems/fish populations. 

“Our findings not only have implications for specific fish species, but for the whole ecosystem. So policymakers and the fishing industry should screen more species to predict which will be sensitive and which will tolerate warming waters and heatwaves. This is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Fish have been on the planet for more than 400 million years. Over time, they may adapt to rising temperatures or migrate to cooler waters. But, the three recent mass bleaching events are unprecedented in human history, and fish won’t have time to adapt,” Remmer stated. 

Remmer went on to say that her and her team’s goal has always been to protect the ocean and all of its inhabitants as much as possible. This new information and data isn’t very encouraging, however, it does give scientists and the government the sense of urgency they often need in order to justify a global response.

Plastic Bags

New York Plastic Bag Ban Goes Into Full Effect This Week

New York’s plastic bag ban will go into full effect this Sunday (3/1) and store-owners throughout all five boroughs are preparing themselves by buying paper bags in bulk, and implementing new marketing strategies to encourage customers to bring their own bags. A lot of establishments throughout the state of New York have already begun transitioning out plastic bags from their businesses, however, for others it’s a bit of a scramble. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation last year on Earth Day as a means of reducing litter throughout the state, especially in New York City, but also to combat climate change in general by protecting wildlife from eating said litter, and reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions that are directly linked to plastic bag production, distribution, and disposal. 

As previously stated, the ban goes into full effect on March 1st and states that all New Yorkers will either have to bring their own reusable bags when going grocery shopping, or pay a five cent fee per paper bag they need; the fee does not apply to individuals who use SNAP of WIC. Certain bags are exempt from the ban, such as garbage or garment bags, or any kind of bag that’s used to wrap perishable foods. 

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“It’s self-explanatory. It’s the right thing for the environment, and we really care. Our clientele also appreciate the fact that we care about the environment. Yes, it’s going to be a little bit of transition for many stores — being a shortage of bags or whatever it may be — but we wanted to be proactive on it,”  said Carlos Alfara, director of produce for all Union Market stores in NYC.

Union Market has also created their own informational campaign that they’re calling “BYOBag” as a means of informing all NYC residents on the specifics of the new law. Part of their campaign also instructs all sales representatives and cashiers to talk to customers about the new policy, as well as offering a 10 cent discount to every customer who brings their own bag.

For Union Market, however, as a chain making this transition isn’t as financially impactful as it would be for smaller, independently owned businesses who are paying nearly three times the amount for paper bags, hence the fees. Store owners are encouraged to also keep all cardboard boxes they recieve in case customers want to use those for groceries as well. At the end of the day, customers will get used to the change, and the planet will surely thank New Yorkers in the long run.

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New York has now become the third state in America to fully ban plastic bags statewide; California and Hawaii being the other two. According to Riverkeeper, a water advocacy nonprofit, New Yorkers use more than 23 billion single-use plastic bags every year, and the average life cycle of each bag is about 15 minutes long, before being improperly disposed of. Riverkeeper has also been outspoken about their discontent with this specific ban, stating that it’s simply not enough, especially when compared to the massive amounts of single-use plastic that New Yorkers go through in general annually. 

Plastic containers used for take out throughout the hundreds of thousands of places to eat in New York contributes to some of the most plastic waste for the state. Additionally, critics of the ban claim that while it is a step in the right direction, the amount of fossil fuels required to transport containers and paper bags is just as much as it would be for regular plastic bags. 

“They’re [plastic bags] cheap, convenient, waterproof, strong enough to hold groceries but thin and light enough to make and transport using scant energy, water or other resources. Though they’re called single-use, most people reuse them, typically as trash can liners. When governments ban them, consumers buy thicker substitutes with a bigger carbon footprint,” wrote John Tierney in The Wall Street Journal.

The Department of Sanitation for New York City will be scattered throughout the five boroughs this Friday handing out reusable bags as preparation for the change. While it may not be the biggest accomplishment in terms of combating climate change, it’s this type of systematic action that we need worldwide if we want a shot at saving our dying planet and all its inhabitants. 

Colorado River

The Colorado River Is Drying Up, Putting 40 Million Americans At Risk For Drought

The Colorado River provides water that supports more than 40 million Americans. Anyone living between Denver and Los Angeles, can most likely thank the massive river for a renewable and clean source of water. However, like most natural resources on Earth in 2020, climate change is beginning to take its toll. 

Scientists have found that there has been a 20% decrease in the Colorado River’s flow within the 21st century, when compared to the rate at which the flow was decreasing last century; an issue that they are blaming climate change on. Researchers who worked on a recent study, posted last week in the Journal Science, found that more than 50% of the river’s flow decline is due to increasing global temperatures. This is becoming a major issue that will only get worse; the biggest concern being the extreme water shortage that scientists are predicting millions of individuals who rely on the river as a water source will endure within the coming years. 

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“For each 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of warming averaged across the river’s basin, its flow has decreased by nearly 10%. Over the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries, the region has already warmed by an average of roughly 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The study also examined the impact that pollution and heat-trapping gases could have on the river’s water supply. Without any cuts to [these] emissions, the river’s discharge could shrink by between 19% and 31% by the middle of this century,” (National Climate Assessment).

The Colorado River is one of the most vital rivers in the United States because of how much land it covers, and how many people rely on it as a renewable resource. The river itself begins at a high altitude in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. It stretches throughout the Southwest of the U.S. and ends up in the Gulf of California. However, according to the study, by the time the river gets to California its reduced down to nothing more than a trickle of water. 

On its journey from the mountains down to the golden state, the river makes a few detours to supply fresh water to cities like Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, and a multitude of farms that reach all the way down to Mexico. If the river continues to slow down, a majority of these places will be left at serious risk for drought, and will likely dry up.  

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According to the study, “Global warming is taking a severe toll on the snowpack that feeds the river, the scientists found. As temperatures increase, snow cover in the region is declining, meaning less energy from the sun is reflected back into space and more warms the ground as heat. This triggers a vicious cycle that leads to even more evaporation and therefore, less water supply.”

Increasing global temperatures has also already had a multitude of negative effects on the planet, obviously, that have already begun affecting the river as well. Lake Powell and Lake Mead are two of the Colorado river’s main reservoir sources, and they both are currently half full, to what’s considered their normal/sustainable volume of water, due to a 20-year-long severe drought brought on by climate change. 

In total, seven states rely on the river for water. Last year, the federal government reached an agreement regarding the rights of the river and how it should be governed within the next decade or so; the deal will protect the river until 2026, and negotiations are scheduled to take place at some point this year to determine which sectors of the river are the driest, and thus need to greatest protections/rehabilitation efforts. 

In general, a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions brought on by new technology, federal policies, and true systematic/economic change will help reverse the extensive damage this river has endured, as well as protect the rest of the planet from the massive amounts of destruction it’s already been through thanks to humanities ignorance on global warming.

Pope Silhouette

Pope Francis Makes Public Plea To Save The Amazon, And The Planet

Pope Francis has taken combating the climate crisis our planet is currently enduring into his own hands. Last week, on February 12th to be more specific, Francis released a 94-page exhortation document in which he passionately discussed the importance of protecting the Amazon Rainforest, the multitude of ecosystems it supports, and the indigenous people native to the forest who utilize its vast range of natural resources.  

The document is titled Dear Amazon, and comes as a response to the historic Vatican meeting that occurred in the fall of 2019 regarding the destruction of the Amazon during its extreme wildfire outbreaks. It also comes as a response to the massive increase in illegal logging, mining and other deforestation tactics in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Brazil, as well as a surge in murders amongst indigenous activists within the past year alone. 

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“If the care of people and the care of ecosystems are inseparable, this becomes especially important in places where the forest is not a resource to be exploited…When indigenous peoples remain on their land, they themselves care for it best. We are water, air, earth and life of the environment created by God. For this reason, we demand an end to the mistreatment and destruction of mother Earth. The land has blood, and it is bleeding; the multinationals have cut the veins of our mother Earth,” Francis wrote.

As previously mentioned, the exhortation comes partly as a response to a historic meeting at the Vatican in which, for the first time in history, hundreds of Catholic bishops, environmental activists, and indigenous leaders from nine South American countries came together to discuss preservation of the planet and its relationship to faith, and how both political and religious leaders of the world can join forces to protect what little natural land is left. 

The exhortation acts as a public response to an otherwise private three-week meeting period between the groups mentioned above. The “response” was divided into four sections by Francis; societal, cultural, ecclesial, and ecological, all of which were under the general titles of “dreams.” Scientists and conservationists alike have been warning about the catastrophic effects of climate change for decades. Unless true systematic change is implemented throughout the entire world, it’s nearly impossible to reverse the extensive damage that’s already been done.

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The Amazon Rainforest

Within the past year, the Amazon Rainforest has lost over 3,400 square miles of forest, which is roughly the size of seven New York Cities, and this is not the first time Pope Francis has expressed his discontent with our governments lack of conservation efforts. In 2015, the Vatican and Francis released an encyclical entitled Laudato Si, On Care For Our Common Home. An “encyclical,” is a Catholic teaching document that’s regarded as the “highest order possessing moral authority,” due to the fact that it comes from the Pope. 

In Laudato Si, Francis became a self-proclaimed advocate for environmental protection, and spoke out against the government; placing the blame for global warming on human activity, specifically mentioning “rampant consumerism and unbridled capitalism.” Since then, the Vatican has emphasized climate action as “morally imperative” in the same regard that it’s scientifically imperative for the survival of our planet. 

The progressive Pope’s outspoken attitude in regard to climate change has created a major divide amongst those who consider themselves “devoutly” faithful to both their religion and their government. However, most can agree that having a public figure, as major and influential as the Pope, speak out against any issue regarding injustice is major when it comes to reform. 

“Protecting rainforests is fundamentally an ethical issue, where care for creation and the realization of social justice for indigenous peoples and forest communities are part of one moral fabric. We are seeing that not only is the leadership of Pope Francis rallying Catholics to act, but [it is] also inspiring religious leaders from other faiths to protect rainforests around the world,” said Joe Corcoran, the UN project manager for the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative (IRI).

Francis is creating a merger of two different worlds through his outspokenness. We have all the facts when it comes to climate change and the action that’s needed to combat it, now it’s just a matter of direct and immediate change.

Switzerland

Top 5 Greenest Countries In The World

Climate change is obviously the largest issue regarding the health of our planet and its rapid deterioration. In the same regard, it’s just as obvious that the only way to reverse even a small percentage of the extensive damage that has already been done would be through serious systematic change brought on by our world leaders. In certain areas of the world, government bodies have finally begun listening to the outcries of the millions of individuals who are fighting for the survival of our planet and all its inhabitants, so much so that they’ve even seen a real shift in their natural environments. Here are some of the greenest countries on the planet currently, maybe we all can learn a thing or two from them. 

Iceland has always taken conserving its environment very seriously, even before climate change became as extreme of a threat as it is today. According to “Conserve Energy Future” a company that’s all about the many ways in which our planet can be more sustainable, Iceland was graded a 93.5 out of 100 on the Environmental Performance Index. They have such a high score due to the fact that they use geothermal landscapes to produce electricity and heat, as well as the fact that they’ve implemented multiple laws and policies that prevent their local waters/the ocean surrounding them from becoming polluted. 

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Switzerland is close behind Iceland on the Environmental Protection Index, with a solid score of 89.1. Switzerland has taken on a multitude of “green projects” within the past decade, such as creating a whole new national park known as Alpine Park, as a means of making the whole country much more sustainable. Multiple bans on industrial and infrastructural expansion into farmland has also allowed the country to maintain clean air and preserve multiple bodies of water. 

Costa Rica scored 86.4 on the Index and if you’ve ever taken a vacation there, you’re sure to know why; there’s a reason those beaches remain so clean and pristine. Costa Rica citizens all use renewable energy for power as a means of reducing their individual carbon footprints, and meeting their goal of being the first carbon neutral country in the world. 

Sweden is up next with a score of 86 exactly. Sweden has a goal of eradicating all fossil fuel use by the end of this year as a way of reducing pollution, and so far they’re on the right track. They’ve also adopted multiple forms of renewable energy to help power their citizens homes and cities, and have passed multiple laws that work to protect the ecosystems/wildlife habitats within the country.

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Norway is one of the few European countries that makes the cut with an index score of 81.1. In Norway residential and commercial facilities are not allowed to release any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by law. Instead, like many other countries on this list, they use renewable energy resources, and also have a goal of being completely carbon neutral by 2030. Norwegian culture has also always emphasized the importance and sanctity of our natural world. Children from a young age are literally taught in school to protect the planet at all costs as it’s the only home we all have. 

As we look down this top 5 list of the greenest countries in our world, according to Conserve Energy Future, there’s a lot of obvious similarities. They all use renewable energy sources to a certain degree, and have adopted an overall attitude as a country to prioritize the environment over anything else. Within the past ten years especially, the planet has seen an intense increase in natural disaster, endangered/extinct species, and general planetary destruction. These countries were able to unite together and create policies that are leading them all on a path of becoming completely carbon neutral. 

However, it won’t matter unless the rest of the world catches up and joins them in the fight to save our planet, so make sure that when it comes to climate change you’re not blaming your friends for using a plastic straw, and instead voting for a greener future when it comes times to hit the polls. Regardless of who you support we can all agree that we’d like to see Earth survive the next 100 years, so reflect that the next time you have a say in your countries policies.