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9 Reasons Why CEO Shawn Garvey Is Feeling Positive About The Future
isThe work of fighting for a better future is long and arduous. At Momentum we tend to be pretty head-down, going from project to project without much of a breath between. Combating the existential threat that is climate change is important and pressing work – but in order to avoid burnout and keep going, we need to stop and look at how much we’ve accomplished already and remember that with strong leadership, smart investments, and progressive policies we can and will ensure this planet’s health for generations to come.
Here are some wins I’m taking a moment to celebrate before putting my head back down into the work.
1. More than 17% of land is in protected status
- Protected lands have Increase from 10% in 2010 to 17% in 2020
- We’ve exceeded the 10-year Aichi targets set by the UN Convention of Biological Diversity (191 nations)
- In 1960 there were 9,067 protected areas in the world. In 2020 we have 210,000 protected areas!
- More than 47% of California is publicly owned or in conservation status
2. Ozone hole on track to heal completely by 2050
- Earth’s ozone layer (troposphere), located 9 to 18 miles above the surface absorbs UV rays from the sun.
- Without the ozone layer the sun’s rays would be so powerful that it would sterilize the surface of the planet
- Montreal Protocols of 1987 established global phase-out of ozone-depleting chemicals in refrigerators, air conditioners, and industrial products
- Exceeded the global targets for CFC reduction.
- Hole over Northern Hemisphere is expected to recover by 2030 and the Southern Hemisphere hole by 2050!
Source: UN News
3. California’s growth & emissions reductions
- California met its 2020 GHG emissions goal four years early. Lowering emissions to 1990 levels despite population gain and increase in GDP.
- In the electricity sector, we reduced GHG emissions by nearly 50% since 2000.
- In 2018, 44% of total electricity generation in CA came from solar, wind, hydropower, and nuclear power.
- Since 2001, per capita, GHG emissions dropped from 14.0 tons per person to 10.7 tons per person.
- Challenges assumptions of the Kuznets Curve.
Source: California Air Resources Board
4. Wolf recovery reaches 25 states
- Wolves were extirpated in the western United States by 1930.
- Since the reintroduction of the “Nine Mile Pack” in Yellowstone in 1987, wolves have recovered at a fast rate and there are now populations in 21 states, including five in California.
- Wolves improve the ecology of habitats and ecological function where ever they re-habitat.
5. Acid rain reduced by 93%, Lakes & stream come alive
- Acid rain caused by sulfuric emissions from factories and utilities wiped rivers and lakes in New England clear of life and caused forests to shed their leaves in Europe.
- Global cooperation and regulation, combined with energy and technology innovation, have reduced sulfur emissions by 93%.
- Recovery of rivers, aquatic habitats, and forest soils has been faster than anticipated, and trout now roam many formerly lifeless rivers.
6. Water use goes down while population increases
- As a result of regulation and innovation, water use has declined significantly despite population growth and GDP increases.
- Farm production increased by 40% from 1980 to 2020 while water use declined by 14%.
- Water use per capita declined from 231 gallons per day to 85 gallons per day in 2020.
- As a result, the last dam built in California, the New Melones on the Stanislaus River, was 41 years ago.
7. Nuclear arsenal declines nearly 90%
- In 1987, Russia and the US possessed more than 60,000 nuclear weapons.
- Agreements reduced nuclear weapons to 8,000 today.
- Further agreements to reduce to 1,550 each.
- More countries have given up nuclear weapons and nuclear programs in the past 30 years than have tried to acquire them.
8. Whale recovery efforts paying off
- By the mid-1950’s less than 450 Humpback Whales. Ban on commercial whaling in 1986, 50,000 humpbacks, studies show that the Humpback Whale population is now at pre-whaling numbers.
- Other whale populations, fin whale, blue whale, minke whale, and right whale, show recovery efforts are succeeding.
8.5 Grizzlies, Panthers, and Mountain lion populations also recovering!
- Grizzly Bears from 200 in 1975 to 2,000 (additional 60,000 in Canada and AK)
- Florida Panthers 10X population
- California Mountain Lion = near zero to 6,000
- Bald eagle = 72,000 in 1980 to 4000,000 today
- Mountain Gorillas from 680 in 2008 to 2,000
- Rothschild’s Giraffe from 500 in 2006 to 1,500
- Green Turtle from less than 100 to 20,000
- California Sea Otter from 600 to 4,000
9. Education, Health & Civic Infrastructure
- While controversial, many measures of global poverty show tremendous progress over time.
- In 1820, 17% of the global population had basic education. Today, 86% attain basic education.
- Literacy has increased from 12% in 1820 to 85% in 2014.
- Child mortality has decreased from 43% to 96%.
- Fifty percent of the world’s population lives in a democracy.
There’s still so much work left to do. None of this is to downplay that. But it’s important to celebrate the wins and remember that while the work is slow progress is happening.