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A quick rundown of 11 bright spots that are healing the globe, from Cairo to California, from Bolivia to British Columbia, From Moroco to Mexico City:
GIFT TO THE WORLD The Bolivian government designated three wetlands totalling 17,760 square miles — an area larger than Switzerland — as a Gift to the Earth. Their decision is a commitment to conservation, a wiser use of resources, and careful screening of development projects. The wetlands are linked to the Amazon basin and are home to hundreds of threatened species of plants and animals.
WHALES COMING BACK Blue Whales are being spotted in record numbers in California. Hundreds of these huge mammals spent the summer near Channel Islands National Park in Southern California and the Cordell Banks area of San Francisco.
CLEAN WHEELS Six of the world’s smoggiest cities will benefit from new fuel-cell powered buses provided by a five-year, $60 million program by the Global Environment Facility. 46 buses powered by fuel cells will serve Mexico City, Sao Paolo, New Delhi, Shanghai, Beijing, and Cairo with public transportation that doesn’t pollute the air. An average car emits over 3 tons of CO2 each year.
A PLAN FOR CLEAN AIR 1990 air quality laws have reduced Mexico City’s air pollution to lower than international safety norms almost every day. Plus, the city is unveiling a 10-year plan to require exhaust spewing trucks to meet the same strict rules imposed on cars.
DETOX OF THE GREAT LAKES The world’s largest freshwater system is purifying itself. As chemical levels in the air drop, the lakes are able to outgas toxins into the atmosphere. Since 1992, the lakes have exhaled tons of PCBs and pesticides, surprisingly, at twice the rate of intake. Additionally, the US House voted Nov. 3 to ban new oil and gas drilling under the lakes at least until September 2003 while environmental impact is assessed.
KYOTO TREATY More than 160 countries signed a new global warming treaty requiring about 40 industrialized countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012. The US will not participate. US CO2 emissions jumped by 3.1% in 2000, most since 1995.
CONSUMERS GREEN CRUSADE A consumer write-in campaign led by environmentalists against Home Depot, Lowe’s and other wood retailers across North America, culminated in the largest rainforest conservation measure in North American history, permanently protecting 1.5 million acres of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest from logging.
PATCH Scientists report that the ozone hole over Antarctica — roughly the size of North America — has stopped growing and is about 10 percent smaller than last year’s record size. As pollution by CFC’s declines, researchers predict a slow recovery of the ozone that shields the planet from damaging UV radiation.
RHINOS BORN Four rare new baby rhinos were born in the wild on the island of Java in the past two years. They boost a population of fewer than 60 Javan Rhinos in the world and indicate a hopeful future for growth. None are in captivity.
Additionally in Indonesia, East Asian ministers pledged to crack down on illegal logging and trading at the first ever forestry conference organized by the World Bank.
JUNGLE AID The US will donate $11 million to help protect Guatemala’s rivers, volcanos, and jungles, like the jungle housing the ancient Mayan city of Tikal.
BRITAIN BUYS GREEN CARS The Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom has updated its delivery fleet with 15 battery powered electric cars. The Ford Th!nk vehicles are chargable directly from the power grid and have a range of 56 miles. They displace diesel vans and in turn, their noxious emissions. The agency was selected to take part in the Th!nk @bout London initiative, a partnership between the Ford Motor Company, the Energy Savings Trust, Transport Action Powershift, Kwik-Fit, London Electricity and Hertz.
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