The earth has never given up. Day in, and day out, we have fresh air, running waters and towering trees to keep us company. Even amidst all the drilling and extraction of finite resources, the earth is fighting every day not to change. Communities, corporations, and countries are all working alongside her to ensure the bright future we all deserve. Let’s dive into the efforts made in 2021 and say hello to new coral reefs, trillions of trees and a few comeback species that resurfaced in the past year.

Oceans Were Preserved

Our bold blue ocean tides may be rising, but Australia is actively working to halt and reverse this change. In 2021, the country established marine parks in an area of the Indian Ocean that spanned twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef, protecting 740,000 square kilometers (286,000 square miles) of ocean. A few skips away in Panama, another marine reserve was declared, this time matching the country’s entire land mass. Panama has doubled down on renewable efforts and tripled the size of the protected Cordillera de Coiba Marine area. Meanwhile, Ecuador is not far behind after announcing a 60,000 square kilometer (23,000 square mile) expansion of the Galápagos Marine Reserve. These independent strides work to preserve all life on earth and lay the groundwork for collaborations. The Galápagos Islands in particular have benefited from Panama and Ecuador joining their counterparts from Costa Rica and Colombia to combine and extend their marine protected areas. The beauty in our blues is being protected and as a result, we’re finding more to celebrate every day. In fact, a seemingly untouched coral reef was just discovered off the coast of Tahiti. Studies are underway to determine the reef’s resilience and it has already been classified as one of the largest reefs found at such depths. In many ways, the ocean is still a mystery, but we do know that it’s our best defense against global warming. The dark blue waters act as a global climate control system, constantly absorbing, storing, and releasing CO2. The ocean is more powerful than any unjust practice aimed against it and all we need to do is leave it alone. On dry land, however, progress is in our hands. Luckily, many steps toward decarbonization have already been taken.

Land Rights Were Extended

After 20 years of discussion, the Peruvian government has finally established a long-awaited reserve for Indigenous peoples. Historically, Indigenous communities have been the environment’s greatest caretakers, and today, even though they only make up 6% of the global population, they protect 80% of biodiversity left in the world. A joint study released at COP26 made it abundantly clear that if nations want to meet their Paris Agreement goals, they need to give land rights back to Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). In keeping with this theme, the U.N. declared the 2020’s the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This calls on nations to restore 1 billion hectares (2.5 million acres) of degraded land or the equivalent China’s land mass. Another huge win for nature took place on Sept. 10, 2021, when the IUCN World Conservation Congress voted in favor of an Indigenous-lead measure that will protect 80% of the entire Amazon Basin by 2025. Thankfully, a lot of people have been working very hard to protect our planet’s wildlife. According to an assessment made by BirdLife International, WCS and WWF, a forest the size of Madagascar has already been regrown in the past two decades. Together, these trees could potentially sequester more than 5.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of the United States’ annual emissions. To make a great year even greener, Jane Goodall has pledged her support to plant 1 trillion trees by 2030. This alone could increase the world’s tree cover by 33% and, combined with everything else, who knows where this could lead us to by the end of the decade. We’re already witnessing the reemergence of species we once thought were gone forever.

Life Flourished Once Again

Humpback whales have charged into the 2020’s at 93% of their original population. After almost going extinct in the mid-20th century, a recent study estimates that the population will be “nearly recovered by 2030.” Various other species, including eastern barred bandicoots and China’s giant panda, have made their way off the endangered species list and back into the wild. Despite the oil spills, ocean-floor-length nets and pilling mountains of plastic, nature is beating out nurture. There is no doubt that we need to change as a human race to support the longevity of life on Earth, but we know that all species will be working hard alongside us. The eastern barred bandicoot climbed back from the edge of extinction and now has 2,000 breeding pairs in England. And thanks to years of conservation efforts, China’s giant panda population now sits at around 1,800 in the wild and they’re no longer considered endangered. Over in California, the endangered Coho salmon have been spotted for the first time in 25 years. This victory has been attributed to the heavy rainfall from October to December in 2021. All life is built to be resilient and when we finally power down the drills and convert to a renewable energy economy, nature will have a fighting chance at proving it.

Humans, and the way we choose to live our lives, are often Mother Nature’s biggest problems; but we also have the power to bring forth groundbreaking solutions. We’ve found a way to harness the sun’s rays, the wind’s force and convert these natural resources into storable, reliable, emission-free power. Nexamp aims to lead the charge into a decarbonized future and we’re not alone in our efforts. Innovative technologies are being discovered and implemented every day. A recent win for both marine life and shipping industries are the new LED illuminated nets that reduce bycatch by 95%. This breakthrough is huge for sharks, sea turtles and other marine animals unintentionally caught by city-sized nets. We’re moving in the right direction. And yes, these mistakes and injustices should never have occurred, but if we’re going to reach the goals set out in the Paris Accord and keep global warming well below 2°C, we need to move forward as a team. Everyone can protect the planet and there are numerous ways to do it. You can act locally, speak to your state representatives, donate to a worthy cause (Sea Shepherd, Clean Air Task Force, Carbon180 etc.,) and/or join a Nexamp community solar farm. If you’re interested in saving the planet and 10-20% on electricity annually, Nexamp is what you’re looking for. Check us out and do your part to better our world.