Environmental scientists witness the perpetual destruction of Earth perpetrated in the name of progress and stand resilient, unwavering, in the pursuit of their ideals. It’s easy to identify problems in urgent need of remedy—wildlife populations have plunged 60% since 1970, for example. But divisive politics aside, there are many reasons to be hopeful from an environmental science and sustainability perspective in 2017.

Conservation efforts are succeeding in many instances, some formerly endangered species are making a comeback and there is a growing environmental resistance movement. There are many more struggles to be overcome that highlight the need for motivated and principled environmental scientists, but these catalysts for change can take solace in the very real and often suppressed successes.

Are you part of the solution? Here are 3 hopeful signs for the environment in 2017!

Conservation Successes that Students Pursuing Sustainability Studies Online Can Celebrate

Growing global awareness about the importance of protecting our natural resources and biodiversity is the first step in making meaningful sustainability progress. While global biodiversity continues to decline, a hopeful sign is that this rate of loss is slowing and hundreds of nations have agreed to curb climate change by protecting land and sea.

Conservation movements have made much progress

Conservation movements have made much progress

According to the UN Environment and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world is on pace to meet a major global conservation target, with nearly 15% of the Earth’s land and 12% of territorial waters under protection (including recent marine parks in Hawaii, Malta, Chile and Palau). According to Avaaz, an area the size of Europe was protected in the world’s oceans last year! Also, Amazon deforestation has fallen to zero in a decade and the ozone hole is projected to be restored by 2050.

Environmental Science and Sustainability Hope for Wildlife Populations

In the last few years, a wealth of online and technological tools have become available to help environmental science and sustainability advocates effectively respond to emerging international challenges. Sites like Global Forest Watch and PADDDtracker leverage user data to create interactive conservation maps, while groups like Cameras for Conservation distribute cameras to indigenous communities in remote areas to help track endangered species.

Species like the humpback whale have been removed from the endangered list

Species like the humpback whale have been removed from the endangered list

Some species are recovering—last year the giant panda and humpback whale were removed from the endangered list. The Endangered Species Act has brought numerous species back from the edge of extinction since enacted in 1973, including the bald eagle, brown pelican, gray wolf, and green sea turtle. A recent study found that 90% of protected species are recovering at the pace expected in recovery plans made by sustainability professionals.

Growing Renewable Energy Support is Encouraging for Environmental Science and Sustainability

Although misinformation campaigns might suggest otherwise, climate change is a steadily increasing concern for a majority of Americans—twice as many as those who are doubtful or dismissal of it, according to the latest research. Renewable energy is cheaper and more viable than ever before—20,000 solar panels are installed every hour. Clean energy creates more jobs than fossil fuels and a wide cross-section of companies representing more than a third of the global economy have pledged climate action.

The triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial) continues to motivate a growing number of businesses and policies. Climate action like fossil fuel divestment, led in higher education by Unity College, represent a national movement for meaningful change. The march towards sustainable energy seems unstoppable, but grads with a Master’s in Sustainability Management can accelerate its progress by influencing policies with their transdisciplinary organization and communication skills.

Interested in affordable and flexible sustainability studies online?

Contact Unity College Online to learn more about our world-class environmental science programs.