2014 was a milestone year in a lot of ways. But it was the environmental sector that got some of the most astounding news of all. From new heights of environmental conservation to worrisome developments in climate change, here are five of the most astounding environmental facts from last year.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Sank to 1995 Levels
Thankfully, the news isn’t all bad. Thanks to a variety of factors, greenhouse gas emissions sank to the same level they were at in 1995. Although they’ve been climbing steadily for years, 2014 was a hallmark year for reduced emissions.
Solar Use Grew by Nearly Half
The environmental sector to grow the most in 2014 was by far the solar sector. Falling costs of solar technology have led thousands of individuals and businesses to explore the power of solar. In fact, the use of solar technology grew by over 41% during 2014 alone!
2014 Was the Hottest Year on Record
Despite the positive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, news isn’t so good on the climate change front. Scientists determined 2014 to be the hottest year ever to hit the books. And along with the heat comes increased meteorological disturbances, elevation in sea levels, and other nasty side effects.
Fracking Might Have Actually Made Air Cleaner
Hydraulic fracturing, usually referred to as “fracking,” has caught a ton of heat over the past few years for its impact on local environments and groundwater. However, for all its faults, fracking might actually be responsible for doing something good – making our air supply cleaner. As hard as that is to believe, experts have said that the abundance of natural gas created by the surge in fracking activity is causing a reduction in coal use by power plants and other big coal consumers. That means not only lower emissions, but cleaner air too. Even the EPA supports fracking as a part of cleaner energy. How’s that for a shocking fact?
California Became the First State to Ban Plastic Bags
The wasteful nature of single-use plastic bags isn’t any big secret. Thousands of Americans carry reusable bags, and even more acknowledge the impact of single-use bags, despite continuing to use them. For years, there was no real incentive to cut the bag habit – other than the clarity of conscience – but in late 2014 California became the first state to ban single-use plastic bags. That’s right. Plastic bags are officially illegal in California.
Do you have any other shocking facts on the environment from 2014? If so, drop us a comment or give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter!
Photo by Andy Rudorfer