Surprise! Stop polluting and nature gets better

seal river thames photo
CC BY-SA 2.0 Lars Ploughman

Here's a downright uplifting story from the BBC: Marine mammals are thriving in the River Thames. Yes, that same, brown, river that runs through central London and was once so polluted that it was declared "biologically extinct."

Now, the BBC says, the picture looks decidedly different. Seals, dolphins, porpoises—even a whale (that sadly died)—but what's really so exciting about this is that where there are marine mammals, there are fish. And where there are fish, there are littler fish...

And so forth.

In other words, the river got cleaner and the wildlife returned. And that's not the only place that nature is rebounding. While environmentalists have worried about mercury pollution for years, at least one recent study suggests that as mercury pollution from power plants has decreased, mercury contamination in bluefish has decreased too. And when otter-killing pesticides were banned in England, otter numbers rebounded. It even seems beavers are successfully returning to England. And a record number of turtle nests have been found in North Carolina.

Now, I'm not sharing any of this to suggest we get complacent. I'm just saying that when we stop doing dumb stuff to the environment we rely on, that environment might just start bouncing back.

With signs that the 6th great extinction may well be underway, I'd suggest it would be a good idea to get started for real while we still have species to recover.

Surprise! Stop polluting and nature gets better
Seals on the once river thames. Lower mercury in fish. Could it be that stopping pollution makes nature better?

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