Once thought extinct, the population of smiling turtles of Myanmar is now over 1,000 turtles after a successful breeding efforts by conservationists.

Even if you’re not smiling, the turtles are.

Each week we summarize three pieces of news that give us hope for a greener, brighter future. Sign up for our newsletter to have Hopeful Headlines sent directly to your inbox!

Return of Myanmar’s smiling turtle is reason to be cheerful

By Poppy Noor, The Guardian, September 8, 2020

  • Conservationists at the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Turtle Survival Alliance successfully raised nearly 1,000 Burmese roof hatchlings. The species is known as “smiling turtles” because of it’s upturned mouth.
  • Hunting, egg harvest, fishing and habitat destruction nearly drove this species to extinction. At one point, there were only a handful of smiling turtles known to exist in the wild.
  • With captive breeding and habitat restoration, the population has been restored to a point of “little danger of biological extinction.”

Why it matters: Cue the “I like turtles” gif, right? But seriously, nature has an incredible ability to bounce back when humans allow it.

In rare bipartisan climate agreement, senators forge plan to slash use of potent greenhouse gas

By Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, The Washington Post, September 10, 2020

  • Senate Republicans and Democrats came together on an amendment to a bipartisan energy bill that would phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a greenhouse gas several thousand times more potent than carbon dioxide. HFC is commonly used as a cooling agent in refrigerators and air conditioners.
  • From the article: “Cutting these emissions, one of the fastest-growing greenhouse gases in the United States, could avert a 0.5-degree Celsius (0.9-degree Fahrenheit) global temperature rise by the end of the century.”
  • The amendment, known as the Kigali Amendment, is part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol and already adopted by many other countries. “The Trump administration has never submitted the Kigali Amendment for a Senate vote, though 17 Republican senators have asked it to do so.”

Why it matters: Phasing out HFCs has a HUGE opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit warming. It also has the potential to create “33,000 new jobs, increase U.S. manufacturing output by $12.5 billion, improve the balance of trade and boost exports by 25 percent.”

Is that not a win-win?

(By the way, it is pure, happy coincidence that a story urging for this action was in last week’s Hopeful Headlines.)

How artificial salt marshes can help in the fight against rising seas

By Patrick Greenfield, The Guardian, September 9, 2020

  • The Wallasea Island Wild Coast project in the UK is proving beneficial as wildlife habitat and a buffer for rising sea levels. The artificial marsh was created using 3m tonnes of clay from a tunnel project in London.
  • From the article: “Salt marshes and mudflats sequester large quantities of carbon, so that’s helpful in terms of the climate crisis,” says (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds ecologist Malcolm) Ausden. “Also, salt marshes in front of sea walls reduce wave action on the sea wall, so they reduce that pressure and help reduce flood risk. And salt marshes provide nursery areas for commercially important fish.”
  • The goal is to make “150 hectares of mudflats, 90 hectares of salt marsh and 165 hectares of shallow saline lagoons” by 2025.

Why does it matter: This natural restoration project has significant benefits for humans, wildlife and carbon sequestration. It could serve as a litmus test for future shoreline restoration efforts.

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Feature photograph: Myo Min Win/WCS Myanmar. Image source.