The Environment Chronicle Notable environmental events
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Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882) finally publishes his landmark opus " On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection...". The mechanics of nature and thereby the environment become more consciously understood.
George Perkin Marsh (1801 - 1882) publishes his exhaustive "Man and Nature", reissued as "The Earth as modified by Human Action" in 1874. This is the first comprehensive description of the impact of human economic activity on land and sea around the world.
The zoologist Ernst Haeckel coins the term ecology to describe "the body of knowledge concerning the economy of nature - the investigation of the total relation of the animal both to its inorganic and to its organic environment"
Robert Hasenclever (1841 - 1902), a soda producer in Stolberg, reports to the Aachen Scientific Society on desulphurisation of "smelting smoke", and publishes "On Harm to Vegetation Through Acid Gas" - a pioneering achievement in air quality.
In his authoritative speech as President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the physicist William Crookes (1832 - 1919) warns of the scarcity of resources, particularly nitrogen fertiliser.
"Silent Spring", a book by US biologist Rachel Louise Carson (1907 - 1964) is published. The German translation appears in 1970, and has a major impact on public opinion, to some extent initiating the environmental debate.
The much-discussed first report to the Club of Rome, "The Limits of Growth", by Dennis L. Meadows, is published.
The Club of Rome's second report appears: "Mankind at the Turning-Point" by Mihailo Mesarovic and Eduard Pestel.
The Advisory Scientific Council, a committee of experts reporting to the German government, produces its first report.
Herbert Gruhl (1921 - 1993), at the time a CDU member of parliament, publishes his (sometimes controversial) book.
With its book on air quality criteria, dealing with lead, the FEA comes into serious conflict with the car lobby for the first time. However, the FEA's warnings have an effect: lead content in petrol is fixed by law and leaded normal petrol has been banned in Germany since 1988.
The European Community publishes its first "Report on the State of the Environment"
Robert Jungk's book attacks the use of nuclear power, strengthening its opponents.
In "Seveso is Everywhere", Egmont Koch and Fritz Vahrenholt warn of the dangers inherent in the chemicals industry.
The European Community publishes its second "Report on the State of the Environment"
The first Germany-wide report on the state of the environment "Environmental Data 1984" starts a series of 7 reports to date. With a print run of over 10,000 per edition, it becomes one of the FEA'S best-sellers. Ten years later, the Environmental Information Act requires regular publication of such a report.
In preparation for the Rio conference, a WHO commission produces a comprehensive picture of world health in its report "Our Planet, our Health".
The European Union publishes its third "Report on the State of the Environment"
Documentation of accidents in industrial facilities or involving hazardous substances. 2 editions.
The Dobris Report is published within the Conference of Europe in Sofia.
The "Red list of endangered biotope types of the Federal Republic of Germany" has been published by the BfN. For the first time, this list does not cover species but habitats in their contextual endangerment.
The Federal Environmental Agency publishes "Sustainable Germany - roads to environmentally sustainable development". This combination of environmental, social and economic criteria into a vision of the future challenges environmentalists to define their goals. The FEA's experts draw up scenarios for sustainable development in an industrial country like Germany up to the year 2010.
More than two thirds of the emissions of important pollutants into German waters come from so called "fugitive sources", following a study of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI). The scientists, jointly with their colleagues of the Karlsruhe University, elaborated the first survey on emissions of important pollutants into German waters on behalf of the Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Environmental Agency. The researches summed up all the emissions from the industry, the municipalities as well as several fugitive emissions into rivers and lakes, such as erosion or groundwater. The period of examination has been 1993 to 1997.
As a signatory state of the Climate Convention of the UNFCCC and of the Kyoto Protocol Germany is obliged to report on its emission of greenhouse gas. These so called emission inventories have to be have to be produced, published, and updated every year. The National Inventory Report (NIR) 2003 describes and explains the methods and presumptions of the emission inventories for the first time. This report covers the emission inventories of the years from 1990 to 2001.
The impacts of climate change on Europe's environment and society are shown in this report published by the European Environment Agency. Past trends in the climate, its current state and possible future changes are presented using 22 selected indicators. For almost all of these a clear trend exists and impacts are already being observed. The report highlights the need to develop strategies at European, national, regional and local level for adapting to climate change.
With a documentation of the Elbe flood of August, 2002, the International Commission for the Protection of the Elbe (IKSE) has completed its underlying work on preventive flood management. The documentation covers all aspects from the emergence to the disastrous results of this natural phenomenon, complimenting the "Action Plan Elbe Flood Protection" from 2003 that covers all the Elbe catchment area.
The map has been produced in the framework of the Corine Land Cover programme of the European Environmental Agency. Data on land cover is necessary for the environmental policy as well as for other such as regional development and agriculture policies. At the same time it provides one of the basic inputs for the production of more complex information on other themes (soil erosion, pollutant emissions into the air by the vegetation, etc.). The Map shows the major changes of the European landscapes since 1990.
An expertise of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) points out that climate change, lack of water resources, water pollution, or soil degradation endanger the livelihood of poor people in many regions of the world. These environmental changes are largely man-made and linked with the economic and social development of a country in a complex way. The WBGU demands a closer international cooperation of fighting poverty and environmental policy.
The dramatic and, in some cases, damaging environmental changes sweeping planet Earth are brought into sharp focus in a new atlas launched to mark World Environment Day (WED). Produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the atlas compares and contrasts spectacular satellite images of the past few decades with contemporary ones, some of which have never been seen before. It covers developments in the US, Argentinia, Spain, Israel, China, and many other countries.
The report presents past and projected climate change and impacts in Europe by means of about 40 indicators and identifies sectors and regions most vulnerable with a high need for adaptation. The report covers the following indicator categories: atmosphere and climate, cryosphere, marine biodiversity and ecosystems, water quantity (including river floods and droughts), freshwater quality and biodiversity, terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity, soil, agriculture and forestry, human health. Furthermore the report shows the need for adaptation actions at EU, national and regional level and the need for enhanced monitoring, data collection and exchange and reducing uncertainties in projections. The report is a joined effort of the European Environment Agency (EEA), the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC-IES) and the World Health Organisation Europe (WHO).
The 2008 Red List was released on 6 October 2008, at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. The study shows at least 1,141 of the 5,487 mammals on Earth are known to be threatened with extinction.
The US-based Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland presents a Top Ten List of the world's worst pollution problems 2008: Artisanal Gold Mining; Contaminated Surface Water; Groundwater Contamination; Indoor Air Pollution, Metals Smelting and Processing; Industrial Mining Activities; Radioactive Waste and Uranium Mining; Untreated Sewage, Urban Air Quality, Used Lead Acid Battery Recycling
UNESCO is publishing the first-ever world map of shared aquifers to coincide with the submission to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 27 October of a draft Convention on Transboundary Aquifers. Almost 96% of the planet’s freshwater resources are to be found in underground aquifers, most of which straddle national boundaries.
ECHA has included 15 substances in the Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) for authorisation. The list was published on ECHA website on 28 October 2008. From 28 October 2008, EU & EEA suppliers of articles which contain substances on the Candidate List in a concentration above 0.1% (w/w) must provide sufficient information, available to them, to their customers and on request to consumers within 45 days of the receipt of this request. This information must ensure safe use of the article and, as a minimum, include the name of the substance.
The Living Planet Report is WWF's periodic update on the state of the world's ecosystems. This Report uses complementary measures to explore the changing state of global biodiversity and of human consumption. The Living Planet Index reflects the state of the planet’s ecosystems while the Ecological Footprint shows the extent and type of human demand being placed on these systems. The Living Planet Index of global biodiversity has declined by nearly 30 per cent over just the past 35 years. Humanity’s demand on the planet’s living resources, its Ecological Footprint, now exceeds the planet’s regenerative capacity by about 30 per cent.
For the first time it is now possible to get a comprehensive overview of which alien species are present in Europe, their impacts and consequences for the environment and society. More than 11,000 alien species have been documented by DAISIE (Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventory for Europe), a unique three year research project with more than 100 European scientists, funded by the European Union that provides new knowledge on biological invasions in Europe. Biological invasions by alien species often result in a significant loss in the economic value, biological diversity and function of invaded ecosystems.
Butterflies are a well-known and popular group of insects that can play a valuable role as early warning indicators of environmental change. They have short life-cycles and respond rapidly to change. Butterflies have also declined rapidly in recent decades and are declining more rapidly than other well-known groups such as plants and birds (which often depend on their caterpillars for food). This Atlas is an early attempt to investigate the possible effects of climate change on the majority of European butterflies by modelling the impact of various future climate scenarios. The results are important because butterflies are one of the few groups of insects for which such comprehensive data are available at a European level. As insects comprise over two-thirds of all known species, the results are valuable to help understand the possible impacts of climate change on biodiversity as a whole.
"First Contact in the Greater Mekong" reports that 1068 species were discovered or newly identified by science between 1997 and 2007.
The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) have published the first “Umweltwirtschaftsbericht” (environmental economic report). The new joint report demonstrates the close connection between ecology and economy as well as the new importance of environmental policy.
The risks of severe climate impacts increase drastically with only small increases in global mean temperature. An international team of researchers has reinvestigated the five “reasons for concern” described first in the Third Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001, and revised a graphic depiction of their sensitivities to increases in global mean temperature. The diagram shows clearly how the borderline to dangerous climate change could be crossed much earlier than previously thought but also that ambitioned climate policy could minimize the associated risks.