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5 Reasons 2015 Was One of the Most Important Years in Decades
2015 was a breakthrough year for our environment—one of the most important in decades.
The nations of the world agreed to a climate deal that finally gives us a chance to turn the corner toward safety. America put in place the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from its largest source, power plants. And the Senate passed sweeping bipartisan legislation that promises to fix our chemical safety system, which has been broken for 40 years.
At Environmental Defense Fund, we’re proud to have played key roles in all of these breakthroughs.
Still, even with all that we accomplished, I expect 2016 to top the year now coming to an end. The twin drivers of progress in the next 12 months will be ambition and accountability—two mutually dependent qualities the environmental movement must have to thrive.
Ambition without accountability is just rhetoric and accountability without ambition is merely record keeping. Together, though, they are what made the recent Paris talks such a success and they are how we’ll ratchet up global action in the year ahead.
1. Paris Set the Tone
For the first time, the world got the message: Climate change is the race of our lives. And leaders responded with action on a global scale. In support of the latest Conference of the Parties or COP21, 187 countries covering almost 99 percent of global emissions submitted commitments to take action on climate.
The agreement reached in Paris doesn’t solve climate change, but it created a framework through which the world can take measurable, verifiable action to see emissions peak, stabilize and eventually decline. And it requires countries to track progress and increase ambition over time, further improving the odds that we can keep warming below catastrophic levels.
In other words, Paris is the starter’s gun.
2. Markets are Ramping Up
The Paris agreement sent a powerful, immediate signal to global markets that the clean energy future is open for business. It’s a message markets are primed to receive: emissions trading systems are already at work in more than 50 places that are home to nearly 1 billion people.
With the Paris framework in place, momentum for bottom-up, decentralized market-based policies will only increase—and at the core of such systems are transparency and integrity.
It’s a principle of economics that as participation grows, activity accelerates. As we reach economies of scale, new investment is drawn in and businesses come to depend on the new market tools.
3. Private Sector is Coming Onboard
The corporate world is ready to play a larger role, too.
More than 100 savvy businesses ran an ad in The Wall Street Journal just before the Paris talks, supporting action to reduce U.S. emissions that achieve or exceed national commitments “and increase ambition in the future.”
By pledging, these companies also invite us to hold them accountable.
4. Clean Energy Investments are Rising
Domestically and internationally, 2015 was a breakthrough year for clean and efficient energy and 2016 should see the amplification of smart policies and investments.
On the domestic front, the U.S. Department of Energy released a new standard to cut emissions from commercial air conditioners and furnaces. It’s expected to save more energy than any other standard the agency has issued so far.
The promise of clean energy is global and another critical piece of the Paris agreement is that it invites the developing world to participate in the rising flow of clean energy investments.
Emerging economies such as China and India are expected to spend $2.7 trillion on renewable energy between 2015 and 2040, far outpacing industrialized nations.
Now all nations, rich and poor, will be able to show that these investments pay off.
5. Market Solutions Grow on Land and at Sea
The “no net loss” habitat standards the Obama administration announced in late 2015 and is set to ramp up in 2016 and call for landscape-scale, market-based solutions that bring net benefits for wildlife on working lands.
At the same time, successes in the U.S. commercial fishing sector are expanding globally. Fishing rights management programs are transforming the industry, increasing prosperity in fishing communities and abundance in fish populations.
These two, ambitious initiatives are built on demonstrable results. Look for more progress in 2016 as they continue to expand.
2016: A Year of Opportunity
While we’re making extraordinary environmental gains, there is, of course, still much to be done.
We need to continue to work with government and industry partners to identify and mitigate methane leaks from the oil and gas sector. We know it can be done at low cost and have tremendous impact.
We also need to ensure that a strong bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act emerges from the House-Senate negotiations and is signed into law. Americans deserve to know their everyday products are safe to use.
The era of delay is over. We must be ambitious and hold our public officials, our business leaders and ourselves accountable. We need smart, flexible solutions that can ratchet up environmental protection over time.
Ambition plus accountability accelerates progress.
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Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.
In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.
What is cabin fever?<p>In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you've been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that's not the reality of the symptoms.</p><p>Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they're isolated or feeling cut off from the world.</p><p>These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/yes-covid-19-cases-are-rising-why-you-still-need-to-practice-social-distancing" target="_blank">social distancing</a>, self-quarantining during a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pandemic" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.</p><p>Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.</p><p>Cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.</p>
What are the symptoms?<p>Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or "stuck" at home. They're rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:</p><ul><li>restlessness</li><li>decreased motivation</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irritability" target="_blank">irritability</a></li><li>hopelessness</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate" target="_blank">difficulty concentrating</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irregular-sleep-wake-syndrome" target="_blank">irregular sleep patterns</a>, including sleepiness or sleeplessness</li><li>difficulty waking up</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/lethargy" target="_blank">lethargy</a></li><li>distrust of people around you</li><li>lack of patience</li><li>persistent <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness" target="_blank">sadness or depression<br></a></li></ul>
What can help you cope with cabin fever?<p>Because cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological condition, there's no standard "treatment." However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.</p><p>The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you're secluded in the first place.</p><p>Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.</p><p>The following ideas are a good place to start.</p>
When to get help<p>Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.</p><p>Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.</p><p>What's more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety" target="_blank">anxiety</a> and fear are valid.</p><p>In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.</p><p>If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you're experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.</p><p>Of course, if you're in isolation or practicing social distancing, you'll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.</p><p>Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don't, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.</p><p>If you don't want to talk to a therapist, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/top-iphone-android-apps" target="_blank">smartphone apps for depression</a> may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.</p>
The bottom line<p>Isolation isn't a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other's company. That's what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.</p><p>However, whether you're sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.</p><p>If and when it's necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.</p>
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