The Bright Side of Covid-19

March 22, 2020

The reduction in industrial activity around the globe due to the covid-19 virus is doing wonders for the atmosphere.  The following image is from Visual Capitalist.

 

The latest satellite images over China show the atmosphere over Beijing starting to degrade once again as restrictions are slowly lifted.

The data from the last few months and the months to come are the clearest proof imaginable that climate change is being driven by man-made emissions.  (I feel daft even having to say that, but I am aware of too many deniers out there who choose not to face facts.)  The key to the recovery post-virus will be to ensure that this data is at the core of decision-making from this time forward.


Climate Atlas For The Future

March 7, 2020

City Lab has a fascinating article on the economic, environmental, and social affects of the ongoing climate emergency.  We can argue causes and solutions, but the simple meteorological details based on observed facts and tested models exist, continue to grow in integrity and need to be taken account of.

The following maps and discussions are for the period 2080-2100, taken from the article.  Select map for a larger view.

“The broad takeaways are dire, as usual. Heat-related deaths in the southern U.S. could grow—but so could cold-related deaths in northern areas. Workers exposed to outdoor temperatures in Texas and the Gulf Coast would be most at risk for heat-related deaths, but everyone’s risk could be heightened.”

 

“According to GDP projections through 2099, more than three quarters of U.S. counties will be suffering economically because of the damage climate change wreaks; about a quarter will benefit. “The losses are largest in the regions that are already poorer on average (Southern, Central, and Mid-Atlantic), increasing inequality as value transfers to the Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes Region, and New England,” the report finds.”

There are more examples in the article.  Well worth reading and contemplating.


The Sky Is The Limit

February 19, 2020

skys the limit


The Collapse of Recycling

February 15, 2020

According to the latest figures from a Pew Research poll, concerns over the environment are as important to the US public as is the economy:

As the research writers report:

“For the first time in Pew Research Center surveys dating back nearly two decades, nearly as many Americans say protecting the environment should be a top policy priority (64%) as say this about strengthening the economy (67%).  In addition, while a smaller share (52%) rates dealing with global climate change as a top priority, this is 14 percentage points higher than just three years ago. Today, similar shares rate climate change and improving the job situation (49%) as top policy priorities.”

However, just as public consciousness is rising, the everyday business of recycling is collapsing in North America.  The problem in large part is the failure of people to properly sort their recycling and the enormous human cost of re-sorting it at plants.  Axios recently visited a facility in Prince William County, Virginia, where the problems are manifest:

“It operates up to 22 hours a day to process about 550 tons of thrown out paper, plastic, aluminum and glass delivered there daily.  Despite the heavy machinery and increased automation involved, the process is still extremely dependent on humans.  On each shift, 28 “sorters” sift through the material as it rolls down a series of fast-moving conveyer belts. The workers spot and pull out non-recyclable trash from the stream so fast that they look like card dealers in a game of blackjack.  Contamination is a huge problem. People throw surprising things — Christmas trees, old carpet, shoes, diapers and even cinder blocks — into their recycling bins … [The facility] used to turn a healthy profit from processing recycled materials from a 50-mile radius. Now it’s having to pay vendors to truck material away, and is re-negotiating decades-old contracts with cities at higher rates — and explaining to consumers why they suddenly have to pay for curbside pick-up.”

Many cities are wondering whether the cost is worth it.  More than 60 cities in the States have cancelled their recycling programs completely, while others are restricting the materials they will accept.

” Alexandria, Virginia, and Katy, Texas, no longer collect glass. Baltimore County recently admitted it hasn’t recycled the glass it’s collected for the past 7 years. Hawaii County no longer accepts paper or plastic…

“If there’s no one in your local area to buy and recycle glass, you spend more fuel and carbon trucking it somewhere that does — and the benefit to the planet falls apart,” [waste manager Richard] Coupland said.”

Many of us have concerns with how we are treating our planet and wonder what just one person can do to help.  Recycling is one of the ways in which each can contribute and it is unfortunate to see the system falling apart.  I believe we need to tackle this problem at the other end, by making it vastly more expensive for producers to force packaging on us.  They need to be made to pay for the recycling and cleanup, not the consumer.

 

 


Vinyl Sounds Better But Kills The Planet

January 29, 2020

I know quite a few people who collect vinyl records.  Some, at least, consider themselves on the green end of the ecological spectrum, I am sure.  I wonder if they’ll continue their hobby after reading this disturbing article about the manufacture of PVC and the pollution that production causes.

“The process of producing PVC compound is complicated. There are numerous phases, a campus of buildings, tall silos, deep vats, busy machines, as well as many workers in hardhats, hairnets and safety glasses.

 

“PVC contains carcinogenic chemicals, and the operation produces toxic wastewater that the [world’s primary PVC production] company has been known to pour into the Chao Phraya River according to Greenpeace, which says TPC has “a history of environmental abuses” going back to the early 1990s.”

As in Thailand, the US has a bad history of PVC production:

“In the 70s, the Keysor-Century Corporation, located north of Los Angeles, supplied about 20m kilos of PVC a year to the US record industry. That amounts to about one-third of the total annual amount used in the country at the time.  Keysor-Century was an illegal polluter. The corporation had been under investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency since 1977. It was revisited by the EPA in the early 2000s, this time with the FBI, which resulted in a $4m fine and public apology for lying about exposing workers to toxic fumes, releasing toxic chemicals into the air and dumping toxic wastewater down the drain …

“During the US sales peaks of the LP, cassette and CD, the US recording industry was using almost 60m kilos of plastic a year. Using contemporary averages on greenhouse gas equivalent releases per pound of plastic production, as well as standard weight figures for each of the formats, that is equivalent to more than 140m kilos of greenhouse gas emissions each year, in the US alone. Music, like pretty much everything else, is caught up in petro-capitalism.”

So, environmentally speaking, streaming seems the better choice.

 


Greta’s Courage

October 19, 2019


The Sky Is The Limit

October 17, 2019

skys the limit