HOLY COW! NON-MEAT SANDWICHES AT BURGER KING??

Have you noticed the new advertisements by Burger King for their Impossible Whopper? And it’s not made from beef…it’s made from 100% plants! Yes, that’s right! BK has flipped their patty and gone “green”. But why??  What is the world coming to?

Well it’s true. And the reason might actually surprise you. You see, there’s a lot of people in the world that are trying to find solutions to reducing carbon emissions and addressing global warming.. And it turns out that one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions….after automobiles…is actually beef and dairy cattle. Their emissions dwarf all other types of animal emissions and represent about 10%-12% of ALL U.S. emissions.  For reference, that’s about half of all emissions for all of the vehicles on the roads in the U.S.!!  So if you’re trying to reduce carbon emissions, you MUST focus on one of the leading sources….

Why are cattle such high pollution makers?  It’s because when they eat, they constantly burp as well and their burps produce methane (CH4). Methane is a bigger issue than carbon dioxide (CO2) as every molecule of methane is equivalent to 23 molecules of CO2 and nearly all methane in the air comes from cattle or petroleum by-products. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that meat consumption growth is outpacing the huge global population growth on the planet, so the trend for greenhouse gas production is growing as well.

Enter veggie burgers….bigger and better than the old ones. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are two of the companies that are now selling plant-based burgers on a wide scale. Are their burgers any good? Well, apparently they are as recent taste testers have not been able to tell the difference between real beef burgers and the new plant-based burgers!

But is it worth it? What do we gain? Well, eating chicken vs beef burgers alone would reduce your personal greenhouse gas emissions by 10x ! And if everyone gave up meet and cheese for one day a week, it’s estimated that would be equivalent to taking 7.6 million cars off the road per year!  Now that’s an impact.

So the next time you are in the mood for a burger, don’t be afraid to try an Impossible Whopper at Burger King; you might not notice the difference. And if you don’t, it won’t be long before society moves from “Where’s the Beef?" to a “Rant for Plant” in its burger culinary taste. 

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Is the Green New Deal the First Step to Communism??

There’s tremendous press coverage in the news these days about the Green New Deal. Some articles show support that it’s a needed path for U.S. future economic growth. Other articles denounce the Green New Deal as ‘fantasyland’ and the path to a communistic state. So, are we destined to leave a democratic society for a communistic one? Well, I’ll give you the short answer; it’s "No”.

So why all the drama? Why the huge arguments from politicians and businessmen? Again, I’ll give you the short answer: it’s about money. But to understand why it’s about money, let’s start with the key elements of the Green New Deal. From their own website, the Green New Deal calls for:

  • “a WWII-scale national mobilization to halt climate change, the greatest threat to humanity in our history. Create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable (regenerative) agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure, including ecosystems”

  • Ensure that any worker displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels will receive full income and benefits as they transition to alternative work.

  • Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right.

  • Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, energy

  • End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. Enact a greenhouse gas fee/tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created

The centerpiece of the Green New Deal is a transition to 100% clean energy by 2030.

However, some politicians like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, see the Green Deal as a chance to overhaul a lot of other “ailments” in our current democratic system—things like health care, unemployment, wealth distribution, corporate governance, money in politics and more. These “ailments” are having a huge impact on the middle class in America….which is the foundation of our democratic society success. So they are piling other policy ideas like taxing the super wealthy, universal health care for all, etc. on top of the Green New Deal base.

So where does the Communism comments come from? They come from a lot of wealthy individuals and corporations that stand to lose if the Green Deal and these ‘attachment’ policies are implemented…..big oil companies, big medical and pharmacy companies, insurance companies ,, political consultants, etc. They see it as a threat to their success and livelihood and thus use the media to scare society with extreme comments like Communism being what the Green New Deal is about. It’s not. But it IS about big change whether you agree with it or not.

Green New Deal.jpg

Tips for Recycling

I came across an article by Waste Management of Southern California that offered their customers tips for improving recycling effectiveness. California has long been a leader in U.S. recycling efforts and is far ahead of most all other states. In fact, the state has a mandate to achieve 75% of all products being diverted away from landfills and into recycling. Having lived there, I know… and experienced the cost of deposits on bottles or aluminum canned products and the separate containers for various types of recycled items such as glass, plastic, paper etc. In fact, I was quite shocked when I moved to Tennessee to find that there was no recycling at all in the town I relocated to—though they have since introduced a limited recycling program.

So why are recycling programs not a ‘way of life’ for Americans everywhere? Well, two reasons: money and awareness/commitment. The money aspect falls primarily on the waste collection companies. most of these companies had landfills that they carried away trash to be compacted and buried. Said differently, local governmental intervention has usually been the only reason for their involvement in recycling. Couple this with an ongoing cyclical rise and fall in demand/price for recycled products like cardboard, plastic and aluminum, and the profitability of recycling programs has often been marginal at best. And when companies can’t show a profit for an initiative, they tend to eliminate them or reduce resources spent on them…thus less training, less staff and overall less effective programs.

The second part involves consumer awareness and commitment. Many people simply turn a blind eye to the environmental impacts of pollution….while they simultaneously enjoy the benefits of what the environment provides them in terms of food, water and products made from the earth’s raw materials. However, the trend is changing, particularly among the younger generation. They are more aware of sustainability concepts and want to contribute to environmental cleanup efforts like recycling. Yet even among these ‘environmental adopters’ there is a lost efficiency in the form of commitment and awareness. Many are simply not aware of the proper way to process products to be recycled; this is in part due to the low level of resources dedicated by the waste management companies for staff and customer training. Soiled paper, for example can ruin an entire bag of recycled products and result in the bag going to a landfill instead of to recycling facilities.

So continual training and reminders is NECESSARY to ensure efficient and effective recycling programs.

Here are the 3 key recommendations for home owner associations and businesses who want to ensure effective recycling programs (from Waste Management of Southern California):

1. Assign & Empower: Identify an on-site recycling champion who will take ownership of recycling efforts and help motivate others.

2. Learn & Set Up: Review the acceptable items as well as the do’s and don’ts of recycling with your champion to ensure sustainable practices are met. Place recycling containers in common areas, such as meeting and break rooms as well as recreation rooms and outdoor areas.  Visit www.rorr.com to download helpful recycling tools specific for business and apartment complexes to share with your employees or tenants.

Do:

Recycle empty plastic bottles, cans, paper and cardboard, keep food and liquids out of recycling and always place recyclables loose inside containers. Remember to always breakdown cardboard boxes to make room for all your recyclables.

Don’t:

Place plastic wrap, hoses, rope, bulky items, scrap metal or hazardous materials such as batteries in your recycling.

3. Engage & Sustain: Hold frequent meetings to promote your program as well as award those employees or tenants who have continuously done their part to stay compliant by recycling the right way. 

Will you be a leader in recycling efforts??

#recycle #sustainability #makerecyclingwork #pollutioncleanup #nomorelandfills

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Sustainability starts with YOUth Contest !

To stimulate Student learning and involvement, I will be giving away 500 FREE books to high school and college student classes or groups !

Teachers, you can use the book as outside reading to stimulate conversations about topics such as:

  • risk-taking, planning & adventures

  • teamwork and goal-setting

  • global warming & carbon emissions

  • recycling (and pollution dangers)

  • electric cars and industry transformation

  • living “Green”

  • renewable energies

With over 600 color photos, it’s an ideal book for young adults to enjoy reading and generate discussion about topics critical to today’s world.

There is no obligation but you must register by sending an e-mail to the author outlining what you would like to accomplish by using the book. For more details, click here.

2019 Summer Forecast: More Carbon and More Heat !

I don’t know about you, but it sure seems to me like summer arrived early last year and stayed late. Spring and Fall seemed to come and go quickly. But will this year be different? Will this be a year that the heat subsides to more reasonable levels…with few tornadoes and hurricanes? Well,,, if you believe the world’s scientists, it’s not likely.

In a report released last month by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of academics, governments and industry that tracks greenhouse gas emissions, world carbon dioxide emissions rose an estimated 2.7% from 2017 to 2018. It’s the largest increase in CO2 emissions in 7 years after several years of little growth and puts the targets set at the 2015 Paris Climate Accord nearly out of reach. Further discouraging scientists, they estimate 37.1 tons of carbon dioxide will be spewed into the air globally in 2019, up from 36.2 tons in 2018.

Why are we seeing such increases in CO2? Well, for one, the Amazon rain forest decreased in size another 3100 square miles in 2018. And while renewable energy use is increasing rapidly, it cannot overcome the continual rise in oil and gas energy use. The U.S. is not the largest contributor, but it is part of the big 4; namely China, the U.S., India and Europe. And as you can see in the attached chart, though China and India showed the largest increases in carbon emissions, the U.S. was still up 2.5% when it was hoped that it would show a decrease in emissions. The increases were due to hot summers and cold winters for the U.S., while economic stimulus in China pushed an increase in coal-powered manufacturing.

So what does this mean for our weather in 2019? More trapped heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. In fact, we’re at CO2 levels not seen in the atmosphere since the Pliocene era some 3 million years ago and accelerating rapidly to levels never seen before. So expect another El Nino event this year which means drier and warmer weather in the tropics and a weakening of the amount of CO2 that the rain forests can suck up.

In other words…. another hot year with weather patterns we’re not used to.

#carbonemission #globalwarming #sustainability #oilandgas #rainforests #elnino #weather

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Bagging a Good Idea

I’ve started on my New Year’s resolution. Yes, after getting mad at myself for contributing to pollution, I’ve turned the corner and I’m now taking my reusable bag into stores with me to bring out my purchases of groceries or hardware or office supplies or whatever it is. No more plastic bags for me!

So why is reducing plastic bag usage so important? Here are a few example reasons:

  • Plastics don’t biodegrade. And if they find themselves in the ocean, they photo-degrade into little pieces of themselves. In fact, it’s estimated that plastic sized particles outnumber plankton 6 to 1 in our oceans! It’s mistaken as food by marine animals and some of them die.

  • Plastic bags are single biggest contributor by far in a growing global crisis in our oceans. Plastic bags get wrapped around boat propellers, sucked into marine engines, etc

  • Plastic waste can be found everywhere: in landfills, in the streets, and in our oceans. Less than 10% of all plastic is recycled.

  • Plastic bags, which are made of polyethylene, use about 8% of our valuable oil resources.

  • The U.S. alone uses more than 100 billion plastic bags each year – that’s more than 300 bags per person!

By taking in my reusable bag to the store, I’m doing my part to try to reduce pollution, kill fewer marine animals, reduce the number of bags produced, and reducing the amount of petroleum used to make more plastic bags (which coincidentally also contributes to our air quality problem). It’s a healthier environment for all of us.

So how do we convince others to do the same thing? Education of course. Which brings me to today’s story.

Recently, seven local Nashville high schools kicked off a plastic bag recycling contest. Over the holiday break, students collected plastic bags and turned them in to a central location this week. The goal was to see which high school turned in the most plastic bags; the winning school will receive a park bench made from…get this…recycled plastic bags! The students will find out which school collected the most on Earth Day, April 22, 2019. You can read more about it and watch the video here:

ttps://www.newschannel5.com/news/mnps-students-participate-in-recycling-competition

What a GREAT way to educate young people on sustainability topics of recycling, air and water pollution etc.!!

Kudos to the all of the principals at these 7 elementary schools! Well done.

#sustainability #recycling #kickinggas #plasticbags #education #elementaryschools

A New Year Brings New Resolutions. Let's Turn the Corner in 2019 !

I went out to the grocery store late last evening and I came home pissed:

  • Not because I couldn’t find the grocery item I needed.

  • Not because there were no helpful checkout clerks or stockpersons.

  • Not because my coupons had expired

  • And not because I thought the prices were too high for what I bought.

I came home pissed because I wasn’t focused on something I feel is important.

For you see, once again for the umpteenth time, I had gone to pick up a few groceries and didn’t take in my reusable shopping bags sitting in the back of my SUV. So once again, I ended up taking home not only my groceries, but 3 plastic bags that I subsequently threw away and thus added to the mounting problem of plastic that goes to either a landfill or worse—like an ocean dump. It’s my fault…and I can do better.

So one of my New Year resolutions for 2019 is to be more focused on my recycling and waste efforts. I CAN remember to take in my reusable shopping bags…and I WILL. It’s a small thing, but if everyone did small things like this we wouldn’t have landfills at capacity, global cleanup crews headed to the middle of the Pacific ocean to collect trash, and low recycling levels in the U.S. Simply put, we’re like the little kid who was never taught to pick up his toys after he played with them….and our room is getting “trashed”.

There are a number of ways we can contribute to reducing waste and pollution. Recycling is one but there are others that are easy to do if we simply FOCUS on them. I found this article from 2016 by the NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council) that offers up some good ideas. I hope you’ll take the time to look them over.

So what are your resolutions for 2019? Do they include any “green” initiatives? If not, I encourage you to add one more. With your help, we can make 2019 the year our global room starts looking a little less cluttered and a little more cleaner. I hope you’ll join me in this effort.

I thank you….. Our marine and wildlife thank you………... And Mother Earth thanks you.

#icandobetter #plasticpollution #reusableshoppingbags #sustainability #newyearresolutions

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/10-ways-reduce-plastic-pollution

My New Year Resolution for 2019

My New Year Resolution for 2019

Black-Balled on Black Friday?

An important published report (the National Climate Assessment) was released last Friday and today denounced by White House Press Secretary Sanders when questioned as being ‘not based on facts’ and ‘not data driven’.

Really?

Without providing ANY facts of their own to counter the research findings, the White House wants us to believe that THE major product of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a government interagency which coordinates a team of expert scientists and receives input from 13 different Federal Agencies, is then summarized in the mandatory National Climate Assessment Report, and then “extensively reviewed by the public, the National Academy of Sciences and policymakers who make decisions on actions needed to address global warming concerns, is not based on data or facts?

To believe that scientists don’t use facts or data to develop their conclusions is like walking blindfolded across 40 acres of dairy land and believing you won’t step in bull crap. And that seems like what we have here.

Aside from the lack of data put forth for an opposing point of view to the Assessment findings, it also appears highly convenient to release the report on the busiest shopping day of the year. Why? To try to bury bad news…that’s why. It runs counter to the Administration’s environmental policies….so bury bad news when people are distracted. Well, it didn’t happen that way. People DO CARE about the environment and all the major news agencies carried the report findings.

What we the major report findings? Here’s a recap….and it’s not good at all:

  • Communities — Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.

  • Economy — Without substantial global mitigation & adaptation efforts climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.

  • Interconnected Impacts — Climate change affects the social systems we rely on individually and our connections to one another; these systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts which threaten essential services

  • Actions To Reduce Risks — Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change through actions designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation strategies. While mitigation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.

  • Water — The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country face risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.

  • Health — Extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.

  • Indigenous Peoples — Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems.

  • Ecosystems — Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change. Without substantial reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such changes.

  • Agriculture — Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, threatening rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.

  • Infrastructure — Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events; the infrastructure will continue to degrade in performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.

  • Oceans & Coasts — Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened. without significant reductions in greenhouse gases, many coastal regions will be transformed by the end of the century, Many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.

  • Tourism & Recreation — Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.

Climate Change Is and Will Cost Americans Billions

The summary to the NCA states the “earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.” Much of the latest NCA report concerns itself with the harm a warming planet will do to the US economy. It says it could reduce US economic output by as much as 10%, which would amount to around $500 billion a year in losses. The report echoes the findings of the IPCC 6 climate assessment released in October, which warns a “business as usual” approach to carbon emission could see the average global temperatures rocket upward by as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. If this were to happen, some scientist have gone on record to say that the impact would be indescribable, turning the world upside down in terms of its climate—and that there would be nothing like it in the history of civilization.’

So the U.S. in the course of 2 short years…has gone from scientific study and global agreement to ‘I know better’…and “Let’s bury bad news of Black Friday and hope nobody notices’.. What’s next? Eliminating subsidies for electric car sales? Oh, wait! Trump just threatened to do that against GM…… <sigh>

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/white-house-federal-climate-change-report-not-based-on-facts/ar-BBQaiNl?ocid=spartanntp

Trump & EPA Are Saving The Coal Industry, Right? Well, Not Really and Here's Why

When Donald Trump campaign for President in the 2016 election, he made great promises to coal miners that he would bring coal back in a big way. His promises enabled him to defeat Hilary Clinton in the key coal producing states of West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. So has he delivered on his promises? The answer is that he’s likely slowed the decline but probably cannot stop it.

Since Trump’s election, there was a short-term increase in coal mining jobs, roughly 2000 at its peak; however, by the end of 2017, that number was down to about 900….and falling. The increase was due to EPA removals of government subsidies for fracking of methane gas used for power in lieu of coal. However, this increase has been offset with continued decline in power plant usage of coal due to increasing use of renewable energies like wind and solar sources. In fact, coal production was up slightly in 2017 by 6% to 774 million tons, but consumption was slightly below 2017 levels at 717 million tons. More concerning, domestic coal consumption is almost all in the power sector and coal’s % of the power sector was 30%—the lowest ever on record. Said differently, the power sector is growing while coal’s % of it is declining.

A recently published article in Scientific American outlined some of the dynamics behind the scenes for the coal industry. In short, the economics suggest that the cost to operate coal power plants is now higher than the cost of operating solar or wind power facilities. Further, renewable energies are actually less expensive for power generation than both gas and coal powered energy plants in many parts of the U.S.:

On-Shore Wind Farm Power Plant Costs: $29-$56 per Mega Watt Hour

Solar Power Plant Costs: $36-$44 per Mega Watt Hour

Coal Power Plant Costs: $60-$143 per Mega Watt Hour

Natural Gas Power Plant Costs: $41- $74 per Mega Watt Hour

In addition, wind and solar costs continue to decline, some 7% and 13% respectively in 2017. Moreover, solar and wind are expected to grow to be 2/3 of all new power plant builds by 2040. So, obviously the trends do not bode well for the coal industry’s future.

Diversification will still be important with the expected increase in power usage for the U.S. in the future, but it’s hard to believe that coal will make a comeback, unlike the promises made by the Trump Administration.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/renewable-energy-is-surging-but-not-fast-enough-to-stop-warming/

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Scientists Sound Urgent Alarm On the Environment--But Will We Listen?

According to the State of New York, Exxon and big oil knew the damage that CO2 emissions from oil and gas burning was having on the atmosphere back in the 1970’s; in fact the State just filed suit against Exxon for an alleged lack of disclosure of the potential financial impact to investors. Exxon denies a cover up.

Over the last 5 decades scientists have been warning anyone that would listen that the environment’s ozone layer was being depleted by CO2 emissions BUT if actions were taken to reduce reliance on fossil fuels for energy the world could prevent a disastrous global warming impact. That just changed.

In a landmark scientific report issues by the United Nations this month, scientists warn that a large amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere may need to be removed to avoid further global warming impacts. And right now, the technology to undertake such a challenge, doesn’t exist.

So, the clock is ticking….. Tick Tock, Tick Tock. Nations have avoided taking action for so long that an unprecedented shift to renewable energies like solar, wind and water may not be enough to avoid damage to our ecosystem on the Earth’s surface. While a panel of the America’s leading scientists from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine urged the federal government to begin exploring technologies that could remove vast quantities of carbon emissions from the atmosphere to slow climate change, the Trump Administration is expanding oil drilling rights in dramatic fashion.

Scientists have changed their message; it’s a louder warning. But are we listening?

#globalwarming #scientists #kickinggas #exxonknew #sustainability #renewableenergy

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/24/climate/global-warming-carbon-removal.html

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Recycling Recycling: A Needed CleanUp

The other day I offered to set my neighbor’s trash out for collection while he left on vacation. In the course of that conversation, we got into a debate about whether empty wine bottles went into recycling bags or trash bags for our city collection. I believed that glass went into the blue bags for recycling along with paper, cardboard, plastic, etc.; my neighbor believed that all glass had to go into trash bags that went to the landfill. We were confused… so we looked it up on the city’s online government site.

It turns out, we were both wrong….in different ways. My neighbor was right about the wine bottles and glass not being eligible for the blue recycling bags the city collects. However, neither of us were aware that plastic bags and, interestingly, plastic pill bottles cannot be placed in the recycling bags either—who’d have thunk??

This situation just illustrates one of the biggest problems with recycling programs today: educating the public. In my situation, both my neighbor and I discussed the fact there really needed to be better identification and ongoing reminders to residents about “how” to recycle. I am a big advocate of recycling but was not aware that bottles, plastic bags, and plastic pill bottles couldn’t be included in the blue bag; i.e. I was doing it wrong. And ‘contaminated’ bags are often discarded and cannot be processed. What is needed in my case, I believe, is regular reminders of what ‘Can’ be included in recycle bags and what ‘Cannot’ be included and goes into the provided trash bin. In addition, a color photo label could be posted on the trash bin with similar information. Both of these could reduce contamination and increase the efficiency of the recycling process. I should point out, however, that the city’s online link for city services DOES have a very good video of how to do recycling properly—thus it should be referenced in communications the city has with its residents.

So the question that arises from all this is: ‘why aren’t recycling programs more effective' and profitable?' And why are some cities SCALING BACK recycling programs? A recent New York Times article may shed some light on these reasons. The article cites that despite decades of awareness, less that 1/3 of all municipal waste is recycled—far less than in Europe and other large global countries. More importantly, it contains an interview with the executive director of Recycle Across America, (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/opinion/fixes-recycling-labeling-landfills.html) a non-profit company focused on improving recycling. Their studies/efforts have shown that recycling CAN be improved and become a habit just like drivers using safety belts and drivers not driving when drunk. However, according to the director, this hasn’t happened on a nationwide level because there are “thousands of confusing recycling instructions on bins throughout the country, which makes people skeptical and apathetic about recycling, and projects the message that recycling is unimportant.” The director goes on to say that the reason public education and standardization hasn’t happened is due to the fact that recycling businesses are owned by the same companies that own the landfills and that landfill services are more profitable.

Recycling CAN be profitable for companies involved and CAN be an effective way to reduce our carbon footprint. If we want to be serious about it, we need to:

1- provide a standardization of how recyclables are collected & processed

2- ensure quality education materials and labeling are provided to residents and businesses along with ongoing reminders of ‘how’ to separate trash from recyclables

3- ensure the trash collecting and recycling companies are profitable through efficiency analyses as well as governmental contracts for pricing of these collected materials.

In summary, it’s important to remember that our trees, gas, natural gas and other raw materials are all finite—i.e. limited. With a dramatic growth in global population and a corresponding acceleration of increased energy use, recycling is necessary and we need to ‘clean it up!’

#recycling #sustainability #kickinggas #landfills #trash #cleanup

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/opinion/fixes-recycling-labeling-landfills.html

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Can The 'ROOT OF All EVIL' Be The Roots for Sustainability Growth?

Money. Often called the 'root of all evil' for its temptation that causes people to do things others condemn. Could it also become fertilizer for an accelerated learning and adoption of sustainability activities for the world? Well, yes, possibly so.

While there have been a few funds on the stock market that invest in 'green' products and services, a recent move by Norway's sovereign wealth fund stands out. The fund, worth $1 trillion, is the world's largest and invests money generated by Norway's oil and gas production in global funds including investments in over 9,000 companies and 72 countries.

With a focus on long-term goals, the fund announced it will require companies in which it invests to follow stricter guidelines on global sustainability and improved efforts to combat plastic pollution of the world's oceans. In fact, the fund sees their long-term goals as aligning well with the United Nation goals for achieving sustainable economic, social and environmental development by the year 2030. 

If you want to get CEO, Board of Directors, and other Executive attention, this is the way to do it; i.e. take away potential investors and capital which subsequently drops a company stock price and ultimately reduces the executives' stock holdings value. When it hits your wallet directly, you take notice.

A lot of companies have been playing lip service to sustainability. It's a broad goal for most companies with few true actions behind them. But...it looks good on paper and in the Annual Reports since you have a corporate plan for sustainability.

It's about time, someone put their money where sustainability is....and I applaud Norway for sticking their neck out on this issue. This is the same country that leads the world in per capita electric vehicle owners.  Indeed, the little country of Norway is showing the world how to be better global citizens and cleaning up after themselves. Touche' Norway !

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/norways-1-trillion-fund-beef-scrutiny-sustainability-ocean-073521211--sector.html

Note: Photo courtesy of Buildnative.com

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Making Your Poo Work For You !

Composting, by definition, is the process of recycling various organic materials (usually considered waste products) to produce a soil conditioner known as compost. Rich in nutrients, this compost is then used to fertilize gardens, landscaping, horticulture, agriculture and organic farm products. Compost is also helpful as a soil conditioner, a natural pesticide, erosion control, and other uses such as wetland construction or land reclamation. Farmers have used composting processes for years by combining farm animal manure with straw or sawdust to condition soil used for crop growing. 

The process of composting includes making a collection of wet organic matter such as leaves, grass, food scraps, etc and waiting for the materials to break down into humus after a few month period. Shredding the materials with the addition of water and aeration accelerates the decomposition process. Earthworms and fungi can further breakdown the nitrogen-rich materials and produce heat, ammonium and carbon dioxide. 

Composting requires 3 basic ingredients:

Browns- materials such as dead leaves, branches and twigs. (carbon sources)

Greens- grass clippings, fruit scraps, vegetable wastes, and coffee grounds (nitrogen sources)

Water- in the right proportion to the Browns and Greens (moisture to break down the materials)

Proper composting utilizes equal amounts of Browns and Greens with alternating layers and sizes of each mixed with the water. Aeration is often done through rotation of the materials. Commercial composting bins allow residential composters to mechanically facilitate the process. 

With the growing interest in sustainability, composting is taking on new forms, including toilets for recycling of human waste and the reduction of water used for public sewage. Properly set-up compost toilets have a very low ecological footprint. Replacing a flush toilet with a composting one can save more than 6,600 gallons per year for each person who uses the bathroom! Composting toilets operate much like home garden composting systems; they accelerate decomposition and evolve into a manageable, odorless waste material similar to commercial fertilizer found in a home and garden store. 

Compost toilets can be used at home, for camping, boating and other locations where sanitary toilets may not be easily found. The attached article ( https://homeworthylist.com/best-composting-toilet-reviews/  ) provides a review of some of the top compost toilet products available along with guidelines on how the process works. 

If you're ready to fully embrace sustainability and want to reduce your carbon footprint for future Earth inhabitants, then "Make Your Poo Work For You" by investing in a composting toilet !

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No Longer Grasping For Straws.....

We should all be embarrassed. Yes, embarrassed. Why? Because we are not good global citizens. We are the most modern and powerful country in the world. BUT... we are the least responsible country. Like a little kid, we play and we waste but we don't clean up. And that's depressing.

Less than 10% of plastics were recycled in the U.S. in 2015; that compares to 39.1% in Europe and even 22% in the lagging economy of China. So why don't we do better? Well, awareness of the true impact of plastic pollution is one reason. And it is only because China, of all places, stopped taking our trash that has raised the awareness in some locations. As a result, plastic trash is building up in ports and recycling facilities across the U.S. 

While 10% of consumed U.S. plastic is recycled and 15% is burned for energy, the remaining 75% goes to landfills which are filling up rapidly. And given the long decomposition time for plastic, landfills are not the answer to a growing problem; this doesn't even speak to the enormous problem plastic creates for wildlife endangerment and risk to our food and water supplies--especially to our oceans. We NEED to do a much better job of recycling our waste and plastic is a huge opportunity to make a difference. 

To our credit, however, the U.S. does do a pretty good job of recycling lead acid batteries, aluminum and steel cans and corrugated cardboard. So it can be done. And we should. Even a kid learns as he grows up.....and we need to do the same with respect to recycling plastic.

Here's an interesting article on plastic and a summary of U.S. recycling efforts in 2015. It gives us some hope that people and companies are beginning to think about ways to avoid plastic packaging and products. For example, eliminating straws with drinks and making straws out of decomposing materials like food can have a small but measurable impact on plastic waste. 

What can you do?

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/look-opportunity-us-get-serious-about-recycling-home

#sustainability   #recycling  #plastic    #wecandothis   #whatcanyoudo?   #kickinggas  

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Playing A Game of "Chicken" With Mother Earth

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California is under siege from wildfires. At last count from the Department of Forestry and Protection, some 5,000 fires have burned around 695,000 acres of land and structures. And while this is a record year for California, similar fires have occurred in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. Meanwhile, the entire U.S. has experienced record heat temperatures. Is this a sign of global warming?  Are we destined for more years of similar fire and heat??

Well, a new study by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that 'yes, indeed', we may be in a very precarious situation relative to atmospheric temperatures and a live-able environment on the Earth's surface. What's most scary about the study is that it outlines the possibility of an irreversible chain of events like falling dominos that would stoke a warming of the planet to disastrous levels. The study suggests that we are perilously close to the tipping point of what they termed the "Hothouse Earth" effect. 

In its simplest terms, the "Hothouse Earth" scenario involves a series of self-reinforcing processes that push the Earth toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than previously experienced. The resulting environment would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society and economies. For example, agricultural systems are particularly vulnerable in Hothouse Earth scenarios. Increased temperatures would likely exceed the limits of adaptation for farm products and result in a substantial overall decrease in agricultural production, causing increased prices and even more disparity between wealthy and poor countries. Other impacts include flooding of many coastal cities and loss of barrier reefs critical to marine ecosystems. 

One key element of the Hothouse Earth falling domino scenario is the release of trapped carbon in the Earth's surface into the atmosphere, thus accelerating the 'greenhouse effect' in the ozone layer. This would include not only the carbon dioxide taken in on the surface plant life like tree branches and leaves but also an enormous amount of carbon gases currently trapped under Artic and Antarctic ice. In fact, a totally independent study conducted by the Joint Global Change Research Institute found that soils around the globe are responding to a warming climate by converting more carbon into carbon dioxide which subsequently enters the atmosphere. The effect of this growing imbalance further dwindles the strength of the soil as a natural place to store carbon and substantiates the Hothouse Earth theory. But unlike the Hothouse theory, the JGCRI study has been conducted using thousands of observations at hundreds of sites around the world; i.e. THIS is a REAL WORLD study.

According to the NAS study conclusion, only coordinated human action will be able to stabilize the Earth in a habitable state and will entail stewardship of the entire Earth system--biosphere, climate and societies--and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.

These studies should alarm all of us and force us to reflect on the recent rollbacks by the EPA on emission restrictions from coal burning facilities to vehicles. The evidence is mounting that all of the countries that signed the Paris Accord on global warming were correct---leaving only the U.S. to be playing "chicken" with Mother Earth on her ability to withstand the human impact on the global ecosystem. 

#globalwarming   #emissions   #fires  #studies   #kickinggas    #ecosystems  #parisaccord

Change Is Happening.....Whether We Like It Or Not

The speed of change around us has been accelerated exponentially with computers and new technologies. It's enough to make your head spin....

Some people embrace this change and see it as an opportunity to make their life easier or better in some way. Others despise it--viewing it as a complication to their life.  Whether you embrace it or despise it, one thing is for sure: change has always happened over time.

When I set out in 2013 to set a Guinness World Record in an electric car, one of my major motivations was to improve air quality and prevent global warming by making people aware of how capable electric vehicles can be.  I did it for the future of my kids and grandkids-to-come. 

But there is growing evidence that my efforts and the efforts of thousands of scientists and environmentalists are too late.  And what's even worse, the current Administration is ignoring science for big oil and financial gain. There's no other way to say it.

For example, yesterday's USA Today contained an article (below) with data illustrating the change in our climate and the subsequent impact--the continual increase in temperatures, extremely dry areas and sudden flooded areas which are  much worse than historical norms. What's even more concerning is that it is likely to get much worse before it gets better....

As I wrote my book "Kicking Gas & Taking Charge!", I learned a lot about Sustainability....why EVERYONE should care about what it is and why. There are many aspects of it  but the sole focus is to keep the Earth livable for human life. But expanding opportunities for Big Oil to drill along the U.S. coastlines and the Artic area, reducing emissions for coal burning power plants, and not supporting renewable energy companies does not seem consistent with this goal.  

It's time for each and every one of us to embrace sustainability. Change is going to happen; it's inevitable. But it's VERY important that we adopt change from a forward-looking approach and take global waring seriously..NOW. If we don't, we'll all be wearing gas masks and living underground while the Earth's surface burns...….That's not the life I envisioned for my kids or future grandkids. Is it yours?

 

https://www.9news.com/article/news/nation-now/global-heat-fires-and-floods-how-much-has-climate-change-fueled-this-hellish-july/465-c1e8bdf0-26be-4939-b443-dfd7abe9a1b2

The alarming rise in devastating fires is one indication that global warming is real.

The alarming rise in devastating fires is one indication that global warming is real.

Recycling Our View of Recycling

The town I live in started a recycling program a few years ago and I remember the headlines in the local paper being: “Recycling, will it work in Franklin?” At the time, I thought this was odd as the city I’d moved from in California has had a routine recycling program for years. Franklin's program has since launched and seemingly is successful.  For me, 90% of all my trash goes into the blue recycling bags each week; I only use my large trash bin for non-recyclables maybe once a month. Simple right?

Well, maybe not. It turns out that waste management companies don’t make much, if any money, on recycling despite the obvious benefits of lower costs of raw materials for making new products from old. The reasons are due primarily to fluctuations in the prices paid for the recycled materials and, perhaps more importantly, due to contamination of the recycled materials. The obvious question to that latter is.."why?"

In my case, all recyclables are placed into a single bag; that includes all paper, plastic, bottles, cans, etc. Easy for me, but at some point someone has to separate all that “stuff”. It also increases the likelihood of contamination if containers still have liquids which spill onto the paper products and cause mold or other health-related problems. But there are many other forms of contamination also....including things like Styrofoam, food waste, electronics waste, aerosols etc. This contamination can wreck an otherwise great plan for recycling our waste products.

The answer clearly lies in education of the public. In their defense, the waste management companies are typically not organized well for recycling, often are only responding to city mandates for a recycling program and haven’t made education a priority. But that’s starting to change. With China’s recent decision to reduce acceptance of U.S. waste, many cities in the U.S. are now realizing they have a challenge and are re-thinking how they approach recycling. In the end, it will be a good thing for our country and our economy.

With photo examples and brief explanation on the 'why it's important' and 'how to do it properly', I am confident that America can significantly reduce contamination and improve the profitability of recycling programs. The benefits of recycling far exceed the negatives of continued use of precious resources like land for landfills, cleaning contaminated water from our garbage, and raw materials like coal, gas and oil as well as metals, minerals, etc needed for final products. It’s not hard…..and as the most affluent society in the world, we NEED to own our waste as well.

Attached is a great article on the impact China’s decision is having on cities in the U.S. that have been sending their trash to China. It should cause all of us to 'recycle our thinking about recycling'. 

#recycle  #waste  #kickinggas   #china   #wecandothisamerica

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/as-china-gets-tough-on-recycling-will-america-get-cleaner/ar-AAAgyRn?ocid=spartanntp

 

Apartment Dwellers Can Go Solar Too !

If you're a home owner, it's easy to 'go green' by modifying your home's heating and cooling equipment to renewable energy sources like solar or electric. But if you're an apartment dweller, it's not so easy. Until now.

A New York Times article today outlined a new program this summer called Community Solar Groups (or CSG). These groups are for apartment renters and homeowners who live in buildings which cannot have solar panels installed. With a CSG, someone in an apartment can lower their electricity bill by joining the group which is connected to solar panels that sit on a rooftop of a building at another location and even another area. 

The CSGs essentially broker the electricity generated by the solar panels by selling it to a local electric company which then gives the members of the CSG a discount on their electric bill. Each member's discount varies depending on the size and number of solar panels involved and the number of members in the CSG. Members not only get a cost break on their bill, but now enjoy the satisfaction of a social and environmental contribution as well. 

Community Solar Groups consist of 4 basic elements: a host, a sponsor, a utility company, and customers (usually limited to 25 or so to ensure a fair discount). The host allows a solar panel grid to be installed on a commercial building he owns or leases the space to a sponsor who can design, operate and maintain the system. The sponsor then sells the energy produced to a local utility company; customers are billed for their electricity through a 3rd party firm which provides a summary of their power used, their credit and a summary of the power generated by the CSG solar panels.

While the program is still in its infancy stage, expectations are that the concept will expand rapidly in coming years, making it possible for a whole new group of people that can contribute to 'going green' and reducing dependence on oil and gas for power. 

#sustainability  #solar   #communitysolar     #kickinggas  #utility  #electric

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/12/realestate/apartment-dwellers-solar-power.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FSustainable%20Development&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection

solar panels CSG.png

Leaving Less of a "Footprint" in Fresh Cement

Have you ever looked at all of the things around you that are made from cement? From sidewalks, drainage culverts and pools pools to highways, bridges, and skyscrapers. It's literally everywhere in our life and truly a 'foundation' of today's society. We take it for granted, right?Well, we take the air we breath and our atmosphere for granted also. And it turns out, there is a link between cement and our environment.

The International Energy Agency estimates that 7% of all global carbon emissions comes from the manufacturing of cement, making it the second-largest industrial emitter in the world behind the iron and steel industry.  The cement-making process is a massive source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and is estimated to grow up to 23% by 2050 due to global population growth. There is large concern among scientists that the cement industry could single-handedly prevent achievement of the Paris Agreement global climate targets unless emissions are reduced.

Scientists are now working with the World Cement Association for the first time to discuss ways to alter the manufacturing process for making cement. The industry's huge carbon footprint partly stems from its high fuel requirements (most often satisfied by fossil fuels) to heat limestone until it chemically degrades. Yet, as much as two-thirds actually comes from the chemical production process itself which releases large amounts of carbon dioxide as a byproduct. So studying ways to reduce the carbon footprint in cement making is a positive and a big first step for an industry which has had no real changes in process for many decades.

The solution will not be easy; it will likely require changes in the materials and the manufacturing processes themselves. In fact, the solution will likely require a variety of steps. Some of the approaches currently being taken by researchers include:

  •       changes in the chemical formulas to eliminate the need to heat limestone which is               used in the making of the cement
  •       use of other recycled byproducts from other industries, such as steel slag, fly ash, clays       etc that can be mixed with alkalis to get a cement-like product
  •       recycling the CO2 emissions back into the cement
  •       accelerating the 're-absorption' of CO2 emissions by cement products

It will be a LONG, HARD road for the cement industry (pun intended). Not only will the solution be multi-faceted in process but will also require satisfaction of major safety requirements as well.

Still, the good news is that this is a start! With the huge challenge we face in reducing our carbon footprint to preserve our environment and way of life, we will be forced to look at many of the things we take for granted.....and be prepared to make changes. It's in our own...and our childrens' best interest. 

 

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cement-producers-are-developing-a-plan-to-reduce-co2-emissions/

RETURN TO SENDER! - CHINA SENDS OUR CRAP BACK

For years the U.S. and many other countries have been doing "aspirational" recycling... a term used to describe the collection of used materials like plastic which are not made into new products, but rather are shipped off in ocean containers to countries like China. Well, China has finally woke up to their own pollution problem and no longer wants our trash. This actually now creates a very big problem for the U.S...and particularly the Pacific Northwest. 

The amount that China was accepting is staggering--some 106 million metric tons of plastic annually. So now, countries who were exporting their plastics, will have to find a new way to dispose or recycle plastics or, and equally important, find alternative materials. And while other 3rd world countries have increase their acceptance of plastic recyclables, some are already starting to backtrack on those agreements due to oversupply and environmental concerns.

According to researchers at the University of Georgia who conducted the study of China's situation and the plastic recyclables business:

  • Nearly 80% of all plastics have been buried in landfills or the environment
  • About 10% of plastics have been burned
  • Several million tons end up in oceans (remember the Pacific Garbage Patch?)
  • Only 9% of all plastics are actually recycled into new products

And, what's worse, the industry's capability to produce over 322 million tons annually is far exceeding our capability to dispose of it. To summarize, the researchers wrote: "Without bold new ideas and management strategies, current recycling rates will no longer be met, and ambitious goals and timelines for future recycling growth will be insurmountable." 

So while Melania may not care, I do.  Do you?

#recycling #china  #plastics  #kickinggas   #sustainability

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/china-just-handed-the-world-a-111-million-ton-trash-problem/ar-AAyVjce?ocid=spartannt

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