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10 Good Things About 2019

Did you know that back in June of 2019, a Dutch automotive company called Lightyear introduced the world's first long-range solar car? They've dubbed the sedan "Lightyear One." Made of light-weight carbon fiber, the car's rooftop solar cells make it a viable, emissions-free alternative form of transportation. Long overdue, we can only hope it will, over time, become affordable enough for every driver.

The National Pollinator Garden Network set themselves the goal of registering a million gardens in 2015. In April last year, they surpassed that goal. With their existence threatened by the use of poisonous pesticides, bees, birds, butterflies, and other bugs will be aided by these gardens in their fight for survival. The gardens comprise roughly 5 million acres, and involve around 8 million people in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

French company Carbios announced in October 2019 it has developed a process for converting PET plastics into a reusable form. The…
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Trump Administration's Environmental Nightmare

January 17, 2020

The Trump administration is determined to undo protections of the environment going back as far as 1970. These protective regulations affect water, air, land and public health quality, and target limitations on greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions of mercury and smog, the reporting of natural gas emissions, chemical plant safety, use of pesticides, a moratorium on coal mining and regulation of coal mining waste, methane pollution, and fuel efficiency standards. All of these limitations are intended to benefit industries that donate to the Republican Party.

Statistics demonstrate that the benefits of these regulations far outweigh the costs by preventing illness and death. Yet the 95 regulations Trump wants to eliminate are well on their way to being rescinded: 58 of the targeted rules have already been revoked, and 37 of them are at various stages of being discontinued. For example, if Trump has his way, a 2019 proposal will halt federal protection of 51% of …

Wildfires in Australia

January 3, 2020

Wildfires have been burning out-of-control in Australia since July of 2019. That's not hyperbole: the entire country has been ravaged by fire since July in one of the worst wildfire seasons in decades. Spring of 2019 was the driest on record. A heatwave in December broke the record for highest national average temperature, with temperatures in some locations topping out between 113-120 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, some fires have been fought for months at a time. Strong winds have pummeled large areas of the country, causing fires and smoke to spread more widely and rapidly. Dry lightning and arson have also been to blame

Before I go any further, let's talk a little bit about Australian geography. The continent is divided up into six provinces, plus Tasmania, an island off the southeastern coast. The provinces are: Queensland, in the northeast, New South Wales (NSW), in the southeast (where Melbourne and Sydney are located), Victoria, a small province in so…

Half Measures Won't Work

December 22, 2019

Carbon lock-in: technological, economic, political and social forces that make use of fossil energy [seem] natural and taken for granted by households, cities, provinces and countries. The word "forces" might be replaced with the word "habits." Habits like driving half a mile to pick up a gallon of milk. Habits like setting the thermostat at 70 degrees, winter, summer, night and day. Habits like accepting the cost of gassing up your non-hybrid vehicle without a second thought. Habits like re-electing incumbent government officials who vote against environmentally beneficial legislation. Habits like forgetting to recycle your clothes, furniture, books and kitchen utensils.

These habits eliminate the possibility of one day living decarbonized lives, i.e., lives that are not dependent upon fossil fuels. According to two University of Toronto researchers, seeking merely to reduce our carbon footprints will never get us a climate-change-free world. Fos…

The European Green Deal

December 12, 2019

It's important to remember that the European Union (EU) has the world's largest economy. It ranks third, behind China and the United States, in contributions to climate change. What the EU decides to do in order to combat climate change will affect every one of us, existentially and economically. Unveiled yesterday, the EU's Green Deal proposes a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Regulators will create standards for the manufacturing of goods that force recycling and the phasing out of plastic and other kinds of non-recyclable waste.

Beginning in 2021, 40 percent of the agricultural budget will, assuming adoption of the plan, be devoted to mitigating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, 30 percent of fisheries subsidies would be used in a similar manner. Air quality standards will be more stringent, an essential element of the plan, given that 400,000 premature deaths a year can be attributed to air pollution in Eu…

The Uninhabitable Earth

October 8, 2019

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, by David Wallace-Wells, has a misleading title. Wallace-Wells is not at all sure that human life will continue post-warming. The point of his hard-to-read volume is that we need to act with the urgency a life-threatening situation demands. Action devoid of the mandatory intensity and intentionality will render us a footnote in history - a history no one will read.

The author begins by telling us "It is worse, much worse, than you think," and goes on to list the ways in which we have chosen to delude ourselves. The bitter truth is that we are all in this together, though some will suffer more than others, with India and Pakistan leading the pack. Let us count the ways: heat death, hunger, drowning, wildfire, disasters no longer natural, freshwater drain, dying oceans, unbreathable air, plagues of warming, economic collapse, climate conflict, and "systems," or threat multipliers. Thus far we have incurred on…

Can We Recreate the Amazon If It Burns?

August 23, 2019

The Amazon is an enormous rainforest in South America. It covers forty percent of the South American continent, and can be found in eight countries. If it were laid over a map of the 48 contiguous states of the United States, it would encompass nearly two-thirds of it. Because trees breathe in carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, it is essential that we protect them, wherever they grow. In Brazil, where much of the Amazon is located, the president of that country has been encouraging farmers, ranchers, and loggers to exploit the riches that can be found there. That means clearing away the trees by incinerating them.

So hellbent are farmers on enlarging their holdings and growing more food, they organized a "fire day" last week. In order to accommodate them, President Bolsonaro of Brazil has weakened regulations intended to protect forests and indigenous lands. His failure to halt deforestation, in keeping with the Paris Climate Accords, has caused Germany and No…