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Environment

Environment
Get ready for the 1.5 degree lifestyle
Lloyd Alter: One new study, 1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Targets and options for reducing lifestyle carbon footprints from the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and Aalto University, argues that in fact, our individual actions could add up to make a big difference. ... Focusing efforts to change lifestyles in relation to these areas would yield the most benefits: meat and dairy consumption, fossil-fuel based energy, car use and air travel. The three domains these footprints occur in – nutrition, housing, and mobility – tend to have the largest impact (approximately 75%) on total lifestyle carbon footprints. ... In nutrition, the single biggest reduction in CO2 impact can be achieved by going vegan, with vegetarian not far behind. ... In housing, going all renewable is best ... In Mobility, getting rid of the car is off the scale, the most important thing you can do... Visit Website ]
Jul 15, 2019, 4:03pm

Environment
Is plastic a 'necessary evil' in our food system?
Katherine Martinko: Perhaps yes, if our food system stays the way it is, but maybe that's what we should be challenging. ... If plastic is needed to preserve food that is being harvested far away and help it to last awhile on our shelves, then perhaps that model is outdated and needs to be reanalyzed, instead of us throwing up our hands and saying plastic is necessary to maintain it. ... Shortening the food supply chain is an obvious first step ... Shopping more frequently ... Better packaging options exist, too, such as beeswax wraps that allow food to breathe naturally and do not smother it in the way that plastic does... Visit Website ]
Jul 13, 2019, 3:40pm

Environment
Why we need certified 'Quiet Parks'
Katherine Martinko: When was the last time you sat in silence and heard no sound made by humans? There's a good chance you don't remember, as it's an increasingly rare experience. ... Ninety percent of children are expected never to experience natural silence in their lives, and 97 percent of Americans are exposed regularly to highway and air traffic noise. It is so pervasive that many hardly notice it anymore, but that doesn't mean it's OK. ... Exposure to incessant noise has a toll. It can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment, tinnitus, and low birth weight. ... It harms wildlife as well, driving away bird populations and causing them to become malnourished because they cannot hear well enough to communicate or hunt. ... Gordon Hempton is an American acoustic ecologist who has spent years traveling the globe in search of the rarest sounds, which can only be fully appreciated in the absence of manmade noise... Visit Website ]
Jul 9, 2019, 5:12pm

Environment
Why We Can’t Ignore U.S. Military Emissions
Benjamin Neimark & Oliver Belcher & Patrick Bigger: The U.S. military’s carbon footprint is bigger than 140 countries combined. To seriously address climate catastrophe, we must dismantle its vast infrastructure. ... the U.S. military is one of the largest polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more climate-changing gases than most medium-sized countries. ... study shows that action on climate change demands shuttering vast sections of the military machine. There are few activities on Earth as environmentally catastrophic as waging war. ... Significant reductions to the Pentagon’s budget and shrinking its capacity to wage war would cause a huge drop in demand from the biggest consumer of liquid fuels in the world... Visit Website ]
Jul 6, 2019, 1:50pm

Environment
Study finds that air pollution may offset health benefits of walkable cities
Lloyd Alter: Yet more ways that cars and trucks are killing us and ruining cities. ... Critically, we further found that while residing in an unwalkable neighbourhood was associated with a higher likelihood of having diabetes or hypertension than living in the most walkable communities, any observed benefit for those living in walkable areas appeared to be lost in the most polluted areas. ... a study in the UK that concluded that the benefits of walking were negated by high levels of NO2 and particulates, particularly for older people. It also concluded that "it is important to impose policies and measures that can reduce traffic pollution so that every individual can enjoy the health benefits of physical activity."... Visit Website ]
Jul 4, 2019, 5:20pm

Environment
In the face of a changing climate, our buildings need thermal resilience.
Lloyd Alter: Aging energy infrastructure and extreme weather events due to climate change can lead to extended power outages that cause buildings to be much too cold or hot to inhabit. Intelligent enclosure design can take advantage of passive measures to futureproof buildings. ... Thermal autonomy is a measure of the fraction of time a building can passively maintain comfort conditions without active system energy inputs. ... This is where you design your building to need as little heating and cooling as possible, for as much of the year as possible. Doing this reduces energy consumption, extends the life of mechanical equipment, and reduces peak demand on the energy grid, an important consideration if we are going to electrify everything ... "The sad reality remains that many indigenous and vernacular forms of architecture from centuries ago provided a higher level of thermal resilience than many of our contemporary architectural expressions."... Visit Website ]
Jun 12, 2019, 5:30pm

Environment
Arctic sea ice loss affects the jet stream
Tim Radford: The jet stream affects northern hemisphere climates. And global warming affects the behaviour of the jet stream. Prepare for yet more extremes of seasonal weather. ... The jet stream – exploited by jet aircraft on the trans-Atlantic routes – is made up of westerly winds that, at an altitude of 10 kilometres, stream around the planet in the mid-latitudes, at speeds of up to 500 km an hour, and push weather systems from west to east. ... Rather than stick to a course more or less parallel to the Equator, these winds have been observed describing dramatic waves. ... as the Arctic sea ice retreats, the atmospheric waves have warmed the polar stratosphere in ways that have been amplified by the behaviour of the ozone layer... Visit Website ]
Jun 11, 2019, 5:18pm

Environment
The Permafrost Nightmare Turns (More) Real
Robert Hunziker: Permafrost covers 25% of the Northern Hemisphere. It is the world’s largest icebox, and its landmass is 4.5xs larger than Antarctica, 6.5xs larger than the United States. It is stuffed full of carbon locked in frozen ground accumulated over eons, which, by way of contrast, makes coal power plant emissions look bush-league. ... Scientists that have long studied the gradual thawing of permafrost are now experiencing a dramatic switch from their former “eyes wide shut” viewpoint, i.e., refusing to see something that’s in plain view because of preconceived notions. ... Gradual permafrost thaw is now passé: “Turetsky and an international team of researchers are looking at something very different: Rapid collapse of permafrost that can transform the landscape in mere months through subsidence, flooding and landslides”... Visit Website ]
Jun 10, 2019, 3:52pm

Environment
The Madness of Fossil Fuel Subsidies
Niklas Hagelberg: A system worried about global warming and the health impacts of air pollution should stop aiding companies that produce those public threats ... Fossil fuels — oil, gas, coal and their derivatives — pollute the atmosphere and emit the greenhouse gases that are ramping up global heating to dangerous levels. And governments around the world are subsidizing this pollution. ... There is a special kind of madness in a system that funds the healthcare burden from asthma, respiratory diseases and lung cancer, and at the same time funds companies that pollute the air and contribute towards these health issues in the first place. ... Global fossil fuel subsidies cost taxpayers about $400 billion. Imagine if these public resources were directed to finance sustainable development, clean energy and climate action... Visit Website ]
Jun 7, 2019, 5:15pm

Environment
Children take U.S. government to court over climate change
Katherine Martinko: The health of young people is disproportionately harmed by climate change, and the government has failed to keep them safe. ... Today, on 4 June 2019, a federal court will hear arguments to determine whether or not Juliana vs. United States will proceed to trial. The suit was filed in 2014, when 21 children and young adults from the United States charged that the "government’s inaction on addressing climate change violated their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property." ... the children's case argues that climate change is "the greatest public health emergency of our time," especially harmful to fetuses, infants, children, and adolescents: "The adverse effects of continued emissions of carbon dioxide and fossil-fuel–related pollutants threaten children’s right to a healthy existence in a safe, stable environment." ... Visit Website ]
Jun 4, 2019, 5:30pm

Environment
The ticket to 100% renewable power is underneath our feet
Nathanael Johnson: Research suggests that geothermal energy could be the key to running the country on purely renewable power. A recent memo from the conservative clean-energy think tank ClearPath estimates that geothermal energy could supply as much as 20 percent of the country’s electricity. ... Red tape is a major reason we don’t have more geothermal energy ... To get 20 percent of the country’s electricity from geothermal power requires new techniques. ... Just about any city could heat houses and offices by sticking a straw into the ground and running hot water through pipes. ... The recent research suggests geothermal could be one of the missing pieces needed to solve that puzzle. “We don’t just need wind or solar or batteries or geothermal,” --- “We need it all.”... Visit Website ]
Jun 1, 2019, 5:26pm

Environment
Plastic Is Just as Destructive to the Climate as Oil and Gas
Sonali Kolhatkar: Plastic pervades every aspect of our modern lives. ... While we may worry about the pollution that plastic — especially the disposable variety — creates in clogging our landfills, choking our marine life, entering our food chain and disrupting our endocrine systems, we are likely not considering the role of plastic production and disposal on climate change. ... “plastics are simply fossil fuels in another form. Ninety-nine percent of what goes into plastics are oil, gas and, to a lesser extent, coal feed stocks.” ... the same companies that make plastics such as Exxon, Chevron, Shell, Total — those companies are increasingly relying on petrochemicals and plastics to make their long-term business models add up... Visit Website ]
May 31, 2019, 5:30pm

Environment
Particulate pollution is worse that we knew, and is damaging ‘every organ in the body’
Lloyd Alter: Those little PM2.5 things go everywhere and are killing us. We have to stop them at the source. ... [PM2.5] is the fifth leading risk factor for death in the world, accounting for 4.2 million deaths and > 103 million disability-adjusted life years lost according to the Global Burden of Disease Report. The World Health Organization attributes 3.8 million additional deaths to indoor air pollution. Air pollution can harm acutely, usually manifested by respiratory or cardiac symptoms, as well as chronically, potentially affecting every organ in the body. ... the two biggest (emitters) are heating and driving. And almost half of the Particulates from driving come from tire wear, road wear and brakes ... heating - furnaces and water heaters ... "a domestic stove top emits a larger amount of very small particles since their post-oxidization is not possible."... Visit Website ]
May 25, 2019, 2:38pm

Environment
It's time to embrace American hemp production
Katherine Martinko: Hemp is a super-plant of sorts. It grows to the size of a human within 4-5 months, with thick stalks that pull heavy metals and chemicals out of the earth in a single season. It restores soil health, returns carbon to the ground, and, according to some farmers and advocates, has potential to reduce the agriculture industry's carbon footprint. ... it can be used to make everything from concrete, carpets, and clothing, to replacing petroleum, plastics, fibreboard, and more ... "Your entire house could be made out of hemp materials." ... As activist and hemp farmer Winona LaDuke said --- "Hemp is a return to a thoughtful and mindful way to clothe yourself. It offers a way out for all of us that is durable, local, biodegradable... and alive. If we treat this plant with respect, it can help us change the world."... Visit Website ]
May 23, 2019, 3:53pm

Environment
Revealed: 1.6m Americans live near the most polluting incinerators in the US
Oliver Milman: A total of 1.6 million Americans live next to the most polluting incinerators in the country, with lower-income and minority communities exposed to the vast majority of pollution coming from these waste-burning plants. ... The burning of household and commercial waste can give off a stew of pollutants, including mercury, lead and small particles of soot. ... The placement of incinerators appears to follow a well-established pattern of environmental injustice in the US, where communities of colour are far more likely to be housed next to sources of pollution, such as power plants, highways, landfills and other industry, than their white counterparts. ... “Incinerators have never been just about public health, they have been about, race, power, justice, governance and poverty”... Visit Website ]
May 21, 2019, 10:35am


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