pollution

Trump’s Climate Denial Is a Danger to Post-Brexit Britain

Yesterday Mike put up a piece reporting and commenting on Trump’s denunciation of Green activists at the Davos summit. He called them ‘prophets of doom’, who were trying to dominate, control and transform the lives of everyone in the world, and announced that he would not change his country’s high carbon economy. He would, though, sign up for planting, restoring and conserving a trillion trees.

This didn’t impress Greta Thunberg, who was also there. Mike quotes her as saying

“Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour, and we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else,” she said.

“You say: ‘We won’t let you down. Don’t be so pessimistic.’ And then, silence.”

And she asked: “What will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing… climate chaos that you knowingly brought upon them? That it seemed so bad for the economy that we decided to resign the idea of securing future living conditions without even trying?”

Beeb wildlife presenter Chris Packham also made a speech about the climate emergency at the BAFTA’s, warning that unless we act to solve the environmental crisis, future generations may look on Trump, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Vladimir Putin and Australia’s Scott Morrison in the same way as mass murderers like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot, because of the millions killed through climate change.

Mike also makes the point that while the world’s leaders are doing nothing about climate change, Boris is moving closer to a trade deal with Trump, one that will also make him deny the danger. Mike states that our clown of a prime minister has missed opportunities to make a difference, and asks if he will sell us down the river again for the sake of a few American dollars.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/01/22/trumps-prophets-of-doom-speech-suggests-the-uk-should-not-enter-trade-deal-with-him/

The answer is yes, yes, he will. And it’s for the same reasons Trump and the rest of the Republican party are denying climate change: powerful corporate interests. The Republicans received very generous campaign funding from big industrialists like the Koch brothers and the other heads of the fossil fuel industry. These big businessmen also sponsor fake grassroots organisations and biased scientific think thanks in order to lobby against and discredit climate research and laws to protect the environment. The results have been disastrous. Since he took power, Trump has gutted the environmental protection agency and forbidden it from publishing anything supporting climate change or environmental decline in America. Koch money has seen universities close down proper climate and environmental research and their replacement with laboratories and organisations funded by the brothers and others in the fossil future industry. These present as fact the false information they want the public to hear: that climate change isn’t occurring, and the coal and oil industries ain’t wrecking the landscape. But these industries are. There are a whole sections of the Louisiana swamps that is heavily polluted by oil. The oil pipeline through indigenous people’s land in Idaho that made the news a few years ago was opposed because the indigenous people of the area feared that there would be spillages that would pollute the water they use for drinking and which nourishes their wildlife. They were right to do so. There have been a large number of similar spillages, which have not garnered so much media attention, which have similarly contaminated vast acreages of land. And then there’s the whole fracking industry, and the damage that has also caused the water table in areas where it has been allowed.

These are the industries funding Trump’s campaign. They’re part of the reason why there were right-wing jokers all over the internet yesterday sniggering at Trump’s put down of Thunberg. Trump and his supporters really do believe that environmentalists are some kind of crazy apocalyptic cult with totalitarian aims. There’s a section of the American right that really does believe Green activists are real, literal Nazis, because the Nazis were also environmentally concerned. And the corporate interests sponsoring Trump are the same industries that want to get a piece of our economy and industries.

The Tories have already shown that they are little concerned about the environment. They have strongly promoted fracking in this country, and the book The Violence of Austerity contains a chapter detailing the Tories’ attacks on the environment and Green protest groups. David Cameron’s boast that his would be the greenest government ever vanished the moment his put his foot across the threshold of Number 10.

If Boris makes a Brexit trade deal with Trump, it will mean that our precious ‘green and pleasant land’ is under threat from highly polluting, environmentally destructive industries. It will mean further reductions in funding for renewable energy in favour of oil, gas and coal, attempts in this country to discredit and silence respectable, mainstream climate research and scientists in favour of corporate-sponsored pseudoscience. And there will be further laws and state violence against environmental protesters.

Trump’s climate denial is a threat to the British environment, industry, the health of its people, democracy and science. But Boris depends on him for any kind of successful trade deal.

He will sell out and wreck this country and its people for those dollars offered by Trump and his corporate backers.

Lisa Nandy Praised by the ‘I’ – and the Reasons Are Obvious

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/01/2020 - 5:25am in

One of the candidates in the Labour leadership elections is Lisa Nandy. I got the distinct impression that she’s from the Blairite right of the party, and is probably the most right-wing candidate there. She made a speech that was very well received by the I. Next to their report was a piece by one of their hacks, declaring that she was original and tough, but that wasn’t what the Labour party wanted. I’ve forgotten quite what the headline was, but it gave the impression that she was what the Party needed, but not what they’d accept.

And the reason for the hack’s praise was obvious. The article it accompanied, about Nandy and her candidacy, had the title ‘Tax Polluters, Not High-Earners’. I didn’t read on. I didn’t feel I needed to. That made it obvious what Nandy’s position was, and why the I was favouring her. She was a Blairite liberal. She was worried about the environment – an entirely good thing – but was definitely not going to do anything to upset corporate interests and the rich, like actually taxing them. Which means she isn’t going to to do anything to tackle the deep and appalling inequalities of wealth in Britain. She isn’t going to redistribute any of the massive wealth that the rich 1 per cent have accrued in the years of Thatcherism to where it’s need at the bottom of the social pile. Or that’s how it seems. She’ll just make token efforts to tackle poverty, without halting the privatisations, including that of the NHS or the promotion of the heads of corporations and senior executives to positions of government. At least, that was my impression. I may well have misjudged her.

Blair’s Third Way failed, just as neoliberalism and Thatcherism have failed. They’re only kept going because of the lies and spin by the media, including newspapers like the I that are supposedly left-wing. But these papers, and the Tories, Lib Dems and Blairites in Labour are just offering the same stale, failed policies.

Thatcherism needs to be junked totally and completely, and the voices clamoring for it in the media should be ignored. We need a return to socialism, and the leadership of someone who will continue the Corbyn project, but will be firmer about defending it and rebutting malicious slurs than he was.

And that person is definitely not Lisa Nandy.

Gone Fishing? No Fish, but Plenty of Pesticides & a Public Health Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/01/2020 - 6:00am in

Colin Todhunter There is mounting evidence that a healthy soil microbiome protects plants from pests and diseases. One of the greatest natural assets that humankind has is soil. But when you drench it with proprietary synthetic chemicals or continuously monocrop as part of a corporate-controlled industrial farming system, you can kill essential microbes, upset soil …

The Fixer: Fighting Pollution Like a Mother

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/01/2020 - 8:02am in

Welcome back to The Fixer, our weekly briefing of solutions reported elsewhere. This week: a mom-led war on pollution in Pakistan scares us straight. Plus, yet another Airbnb-inspired solution, this time for young journalists. And Milwaukee looks for better ways to spend its bloated policing budget.

Airing grievances

Don’t mess with the moms: That’s the message that ScaryAmmi, or Scary Moms, a network of fed-up mothers in Lahore, is sending to the Pakistani government. Concerned about their children’s lungs, ScaryAmmi’s members are on a mission to clean up Lahore’s air pollution by bringing school buses back to the city. 

Lahore has some of the dirtiest air in a country where 128,000 people die of air pollution-related illnesses each year. The problem stems from many sources: Lahore has lost 70 percent of its trees to development, and is overrun with sulfur-spewing cars. A lot of this traffic comes from parents driving their kids to school — some schools in Lahore receive over 2,000 automobiles per day, something ScaryAmmi wants to change.

Lahore used to have lots of school buses, but after two decades of militant attacks many schools abandoned them. Now the group wants the buses back so parents have an alternative to driving. They’ve lobbied politicians, and screened UN-produced videos for local parents about the dangers of airborne particulate produced by traffic-clogged streets. Their efforts are working — support for school buses has grown, and the province’s education minister recently announced a pilot program to introduce buses to one school in March. 

The group’s goal is to ultimately bring bus service to 50 to 100 schools, which could eliminate hundreds of thousands of daily kid-toting car trips. Parents, for their part, are ready to put their kids on board the new buses. “We are suffering. Me and my girls are asthmatic,” said one mom. “If the school could offer safe transport, then we can go for it.”

Read more at NPR

Nightly edition

Journalism’s diversity problem is well documented. Low salaries, unpaid internships and long stretches of unemployment mean that those without a safety net face barriers to entry. One of the biggest hurdles? Affording an apartment in the pricey urban centers where many news outlets are located.

A London-based initiative called PressPad offers a workaround by matching aspiring journos with established newsroom vets who are willing to shelter them for cheap. PressPad was founded by a BBC reporter named Olivia Crellin. “I had no idea if it would work or if people would be interested in it,” she told the Guardian. “Journalists work long hours; it’s a very demanding career. So the idea of taking a complete stranger, including one who is likely younger and in need of mentorship, into your home is quite a big ask.”

Credit: Yukiko Matsuoka/Flickr

But not too big, as it turns out. Since it launched in 2018, PressPad has signed up 150 hosts, who have provided accommodation to 50 budding muckrakers. Fees are standardized: the first two weeks of the stay are free; after that, guests pay 150 pounds per week, with discounts for those that can’t afford the full rate.

For journalists just starting out, the career advice can be just as valuable as the bed to crash on. As one young guest said of the journalist couple that hosted her: “They weren’t just offering a place to stay but they were cultivating this experience that would be something I could look back on when I’m hopefully a more established journalist.” 

Read more at the Guardian

Follow the money

Milkwaukee, Wisconsin spends 47 percent of its municipal budget on policing — an imbalance that could be corrected by educating residents on how to influence their city’s spending choices. To achieve this, last summer a coalition named the African-American Roundtable launched a campaign called Liberate MKE to move the city closer to participatory budgeting. 

Credit: Vincent Desjardins/Flickr

After surveying residents about how they felt policing money could be better spent, Liberate MKE prioritized violence prevention, affordable housing and youth employment. They then enlisted the city’s budget director to hold a series of workshops teaching residents about how to discuss budgeting and allocation. This allowed everyone to participate in a series of public conversations that ended up influencing the way the city spends its money, particularly in regards to policing.

For instance, the 2020 budget eliminates 60 officer positions through attrition, saving the city $575,000. The next step — not yet achieved — is to funnel this money into community services. One of the proposals involves using the savings to launch Universal Basic Income in Milwaukee, an idea that has earned support with the city’s Common Council. Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, for instance, has proposed that the seed money for UBI come from the police department’s computer budget. The coming year will show whether such proposals will come to fruition or fall by the wayside, but already, the conversation about how the city can better spend its policing budget has shifted dramatically.

Read more at Next City

The post The Fixer: Fighting Pollution Like a Mother appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Labour’s Green Transport Pledge – Electric Buses

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 10/12/2019 - 9:57pm in

This is another story from Saturday’s I. The Labour party has also promised to introduce electric buses if they come to power. The article about this, written by Hugo Gye, ran

Labour has promised to replace every bus in England with an electric vehicle if the party wins the general election.

All of the country’s 35,000 buses would be powered by electricity rather than diesel or petrol by 2030 at a cost of £4bn, Jeremy Corbyn said. The pledge is the latest in a string of promises on public transport, partly funded by cutting the amount of money spent on road improvements.

Over the next 11 years, every bus in England that is not fully electric would be taken out of service and replaced by an electric vehicle to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At the moment just 2 per cent of the country’s buses run on electricity. the switch would be paid for by a “green transformation fund”, part of Labour’s plans to ramp up infrastructure spending through borrowing.

Mr Corbyn said: “This policy will bring our bus services into the future and help revitalise our high streets and rebuild local communities.”

Conservative Transport Secretary Grant Shapps responded that Labour would pay for the plan by raiding budgets for vital road upgrades.

Labour said devolved administrations would receive money to enable them to carry out a similar policy.

The air quality in British towns is very poor. There have been a series of articles in the papers revealing that townspeople suffer poor health as a result of the air pollution around them, and some of this is obviously vehicle exhaust. Bristol’s elected mayor, Marvin, wants to improve air quality by taxing the most polluting vehicles, including buses and taxis. However, so that this doesn’t affect ordinary people, he’s allowing older cars to go untaxed. This has proved highly controversial, as it means that public transport in this city will become more expensive. It seems far better to me for the government to replace existing fossil fuel buses with electric vehicles than to place extra taxes on them. Of course, this also calls into question the decision made after the War to scrap the trams across Britain, as these were also run on electricity. Continental cities didn’t, and as a result some of them – I’m thinking here of those in the Netherlands – may be greener.

But I’m convinced that this is no mere empty promise. Corbyn and his team are sincere about their policies they intend to implement. Unlike the Tories, who have consistently broken their manifesto promises and whose present promises to improve public services either have not been costed or would be inadequately funded. Which means the Tories really aren’t serious about honouring them.

And remember how David Cameron declared that his would be the greenest government ever. Which lasted right up to the moment he put his foot inside No. 10. Then all his election promises were forgotten, he took the little windmill from his house, and went ahead with allowing fracking and privatising Britain’s forests.

Unlike the Tories, Labour is serious about the environment and renewable energy. Vote for them.

Cartoon: Smart shaming appliances

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 07/12/2019 - 9:50am in

Please don’t surprise me with a Peloton or a smart toilet this holiday season.

Follow me on Twitter.

Ban the Bag!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/12/2019 - 7:41am in

One hundred twenty-seven countries have introduced regulations like bans and fees to cut down on single-use plastic bags… the kind every deli and bodega still hand out here in New York where I live. This is great news. Plastic bags aren’t just an eyesore — they cause major environmental damage. Thankfully, there is evidence that these bans and fees have begun to have an effect.

One of the most ambitious of these initiatives had been in India, which vowed just last year to eliminate single-use bags entirely by 2022. But in October, officials called off the bag ban, apparently caving to industry pressure. Workers who believed their jobs were threatened by the ban also pushed back. I saw this sign when I was in India this past December:

Credit: David Byrne

There’s no debating that India desperately needs to ban plastic bags, and its sudden reversal shows how political and economic pressures can derail even much-needed efforts. Here is the beach near Mumbai… catastrophic. 

Do the plastic profession workers actually have a point? Couldn’t the plastic containers and bags be replaced by other packaging — paper or reusable bags — and jobs be created in the process?

This is not merely a cosmetic problem. Plastic bags are doing serious harm to all kinds of life on the planet. Even domestic animals like cows die from ingesting these things. In Kenya and other places, where cows are a measure of one’s wealth, there is a huge incentive to prevent your life’s savings from vanishing due to a plastic bag. Plastic bags also clog drains, which causes flooding, and the damage they’re inflicting on ocean life is disrupting the whole food chain. 

Plastic is not just a water problem, it gets caught in trees, endangers wildlife, clogs drains and causes all sorts of ecological and health hazards. Credit: Michael Coghlan/Flickr

Marine biologist Sylvia Earle (who has walked untethered on the ocean floor at a depth no one else has ever matched) has written extensively about the intertwined fates of humans and the ocean: “Even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea.” 

Many kinds of plastic eventually break down and flow into the soil and the oceans as microplastics — tiny shards of plastic less than five millimeters big. Fish eat these particles, and we eat the fish, which means that just like the cows and the turtles, our bodies are filled with plastic bits.

Manufactured microbeads from exfoliants are only one type of microplastic. Credit: Greenpeace

 Malene Møhl of the Danish Ecocouncil says:

“Microplastics are more jagged and porous than large pieces of plastic, making them like little sponges that soak up toxins from the seas. When animals mistake microplastic for food—like fish eggs or plankton—they also ingest the chemicals the plastic contains. If the plastic doesn’t stop up their digestive systems and cause starvation, the chemicals in the plastic kill them slowly over time.”

These microplastics affect the whole of ocean life, from the organisms lowest on the food chain all the way to the ones at the top. According to the Guardian, mussels are coming unstuck because of microplastics:

When blue mussels were exposed to doses of non-biodegradable microplastics over 52 days, they lost about half their power to stick to surfaces…If mussels are losing their grip in the wild…the effects will be felt beyond the mollusc population. Mussels cling together and form reefs, which help them to breed, and shelter myriad other marine animals and plants, playing an important role in the marine ecosystem.

At this point, at the scale humans are using and discarding plastic, it is no longer the “cheap” option. From a report produced by the World Economic Forum:

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates the costs arising from single-use plastics, together with those of the greenhouse gases emitted during production, to be $40 billion. This staggering figure exceeds the current plastic industry’s profit pool and further strengthens the arguments for why current plastic production and consumption must be curbed. It simply no longer makes financial, social or environmental sense.

Single-use plastic bags are not essential to us. They cost us money and are detrimental to our way of life, so it’s time to get rid of them.

Who is getting rid of plastic bags?

Countries like England, Scotland, Wales and Italy are trying a bag tax rather than a complete ban. Shoppers who ask for a bag in those countries pay extra. This strategy has been proven elsewhere, including in a growing number of U.S. cities and states.

From One Green Planet:

Research has shown that whenever such a levy was introduced in other countries, plastic bag usage tends to decrease quickly. When Ireland introduced a 20 cent levy on plastic bags in 2002, usage of the bags declined by 90 percent (that’s about one million fewer plastic bags), with customers now more inclined to bring reusable bags with them to the store.

A few of the many countries banning or taxing plastic bags:

Eritrea 

Eritrea banned plastic bags in its capital back in 2002, and followed up with a nationwide ban three years later. The result has been a dramatic decrease in use—most Eritreans today use nylon, cloth or straw bags—and a subsequent drop in drain blockage. Keeping drains clear helps prevent health hazards from excess sewage and wastewater, which pools to create breeding grounds for bacteria. (Yuck.)

Morocco

Before Morocco banned plastic bags in 2016, Moroccans used more plastic bags than any other country besides the United States. Since the ban took effect, however, the consumption of raw materials used in the manufacture of plastic bags in Morocco has fallen by half. Authorities seized 421 tons of plastic bags in the ban’s first year, proving they’re serious about enforcement.

China 

China began restricting plastic bags in 2008. A decade later, enforcement and scale issues remain. Though a survey conducted in the ban’s first year found a 60 to 80 percent decrease in their use in supermarkets, more recent studies have found that up to 78 percent of Chinese retailers don’t fully comply with the restrictions.

New Zealand

This country has one of the world’s newest plastic bag bans—in August 2018, Kiwis were told they would be phased out, and the ban officially took effect on July 1, 2019.

Kenya 

Kenya is home to the toughest penalties of all. Cattle are currency for some farmers in Kenya, so seeing your cows die after eating plastic bags is like watching your nest egg vanish. As of August 2017, Kenya has enforced a total ban, with fines and a four-year jail term (!) for making or importing plastic bags. Wow.

Given the ubiquity of single-use plastic bags, banning them is a major effort, but it seems the momentum is there and even growing. In our lifetimes, we may even see these bags eliminated from the Earth. This is as much about changing social norms — what constitutes acceptable behavior and practices — as it is about a harmful product. As  more bans take hold and the word gets out it will soon be socially unacceptable to be seen using or giving out single-use plastic bags. As with other habits that have become unacceptable, they will eventually vanish and become a memory.

The post Ban the Bag! appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Texas Man Invents Machine that Creates Drinking Water from Air

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/11/2019 - 2:17am in

This is pure Dune technology. This short video of just over 2 minutes long from RepsUp 100 channel on YouTube is a news report about a former ranger, Moses West, from Texas, who has invented a device that creates drinking water from the air. He invented his Atmospheric Water Generator back in 2015. West says of his machine that they’re at the point where they can talk about creating 50,000 – 1,000,000 gallons of water. The energy consumption is incredibly low. According to West, it’s far cheaper than groundwater and desalination. He has so far made eight of these machines. They’re in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Flint, Michigan.

According to West, the machines are federally approved and the water quality is tested by the Colorado Water Authority. Most of West’s devices were manufactured in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The news broadcast says that the townspeople should be proud, as one unit provides the town with hundreds of gallons of clean water. It also appears that it doesn’t cost the residents anything, as West works with organisations like the Water Rescue Foundation to cover costs. He also says that people were very happy that somebody actually cared enough to jump over the bureaucracy and do this on a private piece of land. His concern now is to plant these in Flint, Michigan, to help the people there.

I don’t think West’s idea is particularly new. It seems to be a variant on the domestic dehumidifiers that are used to clean the moisture out of people’s homes. Some of these, like the one in the video below from Unbox Therapy on YouTube, manufactured by Ecoloblue, create drinking water from the moisture collected. West seems to have just created a larger, industrial scale version.

It’s a great device, and West is right when he says that there’s a water crisis coming. Back in the 1990s the Financial Times ran an article about how climate change and increasing demands for water are creating conflict. It predicted that in the 21st Century, most wars would be over water. When I was studying for my archaeology Ph.D., I also went to a seminar by a visiting professor, who had researched the effect climate change had through the human past on civilisation. He too was concerned about a coming water shortage. Machines like this could help solve some of those problems.

However, the use of these machines also demonstrates glaring iniquities in the American water supply system. Flint, Michigan, became notorious a few years ago because the local council had allowed companies to pollute the town’s drinking water to truly disgusting levels. People in a superpower like America, the world’s richest country, should not have to rely on charities for their drinking water.

It is, however, very much like something from Science Fiction. I’m reminded of the technology in books and films like Dune and Star Wars to bring water to the desert planets there. Like the system of underground cisterns and windcatchers in Dune to irrigate Arakis, and the moisture vaporators on Tattooine.

Now if only someone would invent something else from Dune – the stillsuit. A suit that collects water from the wearer’s own sweat and urine, and purifies it, turning it into drinking water so that they can survive weeks, even in the deepest desert. And in the 1980s David Lynch film, looked really cool too.

Here’s a brief video from Dune Codex on YouTube explaining how these fictional suits work.

 

Sorry but It Really Is Too Late to Save the World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/11/2019 - 6:59pm in

Even if humanity slams on the brakes, stopped emitting carbon dioxide and goes back to horses and buggies, global warming will continue for at least a few more decades. So although Donald Trump and his rolling back of air pollution emissions standards are annoying, it’s probably too late anyway.

Jacob Gitman on Climate Change and the Need for Renewable Energy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/11/2019 - 8:22am in

Many people are unaware or unwilling to accept the fact that climate change is making an irreversible impact on planet Earth. According to NASA, the global temperature has risen by 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. It may seem like negligible temperature rise, but it has caused changes in weather patterns and caused ocean levels to…

The post Jacob Gitman on Climate Change and the Need for Renewable Energy appeared first on Peak Oil.

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