USA to Clamp Down on Methane

When it comes to emissions from fuels methane is amongst the worst. The so-called natural gas is incredibly bad for the planet because it’s so effective at accelerating the greenhouse effect that is warming the Earth. Methane is an easy target as nations around the world are looking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions because it’s so potent. Following that rationale, the USA has opted to better monitor methane emissions and police companies that are violating emission restrictions. America is one of the worst per capita emitters on the planet so this is a big step in the right direction.

“These are rules of the road,” said Ali Zaidi, the Biden administration’s national climate adviser. “There is no longer an excuse to let these emissions continue to proliferate. Industry has the tools. It has the workforce that’s excited to do this work. And it has every incentive to get after this challenge.”

The EPA also said the plan would prevent an estimated 58 million tons of methane emissions from 2024 to 2038, the equivalent of 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, and will yield total net benefits of $97 billion to $98 billion from 2024 to 2038, after taking into account the costs of compliance and savings from recovered natural gas.

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Let’s Mine Landfills for Profit

Extracting resources from under the ground is an expensive and environmentally harmful thing to do. It’s also political challenging in many places to open (or expand) new mining operations, the recent court ruling in Panama demonstrates this. For decades we’ve been tossing perfectly good metals into landfills, so why not mine landfills? In some parts of the world it is economically feasible to so, but in the USA subsidized fossil fuels make the business case to mine landfills more difficult. Still, it’s only a matter of time until landfill mining becomes profitable in North America.

This story showcases one of the issues facing landfill mining in the United States. In Europe, where they view landfills more negatively, they’ve been mining old landfill sites for decades. So why isn’t it more popular here? In simple terms, we have a separate set of motivations. Energy costs are still comparatively low because of the availability of fossil fuels and natural gas, so we don’t value the energy potential of waste buried in landfills. There is not a strong appetite for energy from waste in many locations that could benefit from the energy value of buried plastics and undegraded organic material. Landfill mining is expensive relative to the cost of developing a new landfill site or just transporting waste to a regional disposal facility in someone else’s backyard. The costs for excavation, physical screening, and managing odors and liquids can be significant barriers.

The popularity of landfill mining may increase over time, with some shifts in the factors above. In the meantime, we’ll continue to monitor Europe and Asia as they explore cost-effective methods. My 25 years of experience in landfills as a solid waste consulting engineer indicates that landfill mining is an intriguing proposition. But will it become a sizable portion of my practice in the next 15 years? Let’s just say I am not pinching my nose or holding my breath.

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We Will Triple Renewable Power Global by 2030

Solar Panel School

With renewables already cheaper than fossil fuels it’s not surprising that uptake in renewable energy is increasing. The benefits of renewable aren’t just a clean source of energy but also a cheap source of energy. Some countries around the world are on track to more than triple their renewable energy production and every nation can at least triple theirs with current technology. There’s no reason to build fossil fuel power generators anymore.

National targets do not account for the recent acceleration of renewables

Many government targets do not reflect the recent acceleration in renewables deployment worldwide. For example, 12 countries are set to add capacity in 2023 faster than the pace required to meet their 2030 target. In 22 countries the prospective project development pipelines for wind and solar exceed the renewable capacity needed to meet their 2030 targets. The world could achieve its current targets–a doubling of renewables–just by continuing the 500 gigawatts of estimated deployment in 2023 from 2024 to 2030, but all signs point to a more rapid growth curve.

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To Increase Equality Tell People the Rich Don’t Have to Work

The rich keep getting richer because we think they work for it. The thing is, they don’t work for their wealth that separates the wealthy from everyone else. What allows the rich to keep increasing their wealth is capital gains instead of money earned though labour. Most of us have to work to ensure we can pay rent and buy food; however, people born into wealth don’t need to work nearly as much since they can earn money from money. If we want a more equitable society where everyone needs to work to get wealthy then we need to tell people that the rich don’t need to work.

In this paper, Oscar Barrera-Rodriguez and Emmanuel Chávez examine the impact of providing information on the source of income of the top 1% earners on attitudes towards this group. Based on a randomized online survey of 2000 French respondents, they find that:

  • Simply presenting information about the amount of money the rich make is insufficient to change attitudes toward top earners.
  • Information about other aspects of income at the top, especially the sources of income (capital versus labor), does produce a shift.
  • Individuals most responsive to the treatments vote for left-wing candidates and have egalitarian notions of justice.

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Connecting People, Knowledge, and the Environment in Remote Canada

tree with climate knowledge

The Torngat Mountains are gorgeous and after reading this article I now have another place on this beautiful planet that I want to see in person. The article isn’t just about the landscape, it’s about the land and water. There’s currently an effort underway to catalog all the knowledge of locals who have historical wisdom about where they live and combine that with current scientific measurements. This collaboration will help us understand this unique area and repair institutional relationships.

It will also form a part of a 15-chapter research document Laing, Saunders and about 60 other people are putting together as part of the feasibility study for the Inuit-led national marine conservation area — currently dubbed the Torngats Area of Interest. The purpose is to gather all of the information both from western and Inuit Knowledge systems, and to identify any gaps in that understanding of the marine ecosystem beyond the coast of the Torngat Mountains. The two knowledge systems are considered equal. If, for example, western research shows a certain habitat map for char and the Inuit Knowledge study shows an additional area, the feasibility assessment will include both, Laing explains. And climate change is a consideration in every chapter, he adds: what they know now and what the potential implications of climate change could be. “Which is really important because that allows for some forward thinking and planning on that,” he says.

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Thanks to Trevor!

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