Climate Change Protest Groups Keep Growing

Across Europe students and teachers are standing up to negligent leaders who ignore climate change. Last week in Belgium students took to the streets and their movement forced the resignation of a minister while inspiring other students to act across the continent. This week, teachers and students protested in the UK calling for education reforms around climate change. You’ve probably heard of the Extinction Rebellion movement already, if not now’s your chance to get educated and start rising up faster than global water levels.

They are also unhappy that part of the curriculum appears to cast doubt on the evidence for man-made climate change, even though governments, the UN and the overwhelming majority of scientists accept that it is happening. Government guidelines for key stage 4 chemistry say pupils should be taught “evidence, and uncertainties in evidence, for additional anthropogenic causes of climate change”.

“When we have had the evidence for decades, why does it amount to little more than a footnote in our national curriculum – a vague and marginal concern?” asks the letter. “If we keep this information out of the public domain – out of schools, for example – perhaps we might avoid some awkward conversations in the years to come … after all, who wants to tell a child that, unless we make unprecedented changes to how we live, we are heading for societal collapse, famine, war and the increasing likelihood of human extinction?”

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Fight Inequality by Taxing Corporations

happy workers in a factory

Unless you earn more then $200,000 a year corporate tax cuts likely make your life worse. Even though it’s a myth, it’s long been argued that by cutting taxes for wealthy companies jobs will magically pop into existence. Indeed, this myth is so pervasive in modern capitalism that we’re increasing inequality as a byproduct of supporting tax cuts. The good news is that the discourse is changing. Every year there’s more evidence that helping the 1% is detrimental to the rest of society and people are growing more aware of this. This month the Harvard Business School released their research on corporate tax cuts.

In the paper Corporate Tax Cuts Increase Income Inequality (pdf), Rouen and his collaborators, Duke University professors Suresh Nallareddy and Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato, analyze data created by tax filings to compare effects on workers at varying compensation levels in different US states with and without tax cuts.

“Compensation and income inequality are very relevant to managers,” Rouen says. “This is something that they’re now having to deal with in terms of SEC disclosures and having to disclose CEO pay ratio. Active managers are often the face of income inequality, in that these are the people who set the pay for everyone else and also are the highest paid employees in their organizations.”

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Thanks to Delaney!

Desalination Plants can Turn Their Waste into Solutions

Water

We all need water to live and we’re using our fresh water reserves faster than they can be replenished. South Africa knows this all too well, which is why there is an increased interest in desalination. Currently turning seawater into drinkable water is expensive and produces a lot of waste (like brine). Researchers around the world are looking to decrease the cost and waste of desalination systems so we can better manage our local water ecosystems. This month some research came out which proves desalination plants can convert byproducts of the process into on site useful chemicals.

The approach can be used to produce , among other products. Otherwise known as caustic soda, sodium hydroxide can be used to pretreat seawater going into the . This changes the acidity of the water, which helps to prevent fouling of the membranes used to filter out the salty water—a major cause of interruptions and failures in typical reverse osmosis desalination .

“The desalination industry itself uses quite a lot of it,” Kumar says of sodium hydroxide. “They’re buying it, spending money on it. So if you can make it in situ at the plant, that could be a big advantage.” The amount needed in the plants themselves is far less than the total that could be produced from the brine, so there is also potential for it to be a saleable product.

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Good and Easy Plants to Take Care of

lab

Plants in your home and workplace can reduce stress and make the air you breath cleaner. If I had my way then every wall would be a bio wall. Since that’s not possible I’m happy to advocate for some plants that are easy to care for. Even if you don’t have a green thumb then these plants are for you.

  • ZZ plant
  • Asparagus fern
  • Rubber plant
  • Lucky bamboo
  • Snake plant

You’ve probably seen the super popular snake plant on Instagram or at your local coffee shops and restaurants. Their vertical, spear-like leaves make them stand out in a sea of green. Not to be confused with the spider plant, snake plants can come in a number of varietals: tall or short, with different leaf and color patterns. This was the second plant I bought to sit on my floor, and boy, do I love the heck out of it. They add a very exciting, bold visual element to any living space—alone or among other plants.

Probably one of my favorite features is that they don’t attract many pests or at all, and according to NASA, they keep the air inside the home clean. But like the ZZ plant, don’t eat it.

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Enforcing Environmental Laws can Save the Planet

Nations around the world have been putting more and more environmental protection laws on the books. This has been good to see. However, with many new things it takes awhile for people to get used to them, accordingly the enforcement of these laws has been lax. This means that if want to stop corporations from causing massive environmental we need to actually enforce the law, thankfully this is easier than it might sound.

“It really is something that all countries share,” Carl Bruch, the director of International Programs at the Environmental Law Institute and one of the authors of the report, said in a phone interview. “We do have a lot of environmental laws that are on that books that could be so much more effective if they were actually fully implemented.”

On the justice front, sometimes a lack of proper training and education for judges can disrupt the systems in place to enforce environmental law. In Ecuador, for example, a non-government organization sued to prevent a pine tree plantation from being erected in a native grassland ecosystem. But the judge, unaware of Ecuador’s constitutional provisions that allow anybody to bring forward a suit in protection of the environment, dismissed the case and allowed the plantation to be built, the UN report noted. 

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