The Truth About Recycling

The Economist looks into the truth about recycling and they have discovered some neat things. Of course, there are some complications with recycling, and it’s important to remind ourselves that nothing is perfect, but it’s good that we aim for perfection. Recycling is a really really good thing to do.

Based on this study, WRAP calculated that Britain’s recycling efforts reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions by 10m-15m tonnes per year. That is equivalent to a 10% reduction in Britain’s annual carbon-dioxide emissions from transport, or roughly equivalent to taking 3.5m cars off the roads. Similarly, America’s Environmental Protection Agency estimates that recycling reduced the country’s carbon emissions by 49m tonnes in 2005.

Recycling has many other benefits, too. It conserves natural resources. It also reduces the amount of waste that is buried or burnt, hardly ideal ways to get rid of the stuff. (Landfills take up valuable space and emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas; and although incinerators are not as polluting as they once were, they still produce noxious emissions, so people dislike having them around.) But perhaps the most valuable benefit of recycling is the saving in energy and the reduction in greenhouse gases and pollution that result when scrap materials are substituted for virgin feedstock. “If you can use recycled materials, you don’t have to mine ores, cut trees and drill for oil as much,” says Jeffrey Morris of Sound Resource Management, a consulting firm based in Olympia, Washington.

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Harper Shuns Democracy, Activists Decide to Cover Costs

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper hates the environment while he continues to stifle democracy in Canada. Clearly, Harper is not good, which begs the question as to why he’s mentioned on a site about good news.

In the context that is Harper’s Canada, activists have to be more creative than usual. The conservatives are stifling debate by not inviting the official opposition to attend the United Nations’ major climate change meeting next month in Bali, Indonesia. As a result, Canadian activists are trying to continue what the current Canadian government dislikes: discussions on climate change. So it is good that the Canadian people actively care about the environment.

A coalition of Canada’s top environmental groups is offering a hand to jilted opposition MPs who want to attend key climate-change talks in Bali, Indonesia.

Environment critics from the three opposition parties were told earlier this week that they would no longer be welcome in the official Canadian delegation attending the United Nations meeting next month.

The government has traditionally allowed opposition MPs, and even non-governmental groups and industry representatives, to tag along to such high-profile summits. The critics were invited to the last major UN climate meeting in Kenya a year ago.

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Greenpeace Tracking Whale Tails

Greenpeace is tracking the movement of whales to monitor their safety and help science. You can track the whales online using Google maps. From the Greenpeace whale tracking announcement:

Today we launched the Great Whale Trail, following the migration of humpback whales from the warm tropical waters of the South Pacific, where they breed, to the icy Southern Ocean around Antarctica, where they feed. And we’re doing it via satellite tracking and Google Maps. Nifty.

Video: The Great Whale Trail: meeting the tag team

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Costa Rica to Stay Beautiful

Costa Rica is a gorgeous country and so it’s really good to hear that their forests will continued to be protected. A US-based conservation group has arranged $26 million of Costa Rica’s national debt to be alleviated in exchange for a section of the rainforest to be preserved and used for scientific research.

“We in Costa Rica protect four to five per cent of the world’s biodiversity, and our territory is much, much smaller than four to five per cent of the global territory,” Mr Dobles said.

“So we feel that we are also protecting humanity’s biodiversity, so all the support such as this one is always welcome.”

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Countries Agree that Ozone Layer is Good

In what is deemed an historic agreement all the nations of the UN have agreed to speed up the pace of phasing out of a dangerous chemical compound known as HCFC. HCFCs replaced the more dangerous CFCs (they both cause damage to the ozone layer) many years ago and now are now ready to be replaced themselves. It’s good to see another damaging chemical will be used less and less with every coming year.

Governments of 190 countries, in addition to the European Commission, agreed to freeze production of HCFCs at average 2009-10 levels in 2013. That deadline replaces an earlier target of 2016.
Developed countries also have agreed to end HCFC production in 2020, instead of 2030. The pact also says that by 2010 they will reduce production and consumption of HCFCs by 75 per cent and then by 90 per cent by 2015, five years before their final phase-out.

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