Time to Break Up with Gas

One thing is certain: we need to get off of fossil fuels as fast as possible. The gas companies want to keep polluting and are paying people to promote the burning of carbon-intensive resources.Gas companies are using influencers to promote gas stoves, when everyone knows that induction stovetops are better in every way.

Because so many people are concerned about how much carbon we dump into the air, there is a burgeoning grassroots movement trying to disconnect everyone from gas consumption. The video above is one such example, and as more people understand the state of our planet more people are switching from gas to electric solutions.

Further complicating things, the gas industry has, for decades, framed itself as a “cleaner” alternative to fossil fuels like coal and oil. “We should probably discuss the name of it: ‘Natural gas.’” says Panama Bartholomy, executive director of the nonprofit Building Decarbonization Coalition in California. “It has been perhaps one of the most successful marketing campaigns that we’ve seen from a large industry to call what is really a dangerous pollutant, something natural.”

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Electric Public Transportation is the Future, Not Cars

Good Street from Streetmix

Politicians and car makers will often tout that the future of sustainable transportation lies in electric vehicles. Let’s be clear: cars won’t save us. In fact, cars are responsible for a lot of death on our streets and for supply chains that cause great harm to the environment. Instead, electric public transportation is where we should put our focus and funding. Should we still replace gas sucking cars with electric, of course. Let’s just be honest with ourselves that single occupant vehicle solutions will not help us in the future.

More cars in cities mean more space taken for parking, less room and more danger for active modes and less efficient public transport. Plugging in a car doesn’t stop it from being a lethal machine or causing congestion.

There is still no clear and sustainable pathway to manage the e-waste generated by EVs. Electric cars are not “green”. They still use tyres which create massive waste streams. Tyre wear produces microplastics that end up in our waterways and oceans.

Although EVs use regenerative braking, which is better than traditional internal-combustion cars, they still use brake pads when the brakes are applied. Braking generates toxic dust composed of heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and chromium. These heavy metals make their way to our streams and rivers, embedding themselves in these waterways forever.

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Green Your Garage

If you have a garage filled with tools and other oddities, you can easily make it a little nicer for you and the environment. The next time you do some cleaning you can think about what is clean for the rest of the environment. Of course, you’re going to want to properly dispose of pesticides as you should never use them in the first place. There are more things you can do too, like checking your tools to find out if the tools can be replaced by something with a smaller carbon footprint.

After the leaf blower, you might want to check on your lawn mower, chainsaw, snow blower, air compressor, and generator, if you have them. The gasoline engines in these pieces of equipment spew out greenhouse gases that are as concerning as the crud coming out of leaf blowers.

As for alternatives, electric or manual gear is the way to go. There are plenty of lists online that can guide you towards the best push mower, battery-powered chainsaw, electric snow blower, air compressor, or electric generator. My town has been having a craze for robotic lawn mowers recently. They don’t work on hills, but if your lawn is flat, consider one of these electric models. They are mesmerizing to watch, cut the grass in a random pattern, and, bonus points, you don’t have to push them around.

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They mapped the thousand places in America where you’re breathing poison

industry

The Trump administration in the USA cut funding for their Environmental Protection Agency which led to an increase in pollution that harms people and nature. The pollution problem isn’t all thanks to Trump though, it comes from years of negligence around policies and procedures to protect communities from dangerous industrial waste. For example, in the early 2000s the Bush administration stopped a few NASA efforts to observe greenhouse gas emissions in the nation.

Despite government inaction, ProPublica decided to map out the most poisoned places in the States. Why is this on a good news site? If we don’t look at where the emission are coming, and what the combined impact is of those emissions then we won’t be able to adequately fight climate change. Knowledge is power.

At the map’s intimate scale, it’s possible to see up close how a massive chemical plant near a high school in Port Neches, Texas, laces the air with benzene, an aromatic gas that can cause leukemia. Or how a manufacturing facility in New Castle, Delaware, for years blanketed a day care playground with ethylene oxide, a highly toxic chemical that can lead to lymphoma and breast cancer. Our analysis found that ethylene oxide is the biggest contributor to excess industrial cancer risk from air pollutants nationwide. Corporations across the United States, but especially in Texas and Louisiana, manufacture the colorless, odorless gas, which lingers in the air for months and is highly mutagenic, meaning it can alter DNA.

In all, ProPublica identified more than a thousand hot spots of cancer-causing air. They are not equally distributed across the country. A quarter of the 20 hot spots with the highest levels of excess risk are in Texas, and almost all of them are in Southern states known for having weaker environmental regulations. Census tracts where the majority of residents are people of color experience about 40% more cancer-causing industrial air pollution on average than tracts where the residents are mostly white. In predominantly Black census tracts, the estimated cancer risk from toxic air pollution is more than double that of majority-white tracts.

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Thanks to Tom Scott for the title!

Change Your Bank to Slow Climate Change

money
money

Is your money being used by your bank to make your life worse? Hopefully not! A bank I used to do business with was literally funding the tar sands with my money, so I withdrew my money and took it to another institution.

Wondering if your bank is trying to make the air less breathable for your kids or grandchildren? You can find out using a nifty new tool called Bank Track that tells you if your bank is funding climate destruction. They have tips on how to talk to your bank and how to move from one financial institution to another.

This engagement with banks could play an important role in shifting such institutions from a fossil fuel dependent pathway. Indeed after a PPL PWR event on “Not just for a rainy day: How to green your finance” at COP26, a spokesperson said, “Whilst the financial system can seem intimidatingly complex, cold, and calculating, it’s important to remember we have power. Our money is what drives the system, so do your research, use your voice, and get your feet on the street to demand a financial system that invests in our future.”

The message about the possibility of making an effective difference in a really simple way is important because, as Ellen Harrison corporate projects manager at Triodos Bank pointed out ,people are slow to change especially in terms of banking saying, “We are more likely to stay faithful to our bank than our partner.” The campaign resonates given the recent announcement that 450 financial institutions have committed to aligning their portfolios with net zero by 2050. This is a major step by the financial sector but has raised serious concerns about the potential for greenwash, given that there is little detail about milestones, timelines or the need to move out of investment in fossil fuels.

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