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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Not Using Fossil Fuels is Better Than Technopostivism

Phramacy

The COP26 news coverage has focussed on pledges from counties to cut their emissions (which is good) and on funding for new technologies to suck carbon out of the air (which isn’t so good). Increasingly scientists, ecologists, and activists have been calling out that technical solutions are a distraction from the core problem: we’re burning up fossil fuels. Technology won’t save us, cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero will.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t research carbon capture technologies, rather we should prioritize not putting more carbon into the air in the first place. Leave the oil in the ground, stop all coal consumption, and ban the production of fossil fuel powered engines.

“Simply put, technological carbon capture is a dangerous distraction,” they wrote. “We don’t need to fix fossil fuels, we need to ditch them.”

Despite these groups’ concerns, we’re likely to be bombarded with more good-news climate stories like the coverage accorded to the plant in Merritt and the project in Iceland. And carbon capture, utilization, and storage is a key component of Canada and B.C.’s plans for reducing overall emissions.

The report acknowledges that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s future scenarios allow for the deployment of carbon-capture technologies from the air in achieving the Paris targets.

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COP26 Starts Soon, We Need to Capture Carbon Now

A company in Iceland captures carbon right out of the air and injects into the earth, the operation is a working proof that we can take carbon out of thin air. The carbon capture and storage (ccs) process is one of many options we have as a species to advert our own demise. With COP26 starting next week we not only need to get politicians to enforce policies to help the environment (like cutting market manipulating polices like oil subsidies) but to invest in building ccs solutions.

The Economist magazine (which is incredibly slow in acknowledging the world changes) has a good article exploring the state of ccs and what options we have. There are multiple solutions and we should explore them all.

Without a doubt our focus should be on reducing carbon emissions, but there’s no reason we can’t reduce our carbon output while also looking into capturing it.

The negative emissions is held to offer play two roles in climate stabilisation. One might be seen as balancing the current carbon account. Although most emissions can theoretically be eliminated using technologies that exist now, aviation, shipping and some industrial processes remain hard to decarbonise.Some agricultural greenhouse-gas emissions look as if they will prove recalcitrant. As long as emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases persist, stabilisation will require negative emissions.

The other role for is getting rid of historical excess. As we have seen, the cumulative CO2-emissions budget consistent with a 50-50 chance of meeting the 2°C goal is 3.7trn tonnes. The budget for 1.5°C is just 2.9trn tonnes. With 2.4trn tonnes already emitted, that leaves a decade of emissions at today’s rates for 1.5°C, maybe 25 years for 2°C.

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