Cleaning Our Air Can Save Millions of Lives, Trillions of Dollars

fog
fog

Thanks to the pandemic we’ve all gotten a taste of cleaner air, and we all want that to continue. Clean air isn’t just good for better views of the horizon and a more pleasant place it to live, it’s also good for global health and for government coffers. Yes, governments can save money if we pollute less (despite Chevron’s best efforts).

Importantly, many of the benefits can be accessed in the near term. Right now, air pollution leads to almost 250,000 premature deaths a year in the US. Within a decade, aggressive decarbonization could reduce that toll by 40 percent; over 20 years, it could save around 1.4 million American lives that would otherwise be lost to air quality.

Of the potential yearly deaths prevented, Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois remarked at the hearing, “That’s a huge number. That’s nearly three times the number of lives we lose in car accidents every year. It’s twice the number of deaths caused by opioids in the past few years. And it’s even more than the number of Americans we lose to diabetes each year.”

If the numbers are shocking, it’s because the science has been developing rapidly. First, says Shindell, “there’s been a huge upsurge in work in developing countries, in particular China,” which has produced larger data sets and a wider, fuller picture of the real-world effects of exposure.

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Collision: How we can Better Protect Endangered Species

Collision at home

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Achim Steiner spoke today at Collision at Home about The Lion’s Share organization. The organization looks to protect endangered species by channeling some funding that large companies put into advertising into spending on protecting our environment. It’s basically putting in a voluntary tax earmarked for a specific cause. This is great to see and a model that other causes and organizations can follow. It’s so successful that the UN is joining forces with some of the biggest brands in the world to make sure humankind pays its debts.

The Lion’s Share Fund is a pioneering initiative that supports wildlife while elevating brands to resonate with audiences in a more meaningful way – thereby positively impacting the brand’s growth, trust, and profitability.

Advertisers win
They become more profitable and are perceived positively.

Humans win
We feel good by supporting a business for doing the right thing.

Animals win
Their lives and habitats are preserved, enabling them to thrive.

Check out The Lion’s Share.

lion share fund
I’m attending Collision at Home this week.

Collision: Replacing Plastics with Seaweed

Loliware presentation

At the last Collision Conference Loliware pitched their eco-conscious business and won. Today Sea Briganti provided an update on the company and the success they’ve had replacing plastic usage with seaweed. They have created an entire line of products which are carbon negative! The company continues to grow and we need more companies like this so our recover from COVID-19 includes a green economy built on making the planet better.

As the CEO of an interdisciplinary team of expert scientists, food technologists, and seaweed biologists,
Sea F. Briganti developed LOLIWARE Intelligent Seaweed Technologies (LIST) – a category of materials made from seaweed (a regenerative and carbon sequestering input) that outperform paper products & bioplastics.

We think about sustainability and impact throughout every aspect of LOLIWARE and our products.Why does our vision of a future free of plastic disposables matter?
Reducing our use of single-use plastics matters for both human health and planetary health. A dependence on plastic perpetuates a broken economic model built on the extraction of fossil fuels, which in turn accelerates the detrimental effects of climate change. Plastic disposables are particularly harmful contributors to climate change, and ultimately human health, as they require the ongoing extracting of petroleum to come to market, and then become one of the worst culprits of land and water pollution at the end of use.

Check it out.
I’m attending Collision at Home this week.

The Cambodian Forest Protectors Risking COVID-19

Forest

Deforestation in Cambodia increased dramatically this millennium due to multinational corporations exploiting the country’s natural wealth. Obviously, this removal of trees has bothered people and damages entire ecosystems. As a reaction to the destruction in their area the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) launched to police the it local forests. They document and report on illegal logging operations and expose the activity to authorities and other non-governmental organizations.

The work they have done is great, and now with COVID-19 it’s more important than ever before. Cambodia has cut back on their enforcement of environmental laws (like the USA) which has led to an increase in illegal logging that the PLCN is trying to hold back.

The PLCN continues their fight despite the increased workload and risk from COVID-19.

Established in 2000, the PLCN has a core of about a dozen full-time activists across the four provinces spanned by the 432,000-hectare forest, and about 600 “volunteer” members.

Patrollers – many from indigenous groups that live in and around the forest – use GPS technology and a purpose-built smartphone app to log tree stumps, new roads and logging camps.

Their data is paired with publicly available satellite imagery – that has shown deforestation, timber stockpiles and sawmills – and is published periodically with researchers from the University of Copenhagen.

Read more.

Emissions are Down, and They can go Lower

carbon emission drop

Carbon emissions continue to drop due to the economic slowdown and are on track for an 8% reduction for 2020. This is good news for the planet as it gets a brief break from all the waste we’re dumping into the atmosphere. Still, it has revealed that individual actions alone won’t do enough to avert climate catastrophe, we need to work together and enforce the creation of a carbon-neutral economy. Individual transportation solutions (like cars) use is down substantially yet we’re still going to blow past the carbon output budget for 2020, where then can we cut back on emissions? Look to manufacturing and our sources of energy.

“I think the main issue is that people focus way, way too much on people’s personal footprints, and whether they fly or not, without really dealing with the structural things that really cause carbon dioxide levels to go up,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist and the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

Transportation makes up a little over 20 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. (In the United States, it makes up around 28 percent.) That’s a significant chunk, but it also means that even if all travel were completely carbon-free (imagine a renewable-powered, electrified train system, combined with personal EVs and battery-powered airplanes), there’d still be another 80 percent of fossil fuel emissions billowing into the skies.

Read more.

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