Read the Time Magazine story on climate change solutions
Related Story – BBC – “Climate change: Where we are in seven charts and what you can do to help”. From the BBC Story:
6 Key Environmental Issues –
1. Climate Change
4. Water Scarcity
5. Loss of Biodiversity
6. Soil erosion and degredation
This week we will look at pollution and water
6 Key Environmental Issues – Pollution
- Air pollution
JUST Capital measures and ranks companies on the issues Americans care about. “In our polling, 80 percent of Americans agreed that air quality was an important factor to consider in evaluating environmental impact, with 79 percent aligning on human health as another key measure of those impact”
Two of the planet’s main environmental problems, climate change and air pollution, are linked.
To begin with, though, it‘s important to distinguish clearly between them to understand the links they have, in what way they differ, and the solutions they might share. First, climate change is the global variation of the climate of the Earth due to natural causes and also human actions. It has many consequences with global impact, mainly due to changes in climate patterns, the rising sea level and more extreme meteorological phenomena. Climate change is not only an environmental phenomenon, its negative impacts have social and economic consequences, too.
For its part, air pollution is the presence, in the air, of substances or particles that imply danger, damage or disturbance for humans, flora or fauna. The main sources of atmospheric contamination are tropospheric ozone gases (O3), sulfur oxides (SO2 and SO3), nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2), benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) and particulate matter (PM). These gases result mainly from emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels (including emissions generated by transport), industrial processes, burning of forests, aerosol use, and radiation.
New research reveals that 800,000 people die prematurely from air pollution in Europe each year. A previous study also confirms that dirty air kills 8.8 million people per year globally.
Scientists used three sets of data to reach their conclusions: population density and age, exposure to air pollution and the health impacts of foul air. While the lungs are the initial body part to suffer, once pollutants get in the bloodstream they can lead to strokes and heart disease. These latter consequences account for twice as many air pollution deaths as respiratory diseases. Scientists estimated that air pollution lops off an average of two plus years of life for these 800,000 Europeans. The rate of deaths linked to air pollution is especially high in Europe due to dense population.
What can be done ?
A carbon tax is a tax levied on the carbon content of fuels and, like carbon emissions trading, is a form of carbon pricing. As of 2018 at least 27 countries and subnational units have implemented carbon taxes. Economists generally argue that carbon taxes are the most efficient and effective way to curb climate change, with the least adverse effects on the economy. Carbon taxes offer a potentially cost-effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The simplest approach, administratively, is to levy the tax “upstream,” where the fewest entities would be subject to it (for instance, suppliers of coal, natural gas processing facilities, and oil refineries). Alternatively, the tax could be levied “midstream” (electric utilities) or downstream (energy-using industries, households, or vehicles).
Under a carbon tax, the government sets a price that emitters must pay for each ton of greenhouse gas emissions they emit. Businesses and consumers will take steps, such as switching fuels or adopting new technologies, to reduce their emissions to avoid paying the tax.
Taxes on greenhouse gases come in two broad forms: an emissions tax, which is based on the quantity an entity produces; and a tax on goods or services that are generally greenhouse gas-intensive, such as a carbon tax on gasoline.
One of the challenges of a carbon tax is forecasting the resulting level of emissions reduction from a specific tax rate
Carbon tax proposals have been introduced in Congress for several years without success, but supporters hope that the need for new revenues to pay for tax reform or infrastructure will make it more politically appealing.
2 One of forms of pollution is plastics pollution
They contribute to air pollution
Since its invention in the 1950s, over 9 billion tons of plastic have been produced.
- Ninety-one percent of all plastics are not recycled, meaning almost all plastic ever produced is piled up in our landfills and oceans
- Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year. If you tie all these bags together, they reach around the Earth 773 times.
- By 2050, there will be more pounds of plastic in the ocean than fish.
Plastics are a problem mostly due to their un-biodegradable nature, the materials used for plastic production (hydrocarbon molecules—derived from the refining of oil and natural gas), and the challenges behind properly discarding the
6 Key Environmental Issues – Water
1 Water Scarcity
As the population increases and climate change causes more droughts, water scarcity is becoming more of an issue.
Our water resources are being depleted and degraded as a consequence of our agricultural and industrial use of water, deforestation and climate change, over- consumption, waste, and pollution. Only three percent of the world’s water is fresh water and 1.1 billion people lack access to clean, safe drinking water.
Global agriculture uses nearly two quadrillion gallons of rainwater and irrigation water annually—enough to cover the entire United States with 2 feet of water and accounting for 70 percent of global water use. Some of the products that demand the most water are coffee and rice. Coffee requires 2500 gallons of water to pro- duce a pound of coffee and rice requires 650 gallons of water per pound of rice.
Certain energy development uses a huge amount of water. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a process that uses a pressurized mixture of water, sand, and chemicals to extract natural gas from the earth. A 2009 report noted that each natural gas well requires approximately 2-4 million gallons of water
And nearly every region in the country has experienced water shortages in the last five years. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
By the middle of this century more than a third of all counties in the lower 48 states will be at higher risk of water shortages with more than 400 of the 1,100 counties facing an extremely high risk.
Water is one of life’s most vital resources. Water pollution, however, is devastating to the environment and to the health and well-being of people in every nation and community. The federal government invests annually in water pollution mitigation and water treatment; however, the current funding is not enough to conduct even routine maintenance and clean up pollution.
Most of our large scale agriculture production uses fertilizers and pesticides to protect the crops from harm and ensure high yields for the farmers. In addition, our cars and vehicles leave oil and other products on the roads. Both of these contaminants are washed into streams and rivers by rain resulting in what is known as stormwater. This threatens the health of the fish and other aquatic life by degrading the water quality.
Stormwater is a leading source of water pollution nation- ally. The Great Lakes, the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth, suffer from stormwater runoff, and in many places stormwater is the primary source of water pollution. Using less fertilizer, building rain barrels and rain gardens, and being aware of products around your home that would add to stormwater pollution (such as pet waste) are key to addressing the United States’ stormwater problem
Other Climate Change Links
1. Summary Change from the 4th National Climate Change Assessment This is required to be published every 4 years.
2. How to be green without giving up life’s luxuries?