Reusable Plastic Shopping Bags Are Actually Making the Problem Worse, Not Better

woman at checkout stand paying for groceries that are packed in a reusable plastic bag

Over the past few years, reusable plastic shopping bags began showing up in grocery stores in many parts of the world. They are sturdier than the flimsy plastic bags that have become a symbol of the global movement against disposable plastics, and so can be used many times, lending to their marketing as the ethical choice for the environmentally conscious shopper.

But of course, these thicker bags require more plastic to make. That means they could only improve the overall situation if they led to stores handing out overall less plastic, by volume, than they would without them—by, say, replacing thousands of single-use plastic bags a shopper might otherwise use over the years. Because no matter the style of plastic bag, it will still contribute to the global problem of forever-trash entering the environment, and the greenhouse gases associated with manufacturing the bag from fossil fuels in the first place.

But it seems they haven’t. A 2019 report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace looking at grocery stores in the UK suggests that the plastic “bags for life” utterly failed to do the one thing they were ostensibly meant to. As of the time of this writing in 2019, the top 10 UK grocery stores reported selling 1.5 billion of these bags, which represents approximately 54 “bags for life” per household in the UK.

For comparison, the top eight UK grocery retailers—representing over 75% of the market—sold 959 million such bags in 2018. Some supermarket chains have seen particularly big spikes in sales. The frozen-food store Iceland sold 10 times more plastic “bags for life” this year, 34 million, than last.

The UK introduced a 5-pence charge for plastic bags in 2015, and the government urged shoppers to instead bring their own reusable “bags for life,” which led to a surge in purchasing of the reusable plastic bags from markets.

“Our survey reveals a huge rise in the sale of plastic ‘bags for life,’ demonstrating the inadequacy of the current policy which is clearly not providing a strong enough incentive for people to stop using ‘bags for life’ as a single-use option,” the report reads.

Food safety

Most reusable bag shoppers do not wash their bags once they return home, and the bags may be leading to food poisoning, according to Dr. Richard Summerbell, research director at Toronto-based Sporometrics and former chief of medical mycology for the Ontario Ministry of Health.[17] Because of their repeated exposure to raw meats and vegetables, there is an increased risk of foodborne illness. A 2008 study of bags, sponsored by the Environmental and Plastics Industry Council of Canada, found mold and bacterial levels in one reusable bag to be 300% greater than the levels that would be considered safe in drinking water.[18][19] The study does not differentiate between non-hemp bags and hemp bags, which have natural antimildew and antimicrobial properties.[20]

A 2010 joint University of Arizona and Limo Loma University study (sponsored by the American Chemistry Council, a trade group that advocates on behalf of disposable plastic bag manufacturers) they found that “Reusable grocery bags can be a breeding ground for dangerous foodborne bacteria and pose a serious risk to public health”.[21] The study found that 97% of users did not wash them and that greater than 50% of the 84 bags contained coliform (a bacterium found in fecal material), while E. coli was found in 12% of the bags.

Overall, those same supermarkets increased the volume of plastic packaging they put out—including the “bags for life”—by 18,739 tons (17,000 metric tons) from 2017 to 2018. “It’s shocking to see that despite unprecedented awareness of the pollution crisis, the amount of single-use plastic used by the UK’s biggest supermarkets has actually increased,” the EIA’s Juliet Phillips told the Guardian. The grocery stores’ plastic-footprint increase was caused in part by the reusable plastic bags.

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“We have replaced one problem with another,” Fiona Nicholls, a Greenpeace UK campaigner who is one of the report’s authors, told the New York Times. “Bags for life have become bags for a week.” The bags, the report says, should be banned. Instead, customers could bring their own bags to the market. “When we go shopping, we should remember our bags like we remember our phones.”

Zoë Schlanger

By Zoë Schlanger / Environment reporter

Source: https://qz.com

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References

“CTV Toronto – Reusable bags contain bacteria, mould: study – CTV News, Shows and Sports – Canadian Television”. Toronto.ctv.ca. 2008-11-27. Retrieved 2010-03-19.

#Grocerybagcrochet #PLARN #recyclingpolythene A bit of my effort in reducing the use of plastic bags. In this video I tried to show how to Crochet with Grocery Poly bags and how we can re-use poly bags to make a bag for life and can avoid buying poly bags from grocery stores. We can convert poly bags in PLARN (Plastic Yarn) and can make a stylish, beautiful looking and sturdy bag for life using these Polythenes. With a little effort and no extra cost we can make this beautiful looking (& ever lasting) bag and can pay our part in saving mother earth. 🙂

We Can’t Fight Climate Change Without Valuing Nature

new study in Nature Sustainability incorporates the damages that climate change does to healthy ecosystems into standard climate-economics models. The key finding in the study by Bernardo Bastien-Olvera and Frances Moore from the University of California at Davis: The models have been underestimating the cost of climate damages to society by a factor of more than five.

Their study concludes that the most cost-effective emissions pathway results in just 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) additional global warming by 2100, consistent with the “aspirational” objective of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Models that combine climate science and economics, called “integrated assessment models” (IAMs), are critical tools in developing and implementing climate policies and regulations. In 2010, an Obama administration governmental interagency working group used IAMs to establish the social cost of carbon – the first federal estimates of climate damage costs caused by carbon pollution. That number guides federal agencies required to consider the costs and benefits of proposed regulations.

Economic models of climate have long been criticized by those convinced they underestimate the costs of climate damages, in some cases to a degree that climate scientists consider absurd.

Given the importance of the social cost of carbon to federal rulemaking, some critics have complained that the Trump EPA used what they see as creative accounting to slash the government’s estimate of the number. In one of his inauguration day Executive Orders, President Biden established a new Interagency Working Group to re-evaluate the social cost of all greenhouse gases.

IAMs often have long been criticized by those convinced they underestimate the costs of climate damages, in some cases to a degree that climate scientists consider absurd.

Perhaps the most prominent IAM is the Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy (DICE) model, for which its creator, William Nordhaus, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Judging by DICE, the economically optimal carbon emissions pathway – that is, the pathway considered most cost-effective – would lead to a warming increase of more than 3°C (5.4°F) from pre-industrial temperatures by 2100 (under a 3% discount rate). IPCC has reported that reaching this level of further warming could likely result in severe consequences, including substantial species extinctions and very high risks of food supply instabilities.

In their Nature Sustainability study, the UC Davis researchers find that when natural capital is incorporated into the models, the emissions pathway that yields the best outcome for the global economy is more consistent with the dangerous risks posed by continued global warming described in the published climate science literature.

Accounting for climate change degrading of natural capital

Natural capital includes elements of nature that produce value to people either directly or indirectly. “DICE models economic production as a function of generic capital and labor,” Moore explained via email. “If instead you think natural capital plays some distinct role in economic production, and that climate change will disproportionately affect natural capital, then the economic implications are much larger than if you just roll everything together and allow damage to affect output.”

Bastien-Olvera offered an analogy to explain the incorporation of natural capital into the models: “The standard approach looks at how climate change is damaging ‘the fruit of the tree’ (market goods); we are looking at how climate change is damaging the ‘tree’ itself (natural capital).”

In an adaptation of DICE they call “GreenDICE,” the authors incorporated climate impacts on natural capital via three pathways:

The first pathway accounts for the direct influence of natural capital on market goods. Some industries like timber, agriculture, and fisheries are heavily dependent on natural capital, but all goods produced in the economy rely on these natural resources to some degree.

According to GreenDICE, this pathway alone more than doubles the model’s central estimate of the social cost of carbon in 2020 from $28 per ton in the standard DICE model to $72 per ton, and the new economically optimal pathway would have society limit global warming to 2.2°C (4°F) above pre-industrial temperatures by 2100.

The second pathway incorporates ecosystem services that don’t directly feed into market goods. Examples are the flood protection provided by a healthy mangrove forest, or the recreational benefits provided by natural places.

In the study, this second pathway nearly doubles the social cost of carbon once again, to $133 per ton in 2020, and it lowers the most cost-effective pathway to 1.8°C (3.2°F) by 2100.

Finally, the third pathway includes non-use values, which incorporate the value people place on species or natural places, regardless of any good they produce. The most difficult to quantify, this pathway could be measured, for instance, by asking people how much they would be willing to pay to save one of these species from extinction.

In GreenDICE, non-use values increase the social cost of carbon to $160 per ton of carbon dioxide in 2020 (rising to about $300 in 2050 and $670 per ton in 2100) and limit global warming to about 1.5°C (2.8°F) by 2100 in the new economically optimal emissions pathway.

(Note for economics wonks – the model runs used a 1.5% pure rate of time preference.)

Climate economics findings increasingly reinforce Paris targets

It may come as no surprise that destabilizing Earth’s climate would be a costly proposition, but key IAMs have suggested otherwise. Based on the new Nature Sustainability study, the models have been missing the substantial value of natural capital associated with healthy ecosystems that are being degraded by climate change.

Columbia University economist Noah Kaufman, not involved in the study, noted via email that as long as federal agencies use the social cost of carbon in IAMs for rulemaking cost-benefit analyses, efforts like GreenDICE are important to improving those estimates. According to Kaufman, many papers (including one he authored a decade ago) have tried to improve IAMs by following a similar recipe: “start with DICE => find an important problem => improve the methodology => produce a (usually much higher) social cost of carbon.”

For example, several other papers published in recent years, including one authored by Moore, have suggested that, because they neglect ways that climate change will slow economic growth, IAMs may also be significantly underestimating climate damage costs. Poorer countries – often located in already-hot climates near the equator, with economies relying most heavily on natural capital, and lacking resources to adapt to climate change – are the most vulnerable to its damages, despite their being the least responsible for the carbon pollution causing the climate crisis.

Another recent study in Nature Climate Change updated the climate science and economics assumptions in DICE and similarly concluded that the most cost-effective emissions pathway would limit global warming to less than 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100, without even including the value of natural capital. Asked about that paper, Bastien-Olvera noted, “In my view, the fact that these two studies get to similar policy conclusions using two very different approaches definitely indicates the urgency of cutting emissions.”

Recent economics and climate science research findings consistently support more aggressive carbon emissions efforts consistent with the Paris climate targets.

Wesleyan University economist Gary Yohe, also not involved in the study, agreed that the new Nature Sustainability study “supports growing calls for aggressive near-term mitigation.” Yohe said the paper “provides added support to the notion that climate risks to natural capital are important considerations, especially in calibrating the climate risk impacts of all sorts of regulations like CAFE standards.”

But Yohe said he believes that considering the risks to unique and threatened systems at higher temperatures makes a more persuasive case for climate policy than just attempting to assess their economic impacts. In a recent Nature Climate Change paper, Kaufman and colleagues similarly suggested that policymakers should select a net-zero emissions target informed by the best available science and economics, and then use models to set a carbon price that would achieve those goals. Their study estimated that to reach net-zero carbon pollution by 2050, the U.S. should set a carbon price of about $50 per ton in 2025, rising to $100 per ton by 2030.

However climate damages are evaluated, whether through a more complete economic accounting of adverse impacts or via risk-based assessments of physical threats to ecological and human systems, recent economics and climate science research findings consistently support more aggressive carbon emissions efforts consistent with the Paris climate targets.

Dana Nuccitelli

By

Source: We Can’t Fight Climate Change Without Valuing Nature – The Good Men Project

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Global Heating Pushes Tropical Regions Towards Limits of Human Livability

The climate crisis is pushing the planet’s tropical regions towards the limits of human livability, with rising heat and humidity threatening to plunge much of the world’s population into potentially lethal conditions, new research has found.

Should governments fail to curb global heating to 1.5C above the pre-industrial era, areas in the tropical band that stretches either side of the equator risk changing into a new environment that will hit “the limit of human adaptation”, the study warns.

Humans’ ability to regulate their body heat is dependent upon the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air. We have a core body temperature that stays relatively stable at 37C (98.6F), while our skin is cooler to allow heat to flow away from the inner body. But should the wet-bulb temperature – a measure of air temperature and humidity – pass 35C, high skin temperature means the body is unable to cool itself, with potentially deadly consequences.

“If it is too humid our bodies can’t cool off by evaporating sweat – this is why humidity is important when we consider livability in a hot place,” said Yi Zhang, a Princeton University researcher who led the new study, published in Nature Geoscience. “High body core temperatures are dangerous or even lethal.”

The research team looked at various historical data and simulations to determine how wet-bulb temperature extremes will change as the planet continues to heat up, discovering that these extremes in the tropics increase at around the same rate as the tropical mean temperature.

This means that the world’s temperature increase will need to be limited to 1.5C to avoid risking areas of the tropics exceeding 35C in wet-bulb temperature, which is so-called because it is measured by a thermometer that has its bulb wrapped in a wet cloth, helping mimic the ability of humans to cool their skin by evaporating sweat.

Dangerous conditions in the tropics will unfold even before the 1.5C threshold, however, with the paper warning that 1C of extreme wet-bulb temperature increase “could have adverse health impact equivalent to that of several degrees of temperature increase”. The world has already warmed by around 1.1C on average due to human activity and although governments vowed in the Paris climate agreement to hold temperatures to 1.5C, scientists have warned this limit could be breached within a decade.

This has potentially dire implications for a huge swathe of humanity. Around 40% of the world’s population currently lives in tropical countries, with this proportion set to expand to half of the global population by 2050 due to the large proportion of young people in region. The Princeton research was centered on latitudes found between 20 degrees north, a line that cuts through Mexico, Libya and India, to 20 degrees south, which goes through Brazil, Madagascar and the northern reaches of Australia.

Mojtaba Sadegh, an expert in climate risks at Boise State University, said the study does “a great job” of analyzing how rising temperatures “can render portions of the tropics uninhabitable in the absence of considerable infrastructure investments.”

“If this limit is breached, infrastructure like cool-air shelters are absolutely necessary for human survival,” said Sadegh, who was not involved in the research. “Given that much of the impacted area consists of low-income countries, providing the required infrastructure will be challenging.”

“Theoretically no human can tolerate a wet bulb temperature of above 35C, no matter how much water they have to drink,” he added.

The study is just the latest scientific warning over severe dangers posed by heat. Extreme heatwaves could push parts of the Middle East beyond human endurance, scientists have found, with rising temperatures also posing enormous risks for parts of China and India.

The global number of potentially fatal humidity and heat events doubled between 1979 and 2017, research has determined, with the coming decades set to see as many as 3 billion people pushed beyond the historical range of temperature that humans have survived and prospered in over the past 6,000 years.

By:

Source: Global heating pushes tropical regions towards limits of human livability | Climate change | The Guardian

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The Everyday Chemicals That Might Be Leading Us to Our Extinction

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is merlin_157774782_7cc5ff4c-a15c-45d5-918d-1dc5d4c55561-articleLarge.jpg

If you’ve smugly enjoyed the dystopian worlds of “The Handmaid’s Tale” (where infertility is triggered in part by environmental pollutants) or “Children of Men” (where humanity is on the precipice of extinction) — and believed that these stories were rooted firmly in fantasy — Shanna Swan’s “Count Down” will serve as an awakening.

“Count Down,” which Swan wrote with the health and science journalist Stacey Colino, chronicles rising human infertility and warns of dire consequences for our species if this trend doesn’t slow. The reason, Swan explains, may be growing exposure to “endocrine disrupting chemicals” that are found in everything from plastics, flame retardants, electronics, food packaging and pesticides to personal care products and cosmetics.

She outlines the danger. These substances interfere with normal hormonal function, including testosterone and estrogen. Even in small doses, they pose particular danger to unborn babies and young children whose bodies are growing rapidly. These hormone-warping chemicals, which can enter even the placenta, have the ability to alter the anatomical development of girls and boys, change brain function and impair the immune system.

Swan is a noted environmental and reproductive epidemiologist who has studied this subject for more than two decades. Her work on falling sperm counts garnered worldwide attention in 2017. Media coverage focused on her central finding: From 1973 to 2011, the total sperm count of men in Western countries dropped by 59 percent. The quality also nose-dived, with more odd-shaped sperm and fewer strong swimmers capable of fertilizing an egg. Perhaps most important, the DNA they carried was also more damaged.

A study Swan cites in “Count Down” found that just over a quarter of men experiencing erectile dysfunction were under 40. That may be, in part, because testosterone levels have been dropping at 1 percent per year since 1982. The outlook for women isn’t good either. The miscarriage rate has risen by 1 percent per year over the last two decades. If these trajectories continue, in vitro fertilization and other artificial reproductive technologies may become a widely needed tool for conceiving children.Get the Book Review Newsletter: Be the first to see reviews, news and features in The New York Times Book Review.

Swan distills information harvested from hundreds of published studies and while some ring familiar, the conclusion she reaches hits hard. These chemicals are limiting the ability of current and future generations to have children. They could, ultimately, snuff out the human species altogether.

This is why Swan was compelled to write this book, one with apocalyptic implications. Despite the publicity, these alarming findings haven’t sparked changes in environmental policies, regulations or public demand for safe substitutes.

Her focus on male infertility marks an overdue inflection point, with the medical community’s acceptance that the health of both sexes is equally important. When a couple can’t conceive or a woman miscarries, she usually bears the blame. Swan dispels the myths surrounding reproductive failure. Yes, as women get older, their ability to get pregnant drops, but Swan reminds us that a man’s reproductive clock is also ticking as he ages. Abnormal sperm, increasingly common in men over 40, can also cause miscarriages.

Teasing out the mechanisms behind plummeting fertility rates is complicated. While man-made chemicals certainly play a role, Swan emphasizes that timing matters, with different impacts for those exposed in utero, as newborns, adolescents or adults. She walks the reader through the reproductive problems that result from contact with flame retardants, pesticides and what she calls “an alphabet soup” of chemicals.

For men, phthalates, found in many products, from plastics to shampoos, are the worst offenders, tanking testosterone levels and sperm counts — and causing sperm to basically commit suicide. In women, these chemicals may cause early menopause or cysts in the ovaries, or they may disrupt monthly cycles.

Bisphenol A, a ubiquitous chemical used in hard plastics, electronics and millions of other items, affects both sexes but is particularly concerning for women. It interferes with conception and causes miscarriages early in pregnancy.

Swan broadens her argument by documenting how these chemicals are jeopardizing the survival of many other creatures. Genital abnormalities are of great concern: distinctly smaller penises in alligators, panthers and mink, as well as fish, frogs, snapping turtles and birds that appear to have both male and female gonads, and mating difficulties in many species caused by altered behavior.

Swan highlights another layer of risk. Parents’ exposure to these chemicals can affect the sexual development of their children. If a woman smokes when she is pregnant, her son’s sperm counts may drop by 40 percent — and if he is later exposed to endocrine disruptors, his sperm production may drop so low that he becomes infertile. Swan describes the collateral damage caused by a combination of lifestyle factors — such as stress or bad diet — and daily exposure to toxic chemicals. The effects can radiate down through several generations.

Although most of Swan’s analyses focus on Western countries, she has uncovered similar trends in South America, Asia and Africa.

Swan offers a sense of relief in her wrap-up, providing practical advice on steps that individuals can take to protect their health. She goes beyond lifestyle recommendations, outlining a far more difficult task: Purging harmful chemicals from our homes by reading the ingredients on bathroom and kitchen cleaners. Choosing personal care products that are phthalate-free and paraben-free. Ditching air freshener and scented products. Not microwaving food in plastic, making sure to filter drinking water and toss out plastic food storage containers and nonstick cookware. The suggestions go on.

Swan does miss an opportunity to give more attention to real-life stories. When she mentions individuals, their reproductive problems are often described without the history or context that strengthens a narrative. There are times when a memorable personal story might have supplanted a rather detailed anatomical and chemical description. There are passages that suffer from what Swan herself refers to as “stat overload” or dozens of foreign-sounding chemical names.

Over all, her conclusion is well supported: the need for regulation, specifically United States federal policies that require companies to prove chemicals safe before using them commercially. Europeans favor this precautionary principle and are currently phasing out or banning the most dangerous chemicals. Swan underscores how this contrasts with the American approach of “innocent until proven guilty,” which then requires taxpayer-funded government studies to investigate health effects.

“Count Down” is an important book for anyone concerned about the environment, pollution, successful childbearing or declining health of the human species. Other than the pervasive chemical names, it is written in a casual, accessible style and will be of practical relevance to couples and young adults who are considering having a family.

Fertility is already an issue for some who have children later in life, when the effects of these chemicals may be more pronounced. Swan offers somewhat bracing recommendations for women who choose to delay pregnancy: Freeze your eggs in your 20s as an insurance policy. For men, investigating their sperm count early might reveal infertility trends when they are easier to correct. More broadly, this book provides a wake-up call that increases understanding of fertility, its challenges and the recognition that both partners play a role.

But ultimately her conclusion is a plea for swift national and global actions that ban the use of these chemicals and mitigate the effects of those that are impacting health and even life itself worldwide. Swan makes it clear that the future of many species, including our own, depends on it.

By Bijal P. Trivedi

Bijal P. Trivedi is the author of “Breath from Salt: A Deadly Genetic Disease, a New Era in Science, and the Patients and Families Who Changed Medicine Forever.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com

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How To Solve Climate Change: Bill Gates Wants You To Know Two Numbers

Bill Gates Climate

Bill Gates wants you to know two numbers: 51 billion and zero. The former is the number of tons of greenhouse gases typically added to the atmosphere each year as a result of human activities. The latter is the number of tons we need to get to by 2050 in order to avert a climate crisis.

Gates has a plan for how to go from 51 billion to zero, and he’s happy to say it doesn’t come with a price tag in the trillions of dollars. As you might expect from a guy who made his fortune in technology, the billionaire’s suggested solution is tied in large part to innovation.

He spells out his plan in a new book, How To Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have And The Breakthroughs We Need, to be released on February 16. Ahead of the book launch, Gates talked to Forbes about why he wrote the book. He also shared details the book doesn’t get into, including how much he’s invested in zero-carbon companies, which ones he’s most excited about, including a new kind of nuclear power plant, and what he’s likely to invest in next. 

Goal number one of the book, says Gates, is to clearly lay out which sectors of the economy are producing the 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases the world typically adds to the atmosphere each year. “The actual numeric framework, which is the most basic thing for any problem you want to tackle…that’s really been missing,” Gates says in a video interview from a conference room in his offices in Seattle. (See table for the percentage breakdown.)  The goal we as a planet need to aim for: zero emissions by 2050. Gates is optimistic that as hard as it sounds, we can get there.


How It Adds Up Globally: 51 Billion Tons

Emissions dropped about 5% in 2020 due to the pandemic, Gates estimates. But in a normal year the world adds 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, Gates writes in his book.

                            

Gates admits, both in his book and when we spoke, that he is an imperfect messenger on climate change. “The very idea that one person is saying they know what we should do —appropriately, there is some pushback,” he says. In his book, he writes, “The world is not exactly lacking in rich men with big ideas about what other people should do, or who think technology can fix any problem.” He admits to owning big houses and flying in private jets, though he tells me that he buys carbon offsets for $400 a ton for the private jet flights he takes. “I can’t deny being a rich guy with an opinion. I do believe, though, that it is an informed opinion, and I am always trying to learn more,” he writes.

Gates presciently warned in a 2015 talk about the dangers of a global pandemic and what we’d need to do to prepare for it. Similarly, this is not his first public prescription for the climate. In 2010 he gave a TED talk calling for the need to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. He’s continued to consult experts in the field and delve into the latest in climate science and policy. In 2015 he got involved in the Paris Climate Summit, calling France’s then president, Francois Hollande, and encouraging him to get countries to agree to raise their R&D budgets for clean tech innovation. Twenty countries signed on. Says Gates, “Although we did not see all those countries double their R&D budgets, we did see some increase. That’s sort of when the field started to focus on can we get this innovation to take place.”

To help put a framework around progress and the cost of new carbon-free innovations, Gates and his team came up with a term called “Green Premium” and introduced it in his blog, Gates Notes, in September last year. As he explains it, the Green Premium spells out the difference in cost between a product or process that doesn’t emit carbon with one that does. Green Premiums have fallen in the passenger car sector to the point where more people are buying electric cars (though Gates points out that just 2% of global auto sales are electric vehicles). In the industrial sector, however, Green Premiums are much higher. Says Gates, “The hardest problems to solve are in areas like steel and concrete and even transportation things like aviation fuel.” The problems he’s referring to: coming up with processes to make these products that don’t emit greenhouse gases. The research is in its early stages, and that’s where government R&D can play a role, Gates suggests.

What’s It All Going To Cost? 

In December, Gates suggested in his blog that the U.S. create a National Institutes of Energy Innovation to help the country take the lead in climate change innovation. The idea is to model it after the National Institutes of Health, the backbone of U.S. medical research, which has an annual budget of about $37 billion. Gates says current U.S. government R&D spending on energy innovation is about $7 billion annually; that would need to be quintupled to match government spending on the NIH.

Another suggestion from Gates: shift the tax credits now available for solar and wind to more nascent areas like offshore wind, energy storage and new types of steel. “If you do that, and maybe double or triple the amount you spend on those tax benefits, then I do think that will be just a monumental contribution from the Biden administration,” he explains.

Whatever tech innovation comes out of the U.S. or elsewhere has to be affordable enough for countries like India to adopt it, Gates points out. Right now, the U.S. accounts for 14% of the world’s emissions. If just the U.S. gets to zero carbon emissions, we won’t be solving the problem globally.

Where Gates Is Investing

Gates, whose $124 billion fortune stems from an estimated 1% stake in Microsoft and a variety of other investments, says in the book he’s put “more than $1 billion” into companies working toward zero emissions. How much more? Altogether, he tells Forbes it’s about $2 billion. He describes himself as perhaps the biggest funder of direct air capture technologies—methods to capture carbon from the air. Two of the more well-known companies he’s been an investor in are producing plant-based meats: Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Some of his investing he categorizes as philanthropic, like the money he’s put toward an open source climate model that aims to show how electricity generation will work in long periods of tough weather when wind and solar would be shut down.

His biggest bet has been on TerraPower, a nuclear power company with a reactor that uses depleted uranium as its fuel. Gates founded the company with a few others more than a decade ago. In 2017, TerraPower formed a joint venture with a Chinese company and was planning to produce its first reactor in China. That deal was scuttled by the U.S. government, which in late 2019 blocked U.S. cooperation with China on civilian nuclear power. Now the plan is to build a demonstration plant somewhere in the U.S. In October the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $80 million to TerraPower toward construction of the plant; the agreement is that half of the funding will come from the private sector. Gates says, “That’s coming largely from me.”

His hope is that the demonstration plant will be built within five to seven years. “If things go well, that means that maybe in 10 years, commercial plant builders would take that design and build it ideally in the hundreds—which is what you need to have an impact on climate change.”

Gates has also invested in zero-carbon companies through Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a group he assembled that launched in December 2016. “It was a lot easier to raise the money than I expected,” he says. “I made about 22 calls and got about 20 yeses for the first billion.” Investors include billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, Vinod Khosla, John Arnold and John Doerr; Gates says he’s the largest investor. So far Breakthrough Energy Ventures has invested in 40 companies; One, QuantumScape, which is developing lithium metal batteries for electric vehicles and has no revenues yet, went public through a SPAC last November. Though many of the companies are still early stage, Gates describes some as “really wild,” including QuidNet, which is working to store electricity by pumping water into pressured underground wells; when energy is needed, the water is released and goes through a turbine, creating electricity.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures raised another $1 billion fund in January, with most of the same initial investors and some newcomers. (Gates didn’t disclose names.) He says he’s the largest investor in the latest fund, too. The new fund will look to invest in more of the industrial processes like low-carbon cement and steel production as well as technologies to capture carbon from the air, Gates says.

Over the next five years, Gates says “I’ll put in at least $2 billion” toward zero-carbon technologies. But while a total of $4 billion is a lot of money, for someone worth more than $120 billion, it’s a small sliver of his overall investments. Says Gates, “It’s more limited by what is out there that can have a high impact.”

genesis-3-1

One of Gates’ other investments that’s been in the news recently seems to fly in the face of his zero-carbon focus. In early February, Gates’ investment arm, Cascade, partnered with Blackstone Group and private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners in a $4.7 billion deal to buy Signature Aviation, the world’s largest operator of private jet bases. Private jet travel has been booming during the pandemic, but such travel emits a heck of a lot of greenhouse gases. How does he square the deal with the premise of his book? A spokesperson for Gates did not reply to the question.

Will Gates’ book influence policy makers and move the needle toward innovation in zero-carbon technologies? It helps that combating climate change is already one of the Biden administration’s top four priorities. Given that the book is addressing weighty material, it’s relatively easy to read, sprinkled with Gates’ personal observations  and even a photo of him with his son Rory on a visit to a geothermal power plant in Iceland. (Gates says he and Rory liked to visit power plants for fun.) He mentions that he drives an electric car the Porsche Taycan Turbo, which he describes to Forbes as “ridiculously nice and ridiculously expensive” — that sells for $150,000 or more. (He’s such a fan that he got one of the first demo models, he adds.)

If nothing else, Gates wants to get people talking. “My hope is that we can shift the conversation by sharing the facts with the people in our lives— our family members, friends, and leaders. And not just the facts that tell us why we need to act, but also those that show us the actions that will do the most good,” he writes.

A bigger measure of his success will be whether the Biden administration adopts any of his policy proposals. Says Gates, “I do think that with those increases [in spending], we’ll be doing exactly what we need to do, not just for us, but for the entire world.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a San Francisco-based Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on the world’s richest people. I oversee the massive reporting effort that goes into Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires list and The Forbes 400 Richest Americans list. The former gets me to use my rusty Spanish and Portuguese. In 2014, I won an Overseas Press Club award for an article I wrote about Saudi Arabian billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal; I also won a Gerald Loeb Award with co-author Rafael Marques de Morais for an article we wrote about Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of Angola’s former president. Over more than two decades, reporting for Forbes has taken me to 17 countries on four continents, from the streets of Manila to palaces in Saudi Arabia and Mexico’s presidential residence. Follow me on Twitter @KerryDolan My email: kdolan[at]forbes[dot] com Tips and story ideas welcome

Source: How To Solve Climate Change: Bill Gates Wants You To Know Two Numbers

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Bill Gates outlines his vision for a global green revolution. He tells Zanny Minton Beddoes, our editor-in-chief, how renewable energy is merely the first step in combatting climate change. 00:00 – How to fund a green economy 00:38 – Lessons from the pandemic 01:52 – Behaviour change v innovation in technology 03:36 – Most promising renewable technologies 04:31 – Private sector investment in green technology 06:30 – How essential are carbon prices? 07:50 – Net-zero emissions targets for businesses 09:39 – America’s role in climate-change action 12:40 – What are the odds for success of green innovation? Sign up to The Economist’s fortnightly climate-change newsletter: https://econ.st/3midEwG Find our most recent climate-change coverage: https://econ.st/37epi7u The World In 2021: the world could turn a corner on climate change: https://econ.st/37hdgKp
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[…] At the same time, countries experiencing conflict are on the front line of climate change: 12 of the 20 countries which, according to the ND-GAIN Country Index, are the most vulnerable an […] which, according to the ND-GAIN Country Index, are the most vulnerable and least ready to adapt to climate change are also sites of armed conflict […] The reason why these issues matter to the ICRC is not because climate change is directly causing conflict […]
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Stormwater Sector Faces $8.5 Billion Annual Funding Gap
wef.org – Today
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Najam Speaks at Event on MA Climate Change Bill On February 23, 2021, Adil Najam, Dean of the Frederick S […] tax returns, so residents can choose to help the world’s most vulnerable countries cope with global climate change […] He said this will particularly help those who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, suffering the greatest consequences, and – as a result – most in need of climate action […] His research focuses on issues of global public policy, especially those related to global climate change, South Asia, Muslim countries, environment and development, and human development […]
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[…] the countries’ leading experts to tackle global challenges including pandemics, food security and climate change is to host the UK-Indonesia Interdisciplinary Sciences Forum to discuss effective strategies fo […]
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Improving living biomass C-stock loss estimates by combining optical satellite, airborne laser scanning, and NFI data
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David Guthrie: The future of farming: Investing in technology to achieve sustainability | Vancouver Sun
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[…] are responding to new challenges in the agricultural sector — and new opportunities — related to climate change, food security and pressures on agricultural land […]
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February 24, 2021 Opinion Plants more tree By Editor’s Mail 0 0 It is a fact that climate change is one of the serious issues in Pakistan […]
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O’Toole calls for relocation of 2022 Beijing Olympics, citing China’s ‘genocide’ against Uighurs | Watch News Videos Online – CHINA SPOTLIGHT NEWS
china-spotlightnews.co.uk – Today
[…] com Business, Canada, China, Politics, Trade, USA, World Biden, Trudeau pledge to counter China, climate change, in warm first ‘meeting’ U […] the countries’ deep ties and pledging to work together to counteract Chinese influence and address climate change […]
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Orlando Mayor Calls on Biden Administration to Support U.S.-Israel-Morocco Deal – Medafrica Times
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Projected Global Loss of Mammal Habitat Due to Land-Use and Climate Change – ScienceDirect
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Three changes to the regulatory framework for renewable energy to help save humanity’s future | VOX, CEPR Policy Portal
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From anger to action: Differential impacts of eco-anxiety, eco-depression, and eco-anger on climate action and wellbeing – ScienceDirect
The Journal of Climate Change and Health Volume 1, March 2021, 100003 From anger to action: Differential impacts of eco-anxiety, eco-depression, and eco-anger on climate action and wellbeing Author links open overlay panel Show more Cite Under a Creative Commons licenseopen access Keywords Climate changeEco-anxietySolastalgiaEco-angerWellbeingCollective actionPro-environmental behaviour © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.

The Arctic Is Burning Like Never Before & That’s Bad News For Climate Change

Wildfires blazed along the Arctic Circle this summer, incinerating tundra, blanketing Siberian cities in smoke and capping the second extraordinary fire season in a row. By the time the fire season waned at the end of last month, the blazes had emitted a record 244 megatonnes of carbon dioxide — that’s 35% more than last year, which also set records. One culprit, scientists say, could be peatlands that are burning as the top of the world melts.

Peatlands are carbon-rich soils that accumulate as waterlogged plants slowly decay, sometimes over thousands of years. They are the most carbon-dense ecosystems on Earth; a typical northern peatland packs in roughly ten times as much carbon as a boreal forest. When peat burns, it releases its ancient carbon to the atmosphere, adding to the heat-trapping gases that cause climate change.Dramatic sea-ice melt caps tough Arctic summer

Nearly half the world’s peatland-stored carbon lies between 60 and 70 degrees north, along the Arctic Circle. The problem with this is that historically frozen carbon-rich soils are expected to thaw as the planet warms, making them even more vulnerable to wildfires and more likely to release large amounts of carbon. It’s a feedback loop: as peatlands release more carbon, global warming increases, which thaws more peat and causes more wildfires (see ‘Peatlands burning’). A study published last month1 shows that northern peatlands could eventually shift from being a net sink for carbon to a net source of carbon, further accelerating climate change.

The unprecedented Arctic wildfires of 2019 and 2020 show that transformational shifts are already under way, says Thomas Smith, an environmental geographer at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “Alarming is the right term.”

Zombie fires

The fire season in the Arctic kicked off unusually early this year: as early as May, there were fires blazing north of the tree line in Siberia, which normally wouldn’t happen until around July. One reason is that temperatures in winter and spring were warmer than usual, priming the landscape to burn. It’s also possible that peat fires had been smouldering beneath the ice and snow all winter and then emerged, zombie-like, in the spring as the snow melted. Scientists have shown that this kind of low-temperature, flameless combustion can burn in peat and other organic matter, such as coal, for months or even years.

Because of the early start, individual Arctic wildfires have been burning for longer than usual, and “they’re starting much farther north than they used to — in landscapes that we thought were fire-resistant rather than fire-prone”, says Jessica McCarty, a geographer at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Sources: Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service/European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts; Hugelius, G. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 117, 20438–20446 (2020)

Researchers are now assessing just how bad this Arctic fire season was. The Russian Wildfires Remote Monitoring System catalogued 18,591 separate fires in Russia’s two easternmost districts, with a total of nearly 14 million hectares burnt, says Evgeny Shvetsov, a fire specialist at the Sukachev Institute of Forest, which is part of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Krasnoyarsk. Most of the burning happened in permafrost zones, where the ground is normally frozen year-round.

To estimate the record carbon dioxide emissions, scientists with the European Commission’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service used satellites to study the wildfires’ locations and intensity, and then calculated how much fuel each had probably burnt. Yet even that is likely to be an underestimate, says Mark Parrington, an atmospheric scientist at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK, who was involved in the analysis. Fires that burn in peatland can be too low-intensity for satellite sensors to capture.

The problem with peat

How much this year’s Arctic fires will affect global climate over the long term depends on what they burnt. That’s because peatlands, unlike boreal forest, do not regrow quickly after a fire, so the carbon released is permanently lost to the atmosphere.

Smith has calculated that about half of the Arctic wildfires in May and June were on peatlands — and that in many cases, the fires went on for days, suggesting that they were fuelled by thick layers of peat or other soil rich in organic matter.How peat could protect the planet

And the August study1 found that there are nearly four million square kilometres of peatlands in northern latitudes. More of that than previously thought is frozen and shallow — and therefore vulnerable to thawing and drying out, says Gustaf Hugelius, a permafrost scientist at Stockholm University who led the investigation. He and his colleagues also found that although peatlands have been helping to cool the climate for thousands of years, by storing carbon as they accumulate, they will probably become a net source of carbon being released into the atmosphere — which could happen by the end of the century.

Fire risk in Siberia is predicted to increase as the climate warms2, but by many measures, the shift has already arrived, says Amber Soja, an environmental scientist who studies Arctic fires at the US National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Virginia. “What you would expect is already happening,” she says. “And in some cases faster than we would have expected.”

By: Alexandra Witze

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National Geographic

Here at the bottom of the world, a place all but free of human settlement, humanity is scrambling one of the ocean’s richest wildernesses. Fossil-fuel burning thousands of miles away is heating up the western peninsula faster than almost anywhere else. (Only the Arctic compares.) Hear National Geographic photographer Cristina Mittermeier share her love and fears for this beautiful place. ➡

Subscribe: http://bit.ly/NatGeoSubscribe#NationalGeographic#Antarctica#ClimateChange​ About National Geographic: National Geographic is the world’s premium destination for science, exploration, and adventure. Through their world-class scientists, photographers, journalists, and filmmakers, Nat Geo gets you closer to the stories that matter and past the edge of what’s possible.

Get More National Geographic: Official Site: http://bit.ly/NatGeoOfficialSite​ Facebook: http://bit.ly/FBNatGeo​ Twitter: http://bit.ly/NatGeoTwitter​ Instagram: http://bit.ly/NatGeoInsta​ Read the full article “The Big Meltdown” featured in National Geographic magazine’s November issue. https://on.natgeo.com/2J7VGvS​ See Antarctica Like Never Before | National Geographic https://youtu.be/Q_mCHs79B6c​ National Geographic https://www.youtube.com/natgeo

Farming Sustainably For A Better Tomorrow

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Anuvia Plant Nutrients is a Business Reporter client.

Innovative technology from Anuvia Plant Nutrients helps agriculture sustainably feed a growing population.

Our planet is tasked with producing food on a finite amount of land to meet the demands of a world population forecast to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. With recent data suggesting agriculture accounts for over 37 per cent of the Earth’s land use and two thirds of its water use, finding ways to maximise these precious resources in a cost-effective manner is one of the biggest challenges facing modern agriculture today.

Anuvia is an agricultural tech start-up that empowers farmers to implement new sustainable practices to produce abundant food while enriching the soil and the planet for future generations. Anuvia manufactures high-efficiency, bio-based plant nutrients made by reclaiming organic waste that otherwise would be discarded. For every ton of waste used, approximately a ton of new fertilizer is produced. Anuvia’s production facility in Zellwood, Florida is the first of its kind in the world, establishing a new standard in plant nutrient manufacturing and organic waste utilizationcrops.

The innovative technology is a proprietary nutrient delivery system called the Organic MaTRX™, which mimics organic matter in nature. As the nutrients are slowly released, better nutrient utilization is achieved, increasing efficiency and crop yield while reducing nutrient loss into air and water. Anuvia’s products return up to 16 per cent organic matter back to the soil. Anuvia fosters improved soil health and water quality, increased yield and profitability, and the assurance that we can sustainably produce crops for generations to come.

Anuvia is a tangible example of a circular economy in which resources are reclaimed, converted and then reused. In the case of agricultural crops, the circular economy begins with crops planted, fertilized and grown. Those crops are used for human and livestock consumption with waste being created. Anuvia reclaims this waste and converts it into a sustainable plant nutrient. The cycle is completed as Anuvia products return nutrients and organic matter to the soil, feeding the next crop while nourishing and improving the soil.

Reclaiming waste at the end of the food chain has been largely ignored thus far in production agriculture, creating a further burden on already crowded landfills. According to the EPA, agriculture accounts for nearly 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emission in the United States. Greenhouse gases are produced when traditional fertilizers are manufactured and used, contributing N2O and CO2 into the atmosphere.

Recent results from a study conducted by Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a leading global environmental consulting firm, found that Anuvia’s technology reduces greenhouse gases on a crop production acre by up to 32 per cent, when compared with conventional fertilizers. The study indicates that, for every million acres of crops that use Anuvia’s technology, the reduction in greenhouse gases would be equal to the equivalent of removing 20,000 to 30,000 cars from the roads. With 90 million acres of corn in the United States alone, if these crops were treated with Anuvia’s plant nutrients, that would conservatively translate to 1.8 million cars removed from use.

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With little to no financial or operational barriers to adoption, Anuvia is poised to make an overnight impact on the agriculture industry, helping farmers drastically reduce their environmental footprint while more efficiently feeding their crops, growing healthier crops and, ultimately, producing more from their current acreage. In a world where natural resources are becoming more and more finite, it’s the kind of environmentally responsible technology that also makes good business sense.

To learn more about Anuvia Plant Nutrients – SymTRX for agriculture, GreenTRX for golf and landscape, and ANUGREEN for home lawncare, visit www.anuviaplantnutrients.com.

This article originally appeared on Business Reporter.

Founded in 2006, Business Reporter is a long-established content marketing and events company. Through its business analysis content, Business Reporter now enjoys a key strategic relationship with the Telegraph Media Group and City A.M.; this has led to the company becoming one of the leading special interest reports publishers in the UK.

Source: http://www.forbes.com

Innovative technology from Anuvia Plant Nutrients helps agriculture sustainably feed a growing population. Our planet is tasked with producing food on a finite amount of land to meet the demands of a world population forecast to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. With recent data suggesting agriculture accounts for over 37 per cent of the Earth’s land use and two thirds of its water use, finding ways to maximize these precious resources in a cost-effective manner is one of the biggest challenges facing modern agriculture today.

How Satellites And Machine Learning Are Being Used To Detect Plastic In The Ocean

While we know plastic is terrible for marine life, detecting plastic pollution in the ocean is notoriously challenging. Plastics come in many colors, break down to microscopic sizes, and are made of a variety of chemicals. Adding to the problem is the vast size of the ocean, to which millions of tons of plastic are added each year.

It is essential to identify which parts of the ocean collect the most plastic to effectively target cleanup and pollution prevention efforts. Might satellites bolstered with machine learning be up for the oceanic task of tracking plastic pollution? According to research recently published in Nature Communications, yes.

A team of scientists at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom tested whether data from two satellites operated by the European Space Agency could be analyzed using a machine-learning algorithm trained to detect plastic. The two Sentinel-2 satellites used in this research are each equipped with 12-band Multi-Spectral instrument (MSI) sensors that allow for 10-meter resolution in the data they collect.

With the efforts of the two satellites combined, data is repeatedly collected from all coastal locations around the world every 2 to 5 days. In other words, every part of the world where land meets the sea is re-imaged between 6 and 15 times every month – that’s a lot of data!

Satellites collect data on light signals, among other things. Materials can be distinguished using light signals based on which wavelengths of light they reflect. While clear water efficiently absorbs light in the near-infrared (NIR) to shortwave infrared (SWIR) light range, floating materials like plastic and natural debris reflect NIR instead. These differences in light absorption allow satellites to detect floating objects from space.

The NIR signals of various floating objects vary. Using the satellite data, researchers trained a machine-learning algorithm to identify the light signal of floating plastic by releasing a plastic float off the coast of Greece and obtaining the associated light signal data from the satellites. The researched used this light data to teach the algorithm to associate certain NIR light signals with floating plastic debris. Similarly, they also taught the algorithm to distinguish between plastic and natural materials such as seaweed, driftwood, and seafoam.

Once the algorithm was up-and-running, the researchers put it to the test against satellite data from coastal waters in four places around the world: Accra (Ghana), the San Juan Islands (Canada), Da Nanng (Vietnam) and Scotland (United Kingdom). Overall, the algorithm detected plastic with 86% accuracy. Better yet, the algorithm was 100% accurate in its analysis of the data from the San Juan Islands. Not too bad for data collected from thousands of miles above!

Importantly, this algorithm is equipped to locate plastic pieces greater than 5 mm in size or larger with the satellite data provided. However, it is from these floating ‘macroplastics’ that many harmful microplastics form. These results show that satellite data combined with machine-learning algorithms could aid in the tracking, and subsequent clean-up, of plastic pollution around the world.

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Marine biologist with a background in Antarctic fish, coral reefs, and seagrass microbes. Fascinated by the role of bacteria and viruses in the marine realm. Avid tide pool investigator.

Source: How Satellites And Machine Learning Are Being Used To Detect Plastic In The Ocean

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Satellites detect marine plastic pollution

Deloitte BrandVoice: Reducing Environmental Impact Is Now A Business Imperative

Nearly every day, another research finding, news story or environmental-related disaster piles more evidence on the reality that our planet is in crisis. Climate-driven drought is making dangerous wildfires more common, wreaking havoc on farmers around the world, and threatening hundreds of species with extinction.

Experts have warned that lack of action could result in alarming hunger levels around the world, mass migration challenges, the collapse of global financial markets and other social and economic disasters. Against this backdrop, business leaders are reexamining their organizations’ purposes and priorities.

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable, a group that includes CEOs from leading U.S. companies, committed to modernizing the purpose of a corporation. Challenging the age-old rule that a business exists to maximize profits for owners or shareholders, the executives agreed that companies must also protect the environment “by embracing sustainable practices” and consider stakeholders like customers, suppliers and broader society. That sentiment was echoed in “The Universal Purpose of a Company in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” published by the World Economic Forum in December 2019.

Deloitte Global’s third-annual Readiness Report, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: At the Intersection of Readiness and Responsibility,” shows that not only is the environment on executives’ minds, but also that climate change and environmental sustainability have become integral to how they’re managing their businesses. Surveying more than 2,000 global executives, Deloitte Global found that almost 90 percent agreed to some degree that the impacts of climate change will negatively affect their organizations. Nearly six in 10 claimed to have internal sustainability initiatives in place, from reducing travel to eliminating plastics, and more.

“With an increasing number of catastrophic, climate-related events affecting populations and geographies, we’re seeing business leaders increasing their focus and attention on climate and environmental sustainability,” said Deloitte Global board chair Sharon Thorne. “Executives are beginning to acknowledge the business imperative of climate change. And they are beginning to act as they feel mounting pressure from stakeholders and threats to their own businesses.”

Millennials Demand Action

Executives also understand that today’s consumers—especially millennials and Gen Zs—are looking for more than transactional relationships with companies. Whether they’re buying candy bars or jeans, consumers increasingly demand that businesses do their part to reduce their environmental impact. According to the 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, more than one in four millennials and Gen Zs believe businesses should try to help mitigate the effects of human-caused climate change and protect and improve the environment. Yet only 12 percent believe corporations are working to address things like climate change.

Students have taken to the streets and staged strikes for climate action, and pressure groups and scientists are advocating for mass civil disobedience to force politicians to prioritize climate change. But other actions are more widespread and far less overt. For instance, the survey showed large numbers of young consumers have started or stopped relationships with businesses based on their perceptions of companies’ commitments to society and the planet. Almost 40 percent of those asked said they would stop buying from a company whose products or services negatively impact the environment. Companies that fail to respond to these feelings and motivations will eventually feel the impact on their bottom lines.

“Young people care intensely about the world they’re inheriting and are motivated to stand up for the causes in which they believe,” wrote Deloitte Global chief people and purpose officer Michele Parmelee. “Their passion is obvious and their resolve is strong. But they’d be the first to tell you that they need help to create change. That’s where business can make a difference.”

Business Is Starting To Respond

Research indicates that consumer demand is, indeed, pushing businesses to alter their operations. In another Deloitte Insights survey, for instance, nearly two-thirds of companies said their customers have been demanding they switch to renewable sources of electricity. Nearly half said they’re working on doing just that.

Executives interviewed for Deloitte Global’s Readiness Report shared some of the actions their organizations are taking. Adobe, for example, has set a goal to run on 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. It is expanding its global headquarters in San Jose, and the new building will be all-electric, meaning it can be powered by clean, renewable energy. Likewise, at the Kawasaki Smart Community Center, Toshiba Group’s business base, Toshiba has installed 35,000 sensors to control lighting, air conditioning and elevator operations based on the movement of people, helping Toshiba reduce CO2 emissions by 50 percent.

More and more, the pursuit of similar actions to reduce environmental impact and benefit society will be necessary for businesses to survive, let alone thrive. Consumers are demanding that the companies they patronize do more to be good corporate citizens. They’re speaking with their voices and their wallets, and they’re not inclined to take “no” for an answer.

Fortunately, profit incentives—as well as executives’ increasing fears about climate change’s potential negative effect on business operations—are giving companies plenty of reasons to join with citizens and act on climate change.

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries bringing world-class capabilities, insights, and high-quality service to address clients’ most complex business challenges.

Source: Deloitte BrandVoice: Reducing Environmental Impact Is Now A Business Imperative

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When it Comes to Pesticides and Kids, The EPA Looks the Other Way

HOMESTEAD, FL – SEPTEMBER 09: Stephen Jenner, from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, sprays an insecticide under an avocado tree where some Oriental fruit flies were found on September 9, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. The discovery of the flies has forced the state to quarantine about 85 square miles of farmland in Southern Miami-Dade county until they have been eradicated. The flies have the potential to damage Florida’s $120 billion agriculture industry. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

It’s easy to lose count of all of the pesticides that are sprayed on crops in the U.S., and well-nigh impossible to know all of the names (dichloropropene and pyraclostrobin and spinetoram and on and on). But it’s not hard to guess who gets hit hardest by all of these chemicals: kids, whose brain, nervous and hormonal systems are still developing at the time of exposure. What’s more, a new pesticide introduced today will have fewer years to build up in the tissues of, say, a 50-year old, compared to a child who will accumulate a lifetime load of the stuff.

That’s the biggest reason that, in 1996, Congress passed and  Bill Clinton signed the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). The legislation represented one of the most effective crackdowns on pesticides in the food supply to date, requiring the Environmental Protection Agency not simply to establish a safe threshold of exposure for the population as a whole, but to limit permissible levels much further—10-fold further in fact—to ensure that children are protected too. The legislation benefits everyone of course: Ten times less pyraclostrobin on your apple is a good thing no matter how old you are, but it’s children who are the most important beneficiaries.

But a law is only as good as its enforcement and a new study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, —a nonprofit advocacy organization—and published in the journal Environmental Health found that when it comes to the FQPA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is laying down on the job. The group surveyed 47 non-organophosphate pesticides—a category that tends to persist in soils—and found that the 10-fold safety standard was being applied only to five of them.

“The FQPA was a revolution in how we think about pesticides’ effects on children,” said Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook in a statement accompanying the release of the study, “but it does no good if the EPA doesn’t use it.”

In response to the study’s release, an EPA spokesperson told TIME: “EPA takes our commitment to protect public health, including our most vulnerable populations, and following the law seriously. EPA uses the default 10X safety factor unless a wealth of high-quality, peer-reviewed data has shown an alternative safety factor can provide an equal amount of protection.”

The study, which stands by the the ten-fold standard as the true gold standard, looked back at FQPA enforcement from as early as 2011, during the Obama administration—generally seen as an environmentally friendly presidency—and saw the same spotty pesticide enforcement even then. But the Obama White House did take some proactive steps, seeking to extend the 10-fold standard to organophosphate pesticides as well, which break down relatively quickly, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but while they are around can be even more toxic than other varieties of pesticides, affecting the nervous system in much the way sarin and other nerve gasses do.

Under the Trump Administration, however, the Obama ruling was reversed for the most widely used organophosphate, known as chlorpyrifos. Nonetheless, Corteva Agriscience, the nation’s largest manufacturer of the chemical, under pressure from multiple states that are banning its use, announced on Feb. 6 that it would voluntarily agree to stop producing it.

It’s a manifestly good thing that in that one case, market forces were sufficient to stop a bad chemical from getting into the food supply. But it’s a manifestly bad thing that in a far larger share of cases, apparently the health of America’s children does not have the same power in Washington.

“With the FQPA legislation, Congress clearly gave the EPA the power to protect children’s health from pesticides,” says Olga Naidenko, vice president of science investigations at the Environmental Working Group, and lead author of the paper. “The EPA should be able to fully use this authority without waiting for additional instructions, if the EPA leadership decides to do so.”

By Jeffrey Kluger February 12, 2020

Source: When it Comes to Pesticides and Kids, The EPA Looks the Other Way

View full lesson: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/do-we-reall… Annually, we shower over 5 billion pounds of pesticides across the Earth to control insects, unwanted weeds, funguses, rodents, and bacteria that may threaten our food supply. But is it worth it, knowing what we do about the associated environmental and public health risks? Fernan Pérez-Gálvez weighs the pros and cons of pesticides. Lesson by Fernan Pérez-Gálvez, animation by Mighty Oak.
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