Plastic Waste, A Global Concern

Plastic Waste, A Global Concern

Plastic pollution is a world catastrophe

Plastic Waste, A Global Concern

By William Jones

What is Plastic?

Plastic is a synthetic organic polymer made from petroleum.  Plastic is ideally suited for a wide variety of applications. Packaging, building and construction, household and sports equipment, vehicles, electronics, and agriculture; the uses are endless. It is cheap, lightweight, strong and malleable. Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year. Half of plastic products are designed for single-use; such as shopping bags, cups, and straws. While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become addicted to single-use or disposable plastic — with severe environmental consequences.

Oil, Natural Gas and Coal

More than 99% of plastics are produced from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas, and coal — all of which are dirty, non-renewable resources. If current trends continue, by 2050 the plastic industry could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption.

Worrying Trends

We produce about 300 million tonnes (metric tons) of plastic waste each year. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. We’re seeing  worrying trends. Since the 1950s, the rate of plastic production has grown faster than that of any other material. We’ve also seen a shift away from the production of durable plastic, and towards plastics that are meant to be thrown away after a single use. These single-use plastic products are everywhere. For many of us, they’ve become integral to our daily lives.

Continue reading

Electric Vehicle Basics

Electric Vehicle Basics

Electric Vehicle basics

Electric Vehicle Basics

By D.S. Mitchell

Worth Looking Into

The financial benefits of owning and driving an electric vehicle play out in the long run. To begin with, you’ll spend a bit more on the purchase price for an electric car, but you can make up for that cost with tax benefits and immediate savings on fuel. There are also local rebate options worth checking into. Electric vehicles are also really good for the environment, which is enough to convince buyers.

1.) Purchase Price: Government subsidies to off-set the higher sticker cost of an EV versus an ICE (internal combustion engine) are helping purchasers switch from a gas powered vehicle to an electric vehicle. Currently, tax rebates and auto maker incentives provide about $7,500 toward the purchase price of an EV. EV costs are continuing to drop, and Bloomberg has predicted that EV battery costs will halve by 2025. At which point electric and gas vehicles should be at price parity. A couple things to keep in mind about the EV tax credit include:

  • Tax credits are for owners only.
  • The federal tax credit is not available to those simply buying an electric car in order to resell it.
  • In order to qualify for the federal tax credit, the electric car must be mostly used within the U.S.
  • The manufacturer must be qualified for your car to be eligible.
  • The battery of the EV must be able to store at least 4 kWh of energy.
  • The battery must also be able to be charged by an external energy source.
  • An electric vehicle tax claim can be denied, the IRS always has that right.

Other tax credits, especially state and local, for electric cars apply to businesses. Sometimes, a business can enjoy tax exemption status of some sort as reward for owning an electric company car.

Continue reading

The Electric Vehicle Revolution

The Electric Vehicle Revolution

The Electric Vehicle Revolution is here

Electric vehicles are the future, be ready. . . 

The Electric Vehicle Revolution

“Adoption of a new technology, like EV’s (electric vehicles) may seem slow or look like it’s never going to happen, until it passes a threshold. . . .and then it just takes off.” *Reda Cherif  

By D. S. Mitchell

Horse and Buggy Days

There is a growing understanding that gas and diesel-powered vehicles will soon join the horse and buggy and dial telephone. New studies support a rapid acceleration process and a gathering momentum of the coming EV tsunami. Surprising as it may seem, soothsayers predict that more than 90% of all passenger vehicles in the U.S., Canada, Europe and other wealthy industrialized countries will be EV by 2040. Some studies are even more bullish, predicting that by 2030, ninety percent of all U.S. vehicles will be EV. That is less than 9 years away.

A Big Culprit

One of the major sources of deadly air pollution, and a major factor in climate change, is transportation. In order to protect the climate and the health of our citizens it is imperative we modify the vehicles on our roads. A few years ago, transportation edged out power plants as the leading source of carbon emissions. We can end this catastrophe. Sources tell us a rapid shift to electric vehicles can cut more than 800 million tons of CO2 emissions every year by 2040, and cumulative reductions will reach 16.2 billion tons by 2050.

New Technology

The transition is going to happen fast because EV’s are better than gas vehicles. There is less maintenance, lower operating costs, and more power. A big factor in boosting sales of EV’s is that production costs are also coming down. The cost of an EV battery has dropped 86% in the last 10 years. In spite of chip shortages and COVID-19 challenges, Ford Motor Co. has been showing profits throughout 2021. Ford announced that its F-150 Lightening electric pickup has generated over 120,000 pre-orders since it was unveiled to great fanfare in May.

Continue reading

Carbon Positive Landscaping

Carbon Positive Landscaping

Carbon Positive Landscaping

Carbon Positive Landscaping

By D. S. Mitchell

Past Behavior

I have been planting native species plants and using water conserving drip irrigation for at least a decade. But I want to take it to the next level. I opened the March/April 2021 issue of Sierra magazine and found an article that motivated me to get busy. To be carbon positive, just means  your landscape/plantings remove more carbon dioxide than they generate.  Planting a tree that will grow large can remove hundreds of pounds of carbon from the atmosphere over its lifetime. Conversely, adding a concrete patio can add hundreds of pounds of carbon to the atmosphere. Lydia Lee’s article offered some great suggestions on how to create a truly green landscape.

Do a Carbon Audit

There is a free carbon calculator at climatepositivedesign.com/pathfinder, just enter details about hardscaping, plants, and maintenance equipment into the free carbon calculator. For example, stone pavers score poorly because of the intense amount of energy required to cut and transport them. You can also download the Climate Positive Design Toolkit,  which lists 50 strategies for improving your landscapes footprint, such as planting bamboo.

Avoid Concrete

Concrete is essentially artificial rock. Using concrete for a walkway or a patio dramatically increases your garden’s environmental footprint. Concrete is created with cement which during manufacturing needs to be heated to 2,500 degrees F. It would be better to use decomposed granite or gravel when creating paths and patios. A new product, Trugrid (truegridpaver.com) is a permeable paving system that holds gravel in place. The product is made from post-consumer recycled plastic. It even allows rainwater to drain into the ground rather than run off.

Continue reading

Care of Personal Information

Keeping private information private. Knowing when and what to shred.

Care Of Personal Information

D. S. Mitchell

Old Magazines

I was in my home office going through old magazines trying to decide what to send to the recycler and what to keep for later reference when I flipped through a February 2016 Reader’s Digest article that offered information on shredding. Most importantly they described when and what to shred.  It seems our greatest danger is through ‘mass hackings’ of our credit information. No matter how cautious we are our greatest danger is as victims of other people’s carelessness, or bad intent.  But, every bit of protection we can develop should help keep our private information private. Kelsey Kloss article suggested the following things, we as individuals can do to protect ourselves.

Take Special Precautions with:
  1. Receipts: If you aren’t saving the receipt for taxes or other purposes and you made your purchase with a credit or debit card shred it. The receipt shows the last 4 digits of the card number and possibly your signature. Those clever crooks can use receipts for fraudulent returns and benefit from your store credit.
  2. Prescription Labels: Sometimes they are stapled to the prescription bag or on the bottle. Labels frequently list your name, date of dispensing, name and strength of the drug and dispensing pharmacy.  Crooks can use the information to refill prescriptions or steal your identity.
  3. Pet Medical Documents: Keep records of major events for the pets health history, but shred the rest.  The paperwork will show your name, address, phone and the pet’s name, which according to many studies to be the most common computer password choices.
  4. Airline Boarding Passes: Shred after landing. The boarding pass will show your name, your itinerary, and a bar code that in some cases will show your frequent flier number, which would allow thieves to “log in to airline accounts to view upcoming travel plans, check in to flights, and even cancel trips.”
  5. Return Labels: Shred free return labels that come in the mail and any envelopes showing your name and address. When writing a return address on an envelope omit your name. Identity thieves will use that information to collect more information from social media and piece together your identity.

Remember, any little thing we can do to help keep our private information private should be considered important. Do it, you’ll be glad you did.

 

ENERGY SAVING TIPS: Season Specific Ideas

ENERGY SAVING TIPS:

Season Specific Ideas

This article is a continuation of www.calamitypolitics.com 10/16/19 article, “ENERGY SAVING TIPS THAT COST NOTHING.

ENERGY SAVING TIPS: Season Specific

By D. S. Mitchell

FALL AND WINTER SPECIFIC OPTIONS

Saving energy and money is a great dual purpose. As the weather begins to cool it is important to take control of your energy use. Check out the following energy saving tips to start today. Most of these tips are referred to in Part One of this article.

  • Add or repair weatherstripping on windows and doors to reduce heat loss and drafts.
  • Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan in colder weather. Running the fan in reverse pulls the warm air off the ceiling and disperses it throughout the room.
  • Check your air filters every month to improve air quality, reduce heating costs, and improve the efficiency of your heating system. Be sure to change the filters regularly to keep the system running properly.
  • If you have a programmable thermostat, program it to automatically change to the temperature at set times for each day. Temperature is a personal/household decision, but the U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat to 68 degrees F while you are awake and at home and lower it while you’re asleep or away from home.
  • Take advantage of winter sunlight by opening your shades, allowing for natural light and capturing the warmth from the sun.
  • Keep furniture, drapes, carpets, and other objects from blocking the vents or registers.  Blocked wall/baseboard heaters or register vents prevent heated air from circulating freely around the room and may cause your heating system to work harder and prevents rooms from warming up to the set temperature on the thermostat.
  • Lower your thermostat when using your fireplace and close the damper when not in use.
  • Holiday lighting can increase your energy bill, so consider using LED holiday lighting instead of standard incandescent bulbs. They use less energy, stay cooler to reduce the risk of fire and injury, and last longer.

SPRING AND SUMMER SPECIFIC OPTIONS

As spring and summer months start heating up, many of us look for ways to keep cool without breaking the bank. Consider adopting some of these tips to increase your comfort while saving.

  • Block heat from entering your home in the warmer months by keeping your shades closed. Sunlight passing through windows heats your home and makes your air conditioner work harder.
  • Consider installing shade screens, awnings, or window film or blinds to prevent solar heat gain.
  • Hang laundry outside when weather permits. Not only does it save energy, but reduces the wear and tear on your clothes to help them last longer.
  • Switch to LED light bulbs. They use a fifth of the energy used by regular bulbs and keep your home cooler on warm days.
  • Well-placed trees and landscaping can help reduce heat gain and increase your comfort on warm days.
  • If you need to replace your window air conditioning unit, consider investing in an efficient Energy Star certified unit. They typically use about 10% less energy than conventional models.  (1) Make sure the unit you purchase is the right size for the area you are cooling; a unit that is too large will operate less efficiently. (2) Before cold weather hits, make sure to remove your unit from the window to help it last longer.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioning to stay cool on warm days. This can be more cost effective than cooling your entire home because they target a specific area. It’s important to have the blades spinning in the right direction to improve cooling.

ENERGY SAVING TIPS THAT COST NOTHING

ENERGY SAVING TIPS THAT COST NOTHING

By D. S. Mitchell

My PUD

I was on my local PUD (Public Utility District) website to make my monthly electric service payment, when for the first time I noticed they had a tab for Energy Saving Tips. Whoopee! So, without hesitation I opened the tab and found a treasure trove of no cost to moderate cost energy-saving tips. I was so impressed I printed it off for later reference. Hopefully you will find it helpful and will share all your new knowledge with friends and family.

No Cost Options

Saving money and addressing environmental issues are both good things.  Some of the tips may be familiar and obvious while others are not. Take a look and see if you can’t find something that will help you save energy and benefit the environment. An energy-efficient home will be a pleasure to come home to while saving you money.

Jump Start Energy Saving Now

  • Lower your thermostat when you go to bed or when you are away from home. Use a programmable thermostat, so it is automatic. Every degree lowered can decrease the heating portion of your energy bill by 2%.
  • Get in the habit of shutting off lights as you leave a room. Don’t forget to shut of PC’s and other devices when not in use.
  • Close your fireplace damper when there is no fire. Leaving it open is like having a 48 inch square hole in your house.
  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees F. (which is comfortable for most people). When going away for any length of time set it to vacation mode, or simply turn it down.
  • When washing cloths or dishes, wash only full loads and those in cold water.
  • Air-dry your dishes or use air-dry feature on the dishwasher. When weather permits, hang your clothes outside on a clothesline to dry.
  • Use kitchen and bathroom fans to cut moisture, as needed.
  • Set your refrigerator between 36-39 degrees F.
  • In the winter, open south-facing drapes/blinds during the day to let heat in and close all window drapes and blinds at night.
  • Unplug laptop or cell phone battery chargers when not in use. Most draw power continuously, even when there are no devices plugged into the charger.
  • Vacuum refrigerator coils of lint and clean the lint from clothes dryer often to increase efficiency.
  • Use a toaster over or microwave for cooking and heating small portions.
  • Use zonal-heat (baseboard, ceiling or wall heat) to your advantage by only heating rooms that are in use.
  • Consider using jugs of water to occupy the space in your refrigerator. It takes more energy to cool an empty fridge than a full one.

Continue reading

Opinion: Choose To Re-Use and Re-Purpose

Opinion: Choose To Re-Use

REFUSE THE REFUSE….. CHOOSE TO RE-USE

By Jennifer Troy

Organic and Natural

The amount of “wasteful waste” accumulated everyday, world-wide is staggering. Here in my corner of the world, Portland, Oregon, waste is everywhere. We have careless waste, we have intentional waste, we have good intentioned waste, we have plastic waste and we have paper waste, just to mention a few.  It is my wish to draw attention to waste that need not be wasted. Sometimes we accept a premise just because everyone else seems to accept it. Human beings are sheep.  I hope to convince you that often the things we do because we think it is the “right” thing for the environment may in fact be short-sighted and wrong. Shockingly, “organic” and “natural” may not always be the best answer.  I believe with all of my heart re-use and re-purpose in the end will be the best way forward.

Paper or Plastic?

Take as an example, the recent “Paper or Plastic” epidemic sweeping through the nation. We did it!  We finally got the public involved in saving the environment by ousting plastic and replacing it with the greener choice of paper. We’ve been so successful that half the rain forests of the Pacific NW and elsewhere are being systematically destroyed, not to mention the massive amount of paper in its many forms is now rotting in our landfills. Repeat after me, “re-use and re-purpose”.

Re-Use and Re-Purpose

Plastic or Progress?

Paper or Progress?

Natural means natural…. not sustainable, durable or reusable as it’s synthetic counterparts. “Synthetic”? “Synthetic”? That means man-made. Yes, man-made. These textiles were designed to be reused. Designed to be washed and NOT discarded. Why on earth have we put so much energy into creating, recycling and re-purposing plastic if we’re now simply going to ban it? Wake up, America there is a better way, there is progress.

Continue reading

EV: The Obvious Future

EV: Electric Vehicles The Obvious Future

By D. S. Mitchell

*”Adoption of a new technology like EV’s (electric vehicles) may seem slow or look like it’s never going to happen, until it passes a threshold… and then it just takes off.” Reda Cherif for the International Monetary Fund

Slashing EPA Annual Budget by Over 30%

When Trump won the 2016 presidential election I knew the attack on the environment would move forward like a bulldozer in a butterfly garden. In Trump’s first year in office he pulled the United States out of the landmark Paris climate deal, paving the way for the continued reckless burning of fossil fuels. The Paris Climate Accord is non-binding on signers, but focuses on a global effort to hold the Earth’s temperature rise to fewer than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. The consequences of failing to limit greenhouses gases and thereby their destructive effects is a future most of us do not want to imagine.

High Jacking the Mission of the EPA

In March of 2018, Trump proposed slashing the EPA annual budget by over 30%.  Since 2017 the EPA has lost more than 700 employees, including 200 scientists. Meanwhile the disgraced and the now thank God departed, Scott Pruitt, wasted Agency money on a 24 hour security detail, expensive air travel, and sound proof booths for his office. Rather than protect the environment and work with the world to limit green house gas production this administration wants to subsidize coal, and ramp up oil exploration in previously protected wilderness areas and vulnerable off-shore sites.

EV Promises Reduced Air Pollution

Despite the bad news on so many U.S. environmental fronts there is good news in the automobile industry. Automobile manufacturer’s world-wide are committing to the EV.  They see the handwriting on the wall.  The governments of Europe, China, and India are committed to reducing air pollution. Part of that vision will be enabled by electric vehicles. The mass acceptance of the EV will consequently cut the production of fossil fuels and their consumption. Perhaps that is the reason coal, and gas producers are in such a hurry to mine and pump fuel reserves while they still have an opportunity. Because they, more than any other industry, recognizes the world is changing.

Horse and Buggy Days

There is a growing understanding that gas and diesel-powered vehicles will soon join the horse and buggy, and the dial telephone. New studies support a rapid acceleration process and a gathering  momentum of  the coming EV tsunami. Surprising as it may seem The International Monetary Fund and Georgetown University predicts that more than 90% of all passenger vehicles in the U.S., Canada, Europe and other wealthy industrialized countries will be EV by 2040. Some studies are even more bullish than the IMF projections. In fact, there are predictions that by 2030, ninety percent of all U.S. vehicles will be EV. That is a mere 12 years away.

Continue reading