The Soil Story, created by Kiss the Ground, is a five-minute film that shares the importance of healthy soil for a healthy planet.
Learn how we can “sequester” (store) carbon from our atmosphere, where it is harmful, and pull it back into the earth, where it belongs, through regenerative agriculture, composting, and other land management practices.
This video and petition [http://www.change.org/thesoilstory] to the California Legislature supports the allocation of $160 million in funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to help rebuild healthy soils.
How can we get the most out of our farmland without harming the planet?
Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions would make droughts less costly
Becoming a Carbon-Literate Society
A major barrier to reducing the wasteful mindset of business and society is overcapacity and stranded investments in waste-to-energy incineration
Bre Pettis, Chief innovation officer, Bold Machines; cofounder, MakerBot Industries; leader of the DIY movement; Dolly Singh, founder and CEO, Thesis Couture; and William A. McDonough, Chief executive, McDonough Innovation, and cofounder (with Brad Pitt) of the Make It Right Foundation
Ocean Plastic Could Be Found in 99 Percent of Seabird Species by 2050
and the research paper:
Why some farmers are deciding to go GMO-free
– Gunter Pauli
According to the Department of Energy, wind saw the most growth of any power source in the US last year
Two renowned scientists—Stanford’s Paul Ehrlich and UC-Berkeley’s John Harte — argue that feeding the planet goes way beyond food. Revolutionary political, economic and social shifts are necessary to avoid unprecedented chaos
By Institute for Energy Research — Bio and Archives
August 11, 2015
A recent story from Seattle showcases the absurdity of the attempt by a few vocal intellectuals to convince U.S. conservatives that a revenue-neutral carbon tax is on the table. Academic economists can continue to discuss the wonders of a large carbon tax in which all revenues are used to reduce corporate tax rates—though even in theory, this is a knife-edge result, as I’ve explained before—but in the real world, an American carbon tax will go down as a huge net tax increase.
This is because progressives will clamor for new spending on “green” investments and transition assistance to poorer individuals hardest hit by rising energy prices. You know that some of the biggest “conservative” cheerleaders of a carbon tax know this too, because they’re moving their rhetoric away from “offsetting tax cuts” to “deficit reduction.” In case it’s not obvious, if a new carbon tax is used to “reduce the deficit,” then it’s a net tax hike.
Seattle Greens on Revenue Neutrality: “What Are You, Some Kinda Comedian?!”
The Seattle article discusses the internal bickering among activists who want a new carbon tax (or cap and trade program) in Washington State. On the one hand are the supporters of Initiative 732, which would impose a stiff carbon tax but refund 100 percent of the receipts to Washington residents in the form of offsetting tax rate reductions. On the other side of the dispute stands The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, the name of which speaks for itself. The following excerpt from the news article provides the details and some comic relief:
The I-732 crowd is more of an upstart, eclectic bunch, led by [Yoram] Bauman, a Ph.D. economist who also performs as a comedian. He bills himself as the world’s first-and-only “stand-up economist.” But he’s dead serious about climate policy
…As with many political disputes, this one is largely about money.
As a “revenue-neutral” plan, I-732 would not fill state government coffers with cash. While the carbon tax would raise an estimated $1.7 billion a year…it would give away an equivalent amount back to consumers, mostly through a full percentage point cut in the state sales tax.
That differs from cap-and-trade legislation offered up by Inslee and backed by the alliance in this year’s legislative session. That plan would have raised more than $1 billion a year from fees on carbon and directed the proceeds to the state education budget, transportation projects, affordable housing and other programs.
[Alliance steering committee member] Mann and other alliance supporters suggest that spending carbon-tax revenues on clean-energy investments, schools and other community programs could prove more popular than tax cuts.
And there you have it. We’re not even talking about political officials promising one thing, and then betraying voters once they get the program in place. No, even at the outset, some of Seattle’s leading environmentalists—as well as the sitting governor—are licking their lips over dollar signs.
To academic economists, a carbon tax represents a way to change incentives and induce people to “internalize the externalities” as estimated by computer models. Since that’s the purpose, it is fine on a blackboard to devote the revenues to offsetting tax cuts for corporations.
But to professional environmentalists and political officials, a carbon tax is a ticket to many billions of dollars, so long as they hand out enough of the proceeds to gain support from their constituencies. Which of these two camps—the academic economists or the green activists—are likely to come out on top in the political process if a carbon tax passes?
7 AUGUST 2015
Steve Bell, reuse development manager at FCC Environment argues that reuse requires urgent focus from government, businesses and the public.
In recent years under the Coalition Government, waste strategy developed at different paces across the United Kingdom. Each of the four nations implemented their own waste strategy and related targets and while the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales both made progressive commitments, policy in England stalled. In 2011, the Government’s Waste Review was criticised for setting no new targets or legislative drivers and subsequently there was little support for higher national recycling targets in England. Certainly the Conservative Government now faces some tough challenges to achieve the 50% recycling target by 2020 in light of England’s flat-lining recycling rate.
Steve Bell (left) – at one of FCC’s reuse projects at HMP Rochester
Meanwhile, although the UK has rubbished the idea of Europe setting new targets for recycling, MEPs have voted in favour of legally binding recycling targets for member states. It followed a plenary vote put to the European Parliament on 9 July 2015 supporting the resolution: Resource efficiency, moving towards a circular economy. Yet within this resolution, reuse is notable largely through its absence.
Indeed, earlier this year, Rreuse – the European platform representing social enterprises that are active in reuse, repair and recycling – issued a document calling for the European Commission to include greater provisions for reuse in the circular economy package.
The importance of recycling must not be understated but within this polarised debate, the continued overriding focus upon recycling means that reuse is in danger of being forgotten.
Without a collective refocusing higher up the waste hierarchy, the net result is that a significant environmental and economic opportunity will continue to be missed. In effect, we are already in a situation where industry, national and local government and the general public are so focused on recycling, that collectively we are actually preventing reuse from gaining traction.
Simply put, this is a situation which makes little financial sense and one that is compounded by out-dated legislation, namely the Environmental protection Act 1990, which makes unnecessarily difficult to reuse rather than recycle appropriate items.
A significant percentage of what households currently dispose of is not actually waste and therefore should not be recycled – the inherent value in many items, notably electrical goods but many others too, means that it makes far more sense economically to reuse them than to recycle.
Despite this, reuse continues to provide good business for some, notably those same charity shops and the traditional second-hand trading posts. It has been estimated that charities, social enterprises and other third sector organisations benefit from reuse by as much as £430m per year while WRAP estimates households benefit by £6bn annually from the reuse sector.
And it has become a significant driver in the resource management strategy for FCC Environment. Alongside the economic benefits, reuse dramatically reduces the use of raw materials necessary to manufacture new products which in turn significantly reduces CO2e emissions. In 2012, 1.5m tonnes of CO2e were saved by reuse in the UK.
But to realise the full potential of reuse, a change in legislation is required which makes it possible for waste and resource management companies to operate effectively, without falling foul of the existing regulations, and fulfil wider environmental as well as economic commitments.
FCC’s Hull reuse shop opening
Only with that change in legislation, can we truly move from a presumption to dispose (and recycle), to a presumption to reuse and this also requires a pragmatic approach in terms of the remit of waste and resource management companies. These companies can only sell items suitable for reuse – refurbishment must take place further along the supply chain. In addition, the waste and resource management sector cannot take responsibility for the buyer’s actions. It is a concern that has always dogged the subject of reuse, yet the purchase of items by unscrupulous businesses can be addressed relatively simply by pricing those items at a level which removes the possibility of financial gain. This effectively prevents goods intended for reuse being bought and later sold as waste.
Similarly, the movement of waste to foreign countries is beyond the scope or control of the waste and resource management sector. We should be clear that reuse items from the UK are in high demand in developing countries and that this represents a significant commercial opportunity which also delivers the social and environmental benefits that underpin all reuse projects. But this trade must be subject to the proper controls and auditing, by the relevant authorities.
There are many other barriers to achieving greater participation in reuse. To achieve a real step change, not only is a change in legislation required, guidance for local authorities as well as the general public is necessary.
A reuse standard which sets out how waste and resource management companies operate could instil confidence in their customers and further improve reuse rates. Any such standard must be produced with pragmatism however – more red tape is not what the industry needs.
Driving the behavioural change that is also required is a long term process but one which the shifts in attitude towards recycling indicate is eminently achievable. Communications initiatives have a significant role to play and with the right infrastructure in place – facilitated by new legislation – the waste and resource management industry can tackle many of the more problematic issues impacting on reuse participation such as the storage and collection of bulky items.
The shift from disposing unwanted goods as waste to treating them as a valuable resource is one of the great cultural changes of recent years – it underpins FCC Environment’s business strategy. But it is time to take the next step and realise the scale of the economic, social and environmental opportunity that reuse presents.