Increase puts Coke’s production at more than 110bn single-use plastic bottles a year, according to analysis by the green group
Greenpeace Canada Oceans campaigner Sarah King with a collection of Coca-Cola bottles and caps found on Freedom Island, Philippines. Photograph: Daniel Müller/Greenpeace
Coca-Cola increased its production of throwaway plastic bottles last year by well over a billion, according to analysis by Greenpeace.
The world’s biggest soft drinks company does not disclose how much plastic packaging it puts into the market. But analysis by the campaign group Greenpeace reveals what they say is an increase in production of single-use PET bottles from 2015-2016.
The increase puts Coke’s production at more than 110bn bottles each year, according to Greenpeace.
Coca-Cola has confirmed that single-use plastic bottles made up 59% of its global packaging in 2016 compared to 58% in the 12 months before.
The scale of production contributes to a plastic mountain which is growing vastly year on year. Figures obtained by the Guardian reveal that by 2021 the number of plastic drinks bottles produced globally will reach more than half a trillion.
But only a tiny fraction of these bottles are recycled. Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead, most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean.
Read more at The Guardian
Puerto Ricans are living climate change right now. Here’s how they describe it
Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images
Millions of people in the Caribbean are getting a glimpse of a future that more and more people around the world will soon experience. This month’s hurricanes are the storms scientists have warned us about for decades. They have arrived — causing heartbreak and agony, wrecking homes and destroying lives.
For the millions more friends and family members watching and waiting on the U.S. mainland and elsewhere, word from their loved ones can’t come soon enough. One week after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Puerto Rico remains in a state of disarray, and communication is still largely cut off to most of the island.
Food and clean drinking water have been slow to arrive. And until recently, what had arrived was stuck in port — hampered by a combination of infrastructure failures and distracted leadership in Washington. It has all the makings of what could easily turn out to be a disaster nearly without parallel in modern American history.
Over the past 36 hours, I’ve communicated with more than a dozen people inside Puerto Rico, as well as those who have family there. The conversations have taken place via phone, email, and social media.
Here is what they told me about what life is like on the island right now for themselves or for their loved ones. These are the words of people on the front lines of climate change. (These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.) 09-28-17
Read more at Grist
This Bipartisan Senate Bill Could Enable US Offshore Wind to Take Off
Recently introduced legislation would create a 30% investment tax credit for the first 3 GW of offshore wind projects deployed in the U.S.
When the U.S. was ready to ramp up its solar industry, developers benefited from investments made in Germany, Spain and elsewhere in Europe that had funded gigawatt-scale annual deployments and pushed down costs. The same could happen with offshore wind.
By the end of 2016, 14.4 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity had been installed globally, with nearly 90 percent of the total deployed in European waters. Prices for projects coming on-line from 2020 have fallen to $50 per megawatt-hour in Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany. The United States, meanwhile, has so far managed to bring on-line just one modest commercial project, the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm off of Rhode Island.
A bill introduced this summer by a bipartisan group of senators aims to help the U.S. catch up with Europe. On August 1, 2017, Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act with 10 co-sponsors.
In a clever twist, the legislation trades a calendar deadline — typical for federal clean energy tax incentives — for a deployment target. The bill would create a 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) redeemable for the first 3 gigawatts of offshore wind projects placed into service in both coastal waters and inland navigable waters like the Great Lakes. 09-25-17
Read more at Green Tech Media
Deaths of farmworkers in cow manure ponds put oversight of dairy farms into question
Cows wait to be milked in the carousel milking parlor of a farm in Caldwell, Idaho. (Kyle Green/For The Washington Post)
Alberto Navarro Munoz had been working on the farm for only two weeks when he encountered one of the most gruesome hazards that a dairy worker can face. His tractor tipped over into a pit of cow manure, submerging the Mexican native under several feet of a “loose thick somewhat liquid-like substance,” according to the police report documenting his death in southern Idaho.
Another immigrant laborer jumped in to try to save Munoz, but told authorities “there was nothing he could do.” Munoz, whose body was later retrieved by the fire department, died of traumatic asphyxiation.
Munoz’s death, which occurred in the nearby town of Shelley last September, was one of two fatal accidents last year involving dairymen who either choked or drowned in pits of cow manure. Another laborer from Mexico died last month after he was crushed by a skid loader, used to move feed and manure.
The deaths have rattled Idaho’s dairy industry as well as local immigrant communities that do the bulk of the work producing nearly 15 billion pounds of milk annually on the industrial-sized farms in the state’s southern prairie. As farms have transitioned from family operations into big businesses involving thousands of cows and massive machinery, new safety concerns have emerged. 09-24-17
Read more at The Washington Post
Trump increasingly isolated as Nicaragua to sign Paris Agreement
Oservers say Daniel Ortega may have been weary of being lumped together with Trump against the Paris Agreement
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has announced that his country will sign the Paris Agreement, leaving only two countries out of the global effort to tackle climate change – the United States and Syria.
“When the only country left in the world that hasn’t signed the Paris Agreement is Syria, President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the accord stands out like a sore thumb,” said David Waskow, international climate director at the World Resources Institute (WRI). “The Trump Administration’s reputation as a climate loner deepens even farther.”
Unlike the US, Nicaragua had refused to sign the agreement on grounds that it didn’t go far enough to tackle climate change. The small Central American country wanted to see bigger emissions cuts from the wealthy, industrialized nations responsible for the bulk of the carbon in our atmosphere.
But earlier this week, Ortega told Nicaraguan state media that his country would soon sign the Paris Agreement, in solidarity with vulnerable countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean that had already done so.
“We have to be in solidarity with this large number of countries that are the first victims, who are already the victims, and are the ones who will continue to suffer the impact of these disasters,” Ortega said, according to Nicaraguan media. 9-21-17
Read more at Deutsche Welle
Chemical Industry Ally Faces Critics in Bid for Top E.P.A. Post
The scientist nominated to head the federal government’s chemical regulatory program has spent much of his career helping businesses fight restrictions on the use of potentially toxic compounds in consumer goods.
That record is expected to figure prominently in a Senate confirmation hearing for the scientist, Michael L. Dourson, who critics say is too closely tied to the chemical industry to be its chief regulator.
The source of the concern is a consulting group that Mr. Dourson founded in 1995, which has been paid by chemical companies for research and reports that frequently downplayed the health risks posed by their compounds.
Four chemicals that are nearly ubiquitous in everyday products — 1,4-dioxane, 1-bromopropane, trichloroethylene and chlorpyrifos — are now under review by agency regulators to determine whether they pose a threat to public health. If confirmed, Mr. Dourson would oversee the review of some chemicals produced by companies that his firm used to represent.
Mr. Dourson, 65, worked for the Environmental Protection Agency from 1980 to 1994, according to his résumé, starting as a staff toxicologist, preparing health assessments of various substances. He worked his way up over time, becoming chief of the pesticides and toxics team in 1989, supervising scientists who support the E.P.A.’s regulatory work. Mr. Dourson ultimately oversaw a team of scientists conducting risk assessments for the agency’s offices of water, solid wastes and air quality. 9-19-17
Read more at The Washington Post
California rewrites the GOP’s climate playbook
For the past decade, Democrats hoping to pass a big climate law have played Charlie Brown to the Republicans’ Lucy. Despite the GOP making it clear it has no intention of holding the ball for a global warming kick, the left routinely convinces itself that their counterparts will kneel into position once it gets a running start.
In 2010, Senate Democrats appealed to Republicans to pass federal climate legislation, only to see almost every conservative bail on them. Since then we’ve seen the old pattern repeat in statehouses and ballot boxes around the country: Democrats ask the GOP to hold the ball then go flying head-over-heels.
But then in July, a cadre of eight California Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with Democrats and pass that state’s cap-and-trade law.
The partisan space-time continuum shuddered — and this was before back-to-back superstorms, Harvey and Irma, buffeted the United States. Had the well-worn GOP force field stymieing progress on climate change begun to crack at the far-western edge?
While an enraged right planned the ouster of its leader, Chad Mayes, California Governor Jerry Brown praised him and the others who’d broken ranks. As did former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wrote: “I hope Republicans around the country can learn from the example.”
Read more at Grist
Religious communities are taking on climate change
Pope Francis stands in front of a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. The pope, who takes his name from St. Francis, the patron saint of animals and ecosystems, has led a call to action on climate change for the Catholic community.
Before Pastor Jim Therrien, 49, moved to New Mexico, he rarely thought about environmental issues. Back in Kansas, where he was born and raised, the grass outside his home was always green, and though the state had an active oil industry, companies fenced off well sites properly and promptly cleaned up spills. But then he and his family saw the impacts of energy development on the Southwestern landscape and their new church community. Therrien began to think about the connection between the local environment and the broader issue of climate change.
Every day, Therrien, a blond, ruddy and tattooed man of Irish descent, looked out his window and saw a dry land getting drier. Residents told him that winters used to be much colder and snowier. The hotter temperatures thickened the methane haze, and oil and gas traffic tore up the dirt roads. Therrien started to see these problems as injustices that conflicted with Christian values. So he decided to take a stand. Churches have long played a crucial role in social movements, from the civil rights era to immigration reform. Why not environmental activism?
“I don’t ever consider myself an environmentalist,” he told me one afternoon at the Lybrook Community Ministries, on a remote stretch of Highway 550, between the Navajo Nation and the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. “I’m more of a people person.”
Therrien’s congregation, mostly Navajo, had spent years living with the San Juan Basin’s drilling boom, and the last thing they needed was a sermon about climate change. So instead of lecturing, he created a garden to reduce the church’s use of fossil fuels to transport food. Then he began fundraising for solar installations on homes around the mission and urging lawmakers to tighten regulations on methane, a powerful greenhouse gas released by oil and gas drilling.
Last year, he joined the Interfaith Power & Light campaign, “a religious response to global warming” composed of churches and faith communities across the U.S. Since 2001, the network had expanded its membership from 14 congregations in California to some 20,000 in over 40 states. The group provides resources to churches and other faith communities for cutting carbon emissions — helping install solar panels, for instance, and sharing sermons on the importance of addressing climate change.
Therrien says he is merely “following the Scripture.” In the process, however, he has joined a growing environmental movement that brings a religious dimension to the problem of climate change.
Read more at High Country News
North Carolina delays decision on Atlantic Coast Pipeline
At public hearings and through written comments, a significant number of North Carolinians urged state regulators to deny the Atlantic Coast Pipeline a clean water permit this summer.
Faced with a Monday deadline and a lopsided number of public comments opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has delayed until mid-December its decision on whether to permit the controversial project.
Without fanfare or press release late yesterday, the state issued a four-page “request for additional information,” part of its duty under the federal Clean Water Act to ensure the natural gas pipeline won’t harm the over 320 rivers and streams and hundreds of acres of wetlands in its path.
Pipeline foes hailed the action, which appeared to vindicate a critique they’ve been leveling for months against the project, slated to hug the state’s I-95 corridor and pass through eight eastern North Carolina counties.
“The current application leaves out critical information,” said Geoff Gisler, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “There are literally hundreds of streams and wetlands that the company has asked to dig through with hardly any analysis.”
The delay followed a series of rowdy hearings and meetings last month that were packed with pipeline opponents, and the receipt of over 9,000 written public comments – 85 percent urging rejection. 09-15-17
Read more at Southeast Energy News
Want to help hurricane victims? Donate to abortion funds
REUTERS / Mark Makela
The clearest link between abortion and climate change is that most people flee, screaming, from conversations about both of them. But if you’re at a loss for ways to help those recovering from Hurricane Irma or Harvey, please don’t.
Strong reproductive rights, as we’ve argued before, are one type of climate resilience. Women need easy access to abortion and contraception to better handle all the challenges that climate change will deal them. But now, as the Gulf Coast states reckon with the damage of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma — and the impending threat of their friends Jose and Katia — we’re seeing exactly how extreme weather exacerbates the need for abortion access.
Kenya, a patient counselor at a Houston abortion clinic who requested we not include her last name, describes Harvey’s aftermath: “The calls start coming through: ‘I need to do this, but I don’t have the means.’ Some women lost everything. They don’t have flood insurance. They don’t have the family support.” The financial need that drives the decision to terminate a pregnancy, she says, becomes even greater in the wake of such a natural disaster. 9-13-17
Read more at Grist
Organic Industry Sues USDA To Push For Animal Welfare Rules
The organic eggs in your grocery store are supposed to come from chickens that have year-round access to the outdoors. That’s according to long-standing organic regulations.
But a huge battle has erupted over what “access to the outdoors” actually means. And it’s now led to a lawsuit: The Organic Trade Association, which represents most organic food companies, is suing the government, demanding that it implement new rules that require organic egg producers to give their chickens more room to roam.
On one side of this battle, there are a few large-scale organic egg producers, such as Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Saranac, Mich. They believe that “access to the outdoors” means that the chickens get to live in houses with screened-in porches.
“It’s kind of like your screened porch on your house,” says Greg Herbruck, president of the business. “When you go out there, you’re outside. You’re protected from the rain. In this case, we protect [the chickens] from disease and from predators.” 09-13-17
Read more at NPR
Harvey and Irma aren’t natural disasters. They’re climate change disasters
If you’re like me, you can’t stop yourself from watching the weather these days. And if you’re like me, you can’t help but think: Holy shit, it’s here.
Back-to-back hurricane catastrophes have plunged the United States into a state of national crisis. We’ve already seen one worst-case scenario in Texas: For the moment, Hurricane Harvey stands as the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history. And now there’s Irma, which has wreaked havoc across the entirety of Florida, America’s most vulnerable state. In just two weeks, the U.S. could rack up hundreds of billions of dollars in losses.
Make no mistake: These storms weren’t natural. A warmer, more violent atmosphere — heated up by our collective desire to ignore the fact that we live on a planet where such devastation is possible — juiced Harvey and Irma’s destruction. 09-11-17
Read more at Grist
Why Environmentalists Can’t Afford to Wait Until 2018
As a result, many despondent environmentalists are turning their focus to the 2018 midterms as their only chance to get a seat at the policy-making table.
That is a big mistake. By focusing on 2018, we’re ignoring elections that will have an enormous impact on climate change and the environment—the 2017 mayoral elections.
So what can mayors do to save the planet? For starters, green buildings. The buildings we live and work in account for almost 40 percent of national CO2 emissions. Many cities are already taking action by adopting green building codes, which require sustainable building materials and strict energy-efficiency standards. San Francisco is even requiring new buildings to incorporate solar or living roofs, which could reduce as much carbon emissions as taking 5,400 cars off the city’s streets. 09-10-17
Somewhere in the woods of Holderness or Sandwich, at the northern end of the lovely lake that inspired On Golden Pond, it’s likely that an abandoned barrel of unintended consequences is slowly killing loons.
And on the western side of the lake, along a dirt road named after a quaint local farm, a different set of unintended consequences is adding to the toll.
Between them, these oozing products of decades-old decisions help explain why Squam Lake is proving fatal to New Hampshire’s most iconic waterfowl.
“Loons are the canaries in the coal mine. It’s not just the loons, it’s everything. Everything might be affected,” said Tiffany Grade, a biologist with the Loon Preservation Committee.
The committee, which has been monitoring and trying to help New Hampshire’s loon population since 1975, is sounding the alarm on Squam Lake because just one loon egg hatched on the entire lake this year, a “new and very depressing low” for the population. It’s puzzling because the statewide population of the birds is fairly stable.
The search for what’s different about Squam Lake dates back to 2005, when the lake lost 44 percent of its adult loons, “the largest single-year decline seen in history,” Grade said.
Puzzled, the Loon Preservation Committee started doing detective work. They took some eggs that never hatched from loon nests and tested them for a whole suite of contaminants. Eventually, they found two of real concern: PCBs and DDT. 09-04-17