Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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The Future of Electric Cars: 2020 and Beyond (Part 1)

The electric car

Electric vehicles are on the rise.

“The spread of EVs may also open up opportunities to provide storage support for renewables.”

By Linn Smith

Elon Musk and Tesla are always igniting my interest in electric vehicles! My fascination with the Cybertruck first appeared a few months back when Tesla revealed this truck on Instagram. My first thought….what a really odd truck! But then appeared the tug of war between the Ford F-150, the most popular gas guzzler, and Tesla’s Cybertruck. The Ford truck wasn’t one of the heavier duty trucks produced by Ford, but it was a fun match to watch and the Cybertruck won hands down!

The Cybertruck

Cybertruck wins!

Why does the Cybertruck look so odd? Musk states this prototype contains layers of metals which are so heavy and thick they lack flexibility as in the typical auto, which often has softer curved lines. Musk says the actual truck will not go into production for at least a year and that the design will look “slightly better!”

The Cybertruck

Tesla’s newest creation!

Tesla and Rapidly Falling Prices

Musk recently stated on Twitter, “The first models, which will sport a trimotor setup, are set for production in late 2021. Less powerful models will begin production in 2022. Tesla has something for the here and now, too: The Tesla Model Y SUV is set to enter production next month.”

The Model Y starts at about $40,000 and will be Tesla’s first advance into compact SUVs. This will be offered for sale in the summer of 2020. As the price for a Tesla continues to decline (the Model 3 starts at around $35,000) profit for the company has shown growth in the last quarter….so Tesla continues strong!

Electric vehicle

Charge stations across the nation.

Electric Cars and the Source of Power

Before the critics start rolling in with negative comments, I am quite aware of the environmental impact of electric cars and the dependency on electricity, whether the power is produced by renewable resources or from coal burning power plants. Yes, it does make a difference, but we as a planet are moving toward renewables so, as I see it, this is no longer a point of debate. How we reach our goals may not be perfect, in fact it may be one step forward and two steps back, but the important thing is, we are headed in the right direction!

Electric Cars: Returning Power to the Grid

In a recent article at Physicsworld.com titled, “An Electric Car Future”, Dave Elliot states, “The spread of EVs may also open up opportunities to provide storage support for renewables via the so-called “vehicle-to-grid” (V2G) option. In this case, EV’s batteries could be used to balance the grid and its use of variable renewables. EVs will be charged from the mains supply at home or elsewhere, and at times their batteries could provide a source of power when there are shortages on the grid. There could be significant advantages from using vehicle-to-grid and associated home-based smart power and storage systems. Some see V2G as a way to convert cars from being an environmental problem into part of the “clean–energy” solution that would enable variable renewables to spread. V2G would also enable EV owners to earn some income from “renting out” their batteries. Obviously, V2G is only viable where there are grids and in many parts of the world that is not the case. Where there are grids, however, V2Gs must overcome potential real or perceived inconvenience issues. For example, in the worst case, car owners would not be happy to have their EV batteries drained flat when there was a power shortfall on the grid.”

So many possibilities with renewable energy and the possibilities are fast becoming realities.

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Electric Vehicles


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Generating Electricity at Night

solar at night

The new technology would allow panels to generate solar during the nighttime hours.

“The heat engines are made from a different kind of cell than a photovoltaic cell”

Linn Smith

When we think of solar panels we think of the sunshine bearing down on photovoltaic cells used to produce clean electricity. The big drawback has been lack of sunshine, which diminishes their ability to produce electricity during the nighttime hours and on cloudy days. For households surrounded by trees, I often hear the excuse, “We can’t install solar because the sun doesn’t hit our roof, yard, ect.”

There is some recent exciting news! Scientists have discovered a new way that solar can generate electricity with lack of sun and during nighttime hours. Researchers have discovered that if you want to generate electricity at night you need a system that does the opposite of what solar panels do during the day. They are calling the new tehnology anti-solar or “heat engines.”

nighttime solar

New panels for nighttime generation of clean energy

Photovoltaic vs Thermoradiative Cells

These “heat engines” are made from a different kind of cell than a typical solar photovoltaic cell normally thought of when producing clean energy. The new cell is called a thermoradiative cell and works the opposite of the photovoltaic cell.

Jeremy Munday, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis is currently busy developing nighttime solar cells that can generate up to 50 watts of power per meter with hopes of improving the power output with further research. Munday states, “Our device couples the cold side of the thermoelectric module to a sky-facing surface that radiates heat to the cold space and has its warm side heated by the surrounding air, enabling electricity generation at night.”

Nighttime solar

Anti-solar panels can generate nighttime energy.


In a recent paper published in the journal of ACS Photonics, Jeremy Munday explained, “A regular solar cell generates power by absorbing sunlight, which causes a voltage to appear across the device and for current to flow. In these new devices, light is instead emitted and the current and voltage go in the opposite direction, but you still generate power. You have to use different materials, but the physics is the same.”

With the ability to generate electricity around the clock, overcoming the lack of sunshine on cloudy days and long nights, we can move towards a sustainable planet, one more effort in combating our changing climate.

Renewable Energy

Resources:
Sciencedaily.com
http://www.inverse.com


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President Trump Withdraws The United States From The Paris Climate Agreement.

Sustainable living

It’s our responsibility to change.

“Most Americans Support the Paris Agreement.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

Geological evidence indicates that the earth is now the warmest it has been in the last 650,000 years. Data also indicates the 20th Century was the warmest century in the past 1000 years. Most of the warmest years of record have occurred since the beginning of the year 2000. Climate change is now taking place faster and faster and is responsible for historic catastrophes around the world. It is clear to the majority of human beings inhabiting this planet that there is a serious problem of change taking place in our weather and climate.

The Paris Climate Conference-Cop21

In the fall of 2015 the historic Paris climate conference-cop21 (Conference Of Parties) was held. Out of that conference came what is generally know as the Paris agreement. The main goal of the group is to keep the mean temperature of Earth from increasing less than 2 degrees above the pre-industrial average temperature. It has already risen about half that. This means keeping the global temperature from rising no more than another 1 degree F. By reducing this much it would bring the level of carbon dioxide back to where it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution.

building green

Cities, states and individuals must do their part in preventing climate change.

An agreement was finalized on December 12, 2015. It was ultimately approved by nearly all nations. The group committed to keeping the global temperature rise to 1 degree F by the year 2100. A key difference in this agreement from previous agreements is that each individual country could set its own goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement imposes no penalties for countries which do not meet their own goals.

Prior conferences wanted to set the goals for each country. Some poor countries still wanted the richest countries to bear the biggest share of the cost or to make the biggest cuts in carbon emissions. The wealthier countries did commit $100 billion a year to help pay the costs for the poorest countries.

Climate Change 2016 Elections

Climate Change-Trump has NO plan!

Trump and the Paris Agreement

During the election campaign of 2016 and as President, Trump stated he would take America out of the Agreement. During the presidential campaign in 2016 he declared that climate change was a hoax. He also stated that if elected he would take the United States out of the 2015 Paris Accord.

On Thursday, June 1, 2017 the president of the United States announced that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement. The reason he gave was that the agreement was unfair to this country and, as president, he has the right to do that. That this decision on his part has trashed America’s image abroad is an understatement. The United State has been leading the effort to take action to reduce or halt the human induced portion of climate change. However, on Monday, December 2, 2019 President Trump again announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. This left the other signatories of the agreement to plan action to combat climate change without participation of one of the major contributors to the problem.

Support of the Paris Agreement

Most Americans Support the Paris Agreement. Millions of individuals have now become activists on reducing climate change. People are changing their life styles to use less energy. They are publicly active to get local governments to cut energy use and to change to less carbon based sources of energy. The governments of a number of states have publicly declared they will continue to support the agreement. They will move ahead on measures to reduce greenhouse emissions and climate change.

California, which is the sixth largest economy on the planet, is pushing ahead to become a carbon free region. Other states are following suit even if they do not officially support the Paris agreement. The number of states has now reached about a dozen at the time of this writing. More will participate I am sure.

Clean Energy Plan

Support a Clean Planet for Future Generations!

Mayors’ Action on Climate

Groups of cities are actively working to reduce greenhouse emissions. More than 250 American cities officially adopted the Paris agreement. They are part of a group called Mayors National Climate Action Agenda. Among the cities that have agreed to support the Paris Agreement is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is the very city which Trump stated he represented although he did not represent the Paris Agreement. There is no doubt that the position the current president of the United States has taken is a shock to the rest of the world, let alone to the majority of the people in this country. However, the people of this country will not turn their backs on the rest of the world. They will stand with all nations that are committed to reducing the extent of climate change which, is even at this date, resulting in catastrophes.

Island nation populations are being forced to move or cease to exist. Inland rivers are undergoing record floods. Extreme high temperatures are doing tremendous damage to plants and animals.

How great the catastrophes are in the future depends on what our nation, along with nearly all others, does in regard to climate change. Let the United States lead the way!


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Recycling: Creating Hope for a Greener Planet

Recycle

Recycle and Conserve

“European countries are recycling 35% to 40% [of their plastic waste]. The U.S. only recycles 10%.”

By Linn Smith

I am spending time in a suburb in the Southwestern part of the United States. After being a diligent recycler most of my adult life, I have come to realize that many households do not share my passion for doing their part to prevent further negative impact on our planet. Even though I’m conscientious about buying goods in bulk from local health food stores, I still accumulate some bottles, cans and plastics. It’s the world we live!

I have been in the Southwest for several weeks and have repeatedly asked people and businesses about a drop off place for glass and plastic. The answer is always the same….the surrounding suburbs no longer take drop off recyclables as rates have gone up and in some sections there has been complete halt on even curbside recycling for glass and plastic. Cans are less of a problem, as many are willing to turn them in for cash, but plastic and glass? My efforts have produced nothing.

Recycle

Recycling Shut Down!

Following is the message I found when trying to locate a place to drop off my recyclables:

**CLOSURE NOTICE**
All City of *****recyling Drop-off Centers Are Indefinitely Closed
Due to increasing recycling processing fees and decreasing commodity values, the City of **** has found it necessary to reevaluate its entire recycling program. While we value the importance and place high priority on conserving our natural resources, we must also take into account financial considerations to ensure we are able to maintain a sustainable program. The total operating cost for the City of ***** three recycling drop-off centers is approximately $250,000 per year. While we have been pleased to offer this service for many years and appreciate you visiting our centers, unfortunately the decision has been made to indefinitely close all three locations.”

Landfill

A newly formed mountain of waste.

The Landfill: A Mountain of Garbage!

I then sought out the local landfill. I couldn’t enter as the truck in the picture was on guard to keep out private citizens. But standing on the road running parallel to the landfill, I took in the site of a mountain newly produced by garbage from the city that won’t allow recycled dropoffs. As I stood in disgust of this newly formed mountain of garbage in our once beautiful desert Southwest, I wondered, “Where did we go wrong? Was it just a hundred years ago that people were growing their own food, canning, reusing their jars, sewing their own clothes, living what would now be called a sustainable life?”

Landfill

Guarding the landfill.

The site of all those recyclable materials sitting in a landfill in our beautiful desert for a hundred years and accumulating day by day, year by year is almost too much for me to comprehend. To me you either care about out planet, leaving future generations with at least the knowledge that you tried, or you don’t…..you further the “pig sty” concept of what use to be our beautiful earth. The choice is ours to not be lazy!

Where will our Recyclables Go?

The excuse for many cities is this….China quit taking our dirty waste which we had been shipping over to them since 1992 and that alone broke the recycling system in the U.S. Keefe Harrison, CEO of the Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit that seeks to boost the industry, stated “European countries are recycling 35% to 40% [of their plastic waste]. The U.S. only recycles 10%. How tragic is that? We’re fighting an uphill battle to make it cost competitive from day one. The U.S. has previously outsourced so much of its recycling to Asia that the domestic industry languished. And there’s the fact that plastic manufacturers keep making more and more of it, and consumer brands like Procter & Gamble, Nestlé and Walmart keep wrapping more consumer goods in it.”

According to an article in the Sierra magazine, China’s refusing to take our recyclables has given us the opportunity to develop a plan of our own if we care enough to go down that avenue. “The whole crisis narrative has been wrong,” says Steve Alexander, president of the Association of Plastic Recyclers. “China didn’t break recycling. It has given us the opportunity to begin investing in the infrastructure we need in order to do it better.”

Alliance to End Plastic Waste

There are many different types of plastic. Some can be recycled, some cannot. In the past companies have used the plastic most profitable without considering what happens to their product packaging.

Several petrochemical companies have joined big consumer brands in pledging to make most of their plastic recyclable, reusable or compostable within the next decade or two. Their group, Alliance to End Plastic Waste, has promised to spend $1.5 billion over five years to recycle their packaging products.

Every Bottle Back

Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper recently announced a plan, Every Bottle Back, to reduce their dependence on new plastic by collecting, recycling and remaking plastic bottles from plastic they have already produced. “Closed Loop Partners, the leading investment firm in sustainability, will manage upgrades to recycling infrastructure and fund upgrades to equipment at bottle recovery systems. The fund will also be used to help businesses that turn recycled bottles into plastic pellets for reuse in many products.”

The Ocean Clean Up

The Ocean Cleanup.

The Ocean Cleanup

Then there are the heroes of our planet.The Ocean Clean Up nonprofit organization, started by 25 year old Boyan Slat, is not only working on the clean up of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but has recently unveiled technology to clean up rivers that are streaming garbage to the ocean.
“The Interceptor is The Ocean Cleanup’s answer for river plastic waste. It is the first scalable solution to prevent plastic from entering the world’s oceans from rivers. It is 100% solar-powered, extracts plastic autonomously, and is capable of operating in the majority of the world’s most polluting rivers.”

The Interceptor

The Ocean Clean Up, Boyan Slat

But we cannot depend on a young man in his 20’s to clean up our planet, even though he has diligently done more than his part. We must all do our part also!

Sources:

*Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr Pepper team up for recycled plastics drive
Toby Hill,October 31, 2019
*NPR U.S. Recycling Industry Is Struggling To Figure Out A Future Without China August 20, 2019

Recycle

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Climate Change: Marine Heat Waves

The Ocean Heat Wave

The Blob shows the warmest ocean .

“In recent years large regions of unusually warm water have been observed in the global oceans.”

By John J. Hidore

Terrestrial heat waves have been a problem for the human species throughout history. They occur on all continents with the possible exception of Antarctica. Technically, they occur there as well. Terrestrial heat waves are defined as prolonged periods of unusually warm weather. What would be defined as a heat wave in one location would not be appropriate for another location, perhaps one not even too far away. An adequate definition might be, “A heat wave is an unusually warm or hot period lasting for days or perhaps weeks.” We associate them with summer but by this definition they can actually occur at any season. At least one country makes a clear definition of a heat wave and that is Pakistan. India defines heat waves and uses different temperatures in different parts of the country to establish what constitutes a heat wave. In the plains regions temperatures above 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) constitute a heat wave. They also define a severe heatwave for this region as experiencing temperatures over 46 degrees C (114.8 degrees F).

The Ocean Heat Wave

Breaking previous ocean temperatures.

Marine heat waves

In recent years large regions of unusually warm water have been observed in the global oceans. These large areas of warmer than usual water develop when surface winds drop in velocity or become calm and are now referred to as marine heat waves. These large areas of unusually warm water(MHWs) are defined in similar terms to heat waves on land as prolonged periods of unusually warm water. In the United States NOAA defines a marine heat wave as an event where the surface water temperature is warmer than 90% of past events whose temperatures were warmer than average for that particular time of year and location for at least five days. The term” blob” has been applied to them. The term was the name given to an event that occurred off the west coast of the United States in 2014-2015.

Pacific Ocean Heat Wave of 2019

A marine heat wave developed over a large part of the northeastern Pacific Ocean this past summer. It extended from Hawaii to the Pacific coast of the United States and stretched all the way from Alaska to California. Temperatures off the coast here rose by 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit. Off the west coast of the United States the blob resulted in a large loss of marine life from microorganisms to large fish. It subsequently affected marine animals and birds. The Hawaiian Islands had the warmest summer on record this year. The effects of the current MHW had a major impact on life in the ocean near the islands. The warmer water resulting in extensive coral bleaching damage to the reefs.

These events are a product of the 21st century, occur in the oceans around the world and are occurring more often and are lasting longer.

Warming Ocean Temperatures

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Heating your RV

“Staying warm can be challenging, especially in an RV.”

By Linn Smith

Winter is upon us here in North America and staying warm can be challenging, especially in an RV. We have a Mr. Heater which we sometimes use in the RV, but I have always used it for short periods only, because I have never been sure of the safety when it comes to carbon monoxide emissions… and the RV chat groups on the internet have ceased to put my mind to rest.

Some RVers say they would never use a Mr. Heater in small spaces, others say they have used them for years. These heaters have built in safety features so, except for leaks at the connections which can be checked for after connecting, they are relatively safe. Mr. Heater has a sensor that shuts them down when oxygen gets low and a tip over safety feature which will also shut them down.

Mr. Heater

Mr. Heater attached to outside propane tank on RV.

Heating your RV

I have friends in Arizona who use only the Mr. Heater to heat their RV, running a Mr. Heater 12’ propane hose assembly from their outside propane tank. There are videos on YouTube for setting this up by drilling a hole in the floor of the RV.

What is the carbon foot print of propane heaters? According to Seattlepi.com, “Propane, though a fossil fuel, is a relatively clean burning fuel which is attributed to its lower carbon content….though its combustion does produce some greenhouse gas wastes.”

Solar on RV

Charge your battery with solar panels.

Although you can make many arguments for and against the environmental impact of an RV, most full time RVers go south for the winter, where they have access to an ideal heat source…warm weather and the warm sun shining through the windows. Today more and more RVs are equipped with solar panels to keep their battery charged.

Charging the battery with solar

The “green argument” for heating an RV with propane? It’s not ideal, but you are heating a very small space and if you travel south for the winter, a heater is only used occasionally for several hours at night.

Heating with a Mr. Heater

During my spare time I began watching videos on the safety of Mr. Heaters and found one that pretty much put my mind at rest, a video on YouTube hosted by a charismatic Canadian full time RVer, Taylor Dzaman. Mr. Dzaman did his own very thorough investigation on Mr. Heaters called “Are Buddy Heaters Safe Inside an RV/Carbon Monoxide full test (review). The question he asked, “Can you sleep all night long with a Buddy heater turned on in your RV. What about a tent? A room in your home? Does it give off carbon monoxide?”

Here’s the link to his YouTube video: https://youtu.be/5vqyfOq0D-8

Heating your RV

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U.N. Climate Action Awards: Eco Wave Power

Wave Power

Creating Electricity for the Ocean

“Eco Wave Power has successfully developed and commercialized wave energy.”

By Linn Smith

Eco Wave Power is a company founded in 2011 which is the only company in the world that turns ocean waves into clean energy, connecting wave floaters to the power grid. Since 2016 the Wave Farm has been providing Gibraltar, a tiny country bordering Spain, with electricity. Eco Wave Power is also a 2019 recipient of the United Nation’s Climate Action Award.

Clean Energy

Generating electricity from the ocean

Clean and Affordable Energy

According to the U.N. Climate Action organization,”The project generates clean and affordable electricity, using a simple design that allows the project’s uniquely shaped floaters to be attached to existing man-made structures (such as piers, breakwaters and jetties), and thereby simplifying the installation process, as well as maintenance and accessibility.”

Ocean Energy

Ocean waves create electricity in Gibraltar

How Wave Energy Works

The converter consists of three main functional parts: mechanical, hydraulic and electric systems. The mechanical system serves as a wave energy receiver on floaters and transmits the energy to hydraulic cylinders. The hydraulic system transforms the mechanical energy from the sea to hydraulic fluid pressure and forces a hydraulic motor rotation, which transfers the energy from rotation to the generator. The generator is part of a converter electrical system. It receives the energy from rotation and transforms it to electrical power.

Wave power

Generating clean energy

Key Facts according to U.N. Climate Action

*Wave energy has historically been uncommercialized due to the complexity of extracting energy from the ocean. This project has successfully developed and commercialized wave energy, resulting in a grid-connected array that has operated continuously since 2016.

*In 2018, the station set a world record for wave energy when it clocked over 15,000 grid-connection hours.

*Commercializing wave energy has enormous potential — the World Energy Council predicts that wave energy can produce twice the amount of electricity the world currently produces.

*More than half the world’s population lives within 100 km (62 miles) of a coastline, and in many locations, the power of the waves is available around the clock.

Being easy to build and cost efficient these floaters also have little negative impact on the environment. Gibraltar has been a test site and Eco Wave’s plan for further expansion are on the horizon!

Sources:
https://unfccc.int/climate-action/momentum-for-change/women-for-results/eco-wave-power

http://www.ecowavepower.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_power

wave energy


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Extreme Storms: The recent bomb cyclone in the United States and tropical cyclones in southeast Africa

Climate change causes severe weather.

“In all probability it is a result of climate change and indicative of things to come.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

A Bomb Cyclone Forms in the US Midwest

A bomb cyclone is a low pressure system in which the central pressure rapidly drops by at least 24 millibars (mb) in 24 hours or less. On March 12-14 winter storm Ulmer moved over the Midwest and Southeastern United States. In Ulmer the central pressure dropped 26 mb in 16 hours. All time low pressure records were set in Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico. The central pressure dropped to 968 mb on March 13. The extreme pressure gradient in the storm created winds of 100mph or more over in Texas and New Mexico. Blizzard conditions and whiteouts occurred over a wide area. Thunderstorms and tornadoes were widespread during the storm.

An EF 1 tornado hit Dexter, NM. This was the earliest tornado ever recorded in a calendar year in the state of New Mexico. The storm produced damaging winds in Texas as well.. As the storm moved south and east over two days it spawned widespread tornadoes.

Climate change increases the likelihood of severe weather.

Tropical Cyclones in Southeastern Africa

The storm season in the Indian Ocean so far in 2019 has been extensive. There have already been more than the usual number of storms. Mozambique on the southeastern coast of Africa had not experienced a tropical cyclone since satellite monitoring of the earth began. That changed big time this spring when Cyclone Idai came ashore. It turned out to be among the most destructive weather events to occur in Africa, if not the southern hemisphere. The storm had winds measured at over 175 km/h (105 mph) as it reached shore near the port city of Beiria, Mozambique. The storm produced widespread flooding which added to the wind damage. A stretch of land 50km (30mi) long adjacent to the Buzi River was flooded. In places the flood water was six meters (19 1/2 feet ) deep. Parts of Zimbabwe and Malawi were also effected.

The government of Mozambique announced a confirmed death total of 200 and an estimated 100,000 people needed rescuing from the flood waters near Beira. Some of those rescued were without food or drinkable water for as many as three days. Families were split up, some members dying in the flood. The death toll may have exceeded more than 1000. In Zimbabwe a government statement indicated at least 98 died and another 200 missing. Following the storm the president of Mozambique declared three days of mourning.

Only a few weeks later Cyclone Kenneth came ashore in Mozambique It is the first time since records have been kept that two cyclones reached the country in the same season. Again there was extensive flooding.

Our Changing Climate

The big question is whether this event is indicative of climate change or just a matter of chance. In light of storm activity in the Indian Ocean in all probability it is a result of climate change and indicative of things to come.

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Patagonia: An Environmentally Friendly Company

By Linn Smith

“We all saw what was happening in the remote corners of the world: creeping pollution and deforestation.”

As I was listening to the radio this morning, I heard an interview with the founder of Patagonia sports gear and clothing. I realized that Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, is a phenomenal man! His methods of sustainability and helping Planet Earth have been consistent throughout Patagonia’s almost 50 year existence, with the company’s environmental practices ranging from discouraging people against buying new products when they can fix the old, to sending trucks around the U.S. to fix Patagonia products, thus saving them from being discarded.

As an owner of a Patagonia jacket for many years, I not only realize the hardiness of this product but I now know if the zipper breaks, Patagonia will fix it!

Yvon Chouinard developed an environmentally friendly company because, not only does he make a quality, long lasting product, he witnessed the environmental injustices when Patagonia was new and attempted to create a low carbon footprint as his company developed.

Fighting for our Environment

In an excerpt from Yvon Chouinard’s book, “Let My People Go Surfing,” he states, “We all saw what was happening in the remote corners of the world: creeping pollution and deforestation, the slow, then not so slow, disappearance of fish and wildlife. And we saw what was happening closer to home: thousand year-old Sequoias succumbing to L.A. smog, the thinning of life in tide pools and kelp beds, the rampant development of the land along the coast. What we began to read – about global warming, the cutting and burning of tropical forests, the rapid loss of groundwater and topsoil, acid rain, the ruin of rivers and creeks from silting-over dams – reinforced what we saw with our eyes and smelled with our noses during our travels. At the same time, we slowly became aware that uphill battles fought by small, dedicated groups of people to save patches of habitat could yield significant results.”

Environmental Practices of Patagonia

Following are some environmentally friendly practices of Patagonia (from http://www.patagonia.com):

* In 1986, they committed to donate 10% of profits each year to these groups. They later upped the ante to 1% of sales, or 10% of profits, whichever was greater. They have kept to that commitment every year since
* They participate in grassroots efforts to save our planet.
* They make donations to small groups that restore/save the environment.
* In 1988, they initiated their first national environmental campaign on behalf of an alternative master plan to deurbanize the Yosemite Valley. Each year since, they have undertaken a major education campaign on an environmental issue.
* They took an early position against globalization of trade when it meant compromising environmental and labor standards.
* They have argued for dam removal where silting and marginally useful dams compromise fish life.
* They have supported wildlands projects that seek to preserve ecosystems whole and create corridors for wildlife to roam.
* Every eighteen months they hold a “Tools for Activists” conference to teach marketing and publicity skills to some of the groups they work with.
* They have been using recycled-content paper for their catalogs since the mid-eighties.
* They worked with Malden Mills to develop recycled polyester for use in their fleece.
* Their distribution center in Reno, opened in 1996, has achieved a 60% reduction in energy use through solar-tracking skylights and radiant heating; they use recycled content for everything from rebar to carpet to the partitions between urinals. They retrofitted lighting systems in existing stores, and build-outs for new stores became increasingly environmentally friendly.
* They assessed the dyes they used and eliminated colors from the line that required the use of toxic metals and sulfides. Most importantly, since the early nineties, they have made environmental responsibility a key element of everyone’s job.
* They changed to organic cotton because, the “natural” fiber used in most of their sportswear proved to be by far the greatest environmental evildoer of the fibers studied. They learned that 25% of all toxic pesticides used in agriculture was (and is) used in the cultivation of cotton, that the resulting pollution of soil and water was (and is) horrific, and that evidence of damage to the health of fieldworkers is strong, though difficult to prove. Cotton was the biggest villain – and it didn’t have to be. Farmers had grown cotton organically, without pesticides, for thousands of years. Only after World War II did the chemicals originally developed as nerve gases become available for commercial use, to eliminate the need for weeding fields by hand.”
* They continue the search for more environmentally friendly fabrics. They are using more hemp, in some products in combination with recycled polyester.
* They will repair their products.
* Worn Wear is an online program that will sell your old Patagonia gear. They say, “Why extend the life of your gear? Because the best thing we can do for our planet is get more use out of stuff we already own, cutting down on consumption, repairing, sharing and recycling your gear.” During the 2017 fiscal year, they made 50,295 clothing repairs. They also have a trade-in program to swap old gear and Patagonia’s Worn Wear trailer makes stops across the U.S. to repair their products.

Patagonia products may be a bit more expensive but they hold their value in resale. So, for all of the environmentally friendly practices of this company, I want to give a “hats off” to Patagonia for caring about our environment!

Patagonia

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The Salton Sea: The Accidental Lake

Dead fish line the shores because of high salinity and lack of oxygen

“The Salton Sea was man-made…by accident.”

By Linn Smith

The Salton Sea controversy was generated most recently by the signing of the Colorado Drought Contingency Agreement, which was mandated to be signed by all states bordering the Colorado River by the end of March 2019. These states were mandated to water cuts by the agreement in an attempt to prevent further dropping of water levels.

The Hoover Dam

Why the water cuts? If Lake Mead continues dropping and reaches below 1,050 ft, the Hoover Dam will stop generating power to millions of people. If it continues dropping below 895 ft. it will become a “dead pool”, where water can no longer be piped out to states along the river border. It is today only 40% full at approximately 1,082 ft, thus the federal intervention demand on cutbacks of water usage from all Colorado River border states.

The Imperial Irrigation District, the largest holder of water rights in California, was in line to sign the agreement, but only if the Colorado Contingency Agreement granted water to revive the troubled Salton Sea before signing. California signed anyway and the Salton Sea wasn’t included in the agreement.

The Salton Sea

Old structures fall apart on what was once the shoreline.

History of the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea has a lengthy history and has not been sustainable since its beginning. Sustainability is an avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain ecological balance. The Salton Sea doesn’t meet this definition.

The Salton Sea was man-made…by accident. From 1905 to 1907, water poured out of a poorly built system of irrigation ditches meant to divert water from the Colorado River to the dry, arid farm land in Southern California. The water flooded the Salton basin, developing a 400 sq mile lake named the Salton Sea, California’s largest lake. Nicknamed the Salton Riviera in the 1950’s, the lake developed into a tourist destination, with resorts popping up around its edge. The Dept.of Fish and Game stocked it with many types of fish and boaters, yacht clubs and celebrities flocked to its shores.

The Salton Sea

The shoreline has been lost to evaporation and lack of water feeding into it.

The Decline of the Salton Sea

The decline of the Salton Sea began around 1976 with tropical storms, rising salinity due to no fresh water supply to counter evaporation, toxic agricultural runoff and a receding shoreline. Housing prices plummeted! Today, the main attraction is a wildlife refuge on the lake’s shore.

With the recent Colorado Drought Contingency agreement, the Imperial Valley District tried to demand its water rights for the declining sea, stating it has become a health hazard with toxic blowing sand due to agricultural run off, dying fish and abandoned buildings on a shoreline that no longer exists. California signed the Contingency Agreement without the support of the Imperial Valley District, its largest holder of water rights. According to the Washington Post, “The Metropolitan Water District, which serves Los Angeles, essentially wrote Imperial out of the drought plan to prevent delays in implementing it by taking on Imperial’s pledged water contributions to Lake Mead.”

In Support of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

Was the Salton Sea ever sustainable? We can either support our communities who depend on the Colorado River for electricity and agriculture, or revitalize a dying sea that can’t survive and has little purpose today. With climate change everyone has to give for the greater good and for the survival of future generations.

The Salton Sea