Planet Earth Weekly

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


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Momentum for Change: Mapping for Rights

MappingForRights

Protecting our Rainforest!

“MappingForRights can improve how forests are protected and governed, making it easier to enforce illegal activities when needed.”

By Linn Smith
July 6, 2017—Momentum for Change is headed by the Climate Change branch of the United Nations. Its goal is to shine a light on the global activities which are moving the world toward a low-carbon future. It recognizes innovative solutions that address climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges. The solutions are called Lighthouse Activities. If you are leading a project with this objective you can apply to enter the yearly Momentum for Change Awards.

ForestLink

MappingForRights employs many women.

MappingForRights

MappingForRights is one of the winners for 2016. Specific attention is given to indigenous women, allowing them to be involved in this project. The system is based on enabling communities to map and monitor their lands through low-cost technologies, providing an online interactive map. It’s a project of the Rainforest Foundation UK and its partners in the Congo Basin.

MappingForRights puts indigenous communities on the map digitally, showing traditional lands and resources that are used to claim land rights. It also challenges harmful projects such as logging, by making all data available online, and by advocating for legal reforms. It provides communities with accurate printed maps of their lands, and allows indigenous community leaders to easily access this accurate geographical information about community lands, showing the allocation of the forests around their villages.

ForestLink

Forest Link helps monitor and protect our rainforest.

ForestLink

In 2015, the project launched ForestLink to monitor remote communities and to capture and transmit alerts on illegal logging anywhere in the world using a satellite. ForestLink shows an accurate report of illegal logging by timber or palm oil companies. The illegal activity can be collected using a tablet computer or smartphone and then transmitted to an online map via a satellite modem transmitter in as little as 20 seconds, costing about the same as a text message. This real-time monitoring of the forest transforms the way forest illegalities are documented and laws enforced, transmitting the location which leads to more targeted and effective forest protection.

Mapping for Rights

Protecting our rainforest in the Congo.

Rights of Indigenous People

MappingForRights secures the rights of the indigenous people, shifting responsibility to the local indigenous communities. The information gathered is stored in a central geographical database where it can be assessed and analyzed by experts or automatically re-broadcast for in-field verification. The reports can be searched for data related to the reports, such as name of companies involved in logging or type of infraction.

By 2017 it is expected that more than 700 communities in the Congo Basin will have mapped their lands through the MappingForRights program, mapping up to 6 million hectares (over 23,000 sq. miles) of forest land.

Protecting Our Rainforest

There is evidence that securing community rights to land and resources is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty, halt deforestation and reduce the harmful effects of climate change. This system can improve how forests are protected and governed, making it easier to enforce illegal activities when needed.

MappingForRights


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History of the United State’s Effort to Lead the War on Climate Change

Climate Change

Temperatures are steadily rising on our planet.

The President’s Decision Will Have Major Effects on People, the Environment, and the International Status of our Country.

By Dr. John J. Hidore
June 2, 2017—-The United States has been a world leader for decades in the effort to take action to slow or stop the warming of planet Earth. In 1992 a United Nations conference know as the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At that conference the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adapted. The United States played a key role in that conference, where the to reduction of emissions from greenhouse gases was initiated.

Negotiations were held in Kyoto, Japan in the fall of 1997. Opposition to the Protocol by the corporate world was so great that the negotiations nearly collapsed. Representatives of the United States pleaded for adaption. Then vice President Al Gore led the fight for adoption. The supporter of the document won. The treaty finally came into full force in 2005 when enough countries satisfied the criteria necessary for adaptation.

Melting of the Arctic

The Arctic sea ice is melting at a record rate.

The United States became a leading proponent of the Paris Climate agreement of 2015. The agreement will greatly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the years ahead. It was agreed to by almost every country in the world.

Shredding America’s Leadership on Climate Change

America’s leadership in taking action on climate change may be shredded. The GOP now controls the federal government and most state governments. Their position is that profits are more important than people. Greed is the primary ethic driving this policy.

The newly elected president has laid out extensive plans that will essentially prevent any action from being taken to reduce the risk of climate change if it will affect corporate profits. First and foremost the president has repeatedly stated that he would withdraw the United States participation in the Paris Climate agreement. As a major producer of these gases the decision to withdraw from the agreement spits in the face of every other country and every individual living on the planet. His stance on the agreement was a major topic at the Group of Seven (G7) meetings in Taormina, Italy this past month. The group of seven includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and japan in addition to the United States.

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

Since the United States is the second leading country in the production of greenhouse gases, it would severely reduce the importance of the agreement. It is second only to China which has signed onto the agreement. Many very important persons on the international scene have encouraged President Trump to keep this country in the agreement. The first on the current trip to admonish Trump on the environment was the Pope, who gave Trump a copy of his encyclical on the environment. Others that made a strong case for the US staying in the agreement were major players in the European Union.

Effects on People, the Environment, and the International Status of our Country

What the United States does on this issue is of global importance since we are such a large consumer of energy and source of greenhouse gas emissions. At the time of this writing it is unclear what decision the President will make. He can stay with his plan to withdraw us from the world agreement in favor of profits, he can keep us in the agreement and lower our goals for cutting greenhouse gases, or he can decide to keep this country in tune with the rest of the world and honor our pledge to do something about global warming and climate change. If he decides on the latter it will at least do two things. One, announce to the world that profits for American corporations are the number one goal of his administration, and two, decide to further tarnish our image and trust by the rest of the world!

Do your part in reducing CO2!


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Fun in the Sun: Camping with Renewables

Earth Day

Clean Energy: Make It a Priority!

“These are just a very few of the many renewable accessories available for camping–and you can’t beat a free charge using the sun!”

By Linn Smith

June 3, 2016—-Now that nice weather is upon us, many think about taking tents and equipment into the peacefulness of the wilderness, sitting by a stream with a fishing pole, hiking the path along the scenic terrain and getting out of the city into nature.

Replace Those Batteries with Sun Power!

Have you thought about replacing those battery driven gadgets used for camping with solar ones? There are many products now on the market that are environmentally friendly, many using the free energy of the sun! I have had the same solar flashlight for about 10 years–and it never fails me, even if it has been in the glove compartment for weeks! We have had solar panels for our travel trailer for about 5 years–which keep our DC lights lighting up just fine! (In the article, “Solar Powering Your RV” on our Planet Earth Weekly website, I covered how to set up your RV using Solar.)

Renewable Camping

Every year there are more solar and renewable camping accessories to choose from. Here are just a few that are on the market:

Solar Radio

Know the weather when your camping.

1. Eton Scorpion Multi-Purpose Solar Powered Digital Weather Radio–It retails for about $70. It’s a flashlight, radio, USB cell phone charger, and gives you weather alerts. Reviews say it’s good for short interval uses.

Biolite kettle Charger

Charge phone as you boil water.

2. Biolite KettleCharger–This gadget charges your phone or tablet while you boil water. It retails for about $150 from http://www.BioLite.com and provides 10W On-Demand power, with a charge the strength of a wall outlet. It also stores power for “a quick recharge with no heat or water.” This gadget packs flat, creating power while you boil water for cooking, drinking or cleaning. You can use it on your camp stove, boiling water as your battery stores power. This has excellent reviews.

LuminaAid

Solar Lantern that is waterproof.

3. LuminaAid Packlight Spectra–This is a color changing solar light that inflates into a handy lantern and retails at Luminaid.com for about $25. It recharges in about 7 hours direct sunlight and gives 12 hours of LED light. It weights about 3.5 oz and is waterproof up to 1 meter deep and can float. This has excellent reviews.

GoSun camping stove.

Cook with Solar!

4. GoSun Stove–This retails for about $280. It’s a portable stove that cooks a meal in less than 20 minutes and uses no fuel, only the sun! It weighs about 3.5 pds (1.5 kg), but will cook up to 31 lbs of food at a time. It retains about 80% of it’s sun intake, can bake, boil or fry and collapses to carry. This has excellent reviews.

Yeti Solar Generator

Camp with a Solar Generator

5. Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator–Available at http://www.REI.com for about $230. It’s gas free and fume free, cranking out portable power from sunlight to power lights, phones and laptops. It’s quiet and lasts about 7 hrs on a full charge. The output is 12V, AC, and USB. It weighs about 12 lbs and is rechargeable by solar, AC or 12V. It can be plugged into a Boulder 30 panel for recharging.

scrubbabag: Clothes washing for camping trips

Wash your clothes when camping!

6. Scrubba Wash Bag–Pick it up at REI for around $50. It weighs less than 5 oz, volume of the bag is about 3 gallons. You fill it with water, clothes and soap, your rub it with your hands to wash. Inside it has hundreds of internal Scrubba nodules that clean your clothes quickly and it folds down to pocket size. It has a transparent window so you can see the dirt escaping your clothes! And you can just keep dirty clothes in it until your ready to do your wash. This has very good reviews.

These are just a very few of the many renewable accessories available for camping–and you can’t beat a free charge using the sun! Have a fun summer! And remember—do what you can, when you can, where you can to create a healthier planet!

Clean It and Green It


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Energy Sage: The Expedia of Solar Installation

Solar comparisons

Compare your options in solar.

By Linn Smith

“This method makes it easy for every homeowner to afford solar!”

May 19, 2016—-Have you decided to go solar? What is your next step when you’ve finally made that decision? There are many solar companies out there. How will you choose? Now there’s a website that will make it easy for you–Energy Sage!

You Have Options in Solar

Solar companies and installers will often push one package towards you, not revealing the fact that there are more options. If you get all your information about solar installation from one company, you most likely will not be getting the best deal!

Expedia: Comparison shopping for Solar

Solar Options

Energy Sage can Save You Thousands

Energy Sage (www.energysage.com) is a site like Expedia, but instead of flights, hotels and car rental quotes, this site will give you multiple solar quotes, from over 300 pre-screened solar installers, to make sure you get the best deal. Energy Sage isn’t affiliated with a manufacturer, installer or finance company—which may end up saving you thousands on solar installation for your home or business!

Here’s how this website works: 1) You register to get quotes 2) Pre-screened installers will submit quotes to you, and 3) You, the buyer, can then compare quotes online.

Energy Sage Solar Comparisons

Compare prices in Solar before you Buy!

Understanding Loans, Leases and PPA’s

EnergySage helps you understand your options and the pros and cons of various solar financing methods, providing information on solar loans, solar leases and solar PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements). A PPA may be the best option for those with little upfront capital. This is a “financial agreement where a developer arranges for the installation, financing, ect., at little or no cost to the home owner.” The developer sells the power generated back to the customer at a fixed rate that will be lower than the local utility’s rate, while the developer gets the income from the sale of electricity, plus all of the tax credits, ect. This method makes it easy for every homeowner to afford solar!

If you can afford electricity you can afford solar. You can obtain financing without putting any money down. Solar leases and PPA’s allow you to save on your electric bill without purchasing solar panels.

Understanding All the Options

Go to the Energy Sage website, put in your information and ask yourself, do I want to rent or own a solar system? Would a solar system increase the value of my home? You can do comparisons. Choose the one that best meets your needs and financial situation.

Energy Sage will include some variables to consider. These options include whether your home is suitable for solar. Is the weather in your area suitable? Will there be applicable rebates and tax credits in your state? Is your roof in a position to generate solar electricity?

Energy Sage won’t ask your personal data because it doesn’t want to sell your information to companies or organizations. EnergySage.com is purely for your information and education on solarizing your home.

What’s new in Solar? Comparison Shopping!


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Earth Day, Earth Hour, and Other Happenings

Make Every Day Earth Day

April 22, 2016, Love the Earth You’re On!

“Whether it is rising sea level, rising global temperatures, more frequent severe storms, changing weather patterns, the problems of climate change are real.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

April 14, 2016—-In the past year or so, environmental events have changed the public perception of global warming and climate change. Not only have the majority of people now endorsed the fact that warming of the planet is real, but also that something must be done to stop the rapid change to the global system. Making a difference has become the action mode. Politicians around the world, regardless of their political or economic philosophy, are being forced to take action to curb the process. They are taking action because they must deal with the effects of global warming. Whether it is rising sea level, rising global temperatures, more frequent severe storms or changing weather patterns, the problems are real. Heads of state and mayors of major cities are now beginning to deal with these problems.

Earth Hour Spreads

On Saturday March 12, a global event took place called Earth Hour. The purpose of the event was to call attention to the rising impact of global warming and climate change. The first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia on March 31, 2007. The World Wildlife Fund organization asked the people to turn off their lights for one hour to call attention to the increasing effects of global warming. More recently, on Saturday, March 12, billboards in Times Square in New York and lights on some buildings were dimmed or shut down from 8:30 to 9:00 p.m. Many other cities around the globe also participated.
This year marked the tenth year of the event.

Earth Day

Clean Energy: Make It a Priority!

Earth Day is Global

Earth Day 2016 promises to be a significant event. In December 2015, a conference was held in a suburb of Paris, France to discuss the necessary action to slow global warming. Attending were more heads of state than had ever before attended a single conference. The outcome? Nearly all of the countries presented plans to reduce greenhouse gases in the near future.

This year on Earth Day, April 22, that group of over 190 governments have been invited by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, to confirm the commitments they made in Paris by signing the agreement. The two largest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, have agreed to sign. Unfortunately, most of the countries which participated in the Paris conference have not agreed to attend the UN signing. In order for the agreement to become a working document more countries, accounting for an additional 55% of greenhouse gases, must sign. It is extremely important that as many people as possible contact their representative leaders and encourage these countries to sign the agreement. Enacting this agreement would be a huge step forward in slowing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming!

Earth Day: Let's Clean and Green!

Agreement between China and U.S. will be signed on Earth Day 2016.

Rapid Change in Global Temperature Becomes Evident

Many global temperature records were broken in 2015 and the trend has continued into 2016. February continued a string of nearly a dozen straight months of record breaking monthly temperatures. Global average temperatures reached 56.08 degrees Fahrenheit which is 2.18 degrees above the average. The winter season, December through February, also set records. In February 2016 global temperatures were not only record breaking temperatures, but they rose drastically. Increases over the previous year were the highest since records began in 1880.

The Artic

In February of 2016, the arctic region experienced unusually warm average temperatures. In January 2016, land temperatures were 10oF (5.6OC) higher than the average, and in February 2016 they were 8 degrees F warmer (4.4 o C warmer). Warmer air temperatures in the arctic have had an enormous impact on ice cover in the arctic seas.

Melting of the Arctic

The Arctic sea ice is melting at a record rate.

Normally, the lowest amount of ice cover in the Arctic occurs in September and the maximum in February. The warmer temperatures have melted the winter ice cover. Scientists began recording the extent of melting of the winter sea ice in 1979. The winter freezing of the ice set a record in 2015. This past February the area of sea ice was lower than in 2015, setting another new record.

It is predicted that the Arctic could be entirely ice free in the next 20 years as greenhouse gases grow and the planet warms, resulting in even greater weather extremes in the Northern Hemisphere.

Earth Day 2016–Make Every Day Earth Day


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The Fairphone: Reducing Human and Environmental Destruction

Fairphone

Tracing minerals back to source.

It is a long process that Fairphone has begun in the hope of achieving a truly ethical smartphone.

By Linn Smith

February 22, 2016—We all have them! Cell phones! Have you ever wondered where the materials to make our cell phones come from?

Child Labor and Cell Phones

Cobalt is an important element in the lithium-ion battery of our cell phone. Emmanuel Umpula, director of an organization that works with Amnesty International says that companies linked to Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung are buying cobalt, “Without asking questions about how, by who or where it was mined.” Umpula did ask questions and found children as young as 7 used in the mining of cobalt. In 2014, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, UICEF put the number of children working in mines at about 40,000, earning about $1 a day and leaving negative health impacts by exposure to the cobalt dust. Child labor in the mining of cobalt isn’t a thing of a year or two ago—it is happening today! Besides the use of child labor, mining has negative impacts on our environment resulting in erosion, dumping tailings that could include mercury and cyanide in the river systems and contaminating the water of people and wildlife.

Child Labor and Smartphones

Minerals in our cell phones can be traced back to child labor.

Conflict Free Minerals

Today we have a choice—a choice to choose a more sustainable product. The Fairphone Company is attempting to lessen the human and environmental negative impacts of cell phone production. Fairphone, a small company in Amsterdam, is 100% independently financed (mostly through crowdfunding–pre-orders), and is trying to integrate materials in their supply chain that supports local economies, not armed militias. They’re attempting, one-step-at-a-time, to produce conflict-free minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fairphone: Seeking Alternative Mining Practices

Fairphone registered as an independent social enterprise in 2013, so is a fairly new, still developing company. In a pilot project in 2014, they sold 60,000 phones–phones containing minerals which Fairphone is working to establish a trace back system to, to assure sustainable practices both for the workers and the environment. “It is a long process that Fairphone has begun in the hope of achieving a truly ethical smartphone, but it is a process that is revolutionizing electronics, piece by piece,” stated an article in the January 2016 Newsweek Magazine. Fairphone says that it wants to work with mines in the Congo to provide alternative mining practices where there is extreme conflict. “We want to become a vehicle for change in the regions that most need it.”

Fairphone’s Goals to Improve Mining Practices

Here are a few of the goals Fairphone has adopted to work with mines in the Congo:

1. Increase employment for small-scale miners and contribute to economic development and stability of the region.
2. Work directly towards contributing alternative practices to current mining practices.
3. Address child labor and empower workers while improving the livelihoods of the local populations
4. Bring stakeholders together to participate in dialogue, decision making, and implement solutions to common problems or goals and establish the sources of minerals used in Fairphones.
5. Increase industry and consumer awareness for issues surrounding mining and existing alternatives.
6. Reduce environmental impacts of mining

Also, in the phone’s manufacturing, Fairphone’s policy is to ensure worker representation, safe working conditions and fair pay.

Fairphone can last at least 5 years.

The Fairphone shows its parts when flipped over.

Fairphone 2

Fairphone 2 has a 5″ screen and runs on android 5.1, although the company is in discussions to allow other operating systems. It is a modular smartphone which is designed to be repaired and replace parts by the user if needed. When you turn this phone over you will see the parts through a transparent case–easily covered by a protective case just as other cell phones are.

Fairphone will sell parts for this phone which will allow users to replace those that are broken and outdated, such as the camera, and replace them with newer versions. Estimated life of this phone–at least 5 years. This phone is available on Fairphone’s website at: http://www.fairphone.com.

The Fairphone, using sustainable mining practices.

You can replace the parts of this cellphone.

Review of Fairphone 2

Newsweek Magazine reviewed the Fairphone. They stated, “With moderately heavy use, the battery can easily last 2 days without a charge. When not being used much after a week there was still more than 50% of battery life left–and when the battery life dwindles after a couple of years a new battery can be ordered from Fairplay for about $20. Newsweek says, “When considering the price tag of about $500, the length of time it lasts should be taken into consideration along with the ethical ecosystem of the phone.” The potential to upgrade this phone is also being explored by the company.

For Fairphone 2016 brings the move toward growth with a goal of selling 150,000 phones. They realize they can’t do this through pre-orders alone so they are seeking “investors that are interested in generating social and/or environmental impact as well as financial gains”–investors aligned with the values of the Fairphone Company.

You can follow Fairphone’s regular updates on Facebook or Twitter.


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Cocoa and Deforestation

Rainforest Alliance

Rainforest Alliance: Sustainably Grown Chocolate

By Linn Smith

Cocoa plantations created by clearing away the rainforests create multiple environmental problems.

February 5, 2016—Who doesn’t like chocolate? When we eat this delicious melt-in-your-mouth treat we want to enjoy it–not think about the environmental destruction connected with it or how it may be affecting our everchanging climate. My first reaction–NO! Not chocolate too! But alas–it seems so!

To keep up with our sweet tooth demands, cocoa farmers have shifted from natural, sustainable farming to methods that are environmentally destructive, including clearing away the rainforests.

Cocoa Production: A Huge Industry

Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is raw cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures. According to Wikipedia, cocoa farming can only take place 15 degrees north or south of the Equator, with West Africa being the biggest producer. The Ivory Coast produces 40% of the world’s cacao for chocolate. Other cacao producing countries are Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Peru. The market value for the world’s chocolate for 2016 is approximately $98.3 billion–a huge industry that can also be corrupt, involving everything from child labor to smuggling.

Cacao Tree and Chocolate

Grown on Plantations-Destroying Rainforest

The Environmental Impact of Cocoa Production

What is the environmental impact of our sweet tooth? Cacao is traditionally grown on small farms. The trees that produce the beans grow naturally under the large leafy canopies of the rainforests, but many cocoa farmers have cleared away the rainforest to create cocoa plantations in the open sunlight, as it makes the pods easier to harvest.

Cocoa plantations created by clearing away the rainforests create multiple environmental problems. Farmers have moved towards plantations because they produce a greater quantity, lower quality and a higher yield of cocoa, but planting cacao in an open, cleared field attracts pests which requires spraying with chemicals. Also, animal habitats are destroyed and tons of CO2, which is stored in the leaves and trunks of the cleared trees, is released into our atmosphere, furthering the warming of our planet. “The more intense the farming practices are, the more damaging they are to the ecosystem. Cocoa farming becomes a destructive circle as farmers wear out the soils and cut further into the forest to obtain fresh land. All of these processes stress the Cacao trees and eventually lead to lower yields of cocoa, giving the opposite effect to what the farmers expect from these practices.”

Clearing the Rainforest for Cocoa

Where rainforests are protected by the government, farmers and corporations will often cut down forests illegally. An example of this was recently documented by scientists and conservation groups, charging United Cacao with “quietly cutting down more than 2,000 hectares (one hectare equals about 2 1/2 acre) of primary, closed-canopy rainforest along the Peruvian Amazon.” Scientists watched this happen via satellites which monitor the earth’s surface and provide data on how the earth is changing over time. In 2013 United Cacao also boldly stated on their website that they were starting the “clearing work to ready their land for a cacao plantation.”

Dennis Melka, CEO of United Cacao, has also been involved in the palm oil industry, cutting down rainforests for palm oil. Clinton Jenkins, ecologist at the Institute of Ecological Research in Brazil, says, regardless of data, that United Cacao will continue to claim the land was already deforested when they obtained it—that they created their cocoa plantations on previously cleared land and United Cacao had nothing to do with the deforestation! But Clinton states, “It was already deforested because United Cacao has deforested it!”

Certified Sustainable Practices

Look for Products with the Green Frog

Educating Cocoa Farmers

Training farmers in sustainable farming is the key to deforestation. Organizations such as the World Cocoa Foundation, Deforestation-Free Cocoa and Rainforest Alliance are attempting to return cocoa farming to its sustainable roots, planting the trees in their natural habitats underneath the broad leafs of the rainforest canopy. Even though rainforests are already cleared in many places, farmers can still be educated in ways to sustainably grow cacao, such as financing farmers on the condition they will not deforest further, ensuring fair labor and organic practices, and selling through a farmer’s coop that assures higher prices.

Rainforest Alliance

Dove Dark Chocolate

What can you do to help? Buy only Rainforest Alliance chocolate. “The Rainforest Alliance has been working to strengthen the position of smallholder cocoa farmers since 2006, both on the land and in the marketplace, by training them to conserve natural resources, increasing productivity and securing a decent living and working conditions.”

Rainforest Alliance brands are stamped with the little green frog on the wrapping! Some companies that use chocolate from Rainforest Alliance farmers are: Clif Bar, Dove Dark Chocolate, Dagobac, Hershey’s Bliss, NibMor.

Protecting forests plays a key role in fighting climate change.


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Toyota Enviromental Challenge 2050: Eliminating the Carbon Footprint

Toyota: Creating Cleaner Cars

Toyota: 6 challenges to cutting CO2

Toyota is moving ahead of other auto manufacturers by taking responsibility as a global clean air leader.

By Linn Smith

January 20, 2016—Toyota, a Japanese auto company, passed Volkswagen as the top seller of cars during the last half of 2015. And, instead of dealing with an emissions scandal which intentionally violated the U.S. Clean Air Act as Volkswagen did, Toyota is moving ahead of other auto manufacturers by taking responsibility as a global clean air leader. They state on their website, “Extreme weather patterns worldwide have been provoking successive disasters. If current conditions continue and increased measures are not taken to reduce greenhouse gases, it is estimated that by 2100 the world’s average temperature will have risen by 3.7–4.8 degrees C. It is further estimated that, to hold the temperature rise since before the Industrial Revolution to “below 2 degrees C,” we will not only have to reduce additional CO2 emissions to zero, but will need to achieve an actual positive trend through absorption.”

Toyota: Cleaning up our environment

Toyota: The Environmental Challenge

Eliminating CO2 Emissions

In October 2015 Toyota presented a plan to remove their carbon footprint by challenging themselves to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions by 90% of their 2010 levels by 2050. The long term plan is to eliminate their carbon footprint in Toyota cars and auto production using the six stages of their Toyota Environmental Challenge plan.

The Challenges

The first challenge is the New Vehicle Zero CO2 Emissions Challenge. In this stage Toyota will develop and accelerate the production and sales of the next generation of cars with low or zero CO2 emissions. These include hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric and fuel cell cars. They also will provide support in developing an infrastructure to maintain and promote widespread adoption of these vehicles.

The second challenge is the Lifecycle Zero CO2 Emissions Challenge. In this stage Toyota will reduce CO2 emissions in the materials used to produce their autos, in the actual production process of the cars and they will also produce Toyotas which emit less CO2 when driven.

In the third stage, the Plant Zero CO2 Emissions Challenge, Toyota will adopt renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, improve manufacturing technology and reduce the time it takes in the production of vehicles.

Toyota: Creating a Clean Environment

Toyota: Ever-better manufacturing

Challenge four is Minimizing and Optimizing Water Usage. In this stage less water will be used in auto production. They will also implement a rainwater collection system, re-use wastewater through recycling and set up a system to purify the water used and return it to the environment.

Challenge five will Establish a Recycling-based Society and Systems and will consist of four key areas: (1) utilization of eco-friendly materials; (2) making use of parts longer; (3) development of recycling technology; and (4) making vehicles from the materials of end-of-life vehicles.

Challenge six will Establish a Future Society in Harmony with Nature. Toyota will engage in planting trees, environmental conservation around their manufacturing facilities and take part in environmental education programs.

A Challenge to All Industry: Save Our Planet

Toyota states that these goals are to challenge themselves in creating a healthier planet. It’s time all manufacturing industries took up this challenge and helped in the effort to save our planet!

Clean up our planet by slashing CO2!


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The Irresponsible Practices of the Palm Oil Industry

Palm oil and negative environmental impact

Palm oil plantations are in demand as the world uses more palm oil

The use of palm oil products, that further the destruction of our planet, its people and wildlife, is not acceptable!

By Linn Smith

December 4, 2015—Being curious about palm oil and its devastation to wildlife habitats and the environment, many questions have lingered in my mind. What are the various kinds of palms and what palms are used as oil palms? What is the relationship of oil palms to coconut palms? (I use a lot of coconut oil!) How is the harvesting of products from palm trees effecting our environment? So I decided to investigate and here’s what I found:

Palm Oil Products

According to Philadelphiazoo.org, a zoo currently working towards spreading awareness of the negative impacts of palm oil, the oil can go by many different names in many different products, such as foods, cosmetics, hair and lotion products, cookies, toothpaste, cleaning products, and the list goes on. Here are some of the different names for palm oil you may find on these products: Cetyl Palmite, Ethyllhexyl Palmitate, Hydrated Palm Glycerides, Octyl Palmitate, Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol, Palmolein, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palmate….and more!

The Arecaceae Family

Oil palm and other palms, including coconut, come from the family Arecaceae which means “palm”–but there are thousands of different species of palm trees which grow a variety of different fruits, from dates and acai to coconuts. The fruit of the palm oil tree has kernels which are pressed to make palm oil. Most palm oil comes from the species Elaeis Guineensis. Coconut palm is from the species Cocos Nuciferas. A website, davesgarden.com, describes many of the various fruits of the palm family.

The Palm tree, which we get our coconut oil from, is mostly cultivated in Indonesia, the Philippines and India on a very small scale. The coconuts, harvested by local farmers, are a renewable resource. The coconut palm is known as a “three generation tree”, as it continues through three generations, supporting the farmer, his children and his grandchildren. The farmers produce coconut for coconut milk, coconut oil, fibres for rope, mats, mattresses, and paint brushes.

Removing tropical forests for palm oil

Tropical forests are burned to make room for palm oil plantations.

The Negative Impacts of Palm Oil

Quite the opposite of coconut production is the environmentally unfriendly production of palm oil. The oil palm is mass cultivated on large plantations that have been created by removing not only the indigenous people from their homes, but also have devastated the habitat of wildlife, mainly the Orangutan and Tiger in Indonesia and Malaysia. Tropical forests have been cleared to create plantations. This clearing has added to the warming of our planet as the valuable trees are cut and sold, leaving the rest to be burned down. Burning of the tropical forests emits large quantities of smoke into our atmosphere. Oil palms are then planted.

When the forests are cut they release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, driving up temperatures by the greenhouse effect. Indonesia is the 3rd largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. It is estimated that 714 million acres of tropical forests will be cleared by 2050 adding another 169 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the the atmosphere, significantly raising global temperatures.

Oil palm industry and child labor

Child labor is used by the oil palm industry.

Violations by the Palm Industry Corporations

Corporations involved in the palm industry are accused of human rights violatons by employing child labor and taking the land owned by indigenous people for their own financial benefit–to supply the world with palm oil! Without their own land, the indigenous people have no choice but to become palm plantation workers, getting paid barely enough to support their families.

Another negative effect of cutting tropical forests for palm oil plantations is the destruction of peatlands, which store carbon. These peatlands, which have developed over thousands of years, are drained and cleared. According to biofueldaily.com, “Draining the peatlands exposes the upper layer to oxygen, raising decomposition rates and soil carbon losses. Most of the carbon is emitted into the atmosphere, speeding up climate change by emitting still more greenhouse gasses.” Clearing a single acre of peatland rain forest can release up to 15,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, (one hectare releases up to 6000 tons of CO2).

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

In 2004 the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established by producers, manufacturers, traders, bankers and investors of the palm oil industry, with the objective to “promote growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards.”

Greenpeace and many other environmental organizations have criticized this group as, “Falling short of protecting the rain forests and reducing greenhouse gasses,” because the RSPO which has created the certified sustainable palm oils is not guaranteed to be deforestation-free. The RSPO also allows the destruction of peatlands by the industry. In 2013, 200 scientists asked for stronger standards, but the RSPO failed to respond.

In 2014, 67,000 tons of palm oil was used by Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Nature Valley, requiring 44,700 acres of tropical land to be cleared to grow the palm oil.

According to the Union Of Concerned Scientists there are steps we can take to let the industry know these practices are not acceptable. By going to the website:https://secure3.convio.net, you can sign a letter to the industry to increase sustainable practices.

The use of palm oil products, that further the destruction of our planet, its people and wildlife, is not acceptable! Do what you can to make a difference!


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The Keystone XL Pipeline: Why It’s a Bad Idea!

Canadian Oil Fields

The mining and processing of the oil sands has negative environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions, large strip mines which “strip the land” of all natural flora, and impacts on water quality.

By Linn Smith

Republished February 8, 2015

September 7, 2013—-Producing oil from tar sands is “scraping the bottom of the barrel”, and so it is with the KeystoneXL Pipeline, a pipeline owned by a company named TransCanada, that would double the tar sands currently being transported from the oil fields of Alberta, Canada to the U.S.. The tar sands are under the Boreal Forests of Alberta, home to many species of plants and animals.The Boreal Forest not only cools the earth with its shade, it also plays an important role in preventing global warming, as the trees store and use carbon dioxide (the global warming culprit) in photosynthesis. Under the TransCanada leasing conditions, the company would have the option to lease an area the size of Florida for tar sand production.

Strip Mining for Tar Sands

Tar sand (or oil sand) consists of sand, sandstone, clay, and water, which are saturated with an extremely thick form of petroleum. These fields of tar sands have only recently been mined for their oil deposits, as new technology has made it possible to extract and use the oil. The tar sand oil is often called unconventional oil and is different from the traditional oil of oil wells, having a composition as thick as molasses.The oil sand is so thick it must be extracted from the earth by strip mining or by injecting steam or solvents into the sands. The mining and processing of the oil sands has negative environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions, large strip mines which “strip the land” of all natural flora, and impacts on water quality (using 2-3 barrels of water for each barrel of oil). In processing the tar sand, the water is contaminated, stored in human-made ponds, known as tailing ponds, and left to seep cyanide and ammonia back into the ground, contaminating our clean water supplies. When transported through a pipeline, the tar sand oil is mixed with lighter hydrocarbons to allow it to flow. Processing the tar sand for household use requires a processing that generates 12% more greenhouse gases per barrel than conventional oil. Currently, oil is not produced from tar sand on a large, commercial basis, but the XL Pipeline would change that, opening the spigot to allow the flow of “dirty oil” around the world. .

Carrying the Sands to the Gulf of Mexico

The pipelines of TransCanada have yet to reach a coastal port–that’s what XL would do–carry the tar sand to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. The company is currently in 56 separate eminent domain actions against landowners in Texas and South Dakota who refuse to give permission to build the Keystone Pipeline on their land. A Texas judge has given permission to TransCanada to seize the land if the owners refuse to sign an agreement with the company. Why not build the pipeline across Canada to their own coastal ports? In June 2013, British Columbia rejected the pipeline across their land. “The British Columbia government said “no” to moving half a million barrels a day across the 600 miles to their ports, stating the risk of spills to the pristine environment would pose a risk to salmon fishery and to human health”. The pipeline has been rejected by the Canadian government and approval by the U.S. is still pending. If rejected by the U.S. government, TransCanada will reportedly seek routes to the Arctic Circle for transportation purposes, shipping the tar sand to China and countries which have no regulations against burning the “dirty oil”– reaping the company enormous profits!

One of the Dirtiest Most Carbon-Infested Fuels

James Hansen, NASA climatologist testified in the U.S.congress that there is still time to save the planet and reduce the global warming villian, CO2, in our atmosphere, “but that means moving expeditiously to clean energies of our future. Moving to tar sands (oil sand), one of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fuels on the planet, is a step in exactly the opposite direction, indicating either that governments don’t understand the situation or that they just don’t give a damn. People who do care need to draw the line!” Seventeen of Hansen’s fellow climate scientists have signed a letter urging President Obama to reject the pipeline, stating the pipeline is “counter to national and planetary interest.” The U.S. already imports 800,000 barrels of tar sand oil per day. The Keystone XL would import another 830,000 more barrels per day of the dirty oil. The tar sands of Canada have been estimated at 1.63 trillion barrels. If all of it was extracted from the Canadian tar sand fields, it is estimated the temperature would rise .4 degrees C or approximately 14 degrees Fahrenheit. President Obama will ultimately decide the fate of the pipeline.The southern half of the pipeline, Oklahoma to Texas, is currently under construction. The northern half is still in the proposal phase. Obama rejected the first permit for the northern project, but TransCanada resubimitted their application and a decision is expected some time in the fall of 2013.

TransCanada’s oil is a “dirty little secret” to some, called “black gold” by others, depending on a person’s affiliation with personal oil investments or their concern for the environment, but if people care about preserving our planet, it must stay in the ground.

it must stay in the ground!

*Originally published September 2013