Saturday, November 28, 2015

Climate Talks: Bill Gates to pledge $1 billion to clean energy

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does not typically fund research to promote clean energy. Instead, it usually focuses its funding on issues like maternal health and poverty. But as recently as 2010, when Bill Gates gave a TED talk on the clean energy, he has expressed interest in investing his personal fortune in clean-energy technologies. Personally, I think this is great. Having such a big and wealthy foundation pledge ONE BILLION dollars to an issue that has really skyrocketed in importance in the past few years is just incredible. Gates will be attending the Climate Summit in Paris very soon, and shall announce his donation to the research of clean energy technology. The article I used in reference states, "Gates’ new, multi-billion-dollar commitment for the Paris climate talks is expected to receive the support of other billionaires, who will also be in attendance in Paris." This is great, how  other billionaires want to help too. Other world leaders, such as those from the U.S., China and India will back his commitment as well. This is also particularly good because there has not been any pledges since the last Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Many are optimistic that the Paris climate talks could get an important boost from financial pledges, such as the one from Gates. “I think this issue is especially important because, of all the people who will be affected by climate change, those in poor countries will suffer the most,” Gates wrote in his personal blog. “Higher temperatures and less-predictable weather would hurt poor farmers, most of whom live on the edge and can be devastated by a single bad crop.” Good on you, Bill Gates, let's change the world again.

Source: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2015/1128/Climate-talks-Why-Bill-Gates-expects-to-pledge-1-billion-for-clean-energy

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Volkswagen Scandal

One subject that has been getting a lot of attention on the news recently is the cheating of the emissions performance by Volkswagen. In order to cheat, VW modified the on-board computer programming to defeat the emissions testing. This is an issue because cars need to be certified for emissions performances by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to be sure that emissions meet health standards. When they say they "cheated" the tests, what does it mean? Well, it's kind of bad actually. By cheating, the engines in the cars emitted nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above what is allowed in the US. Talk about a blow to the German engineering and their "dedication" to the environment. The chief executive at the time, Martin Winterkorn, resigned as a result of this scandal. Throughout the world, politicians, regulators and environmental groups are questioning the legitimacy of VW's emissions testing. This is very unfortunate for VW, as their profits have been dismal since the story first came to light. Their shares have fallen by a third since it all started.
I think that this is awful for people who bought VW's cars, and for VW. I mean, people who want to be eco-friendly bought these cars intending to help the environment. By lying, people don't know who to trust, and if they're even buying products that are better for the environment. And for VW, obviously, nothing will be the same for them. Eight and a half million cars were recalled, including in Europe, Germany and the UK. On top of all of this, it's hard enough to have cars pass the emissions test.
"Diesel cars in Europe operate with worse technology on average than the US," said Jos Dings, from the pressure group Transport & Environment. "Our latest report demonstrated that almost 90% of diesel vehicles didn't meet emission limits when they drive on the road. We are talking millions of vehicles." (Source: www.bbc.com/new/business). 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sorry to Future Generations

Many of you have probably seen this video on Facebook or some other social media site. It explains how our generation has "ruined" the planet for future generations. It depicts things that we didn't even realize that we have done to the earth that can't be undone. For example it talks about how trees clean our air and provide so much for our earth yet we burned them and cut them down. It's kind of emotional because the man who narrates this video is so passionate about being kind to our earth. I agree with everything he explains, especially about how we've pushed animals to the point of being endangered and extinct. I hate the fact that people do that, and that's the one that hits home. All in all, it explains how we must undo our doing, and preserve the earth because it's our home and unless there's another planet like the earth we can live on, we have to find a way to keep it healthy for as long as possible. This video is worth the watch.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Three R's

You all know them...the three R's. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Ever since I was young, I was made to put plastic, glass, and paper in a separate bin from the trash. I always wondered, why is this? Recycling and reusing materials in this world would make such a huge impact if everyone did it. Harmful chemicals that get dumped into landfills come back to haunt us. Besides the awful smells they give off (yuck), they release bad gases into the air that contribute to climate change. Methane and carbon dioxide make up 90 to 98% of landfill gas. Landfill gases are produced when bacteria break down organic waste. Methane is one of the major gases contributing to the deterioration of the ozone layer. It is a greenhouse gas and is emitted from industry, agriculture, and waste management activities. Recycling of various materials can help with the smell and reducing the amount of gases released into our atmosphere. Here are some recycling facts that will help us save energy and prevent bad emissions from going into the air:

  • Every year, each American throws out about 1,200 pounds of organic garbage that can be composted. (Idea: start a compost, throw out your banana peels, apple cores, etc!)
  • A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose -- and even longer if it's in the landfill. (So recycle! All you have to do is find a bin with the recycling symbol.)
  • Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away! (Fact: plastic can cause so much damage, it takes a really long time to decompose and marine life can be badly effected by it)
  • Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam coffee cups every year. (Styrofoam takes 500 years and up to decompose. Dunkin Donuts should really reconsider the type of cup they use!)
This is what Climate Change does to polar ice caps! This leaves polar bears with no place to go :(

Deforestation

One of the major issues that seems to be on the rise in the world is deforestation. As many of you probably know, deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. National Geographic states that every year, the amount of rainforests lost are equal to the size of Panama. That's 29,157 miles of rainforest, all destroyed. Every. Single. Year. Most of the time, money is involved in the cutting down of natural rainforests. However, the biggest drive behind deforestation is agriculture. Small farmers will often clear an entire area and burn the trees in order to make space for their crops or livestock. They use a method called "slash and burn," which is basically what it sounds like. They cut down the area they need and then they burn it. Linking this post back to my last one, deforestation also plays an important role in climate change. 
"Forest soils are moist, but without protection from sun-blocking tree cover they quickly dry out. Trees also help perpetuate the water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these roles, many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts." (Source: National Geographic). 
Trees and wildlife are so important for our earth. All the life lost during deforestation makes me extremely upset, and makes me wonder what are we doing to stop it? Many organizations all over the world have been working together in order to help stop illegal deforestation, and to preserve these natural ecosystems. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), The Rainforest Alliance, and The Nature Conservatory are just some of the mediators between various development interests, policy makers, local peoples, scientists, and activist groups in promoting conservation. I hope in the future we figure something out and decrease the amount of tree deaths in the world :( #rip  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Feel free to check out the cool fish to the right of your screen! Simply click to feed them! (I hope this amuses you as much as it amuses me.)