Earth environment nature News

EarthTalk® | March 2019 | The Edge Magazine

EarthTalk® | March 2019 | The Edge Magazine

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pushing for the creation of a brand new Home Choose Committee on a Inexperienced New Deal to element a “nationwide, industrial, financial mobilization plan able to making the U.S. financial system ‘carbon impartial’ whereas selling ‘financial and environmental justice and equality’.”
Pricey EarthTalk: What’s the so-called Inexperienced New Deal proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and is Congress more likely to go for it? — Mark Talarico, Brooklyn, NY

The idea of a “Inexperienced New Deal” (GND), first referred to as for in a 2007 New York Occasions op-ed by Thomas Friedman, has been within the information these days because of a protest outdoors of Nancy Pelosi’s workplace in mid-November every week after the 2018 mid-term elections when Democrats took again the Home. The objective of the GND is to place America on the forefront of inexperienced applied sciences to satisfy or exceed our Paris local weather treaty commitments whereas boosting the financial system and decreasing financial inequality.

Consider it as like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s unique “New Deal” that helped get People again on their ft economically after the Nice Melancholy via the creation of tens of millions of federally-funded jobs that not solely employed individuals however boosted U.S. financial productiveness. The GND goals to offer People a leg up in profiting off the transition to greener power sources whereas concurrently decreasing the divide between the haves and have-nots.

At that November protest, tons of of activists affiliated with the so-called Dawn Motion confirmed as much as name on Pelosi to again omnibus financial stimulus laws that may put hundreds of thousands of People to work on facilitating the transition to an financial system powered by 100 % renewable, emissions-free power. Later that day incoming Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez confirmed her help by proposing the creation of a brand new Home Choose Committee on a Inexperienced New Deal tasked with detailing a “nationwide, industrial, financial mobilization plan able to making the U.S. financial system ‘carbon impartial’ whereas selling ‘financial and environmental justice and equality’.”

“There are such a lot of totally different progressive points which are necessary, and local weather change and addressing renewable power all the time will get to the underside of the barrel,” Ocasio-Cortez advised The Intercept. “That may will get kicked from session to session and so what this simply must do is create a momentum and an power to be sure that it turns into a precedence for management.”

At the very least 45 Home members have expressed help for the GND, whereas eight possible Democratic presidential candidates (together with Jay Inslee, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) are additionally behind it. And with nearly all of People favoring taking robust motion towards local weather change even when it means larger taxes, implementing a few of type of GND looks like a no brainer.

However environmentalists won’t need to maintain their breath. For starters, Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal for the creation of a brand new Home Choose Committee on a Inexperienced New Deal gained’t be prepared for a full Home vote till 2020. Additionally, simply because 40 members of Congress are supportive now doesn’t say something about the place the opposite 395 Congresspersons stand, not to mention the 100 members of the still-Republican-controlled Senate. In the meantime, conservative critics level out that a Inexperienced New Deal might truly harm the financial system greater than assist it given how reliant we’re on plentiful and low cost fossil fuels. Even some liberals fear that the GND is making an attempt to chew off greater than we will chew. Solely time will inform if one thing just like the GND will develop into the regulation of the land — and lots of greens are protecting their fingers crossed.

Contacts:  Thomas Friedman’s “A Warning from the Backyard,”; Dawn Motion,; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,

Californians lately voted to increase Daylight Financial savings Time all through your complete yr based mostly on public sentiment in addition to analysis that discovered such a transfer would have little to no impact on power consumption in that state. Credit score: Roddy Scheer.Pricey EarthTalk: Would extending Daylight Financial savings Time year-round have advantages for the setting? — Jane Wyckoff, Soquel, CA

The idea of “daylight financial savings time” (DST), whereby we set our clocks forward by an hour from mid-Spring via mid-Fall so we will get extra finished utilizing pure mild later into the night, was first proposed greater than 200 years in the past by Benjamin Franklin as a approach to economize on candles (!). Whereas Franklin’s concept didn’t catch on again then, Germany instituted a “conflict effort” model of it to preserve gasoline throughout World Warfare I. The U.S. adopted go well with in 1918 however scrapped the thought shortly after the conflict ended.

DST got here again to the U.S. throughout World Struggle II when FDR instituted it year-round as “conflict time” between February 1942 and September 1945. After WWII some states adopted summer time DST, nevertheless it wasn’t till Congress handed the Uniform Time Act in 1966 that it turned commonplace throughout the nation (initially Arizona and Michigan opted out; nowadays solely Arizona and Hawaii don’t observe DST).

This previous November, Californians voted in an extension of DST year-round throughout their state. The rationale is that the twice-a-year time change causes misplaced or poor sleep which results in extra accidents, aggravates present well being points and has even been linked to a short-term uptick in suicides. Oregon and Washington are additionally contemplating aligning with California so the complete West Coast might be on DST all year long.

However in response to a 2011 research revealed in The Evaluation of Economics and Statistics by researchers from Yale and Claremont McKenna, such a change is probably not excellent news for the setting. “Our principal discovering is that, opposite to the coverage’s intent, DST will increase electrical energy demand,” report researchers Matthew Kotchen and Laura Grant. “Estimates of the general improve are roughly 1 %, however we discover that the impact just isn’t fixed all through the DST interval.” Based on their knowledge, DST causes the best improve in electrical energy consumption within the fall (estimates vary from 2-Four %) when dipping temperatures ship Hoosiers inside earlier to show up their thermostats. They estimate that elevated power demand because of DST provides roughly $9 million a yr to family energy payments throughout Indiana whereas the “social prices” of the ensuing elevated emissions vary from $1.7-$5.5 million yearly.

In fact, mileage varies by area. A research by the California Power Fee discovered that extending DST would have little to no impact on power use in that state. In the meantime, a U.S. Division of Power evaluation of 67 totally different energy utilities throughout the nation concluded that a four-week extension of DST would save People roughly zero.5 % of electrical energy per day, or 1.three trillion watt-hours in complete — sufficient to energy 100,000 households for a yr.

Whether or not or not the current curiosity in extending DST all year long on the West Coast will take maintain throughout the nation is anybody’s guess. Within the meantime, we will all look ahead to the second Sunday in March to spring forward and depart the brief and dreary winter days behind us — a minimum of for a number of months.

Contacts: “Does Daylight Saving Time Save Power? Proof from a Pure Experiment in Indiana,”; “The Darkish Aspect of Daylight Financial savings Time,”

Brooklynites can bask in some zero waste purchasing for groceries at Precycle in Bushwick. Don’t overlook your personal containers!Pricey EarthTalk: I’ve heard about “Zero Waste” grocery shops in Europe the place all the things is bought in bulk and clients convey and refill their very own reusable containers and luggage. When will we get a few of these right here on this “aspect of the pond”? — Jane Smith, Boston, MA

Many mainstream American grocery shops and chains now have bulk sections for dried meals like nuts and spices, although most the whole lot else nonetheless comes sealed in plastic, cardboard, aluminum or glass, which clients then recycle or discard as soon as they devour the contents.

The U.S. Environmental Safety Company (EPA) estimates that containers and packaging make up virtually 1 / 4 of all landfill waste, with the typical American producing 4 kilos of trash a day, most of it food-related. Moreover, People throw out a few third of the meals we purchase, largely as a result of we’re pressured to purchase greater than we’d like because of the approach meals is pre-packaged on the market.

One answer to each of those issues is the “zero-waste” grocery retailer which sells in bulk (or “unfastened”) to clients who deliver their very own containers and buying luggage and fill them up with simply the quantity of meals they may eat. In addition to the apparent environmental advantages of decreasing the stream of waste to landfills and energy-intensive recycling processors, zero-waste grocery shops additionally are typically simpler on the pockets — provided that packaging provides upwards of 40 % to the price of many on a regular basis meals gadgets.

Zero-waste meals shops started turning up in Europe in simply the final 15 years. The success of shops like Germany’s Unique Unverpackt, France’s Day By Day, Denmark’s LØS Market and the UK’s Bulk Market and Earth.Meals.Love exhibits a robust proclivity, no less than in Europe, for a inexperienced grocery expertise.

Zero waste markets are a more durable promote within the U.S., however that hasn’t stopped a couple of entrepreneurs from making an attempt. The nation’s first zero waste grocery retailer, In.gredients in Austin, Texas, opened with fanfare in 2012 however had hassle competing with a close-by conventional grocery retailer — and eventually shut its doorways for good in April 2018. “We realized…we weren’t altering consumers’ habits,” Erica Howard Cormier, In.gredients’ former GM, informed CNBC. “You need to plan so much to go to the grocery retailer with your personal containers, and other people would go to the shop throughout the road as a result of they forgot their container.”

However, others have ventured forth undaunted. A number of the largest are Precycle and the Filling Station in New York Metropolis, Dill Pickle Co-op in Chicago, Merely Bulk Market and Zero Market in Colorado, the Refill Shoppe close to Los Angeles, Individuals’s Meals Co-op in Portland, OR and Central Co-op in Seattle. And in Vancouver, BC, is Nada, one of many largest and most profitable zero waste markets on the earth. The shop claims to have diverted some 30,500 containers from landfills since opening in 2014.

A search on the’s “Zero Waste Grocery Information” turns up dozens of zero waste grocery choices in most main U.S. metropolitan areas, even when some are smaller specialty shops or simply sections in conventional markets. So seize a number of tupperwares and that previous school reunion tote bag and get purchasing!

Contacts: Unique Unverpackt,; Day By Day,; Bulk Market,; LØS Market,; Earth.Meals.Love,; Nude Meals,; The Refill Shoppe,; The Filling Station,; Merely Bulk Market,; The Zero Market,; Nada Grocery,; Literless’ Zero Waste Grocery Information,

A inexperienced wave hasn’t fairly swept the banking business within the U.S. but however a couple of pioneers are blazing new trails for sustainability-oriented depositors. Credit score: Artem Bali, Pexels.Pricey EarthTalk: After studying an EarthTalk piece on local weather divestment, I’m trying to change my checking and financial savings accounts to an environmentally pleasant financial institution. Any concepts? – Invoice Kim, Troy, NY

Few of us take into consideration how our banking impacts the setting however, in actuality, placing your cash with a green-minded monetary establishment could also be top-of-the-line issues you are able to do to assist preserve land, shield air and water, save endangered wildlife and mitigate local weather change. Banks (owned by shareholders) and credit score unions (owned by the purchasers) lend and make investments a few of the deposited funds they’re holding, which is how they’re capable of pay curiosity again to you. A financial institution or credit score union that limits its investments to sustainability-oriented corporations and establishments is nicely on its solution to being thought-about inexperienced.

“Cash is energy — it permits individuals and companies to satisfy their wants and act on their beliefs,” says Laurie Fielder of the Vermont State Staff Credit score Union (VSECU), a number one “inexperienced” credit score union in Vermont. “Your credit score union or financial institution has a variety of energy in figuring out who has entry to cash, which suggests they decide which concepts and companies are empowered.” She provides that people investing in power financial savings at house, or companies dedicated to sustainable operations, are very best mortgage candidates for VSECU, given its underlying dedication to moral practices that profit the group.

New York-based Amalgamated Financial institution began in 1923 to open up high quality and reasonably priced banking providers to the plenty, and has been serving working individuals and their households ever since. Within the trendy period, Amalgamated considers environmental sustainability a key element of its general funding standards, refusing “to take a position our personal dollars in funds that hurt individuals or the planet.” Amalgamated provides a full suite of banking and funding providers to people, companies, non-profits and establishments.

Likewise, Minnesota-based Dawn Banks gives a full suite of private and business banking providers and invests buyer deposits in sustainable and group improvement tasks that return excessive yields financially and environmentally. One other great spot to financial institution should you care concerning the planet is California-based Useful State Financial institution, which distributes its income to area people and sustainable improvement tasks. Aspiration, an online-only financial institution that stays inexperienced not simply by foregoing brick-and-mortar department places but in addition by investing solely in companies and establishments which have sworn off fossil fuels, is yet one more inexperienced selection. Nonetheless different accountable choices embrace: Metropolis First Financial institution of DC, First Inexperienced Financial institution, the Missoula Federal Credit score Union, New Useful resource Financial institution, Southern Bancorp and Verity Credit score Union. U.S. residents can open on-line accounts with any of those banks.

To seek out extra banks and credit score unions that fear about attaining a so-called “triple backside line” (monetary, social and environmental features), take a look at the web site of the International Alliance for Banking on Values, an unbiased community of banks utilizing finance to ship sustainable financial, social and environmental improvement. Solely 11 of the 48 banks around the globe that qualify as members of this Netherlands-based non-profit are U.S.-based, however business analysts anticipate many extra American banks will begin to go inexperienced given growing public demand for placing our cash the place our mouths are.

Contacts: “How are activists utilizing divestment to battle local weather change?”; VSECU,; Amalgamated Financial institution,; Dawn Banks,; Useful State Financial institution,; Aspiration,; International Alliance for Banking on Values,