Category Archives: environment

15+ Magnificent Reasons to Build Earthship Right Now


Pioneered by Architect Michael Reynolds, Earthships are sustainable homes because they encourage easy living and above all, they are cost-effectiveness to construct. Their sustainability is attributed to the fact that they utilize readily available natural materials as well as reusing resources that would otherwise harm the environment. The design and architecture of an Earthship is equally oriented towards environmental sustainability by optimizing on the use of natural resources such as solar energy and the harvesting of rainwater.

Besides, the presence of both solar energy and rain water supports the production of food which can be grown in the shelter. These are just a few of the many benefits of Earthships as there are a myriad of reasons individuals should build an Earthship home. This article thus seeks to unveil the 15+ magnificent reasons it is essential in this time and age to build an Earthship shelter.

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1. They are easily sustainable. Earthships are very sustainable as they require less and provide a lot. For instance, it is easy to harvest natural water from rain and snow melt. Moreover, the house supports the growing of food which means one gets to eat healthy and cuts back on food expenses. The availability of water ensures the crops have constant supply of water for growth and there is also warmth in and out of season sustained by the solar energy conserved in the house.

2. Presence of free food. One of the most rewarding advantages of an Earthship is that it is very conducive for crop production. The construction design allowing for the utilization of solar and water harvesting guarantees there is adequate warmth and water for the growth of crops.

An individual residing in an Earthship therefore has the capability of producing own food which translates into saving on food budgets. For this reason, the more the care and attention taken by the owner, the greater the success of crop production.

3. There is an efficient way of recycling water. Through the effective water harvesting techniques of an Earthship from rain or melting of snow, the structures offer an efficient way of recycling water. The water is tapped through the help of gutters set up all round the house and collected in a cistern. The water is pumped to the showers and sinks for ordinary chores and cooking activities. The waste water recovered is used in a greenhouse for the purpose of watering the plants therein.

4. Presence of warmth in the shelter. Earthships are designed with a lining of thermal mass conduction which promotes the absorption of heat from the atmosphere while preventing it from escaping. The heat is therefore regulated which ensures the shelter is warm even in winter. Apart from the thermal lining, the Earthship has large glass windows facing the sun that facilities the entry of heat into the shelter.

5. Presence of sufficient energy. Earthships are built to encourage the tapping solar energy through the use of solar panels. Given that it is a self-sustainable shelter, the installation of solar panel is part of its essentiality. Consequently, there is adequate energy realized in the shelter. An individual who is a cautious user of energy in the house will find the energy sufficient and will see no need to install electricity.

6. There is a feel of freedom. Work is a necessity for people to get the finances for food, clothing, shelter and other needs. It is for this reason that globally, people work on a daily basis to put food on their table, have a place to call home, and have clothing. However, with this structure, there is recycling of water and growing of crops, which means less incentive to put much effort in working. It is through this rewarding outcome of the structure that gives one a chance of freedom to enjoy his/her hobbies as well as activities that are fulfilling.

7. It is easy to build. The design of the structure is very easy to comprehend and put up. It does not necessarily require the advice or supervision of a house contractor. Minimal knowledge is required to construct an Earthship. Besides, most of the Earthships are single-story making it even easier to build. Also, the construction does not require the use of heavy machinery but the output of an individual seeking to have the shelter.

8. It is cheap to build or buy. Earthships have a considerable low price when compared to other modern houses. The reason for this is that there is less use of expensive materials in construction. A basic Earthship requires readily available materials for its construction, making it cheaper than others.

Nevertheless, they differ in prices depending on the level of décor in the house as well as other factors such as available rooms, architectural design and space. In consequence of this, both the wealthy and the less privileged can have such shelters with different designs on the basis of preference.

9. It makes use of recyclable materials. Because of this, Earthships aid in environmental conservation. For instance, most landfills are full of waste that requires proper disposal. With Earthships, some of the materials found in landfills ranging from car tires, plastic, glass bottles to cans can be utilized in construction. The materials only require their reinforcement with concrete.

beautiful-earthship

10. Proper treatment of sewage. The design and construction of ordinary houses usually results in challenges especially regarding the proper treatment of sewer waste. Earthships, on the other hand, enable the treatment of sewage on-site as it is part of its design. Waste water from sinks is taken to the green houses or gardens for cleaning and watering the plants. The water is then piped to the toilets for use and later drained to the ground for crop growth.

11. Initiates a difference in thinking. Through the use of sustainable housing which is not only easy to build but also cheap, there is an influence regarding new strategies in environmental conservation. For example, the initiative has brought about the resourceful use or recycling of waste that is often regarded as useless.

It also conserves the water available and utilizes natural heat to keep the house warm. It is thus mind blowing to the point that people are now opting to go this way and to use their time to discover more on how best to preserve the environment.

12. It is possible to build as per individual preference. Most of the conventional houses have already been built and are rented out or purchased with a set of preferences as pictured by the contractor. In this case, however, there is a chance to build a home that suits your preference. What comes into mind when you hear of an Earthship is that it is a “stupid house.” If you do your homework, however, you’ll realize there are numerous beautifully built Earthship. This is possible since the design and modeling of the Earthship is up to the owner.

13. Little to no bills to cater for. Since Earthships main goal is self-sustainability, it is a huge plus. For starters, if you built the house, there is no chance of paying monthly rent rates. Also, through the use of solar energy self-installed in the house, there is no chance of paying electric bills and if so, in minimal amounts. With free flowing water, there is no need for water provided by the state that will subsequently bring about more bills.

14. Earthships can be built in almost all locations. The structures are easy to construct in any location with less difficulty. It can be built in the most adverse locations like the snow-laden areas, sandy areas, windy areas, forested areas and mountain tops. The possibility of this is attributed to the fact that there are a myriad of materials which can be used for the construction.

15. It is now possible to connect with nature and still be part of society. The world we live in today is characterized by a lot of modern technology from phones to laptops to the internet. Therefore, if you are an individual seeking to opt out from this kind of society without completely detaching yourself, an Earthship will provide such a company. Presence of solar energy instead of electricity, presence of food instead of going to the stores for groceries and much more. Moreover, one is able to venture in green house production which provides adequate connection with nature.

16. Presence of an Earthship community. There exists other people globally who advocate for the evolution of Earthship houses. On this basis, if you are an individual seeking to build such a structure, you will have the support of other like-minded people who will not only provide physical support in construction but also revolutionary support as the globe moves towards initiatives that bring about less destruction of the environment.

Image credit: Rong , Kyle

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

Scotland Readies to Ban Plastic Handled Cotton Buds


There has been a growing concern in the UK about the prevalent water pollution. In response to this, Scotland is set to impose a ban on both the use as well as the production of plastic handled cotton bud in her country.

Wastes on the shorelines and in beaches in Scotland, resulting from flushing used plastic cotton buds down the toilet, are estimated to be about half of the total plastic pollution experienced.

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Scotland’s environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, had this to say, ” Banning plastic cotton buds would be a clear sign of our ambition to address marine plastics and demonstrate further leadership on this issue. Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets. This has to stop.

Scotland’s sewerage infrastructure collects and treats some 945 million litres of waste water each day. These systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds which can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them. These products are completely unnecessary as biodegradable alternatives are readily available. The need for action is clear and I would encourage everyone with an interest in safeguarding our natural environment to take part in the consultation when it opens.”

Scotland will be the first country in the UK to make this move, well appreciated by campaigners, who described the move as — great news for the environment and wildlife. In fact, many organizations and big supermarkets, are already having a shift from the use and sales of plastic cotton buds to paper handled ones. An example is a prominent pharmaceutical giant — Johnson and Johnson.

Environmentalists have really applauded Scotland’s move to ban the use of these plastic cotton buds.

Catherine Gemmell, Scotland Conservation officer for the Marine Conservation Society. “After finding over 3,500 plastic cotton bud sticks on beaches across Scotland during our Great British Beach Clean in 2017, that’s an average of 29 for every 100m surveyed, we’re delighted to hear Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham’s plans to ban the making and selling of them in Scotland. For things that are maybe used for just five minutes to clean our ears or put on eye make-up — they can cause huge impacts on our oceans for hundreds of years.”

Gemmell added that, the flushed out plastic cotton buds that end up in our seas and beaches can accumulate toxins such as PCs (polychlorinated biphenyls) or can be accidentally ingested by marine life, causing physical damage. She said, “Paper and cardboard alternatives are already available for those who need them. The ban will help us all make the change, however, no matter what it is made of, we still want everyone to only flush the 3 P’s down the loo—pee, poo and paper, for the sake of Scotland’s seas!”

The director of the Friends of the Earth Scotland, Dr Richard Dixon, had this to say, “This decisive action is great news for the environment and for wildlife. Cotton buds are a very visible sign of our hugely wasteful habits, turning up on beaches across the globe.

Manufacturers and supermarkets are already moving in the right direction but this single measure will guarantee that Scotland cuts its contribution to marine plastic pollution in half. Following the plastic bag charge and the announcement of a deposit and return scheme for drinks’ bottles and cans, this is another good step on the way to a society which uses resources more sensibly. We look forward to further initiatives when the Government’s promised new group on single-use plastic containers, such as coffee cups, reports its work.”

Dr Lyndsey Dodds who is the head of marine policy at WWF, said: “Cotton buds are some of the most pervasive forms of marine pollution so a ban is very welcome and a step in the right direction. We know plastic is suffocating our seas and devastating our wildlife, with millions of birds, fish and mammals dying each year because of the plastic in our oceans. Plastics are also finding their way into the food we eat and the water we drink, so saving our oceans will require further ambitious action from governments, industry and consumers.”

Alasdair Neilson, the project officer at the environmental charity Fidra, who runs ‘The Cotton Bud’ Project, said, “This progressive step will be welcomed by everyone who has seen cotton buds polluting our beaches and harming our wildlife. A ban would support the responsible businesses that have already removed this single-use plastic item from their shelves. Let’s hope it also marks a bigger shift in the way we use and value plastics.

These products are completely unnecessary as biodegradable alternatives are readily available. The need for action is clear and I would encourage everyone with an interest in safeguarding our natural environment to take part in the consultation when it opens.”

Image credit: pixabay

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

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China Makes Move to Limit Air Pollution by Ending the Production of Over 500 Car Models


China has made a vital move to stop air pollution by ending the production of more than 500 car models and other model versions that do not meet the economy’s fuel criteria. It is important to note that 535 car models have been affected. However, China’s move to curb air pollution by putting a ban on these car models have been announced on the official state news agency this week.

Furthermore, the suspension of these car models has taken an immediate effect since Jan. 1 2018. Cars that do not meet the country’s fuel economy standards, plus vehicles produced from internal manufacturers such as Cherry Automobile Co, Limited, and also models from FAW-Volkswagen and Beijing Benz Automotive have been affected.

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China’s move was apparent to “shake” the car manufacturing sector which boasts of 28 million vehicles produced in 2016. Nevertheless, China has lots of small-scale car manufacturers, in which some of these manufacturers produce more than a hundred cars annually. The government has made adequate efforts to merge its automobile sector, which is a factor that has played a major role in the suspension.

Moreover, the secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, Cui Dongshu has said that the suspension of car models in China would only affect 1% of the Chinese market. Although, China’s decision to deregister the fuel economy on different versions of car models is a good sign of the commitment the government has to combat air pollution that is resulting in climate change. The Chinese government has set out plans to promote electric vehicles in order to encourage a better environment.

Before now, China has placed more priority on economic growth than protecting the environment and produced more than half of greenhouse gases, but it has resurfaced as a stronghold to combat climate-change after several actions from the U.S government in the rejection of the Paris climate accord.

However, the Chinese government is under much pressure to dive into the problem of air pollution and put a halt to it once and for all. Several effects of air pollution have caused serious panic to the Chinese populace; there have been situations where air pollution has forced schools and businesses to shut down briefly. Late last year, China made plans to have the largest carbon market across the globe, thus, offering lots of Chinese big businesses a financial spur to operate freely.

The president of Dunne Automobiles, Michael Dunne, has said that “China is sending an immense message across the world”. It is important to note that Dunne Automobiles is a Hong Kong-based company in China’s automobile sector.

Furthermore, it is also necessary to note that China has now emerged as the world’s biggest sponsor of electric cars; it has also offered incentives to car manufacturers to produce electric vehicles. Although, these incentives will be replaced by quotas in 2 years’ time for the number of electric cars that must be sold. This plan has urged lots of automobile manufacturers to increase the pace in the production of electric vehicles.

By contrast, the U.S under the leadership of President Donald Trump has considered withdrawing its support from plans to combat change, thus, killing the tax credit for battery-powered cars in its recent tax overhaul.

However, considering the fact that big automobile manufacturers such as Dongfeng Motor Corporation were not spared, says so much about China’s commitment to fight air pollution and achieve their goals as soon as possible, thereby, not giving-in to favoritism to the “big players” in the automobile industry, says Bruce M. Belzowski, of the Automotive Futures group at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

China’s commitment has surprised other governments across the world today; this is due to the fact it has never indulged itself to take-up adequate measures on emission standard, not until now. At the moment, the Chinese government is empowering automobile manufacturers in the country to catch-up with the latest trend in making “clean cars”.

Mr. Dunne has made it known that “the latest stride is a recent indication of how fast their own automobile manufacturers have emerged and they are showing no signs of slowing down”.

Nevertheless, other foreign automobile manufacturers had to tally the effect of the ban on Tuesday. Manufacturers such as Volkswagen, General Motors, Honda, etc. have placed lots of probes. BMW, which is one of the biggest automobile industry has said that the company is not yet prepared for any statement.

Moreover, Engadget has stated that “the ban on vehicles that don’t meet the emission standards stands contrasts with the U.S. The Republican tax plan which has been released does not have adequate plans that would take out the EV tax credit, but only the spurs to move for environmental-friendly vehicles, which have little possibility to survive, due to the efforts of the current government to protect fossil fuels at all costs.

On the hand, the Chinese government is increasing its pace in the production of greener cars, because it has no option. Air pollution is imposing detrimental effects on China; due to this reason, the Chinese government is looking for adequate means to sustain the health of its residents.

Image credit: flickr

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

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18 Eco-Friendly Home Projects to Complete in 2018


Do you have any home improvement projects on the radar in 2018? Why not make them eco-friendly? Eco-friendly or environmentally friendly are those products that claim reduced, minimal, or no harm upon ecosystems or the environment. Environmentally conscious updates to your living space can save you money and help preserve the environment.

With just couple of days left for new year to set in, let’s start this new year with some easy and eco-friendly projects that have minimum impact on the environment. Here are 18 eco-conscious home improvement ideas for 2018.

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1. Start Composting

Instead of tossing organic waste into the trash, start a compost pile in your backyard. The EPA estimates nearly 25 percent of the waste dumped into landfills each year could have been composted. Additionally, composting improves soil quality and decreases erosion.

Composting also helps deter pests in your garden. You’ll save cash on pesticide costs, increase your produce yield and grow healthier, more organic food for your family.

2. Give Your Kitchen a Facelift

Are you in the market for a new kitchen? Instead of trashing your old cabinetry and drawers, try re-purposing them and changing their layout. Refinishing old cabinetry and changing out fixtures, knobs and handles is an environmentally friendly way to get a new look without breaking the bank.

3. Upgrade Your Flooring

New flooring can brighten and completely change the look of a room. Make your new choice eco-conscious by choosing linoleum over vinyl. Vinyl flooring can emit VOCs over time, which can degrade indoor air quality and lead to respiratory illnesses. Choose linoleum flooring instead. Linoleum is nontoxic and won’t leach noxious gases.

4. Repaint Your Home With No- to Low-VOC Paint

A fresh coat of paint can make any room look cleaner and more open. While color is important, so is paint quality. Choose a paint brand that won’t emit VOCs, or at the very least, emits them in low concentrations. Standard paints often release toxic VOCs, similar to vinyl flooring. You’ll improve your indoor air quality and your health.

5. Switch to Geothermal Heating

Geothermal systems use the Earth’s stable ground temperature to maintain a comfortable climate in your home. A pump sends liquid 300 feet beneath the Earth’s surface and returns it to a geothermal heater, which then distributes the temperate liquid through the flooring in your home. In the hot summer months, heat is drawn from the air and deposited back into the Earth.

On average, geothermal systems use 80 percent less energy compared to traditional heating systems. Additionally, they don’t require fossil fuels to operate. It’ll take approximately 10 years before your geothermal investment pays off.

6. Purchase Used Furniture

Consignment shops, antique stores and garage sales often offer excellent deals on high-quality, gently used furniture. Purchasing preowned furniture limits the amount of waste that may make it into landfills and usually costs less than newer options.

7. Add Larger Windows

Are you looking for a more drastic change? Add larger windows to your home or change their layout. Optimizing the natural light that enters your home can help lower your energy bill by reducing heating and lighting costs. Larger windows will also help improve air circulation throughout the year, which can help improve indoor air quality.

8. Install Solar Panels

The cost of installing a solar energy system is on the decline, thanks to technological improvements and solar energy becoming a more mainstream option. Additionally, many state governments, in addition to the federal government, offer tax incentives for homeowners interested in converting to solar energy.

Before you make the jump, have an expert or industry professional analyze your home to determine whether it’s suitable for solar panels. Factors to consider include your local climate, the slope of your roof and tree cover.

9. Reinsulate Your Home

New insulation won’t change the overall look of your home, but it will change the overall feel. Insulation degrades over time, leading to gaps in coverage. Poor insulation will allow air to escape from your home and can dramatically increase your heating and cooling costs throughout the year.

Some insulation can last up to 100 years, but leaking roofs, punctures, animals and other factors can drastically reduce this timeline. Review your home’s history and energy bills to determine if your home can benefit from new insulation.

10. Perform an Energy Audit

Hire an energy professional to perform an energy audit in your home to determine where you can make the most impact. Energy auditors review your home to see where you may be losing energy and provide recommendations on where to make the most impact. Energy auditors can help homeowners can save anywhere from 5 to 30 percent on their energy bill.

11. Invest in Energy Star Appliances

Appliances account for up to 30 percent of home energy usage. Switching the appliances in your home to those with the Energy Star label can save you money on your energy bill and help preserve the environment.

The government backs Energy Star appliances and guarantees they will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and operate more efficiently compared to non-Energy Star competitors. When shopping for replacements, check to see whether an appliance has the government-certified Energy Star label.

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12. Do a Little Spring Cleaning

Set aside time to dig through the attic, your closet and the other areas in your home where you’ve been storing unused or unwanted items. Instead of throwing things directly into the trash, donate them to a local thrift store or hold a garage sale to earn some extra cash. Repurposing unwanted items helps keep them out of landfills.

13. Greenify Your Living Space

Houseplants can help improve indoor air quality by reducing carbon dioxide and absorbing airborne toxins, including benzene and formaldehyde. Not all plants are created equal, however. Spider plants, snake plants and rubber trees are among some of the easiest plants to grow with the best indoor air quality benefits.

14. Switch to Energy-Efficient Windows

Poorly sealed or aging windows can decrease your energy efficiency dramatically. Consider investing in a more energy-efficient option to improve your home’s overall comfort and reduce your energy costs.

If new windows aren’t in your budget, try repairing or updating your existing ones. Improving the caulking around window seals, installing storm windows and adding treatments can also help reduce your overall energy consumption.

15. Install a Low-Flow Toilet

Low-flow toilets use 25 to 50 percent of the water used by conventional toilets per flush. Over one year, the average family of four can save up to 22,000 gallons of water, which translates to nearly $100 in savings on your annual water bill.

A variety of options exist depending on your budget and the type of toilet you’re looking for. Some systems recycle greywater from your sink, leading to further water conservation and even lower water bills.

16. Update Your Landscaping

Adding native plants to your yard can provide additional habitat for local wildlife and reduce your water bill. Local plants are better suited to your environment and won’t require the same amount of water or fertilizer to flourish.

Excess fertilizers can wash off plants and soil in heavy rain events and into local waterbodies. The excess chemicals are harmful to marine life and can lead to an overabundance of algae and other plants, which reduces oxygen levels in the water.

17. Invest in Rain Barrels

Rain barrels capture excess stormwater from your rooftop for future use. They are relatively inexpensive to install and provide a free source of water for use on your lawn or garden.

Additionally, rain barrels prevent excess rainwater from contributing to stormwater runoff. Water flows faster over hard surfaces and can lead to more instances of flooding.

18. Install a Rain Garden

Properly installed rain gardens act as small wetlands. They reduce excess stormwater runoff while the plants neutralize pollutants in the water. When stormwater runoff flows over hard surfaces, it picks up pollutants from oil and gas spills and fertilizers. Rain gardens prevent these contaminants from making their way into water bodies.

With a little effort, you can reduce your family’s carbon footprint and make your 2018 a little bit greener.

Image credit: pexels

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

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Soft Drink Execs: Plastic Pollution a Low Priority to Shoppers


Soft drink executives have told the government officials that most shoppers do not care much about the effect of buying plastic bottles on the environment. Such statement could be seen in the documents released by Unearthed.

Companies such as Nestle, Lucozade Ribena, and Coca-Cola were invited for a soft drinks roundtable in order to discuss the present problems on plastic bottles specifically on the amount of waste and the issue on plastic bottle recycling.

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Plastic pollution, specifically the single-use packaging including plastic bottles, has been gaining more attention from various individuals and environmental organizations across the globe due to the amount of plastic that has been entering the oceans. In the United Kingdom alone, there are an estimated 15 million plastic bottles that are being thrown away every day rather than being recycled. The data shows how people really do not care about the effects of plastic bottles if they are only thrown anywhere.

One of the reasons for the public outcry on the issue of plastic is the screening of Blue Planet 2, a documentary that includes the ill effects of plastics, which consisted of a footage of turtles that are trapped in plastic debris. Moreover, albatrosses are shown in the documentary feeding their offspring with plastics.

Inspired by the documentary, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has told the reporters that the issue on plastic should be tackled. He further mentioned the need to boost recycling rates, reduce the number of plastics that are being circulated, and to make the process of recycling easier by reducing the number of different types of plastic which are commonly used.

Drink company executives who joined the roundtable meeting told the officials that consumers who are aware of the state of the environment like the idea of less plastic. They further mentioned that those who are not concerned with the environment think that softer bottles are of inferior and substandard quality.

The executives also mentioned that addressing the problem of littering is easier than attempting to inform the consumers of the materials which their bottles are made up of. This goes to show how soft drink bottle users do not prioritize plastic pollution as much as they prioritize their own needs.

The report also mentioned that plastic bottle consumers usually say that they care about the environmental impact of drink packaging. In a survey conducted for Veolia, a recycling company, more than half of the consumers would instead choose a beverage placed in a recyclable container than over a similar product but placed in a non-recyclable container.

Meanwhile, 71 percent of the respondents in a separate survey mentioned that they would support an increase in the cost of a plastic milk bottle if it were made of recycled plastics and that these bottles would be recycled after use.

The executives further mentioned that introducing a new system together with the existing curbside collections could confuse the consumers who are more invested in getting rid of rubbish out of convenience rather than a financial reward.

Dr. Laura Foster, the Head of Pollution at Marine Conservation Society, mentioned that responsible consumers and manufacturers are becoming more aware that they do not want to see their product being a threat to the environment. She further indicated that giving incentives to those who are returning beverage containers through a deposit-return scheme (DRS) are increasing, with return rates of over 95% in countries where the scheme has already been introduced.

A spokesperson for Coca-Cola stated that the company support DRS. She further mentioned that Coca-Cola had committed itself to double the amount of recycled plastic on its bottle to 50 percent by the year 2020. She said that they would get the materials from a recycling plant in Lincolnshire. By doing so, the company is hoping to contribute to the circular economy in the country.

On the other hand, the spokesperson of Nestle told that a well-designed deposit-return scheme that is easy to use could be a significant solution to achieve a higher recycling rate.

Meanwhile, a Danone spokesperson mentioned that the company supports efficient solution that would lower the societal costs, giving incentives to packaging producers in order to increase the recycling and reuse of their packaging.

The roundtable emphasized the role of the government in such issue. The executives mentioned that the government has a legal obligation to improve the recycling rates. Since litter is an issue in most parts of the world – from the streets to the marine environment – a government is needed to reduce litter and the amount of marine debris.

They also said that local authorities should support the call to bolster the existing household recycling infrastructure, noting the need to improve varied recycling approaches including DRS.

In the end, the decrease of plastic bottle consumption should start with the individual. By prioritizing products with recyclable materials, individuals could help reduce the environmental impact of plastic pollution on the rest of the world.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

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France Bans Extraction of Fossil Fuel by 2040


France becomes the first country to pass a law which bans any extraction of fossil fuels in all of its constituent territories by 2040. This includes fracking or any other form of extracting shale gas and fossil fuels.

Passed by the French National Assembly, this law also prohibits the awarding of any new permits to extract fossil fuels, while existing licenses of companies will not be able to renew past 2040. This means, oil production in France and all of its territories will finally come to an end.

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This freshly legalized regime will make France the first nation within the European Union and the rest of the world to commit to an outright ban on oil gas and oil production.

Moreover, this newly passed law is in line with the goal of French President Emmanuel Macron to make France the leader in the switch to renewable energy. As a matter of fact, he has always been vocal about his ambitions to make France as the leading nation in the drive towards a sustainable use of energy following the opposing decision of the United States regarding the issue.

However, it is worth noting that France imports 99% of its fossil fuel requirements. Within the country and its territories, just over 800,000 tons of oil are produced a year. Saudi Arabia can extract the same amount of oil in just a few hours. These data mean that the bill will only make a small effect on the global scale since there is only a small portion of fossil fuels that are extracted across the country and in overseas territories. Because of this law, the fossil fuel exploration in Guyana, A territory of France in South America, will be directly affected.

Taking the data aside, the law is still a significant step in fighting against climate change. Delphine Batho, a socialist lawmaker, hoped that the outright ban would inspire nations with bigger oil productions to follow suit.

Since President Macron took his office mid-2017, he has committed his drive to shut down all coal power plants in France by 2023. He is even deciding to put an end to the sale of diesel cars and petrol by 2040. Moreover, France has also announced its intention to close up to 17 nuclear power plants by 2025. While these power plants provide the country with most of its zero-emissions electricity, the ultimate goal is to replace these sources with renewable ones and not pollution producers.

France, under the leadership of Macron, is also luring climate scientists of the United States with $70 million worth of grants, after nearly 2,000 American researchers applied for such grants. These researchers are said to have experienced the devaluing of science under the administration of Trump.

Shortly after the announcement of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, France has launched their version of President Trump’s slogan called, “Make Our Planet Great Again.” The campaign stresses the commitment of France in achieving climate and energy transition within its territory, as a nation within the European Union, and as a leading country at the international level.

Nicolas Hulot, the ecology minister of France, says the ban will ensure consistency between the laws and the climate commitments of the country under the Paris Climate Change Agreement. He further mentioned that to remain below the two-degree Celsius limit, the country must leave most of fossil fuel sources underground.

Similar to the statement of Delphine Batho, Hulot also mentioned that while the production of gas and oil is outweighed by the country’s consumption of imported energy sources, France remains to be the first country to take such measures that will hopefully have a contagion effect with the rest of the world.

However, such news is not taken lightly by environmental organizations in France. Apparently, there are signed contracts for gas and oil extraction by the French government that predate the ban. Canceling these obligations could have corresponding financial penalties. According to Juliette Renaud, a fossil fuel industry expert with Friends of the Earth, there are around 55 exploration licenses that may have been previously approved. These licenses will likely be extended.

Renaud further mentioned that 132 extraction permits are still awaiting approval. She argued that if the French territories and the rest of the world will continue to exploit conventional hydrocarbons, it may be difficult for the nation to help keep the global temperatures from rising above two degrees Celsius.

At the moment, it is still too early to gauge the results of such law. However, it is worth noting that every little bit of action would be essential to inhibit the apparent dark future of the environment that we are starting to notice. Moreover, this symbolic ban may be a crucial step, especially that the United States has already committed itself to renew its dying coal industry.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

Construction, Working and Environmental Effects of Landfill


Most of us have heard about landfills but few ever think of them as anything more that holes in the ground that get filled with trash bags. Nonetheless, landfills are a little more complex than how most of us perceive of it. A landfill is a waste disposal system where waste is buried, but the waste first goes through some processing before it is buried. Landfills are some of the most common means of waste disposal and have become increasingly popular due to the hazardous effects of burning waste, which used to be the primary technique of dealing with waste disposal for many developed and developing countries.

The uniqueness of landfills is how it allows for the burying of waste, in that, it does not cause an eyesore such as is the case with dumpsites and is completely isolated from getting into contact with groundwater or the air. Landfills also provide the added advantage of providing potential sources for energy which means that they make use of the waste in ways that no other trash storage method does.

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Construction of the landfill

Landfills work by going through a thorough process of evaluation first in order to determine where to put them and its lifetime operation. The criteria are as follows;

1. Area of land

The section of land for setting up the landfill needs to be large as not only is the actual landfill supposed to be sizable to pack enough waste, but also requires a lot of space for supporting structures that will be discussed further on. Environmental impact study also has to be done on the land before construction begins.

2. Composition of the bottom of the pit

The bottom of the pit needs to be as watertight as possible. This means that the bottom of the pit should be compacted tightly or the bedrock should not have cracks in it to prevent water from the pit leaking into ground water.

3. Surface flow of water

The flow of water from rain should also be studied in a bid to develop strategies to prevent runoff water from the landfill from making its way to rivers as well as the ground table. This means, landfills cannot be constructed near rivers and lakes and they require drainage systems to manage their surface water run-off.

4. Environmental impact assessment

This is to evaluate the damage that the project will have on the surrounding region as well as drawing up plans for contingencies that will help solve problems that the landfill might cause. The systems set up here are supposed to ensure the environment does not suffer too greatly while cushioning against any forms of accidents.

5. Historical and archaeological value of the site

Historical and archaeological valuation of the site has to be done to ensure the landfill site does not disturb land that is significant in any way either historically for the local people or on the basis of archaeological importance that would be lost. 

How Landfill Works?

Once these requirements are established, the landfill creation process can begins and this shows exactly how the landfill works. Landfills may differ in operations, structure and how they are designed, but the following are the typical structures involved.

1. Bottom Liner system

The Bottom Liner System is the section ensuring that the trash and leachate does not drain into the ground water or sip out of the landfill and make its way to other water sources or pollute the soil. The liner is usually a durable and puncture resistant material such as polyvinylchloride about a tenth of an inch (approximately 3 millimetres) thick.

2. The Cells

This is where the actual trash gets placed. As space is a precious commodity for landfills, there is a need to be very careful with how it is packed. Cells are created to allow for the allocation of specific space resources while guaranteeing optimal usage of the given land for the landfill. The packing process is especially rigorous, requiring that each cell be filled then compacted using heavy machinery to ensure maximum use of space. The resulting trash is usually packed till it becomes airtight.

Examples of cell dimensions have them placed at 15 by 15 by 4 meters. At the top of each cell, they are packed with about 6 inches of compacted soil to ensure the cell remains airtight, preventing insect and other pest penetration into the landfill.

3. Storm Water Drainage System

This is the system maintaining the dryness of the landfill by preventing water from seeping into the system. It directs surface runoff away from the landfill as well as ensuring water does not find way into rivers untreated.

4. Leachate Collection System

This system collects leachate that eventually seeps from the landfill. While trash put into the landfill is usually checked for liquids and rejected if it’s too wet, the system still generates enough liquid referred to as leachate. This liquid contains large concentrations of hazardous materials that have dissolved in it from the landfill trash over time.

It is therefore very dangerous to have it pool anywhere unmanaged or drain off into water sources. As such, the system collects the leachate and drains it out of the landfill into a collection region where it is processed just like sewage and released safely back into the natural water ways.

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5. Methane Collection System

Due to the airtight nature of the packing process, only anaerobic bacteria can survive in the landfill. These are the bacteria that do not need oxygen to survive. The bacteria break down the materials found within the landfill and produce mostly two by-products, methane and carbon dioxide.

Methane is highly flammable; therefore, letting it collect within the landfill is a dangerous option given that it might be densely packed and eventually becomes explosive. For this reason, the methane collection systems either collects the gas and use and/or sell it as a fuel source or burn it on site to reduce its concentration inside the landfill.

6. Covering or Cap

The covering cap is the last bit of material placed daily on the landfill to cover the cells. It is usually a polythene material covered in a thick layer of soil that later has trees and shrubs grown on it once the landfill is completely filled to prevent erosion. The covering is done to prevent exposure of the waste to the air, pests, and to aid on the management of bad smell.

Landfills can have very adverse effects on the environment, especially when improperly constructed. The major concerns include:

1. Leaching

Leachate is the water contained in the trash that usually seeps out over time. While management during construction ensures the trash ending up in landfills is relatively dry, some liquid is inherent within the trash and thus drains out over time. This leachate has in it dissolved organic and non-organic material and minerals. It is also usually acidic. This can cause horrendous changes in the pH levels of the soil around the landfill as well as change its chemical composition.

2. Methane as a greenhouse gas

Methane gas, as previously discussed, is extremely volatile and could easily cause problems. However, its biggest contribution to the environmental problem is that, it is a greenhouse gas. In this view, methane gas could contribute to the global warming. The situation is even made worse by the possible human errors that could contribute to problems such as accidental release of the gas due to negligence.

3. Other gases similarly cause air pollution and health problems to humans

Some other gases also tend to be produced in the landfills especially when ammonia and bleach mix. These gases can cause health problems and reduce the quality of life because of the bad smell. Besides, it can be particularly dangerous because of the tendency of converting landfills into recreational parks at the end of their lifecycle.

4. Potential fire hazard

Another huge concern is the potential fire hazard that landfills pose. Poor construction of landfills could leave enough room in the structure for air to make its way in. The produced methane gas could then easily mix with the air and ignite to start a fire. The trash within the landfill could then burn, heating to very high temperature as it burns due to its construction, the same way an oven burns, with all the compacted material above and below it. Such an occurrence could make the fires very hard to put out. Furthermore, the fire could cause the leachate to spread when attempts are made to put out the fire.

5. Soil erosion and dust

During the construction of landfills, a lot of soil is disturbed that leads to increased dust in the air. Also, the dust could rise after the completion of the project if shrubs and plants are not planted appropriately on top of the cap. Moreover, soil erosion could occur during the whole process of moving dirt as well as over time as the cap on the landfill slowly gets attacked by surface water run-off and wind.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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20+ Simple and Easy Ways to go Zero Waste at Home


Zero waste entails a set objective set by an individual(s) or organization(s) to ensure the absence of materials which can become waste or that lead to resource wastage. It follows that for this to be possible, there is need to remodel the waste by using them as useful resources. That is, reverting back to the original source of materials to tackle the waste from the very beginning by managing the resource and all the processes therein that lead to production to ensure no wastage is realized.

One major concern is that the growth of population in the world is faced with a predicament of not having a subsequent growth in resources in the environment. For this reason, the conversion of waste to be reused is a plus. In a bid to accomplish this initiative, it should start at home where resources can be managed with ease. This article seeks to enlighten on 20+ simple and easy ways to go zero waste at home.

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1. Use of bamboo toothbrushes. It is common health know how that a toothbrush ought to be used once every 3 months. In as much as this is a boost to personal hygiene, it also means that in every 3 months, a toothbrush is disposed of which leads to an increase in pollution in the landfill. To avoid this and still promote personal hygiene, it is easier to opt for bamboo toothbrushes which are very compostable.

2. Use of fabric cleaning rags. This is a cost effective initiative that ensures less use of synthetic material for washing i.e washing brushes. Instead, old cloths can make good rags which last longer and can be recycled. This ensures that cloths that are no longer needed can be reused.

3. Ensure you have a cotton or synthetic fiber bag for groceries. Groceries obtained from supermarkets cannot escape packaging using plastics, nylon papers or meshes. Therefore, it is essential to have your own bag that is not a hazard to the environment and that which can be used every other time when heading out for groceries.

4. Acquire baking soda as it has multiple uses. Baking soda is a multipurpose component that can ensure less purchase of items in the house. It is mainly used for hygiene purposes at home. It can be used as toothpaste, detergent for laundry as well as kitchen utensils and top it all off, it is a body deodorant. This goes a long way towards reducing the budget for the said items as well as having one universal item for multiple purposes.

5. Ensure that you own a mason jar. Mason jars are multipurpose. They can be used for storing wastes as well as foodstuff. Instead of packaging food in the fridge using plastic containers, the Mason jar may be used. It is advantageous as it can be washed thoroughly for future storage of food. Moreover, in case of making trips where snacks and drinks are essential, the Mason jar can come in handy.

6. Ensure that you are in possession of a handkerchief. A handkerchief is very useful since it can be used in place of tissues when feeding, drying tears or mucus and just needs a rewash instead of disposal. Tissues and disposable wipes cannot be used for very long and once disposed, pose a threat to the landfill. It is worth noting that handkerchiefs are easy to carry as they take up less space which means they can be carried everywhere, either at home or outdoors.

7. Obtain groceries from a fresh farm market. Produce from the farm market is fresh and healthy since the market is strictly a farm market. Moreover, the packaging used in the farm markets is one that is environment friendly thus avoiding the use of non-recyclable packaging materials and the use of tags are discouraged.

8. Ensure you have a reusable water bottle. The landfill is full of plastic water bottles which are disposed due to the tendency to lack storage for drinking water and lack of water for drinking. This has led to the overly popular trend of purchase of plastic water bottles.

Individuals should ensure they have a water bottle which is insulated and stainless. In addition to this, water should be obtained from home, that is, from tap water to ensure one has water when they go out to dissuade the purchase of plastic water bottles.

9. Obtain glass or stainless containers for food storage. Storage of food is a critical issue since it entails hygiene. The use of plastics to store food can lead to sweating of the plastics which is cancerous and harmful to one’s health. One should thus opt for glass or stainless containers which just need thorough washing and can be reused for storage. Besides, there is less contamination of food when stored in these containers.

10. Obtain reusable napkins. There are many uses for such napkins. One can use them to dry dishes at home to avoid use of some dish towels which are unrecyclable. Furthermore, cleaning and dusting home antiquities becomes easier using napkins.

Wrapping of food also becomes easy now that the reusable napkins can be used. This dissuades use of plastic bags in carrying snacks. Woven cotton napkins are very efficient for cleaning as well as packaging.

11. Getting rid of unnecessary things at home. It is common tendency of people to take up space in order to have a lot even when they are not in need of these things. The so called ‘feel of property’ encourages pollution since there is no need for the items in the house and as such, they should be disposed of, donated or sold at auctions in order to have free house space and better aeration present.

12. Use of cotton towels. Cotton towels are easy to use and easy to wash. They are a plus compared to the use of paper towels which end up filling the landfill. Cotton is a microfiber material which is very suitable for long lasting towel life. These cotton towels can either be purchased from cloth stores or can be sown to one’s preference and potential use.

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13. Maintaining proper indoor compost bins. Every home should have a small bin inside the house where they deposit all the materials they decide to dispose. When the bin is full, there are two options. The small bin can be disposed into an outdoor bin or through municipal composting.

14. Return of plastic containers and bags for deposit. Some stores encourage the return of plastic bags once issued as well as containers for a deposit. This is a good initiative as it provides incentive towards the shoppers to ensure they bring back the plastics for the stores to reuse as well as recycle for the production of more bags and containers. In addition, the shopper is encouraged to always have with him/her the plastics he bought so as to return thus maintaining the cleanliness of the environment.

15. Repair broken appliances and electronics. In most instances when electronics and other appliances break or fail to work, the occupy space in the house or in the garage before finally being thrown in the pit which increases the waste on the landfill. It is essential that such broken appliances are repaired for reuse instead of sending them to the landfill.

16. Buy items in bulk. Buying food products at small quantities leads to too many wastes for all the wrappings, plastic bags and containers present in the small items. Additionally, it leads to an increase in the spending on food. Instead, buying food in bulk and then sub-dividing the contents into small reusable mason jars aids to minimize the wastes in the environment.

17. Efficient drug disposal. Just like the stores, most pharmacies encourage taking back of drugs that have either expired or that have not been taken for a long time. This is to discourage the improper disposal of medicine either on land fill or through flushing in toilets which leads to pollution to water sources.

18. Ladies should ensure that they own a menstrual cup. It is a safer option since it maintains hygiene as well as reduces the chances of disposables on the environs. It is easy to manage as it entails thorough cleaning and proper storage. Not only are they manageable, they are cheaper than regular purchase of tampons on a monthly basis.

19. Minimize wastage of food. Food wastage is not only a health hazard to the environment but also a case of poor use of resources. Food resources should be well conserved in the house. This can be done by shopping only for what is needed to avoid excesses which lead to food wastes. Alternatively, the food leftovers can be redesigned as paste for sauces and other food items.

20. Make your own cosmetics. It is not only cheap to do so but also economical. Homemade cosmetics can range from cleaning items, shampoos, to facial cosmetics. It also ensures less usage of harmful items packaged from the industries. In consequence of this, there is less purchase from the shops which translates to fewer plastics in the house.

21. Opt for downloading and streaming videos rather than purchase of CD’s and DVDs. This aids the house to have zero waste when it comes to entertainment. CD’s once viewed after a couple of times, may need to be disposed. Thus, streaming channels such as Neflix are the way to go.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

Garbage is Beautiful [Infographic] – Conserve Energy Future


Many Americans are uneducated about the nuts and bolts of recycling. In fact, in 2017 only 40% of people said that they cared about the environment and our planet’s future. This is an alarming number to consider when in 2014 alone Americans produced 258 million tons of trash and 53% of that ended up in landfills. On average a single person can generate over 4 pounds of waste per day and unless more people start taking action to recycle properly, the majority of that waste will end up as trash in landfills.

There are a lot of excuses to be made as to why we throw away so much waste instead of recycling. For some it is the idea that recycling alone doesn’t make much of a difference or impact on our planet. Others may see recycling as an inconvenience or perhaps unreasonable because the service is not readily available in their community or if it is there may be a cost tied to it. Additionally there are also many who may be an interested in recycling but because they are unaware of the proper way to recycle past the basics tossing something becomes the easier option.

Educating people on what can be recycled and how to recycle some of the trickier items such as light bulbs and batteries as well as where to go to recycle these items can make a huge difference on helping reduce and reuse our waste. When one person begins to recycle it can lead a whole community to do the same so that instead of just one person decreasing waste by over 1500 pounds per year that number can grow exponentially.  Regardless of the exact reason why Americans aren’t recycling there’s no time like the present to start encouraging and educating each other on how to recycle easily and properly so that together we can make a change to a greener planet. For more information on how to recycle and think outside that recycling bin check out this infographic.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

Don’t Blame God or Nature. We are the Leading Cause of Natural Disasters.


Often times, we have often said most events that occur naturally were caused by God or they are natural disasters. One question that comes to the mind is, what is natural about events such as climate-induced disasters that occur today? It is important to note that since the mutiny of “Anthropocene” which is an era when species have become the main influence of the alteration of the earth’s biological, physical, and chemical properties, man has been using fossil fuels to empower the growth of technologies and since then, with the rise in human population, it has caused an insatiable need for the consumption of these fuels. As a result of these activities, we are now solely responsible for the catastrophic concerns that are occurring today.

Right now, the density of water in big dams and the process of drilling deep in the earth before water is injected into the rock at a very high pressure (fracking) are one of the leading causes of natural disasters such as earthquakes. Also, actions such as draining water-logged areas, the reduction of water for industrial farming, production of plastics and certain chemicals, the pollution of aquatic bodies/habitat with nitrogen, deforestation, and the use of environmentally harmful methods for fishing, all combine to cause a change in the environment. Not only that, these practices have also caused an extinction of some species in our world today since the disappearance of dinosaurs about millions of years ago.

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However, even though we are the real perpetrators of these bad occurrences that are happening with our climate and also events like earthquakes, the extinction of species etc. We have decided to shift the blame to God or to natural disasters. It is also important to know that recently, humans have placed bounties and a rule to kill certain species such as wolves, seals, and basking sharks.

The insects which are obviously the most important group of animals in our ecosystem are also been affected by man’s activities, and this includes the production of pesticides and insecticides to eliminate their existence. One the famous pesticide known today is neonicotinoids–  are sensitive to bees which are vital pollinators. Forests that have existed a long time ago are called wild forests, while farms that substitute them, later on, are called a normal forest.

Do you know that there are lots of places on earth that are vital to the ecosystem that needs protection?  Hence, places like the temperate forest that cuts across Alaska and Northern California is one of the infrequent biomes on earth. The trees in this place have been annihilated in the U.S.

Lots of environmentalists have advocated on protecting the remains of this place, and as a result of their advocacy, they have been called “gluttonous”. Not only where environmentalist called “gluttonous”, they were called “enemies of BC” by Former BC Premier, Glen Clark. Furthermore, names like “eco-terrorists” and “radicals” were names given to environmentalists who want to salvage the environment.  But do you know that the real enemies are those who rush to cut-down trees, and destroy the atmosphere without putting the environmental consequences that might occur in mind?

It is sad to know that we have totally overlooked what the word “ecology” and “economy” mean. Both words mean a “domain” or a place we live and thrive in. Due to the fact that humans are always looking for ways to use their environment, they aren’t specific to a particular domain or environment. And as result, we can now live in any place that we choose for ourselves such as mountains, rocks, deserts, jungles, etc. Environmentalists try to look for factors that enhance the survival of species in their environment. While Economists are empowered to “supervise” our activities within our habitat.

People like the Prime Minister of the United States of America have their says that it is impossible to set up policies in order to reduce the release of greenhouse house gases which have detrimental effects on the economy. These set for people have a certain belief that the economy is very important than the atmosphere that influences the weather and climate.

In the same vein, lots of economic conservatives protest against a proficient market solution to climate change, such as carbon pricing, but do you know that market pricing is a good solution for climate change? An instance is the carbon pricing in Sweden which involved a tax of $35 a tonne in 1991, and this made an increase to the economy of Sweden to about 60% by 2012, thus reducing the release of greenhouse gases to about 25%. The tax has been increased to more than $170 to date.

On a concluding note, we all know the effects of climate change on our economy due to the increase in the use of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases.  However, these agents are the main factors of some bad happenings such as the monstrous wildfires (Kelowna, Fort McMurray), loss of glaciers, etc. All these events aren’t natural, instead, they are induced by man as a result of certain activities. Hence, we need to take responsibility and tackle these problems once and for all.

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Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)