Month: October 2019

ExxonMobile | The Long Term Consequences of Short Term Greed

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 30, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

The New York state fraud trial against ExxonMobile of Irving, TX,
kicked off on October 22, 2019 and a week later is still underway. The issues are now so heated, they’ve become as toxic as Exxon itself.

Texas is responsible for 12.7% of US carbon emissions, yet is 1 of 50 states. This ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300staggering percent alone indicates the significant increase in US and world carbon emission levels that oil production generates. It’s unimaginable that such a massive and profitable public company like ExxonMobile, can receive all the benefits and yet not be required to bare the burden of the negatives, meanwhile millions of innocent victims can lose their homes, all their personal possessions as well as their livelihoods, and potentially their lives, without any redress… until now.

Texas’ per capita carbon emissions is 24 metric tons, while California is only 9 metric tons, and NY of all states has the lowest per capita carbon emissions reading of a mere 8 metric tons, one third that of Texas. The District of Columbia is the lowest overall at 4 metric tons, but is not considered one of the 50 states. Coal state West Virginia, with the highest per capita carbon emissions of states whose population is more than one million, has a per capita carbon emissions reading of mind-numbing 52 metric tons.

  • TX – 28 million people, 12.7% of US carbon emissions
  • CA – 39 million, 7% US carbon emissions
  • FL – 21 million, 4.5% US carbon emissions
  • PA – 13 million, 4.2% US carbon emissions
  • NY – 20 million, 3.2% US carbon emissions

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Louisiana is another huge oil producing state, and is on the heels of West Virginia’s per capita carbon emissions, with a per capita reading of 45. There are two interesting outliers that haven’t been factored in, North Dakota and Wyoming, with 2019 populations so tiny —  757,952 and 585,501 — that their per capita carbon emissions appears criminal: North Dakota at 72 metric tons and Wyoming at 104. These two states seem to emphasize the significant impact cattle production has on global warming. For example, the state of North Dakota has 1.8 million cattle for it’s population of 585,501.

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If these state carbon emission readings are readily available through wikipedia, and the ability to draw connections between oil production, carbon emission levels, and global warming is so blatant and clear, how is it possible for the corporate executives to turn a blind eye to the global impact? Do the majority of us do that in our own lives and/or professions? It doesn’t appear that we do. Take parenting toddlers for example.

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Parents baby proof homes to keep their children safe. Gates go up. Special locks are attached to doors and drawers. Children are strapped into every kind of seat imaginable. Warnings are placed on every product catering to children. All of these precautions are soon ingrained in us. We’re able to assess our homes, connect dots, and buy products that meet the needs of ensuring safety. With this standard in mind, it thus makes Exxon’s willful disregard for doing the same type of assessment, and creating an action plan to address the dangers, that much more maddening.

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According to Courthouse News Service, in Manhattan court today, Rex Tillerson testified that he “lobbied the previous administration for a carbon tax and pushed for the landmark Paris Climate Accords.” The fact that his lobbying efforts didn’t work, or that Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement, appears to make Tillerson believe that he therefore did everything he could and isn’t responsible for any damage that Texas’ 12.7% carbon emission reading has on the world.

Interestingly, there are 22 states that chose to stay in the Paris Agreement, despite Trump pulling the US out. Texas wasn’t one of them. But 22 is nearly half the US states, three of which are red states. So it’s unclear why Tillerson would try and use Trump’s leaving the Paris Agreement as an excuse for doing nothing, when so many others in the same situation, rallied to protect their states and citizens and moved forward with creating and executing climate action agendas to meet the target goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, regardless of whether the US was in or not.

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Not only is Tillerson’s Paris Agreement excuse a non-starter, which serves to further validate the NY Attorney General’s claim of investor fraud, and underscore the willful disconnect between Exxon’s CEO and the reality of climate change, but when the extra level of sociopathic behavior of “lobbying for a carbon tax” is added in, which was followed by doing nothing when the carbon tax didn’t pass in Congress, the excuse becomes so lame it seems fraudulent for Tillerson to even mention it during his testimony today.

If a CEO truly does passionately believe in a carbon tax — because he understands that global warming and destructive climate events harm millions and millions, possibly billions of innocent victims — wouldn’t he have nobly used this would be carbon tax money to assist victims of traumatic climate events?

Exxon gave $500,000 during the 2017 Hurricane Harvey aftermath in Houston, and according to Google, nothing since to any other climate victims following catastrophic weather events. The microscopic Harvey amount is unfathomably pathetic when a company earned $19.7 billion that same year, compared to $7.8 billion the preceding year. The stunning increase in Exxon’s 2017 earnings during Tillerson’s first year as Secretary of State (should that be investigated?), with only a few tiny pennies to help with Harvey destruction? No, sorry, Mr. Tillerson. Your testimony today underscores your apathy and indifference to the global community that you’ve shattered.

The facts are plain as day. True leaders with a conscience know how to proceed and navigate a responsible path forward to protect the innocent in this type of quagmire (a quagmire that Exxon seemed to intentionally create so it wouldn’t be forced to act), but you, Sir, took advantage of the foggy conditions, and used it as an opportunity to maximize your profits and net worth. May justice be served. Hundreds of thousands have already died, millions of lives have been ruined. Short term greed has resulted in long term catastrophic global ruin. There’s hell to pay.

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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What is a Circular Economy? | Reversing Climate Change

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 21, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

LIGHTBULB! The solution to the climate crisis is for the global economy to shift from a linear economy to a circular. For the past 250 years — ever since the Industrial ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300Revolution began in 1760the world has been operating under a linear economy of take-make-waste. Under this paradigm, we take natural resources, make a lot of products and then dispose of the waste. Typically, disposing of the waste nets a negative impact on the environment as well as our health.

The linear cycle is often very inefficient, destroying far more natural resources than necessary, and leaving behind dangerous toxins everywhere. Corporations often build inefficiency into their business plan intentionally in order to increase revenue. For example, if a company manufactures a cheap product (let’s say a refrigerator) and it breaks easily, the consumer will have to buy a new one faster. Corporations are incentivized to produce a flimsy refrigerator. They make more money being inefficient. However, there are  negative consequences for the global community with this business plan: increased carbon emissions, poisoning of the environment and the fueling of climate change.

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The circular economy model is built on the concept of reduce-reuse-recycle . In a circular  economy the manufacturer will produce a very high quality refrigerator that will last a very long time. They’ll make money servicing the hardy refrigerator for the consumer. In creating a higher quality product, the company reduces the number of refrigerators it manufactures which results in a whole series of advantages from natural resources, to the environment, and to the public.

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The circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital.” Again, these are all positives. Breaking down every piece of the economic puzzle so that we can move toward a circular economy to save our civilization, is quite tedious, but must be done. There are layers of issues that need to be analyzed. The product itself, and all its parts, as well as the packaging. The reuse and recycle aspects of the product, the parts and the packaging have variations depending on purity, and other fine details. Take for example glass.

Glass packaging is truly amazing. It can be recycled forever. It will never lose its purity on its own, only when accidentally mixed with cardboard or paper, etc. To keep glass from becoming impure, the new philosophy is to create large community recycle bins where townspeople can drop their glass off for recycling once a week. Northern Virginia is piloting this test program. Curbside pickup of glass has been cancelled in Norther Virginia. Large collection bins have been delivered in key locations around town. We’ll now wait and see the benefits of this minor change in the way glass is recycled, so it can then be rolled out in every community in the United States.

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There will be business winners and losers, of course. Fossil fuels and plastics will each be phased out. These industries have benefitted from the linear model for many decades, but will eventually be eliminated by the circular. There’s already pushback, but the transition from linear to circular is inevitable. It’s the only way our civilization can survive.

Plastic packaging MUST be replaced with glass and aluminum, as well as other easy to recycle natural alternatives, or reused as the material to create new products. In nations with large leaves on most trees, the leaves have been harvested for packaging. Recycled paper is also being converted for packaging. There will be many innovations on this front in the upcoming months and years. Keep your eyes wide open as new solutions debut one after the other. For example, straw make-overs have been so much fun to watch. Aluminum straws, paper, and just this week there was a fabulous article about pasta straws being a fab sensation.

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You know that any article dealing with the economy is only scratching the surface. Economics is not only a college course, but a college major. The subject is massive, especially when you factor in the global layers. So, one step at a time. In the transition from linear to circular, the EU is leading the way in the West. It’s been transitioning for over seven years now. China is aggressively converting as well. China is the world leader in nailing “reduction” through manufacturing the most long-lasting building materials: aluminum, steel, and cement.

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America hasn’t yet begun to rush. Only 16% of US companies are currently using circular principles, however a total of 62% responded positively to a February 2019 survey stating they plan to transition. Investment Funds have begun moving the needle by rewarding corporations that are a match for the circular economy goals and creating a special fund, “BGF Circular Economy” Fund.

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We citizens can do our part by recycling religiously, composting daily, purchasing products packaged in glass, eliminating plastic, planting trees and gardens, the list is endless. Begin today, and again proceed one step at a time. We can save our children’s future, and alleviate their daily stress. LET’S GO!

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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EV Charging Stations | Let’s GO!

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 18, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

It’s alarming to see how far behind the US is with EV charging stations compared to the EU and other countries across the globe. If we’re the largest carbon emitters per capita, we have to become the leader in sustainability initiatives. Over the past decade, the two chief barriers that have kept consumers from transitioning to EVs, have been the range an EV can drive on one battery charge, and the availability of charging stations.

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300The range has increased substantially, with several of the new 2020 EVs reaching as high as 325 miles, and most EV’s hovering in the mid 200’s. With the average drive to work being 25 miles, and with most EV’s being charged at home overnight, the range is really only a concern for trips. A significant advancement has been the amount of time it takes to charge a battery, which is now only 20 minutes. Tech innovators are working on getting that to under 10 minutes in the near future

Most charging is done at home overnight using a regular charge outlet. Charging at home is free, so EV owners love the savings, although they might see a slight increase in their electricity bill. But then again, EV owners tend to use solar panels for their home power. Home solar panels can now store energy in large batteries that can be used to charge the car at no cost. So then, the only remaining obstacle we have to overcome is public charging stations.

Tesla and Ford are taking the bull by the horns and offering free charging station usage to consumers of certain EV models for a specified period of time. Further, Volkswagen’s emission scandal resulted in VW agreeing to spend $2 billion over 10 years building out EV charging station infrastructure in the US, with their first round focusing on 17 metro areas. So there is corporate buy-in, and the number of corporations participating in creative solutions will keep on rising.

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Employers are jumping in and installing charging stations in employee parking lots. They’ve found that the relatively minor expense, affords substantial goodwill that their employees greatly appreciate. The minor issue that still has to be worked out is how to move the car from the spot once it’s fully charged. Stay tuned for the solution.

And then there are the town and state legislative initiatives that are popping up all over the country, particularly in those areas that opted to stay in the Paris Agreement after Trump pulled the US out two years ago.

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According to Smart Cities Dive:

  • Spokane, WA waived $50 permit fees for EV charging Stations and solar panels
  • Berkley, CA passed a law banning natural gas in new “low-rise” residential buildings
  • San Jose, CA passed a new law requiring all new multi-family complexes have 70% EV capable parking spaces
  • Atlanta passed an EV ordinance in 2017, outlining the plan for EV charging stations
  • In Seattle, “Councilmember Mike O’Brien said cities are creating a race to the top with these EV-related laws, and it should push others to do the same or go even further.” Let’s hope so!

Light poles in many cities and towns are now adorned with mini solar panels, a simple solution that’s incredibly cost effective. And now an innovative new idea has reinvented the modern light pole, turning the entire pole into a solar panel through it’s mosaic design. Will there soon be a charging station attached to each pole as well? Fingers crossed. Ingenious ideas to solve critical problems have always been an American strength. It’s time to shift our creativity into overdrive so that we can move a few of these climate action mountains as fast and furious as possible.

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To find public charging stations near you, just CLICK HERE .

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Setting Up Our Home Compost Bins ASAP

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 15, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

For the millions of us searching for effective next steps in reducing atmospheric carbon, as well as lowering our personal carbon footprints, having a home compost bin is a significant step forward. The best part, is how easy compost bins are to step up and maintain.

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300According to Exploring Green , Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, 51% of trash is compostable. This food that is thrown away in landfills turns into methane. Methane increases global warming 21 times that of CO2. But when food waste is composted and then layered into the soil, the soil becomes so rich with nutrients that it substantially increases the amount of carbon the soil can sequester, which lowers our atmospheric carbon level, and reduces the global temperature.

Homes, restaurants, and large dining facilities — whether that be school cafeterias, hospital and corporate cafeterias, mall foodcourts, and large banquets and conference centers — should all be tapped into the simple compositing process. Be on the lookout at restaurants in your area. Most healthy and organic venues now have compost bins.

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There are many ways composting space can be set up. It all depends on where you live and whether you’re able to have a larger outdoor bin.

  • In the kitchen, it’s best to have a small bin, with a handled bucket  that can be lifted out of the lidded container.
  • All food scraps we normally stuff into the sink disposal, will instead by placed in the compost bin.
  • The small compost bin should be emptied each night into the larger bin that is either stored in the yard or garage.
  • It’s important that the large bin is ventilated, and turned with a large stick once a week.
  • Air enables the compost to process faster.
  • An official compost bin has a lower hatch close to the ground, that can be opened when the compost is ready, and easily removed to place in soil around the yard.
  • If you live in a condo or apartment and want to keep everything light, you may want to try a small lidded container on your porch or patio that you can empty by layering into a nearby forest floor regularly.

 

Hands emptying a container full of domestic food waste
photography by AdobeStock

Schools Districts have jumped into the act in a big way, transforming the composting process into a learning lab. Many schools share their composting efforts through social media and it’s very exciting to see students energized by being part of this planet saving effort.

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Teachers really enjoy these interactive, climate action learning labs, too. Win/win experiences are positive and invigorating, making learning fun and joyful. What parents doesn’t love that?

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If you don’t have time or yard space to set up and maintain your own compost bin,  a whole new industry is starting to take shape. CompostNow.org is a compositing service for home, office, and restaurants.

  • They provide heavy duty plastic bin.
  • They pick up full bin each service day, and leave an empty one.
  • They track waste & compost creation by the pound.
  • Members earn compost! Very easy and rewarding… literally.

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So, take the leap. It’s super easy and will instantly contribute to carbon reduction!

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Corporate Climate Action | Which Corps Are Keeping An Eye On Consumer Expectations

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 9, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

Many individual Americans are rushing forward with climate action, doing their best to lower personal & household carbon footprints by targeting the 5 major categories for quick action:

  1. ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300Home – switching to solar, managing efficiency
  2. Transportation – Hybrid or EV autos, walk more
  3. Food – eat minimal dairy & red meat, home composting bins to be applied to garden & forest soil
  4. Stuff – buy less stuff in general, and buy used whenever possible
  5. Nature – huge focus in cutting carbon; our oceans can’t hold anymore carbon, we must all become gardeners and planters: trees, flowers, shrubs, ground cover, compost, compost & more compost (nutrient rich soil from compost will enable soil to hold much more carbon)

And now, with the holiday shopping season quickly approaching, it’s time to focus on America’s large corporations with intense scrutiny as we decide where to spend our holiday shopping dollars. Let’s make Climate Action an important criteria for patronage.

For example, Target Stores, one of the huge shopping mecca’s for Black Friday deals, has assured consumers that 500 of their stores will be fitted with solar panels on roofs come November. Go, Target! Your customers appreciate your concern over the rising global temperature. But can you go one step further, and please remove all single-use plastic shopping bags from your cash registers and force shoppers to use reusable bags. Thank you!

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There have been several recent headlines highlighting corporations who’ve taken bold steps into sustainability and climate action. From Marriott Bonvoy hotels eliminating single-use plastic toiletries, to Nike opening a massive distribution center that uses 100% renewable energy. And what about Apple’s commitment to lowering carbon levels… is our favorite Apple green or red?

Further, just yesterday, Act One Climate 100 released it’s Corporate Climate Action Progress Report. Act One Climate 100+ is a group of 370 investors managing $35 trillion in assets of the worlds largest carbon emitters . Their website notes that their goal is to:

  • Curb emissions
  • Improve governance and
  • Strengthen climate-related financial disclosures

Awareness and accountability make a significant difference, especially when billions of global citizens are then armed with facts enabling us to separate climate action focused corporations from profit-above-all-else focused corporations and spend our money accordingly.

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So this holiday season, before hitting the stores or clicking online, we must first Google to see what each brand and retailer is doing to fight global warming. We only have a few years to get this right. We must act immediately. Numerous companies have created innovative solutions. There’s no time to hesitate, though. If a company isn’t onboard with climate action, then they’re off board. There’s no neutral position. We the consumers hold all the power this holiday season. It’s imperative that we let our climate action feelings be known and simply shout “NO” to inaction by using our wallets to express our feelings and priorities.

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Glass Packaging is a Vital Climate Action Solution

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 7, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

Glass packaging is an immediate climate action initiative we can run with ASAP.  Eliminating as much plastic as possible from the environment is on everyone’s ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300agenda. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, twice the size of France, is nearly pure plastic and threatens ocean health. It’s hard to believe that as recently as, fifty years ago, the majority of US food packaging was glass, including everyday milk.

Plastic has several obvious benefits that resulted in consumer good manufacturers transitioning to plastic packaging when it was introduced to the marketplace back in the 70’s. Lightweight, squeezable, and durable. Plastic doesn’t shatter when dropped the way glass can.

But the plastic negatives are life-threatening and must be factored into decision making. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), plastics are “produced from natural gas, natural gas processing, and crude oil refining.” Thus, plastics contains numerous chemicals that are carcinogens as well as the source of other serious human health hazards that can leach into food and impact health. Not only does plastic packaging increase cancer risk, it also impacts our body’s ability to regulate itself by disrupting our hormones and our body’s chemical pathways. Additionally, plastics imperil the well-being of our oceans and the food supply living in the deep blue seas. In fact, whenever we eat fish, we consume microscopic amounts of plastic.

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Climate and health focused consumers are sounding the battle cry to eliminate the scourge of plastic packaging from our lives, and thus save humanity. A very powerful alarm… and force. It’s the witching hour, with no time for delay.

On this note, as we begin to boldly transition back to glass packaging, the Glass Packaging Institute is a wealth of information and a critical resource for manufacturers making key decisions. Whatever the difference in cost may be, it’s clear that consumers have already made the decision that we’re willing to pay a few cents more for glass packaging. Yet, companies did receive a significant tax break at the end of 2017, so they should be able to cover the cost increase on their own, especially now that many consumers are choosing products based on how they are packaged.

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The Glass Packaging Institute website provides valuable information, that every savvy consumer will want to know when making a decision about what to buy based on how it’s packaged as we struggle to save the planet, our climate and our health.

GPI:

  • Glass is made from natural domestic materials such as sand, cullet, soda ash, and limestone
  • Glass is impermeable and nonporous so there’s no leaching of chemicals into our food supply
  • Glass is 100% recyclable
  • 80% of recycled glass is used in new glass products
  • Communities are beginning to set up large glass recycling bins, rather than use curbside service, so glass can be that much more easily recycled at its purest form (curbside often results in shreds of cardboard being mixed with the glass when recycled)
  • Glass packaging can also be recycled endlessly with no loss to purity
  • GPI has a new president, Scott DeFife, who will be developing and sharpening GPI’s focus on “marketing, advocacy, and sustainability” for the glass container manufacturing industry. Best of luck, Mr. DeFife… you have a huge #ClimateAction fan club that will be keeping track of and sharing your successes.

On a personal note, I was excited to discover over the weekend, that the barbecue sauce aisle in my local grocery store displayed products on shelves based on packaging. The TOP 5 shelves were all the glass bottles of barbecue sauce. And the bottom two shelves, which were so close to the ground you wouldn’t actually stoop unless you were forced to, were the plastic bottles of barbecue sauce. Imagine if every grocery store did the same… we’d have this particular climate action initiative humming along in record time. Interestingly, two of the plastic bottle brands clinging to the bottom were the biggest brand names: Heinz and Kraft. We clearly need to alert these two consumer brands about our consumer expectations.

Let’s FIX this, fast & furious!

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Longworth HOB & Critical Compost | Climate Action

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 4, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

Success in reducing atmospheric carbon levels to the targeted 350 PPM from the current 412 PPM will come from tiers of immediate action. If every tier nails its targets, we’ll save the globe and civilization. This should motivate us to Act Now, especially when we consider how basic and easy many of the “actions” are for lowering carbon.

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300The main TIERS:

  • Individual carbon footprint
  • Corporations, businesses & organizations
  • Local, state & federal government and agencies
  • Farms
  • Nature
  • Miscellaneous

All we have to do as individuals is focus on the tiers that we fall under. The greatest obstacle to succeeding at carbon reduction though, is missing the small, easy opportunities that we fail to recognize. The ones right under our nose that we would be able to execute immediately if we were more aware.

Composting is the best example of a basic missed opportunity. For example, take the Longworth House Office Building dining hall in Washington, DC where thousands of constituents, lobbyists, and House Representatives eat breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday each week. Sadly, Longworth does not currently compost, despite the fact that the US Botanic Garden is across the street and would thrive on weekly fresh compost, as would the massive acres of capitol grounds that are also across Independence Ave.

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According to Exploring Green , Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment:

  • 51% of “trash” dumped into landfills is compostable
  • Annually, the world throws away approximately 1.3 billion tons of food
  • 3.3 billion tons of CO2 is released each year to process the wasted food (production, harvesting, transporting and packaging)
  • Wasted food thrown away in a landfill releases methane
  • Methane increases global warming 21 times that of CO2
  • On the other hand, wasted  food that’s composted and layered into soil, increases the soil’s nutritional content which increases the amount of carbon it can sequester

Thus, composting uneaten food at home, at work and in restaurants and dining halls is a no-brainer. In fact, many school districts are jumping in. Capitol Hill dining halls would only have to change one of its two trash signs to “FOOD/COMPOST.” This is so easy, it’s scary.

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Trash sign at Longworth HOB dining hall. A red asterisks has been placed on the items that can be composted. The uneaten food would have to be removed from the packaging before it’s dumped into the compost bin.

Our oceans sequester approximately 25% of atmospheric carbon and nature 28%. The big challenge with ocean carbon sequestration is that it increases water temperature as well as acidity. The increase in water temperature, melts the glaciers which raises the global water levels. The higher temperature also causes changing climate which becomes that much more extreme.

To save humanity from climate extremes, the focus is now on increasing carbon sink in nature and in soil, and trying to lower ocean temperatures. Nature — which means planting more trees and greens, and elevating the nutritional values in soil — is one of the new climate action touchstones on the carbon sequestration front. In short, compositing has become a vital necessity. Thus, missed opportunities sound the alarm.

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Composting has become such a critical factor in the success of lowering our atmospheric carbon levels, that a whole new industry is starting to take shape. CompostNow.org is a compositing service for home, office, and restaurants.

  • They provide heavy duty plastic bin
  • They pick up full bin each service day, and leave an empty one
  • They track waste & compost creation by the pound
  • Members earn compost! Very easy and rewarding.

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When the carbon facts are this simple and the cost a bare minimum, and #ActNow only a matter of changing signs, it’s unfathomable how anyone would pass on this opportunity. Come on, Longworth… let’s FIX THIS!

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