Tag: Miami

Concrete Kills: Burdens Outweigh the Benefits

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 25, 2021 by Michael Wells

After water concrete is the most widely used substance in the world. But this does not mean it is safe. Concrete is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. It outweighs the combined mass of every tree, bush, and shrub on Earth, and it hardens and degrades slowly. Joni Mitchell once wrote a song about paving paradise to put up a parking lot, and that has already happened. 

Companies and governments have stripped mountains, ripped sand out of beaches, and taken lake and ocean water to feed the massive demand for concrete, the substance that produces buildings for the modern world. Concrete takes so much from the environment, and, in return, the manufacturing of concrete belches CO2 into the atmosphere and spreads harmful particles in the air that causes cancer and respiratory ailments. And it exacerbates the carnage of hurricanes like Katrina and Harvey. It did so by preventing water from being absorbed into the concrete covered ground. In short, concrete is a menace that we all live and work in, on, around, and near.

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Heart of the matter. No material has made the building of the modern world more possible from the construction of the Pantheon in ancient Rome to the Empire State Building. None of it would have been possible without concrete. But that has come at a huge price to the environment, animals, and people. 

“Unfortunately, a cement plant makes for a horrible neighbor,” writes Fred Siegel in his book, Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed? It is one of the least regulated industries on the planet, and it is largely run by organized crime. What a scheme: perhaps the world’s greatest polluter run by the worst criminals, which makes dead bodies entombed in concrete foundations seem almost quaint by comparison. From thousands of concrete plants that are everywhere it produces mercury, cement kiln dust, burns toxic waste (while lying about it), produces cancer causing particulate matter, and uses toxic gases and metals. 

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How this impacts you personally. Concrete is in your backyard, and under your feet as you read this article. You drive on it, play on it, and your house, office, and apartment sit on it. You cannot escape it. The problem is two-fold: the production of the concrete is extremely harmful, and the concrete itself is harmful. As the saying goes, they get you coming and going, they being the industry with a bottomless need for production that has the ear(s) of most politicians. 

Take Harris County where Houston, Texas sits: it has 188 concrete plants due to there being no zoning laws in Texas. In 2015, 5,200 premature deaths were caused by particulate matter from concrete according to a study done by Rice University. The study states concrete production is one of the deadliest forms of air pollution because it produces massive amounts of CO2 and other harmful chemicals, and the dust it produces causes cancer, bronchitis, COPD, and other breathing issues. 

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Unfortunately, concrete plants are located disproportionately in poor neighborhoods and communities of color. Another disturbing fact is ⅓ of concrete batch plants are a short walk from a school or a daycare. 

As if all of these facts were not disturbing enough, there is a company in Scotland that wants to sell you concrete made of toxic ash. No, this is not an Onion article. Given the prevalence of coal ash in the United States, this type of business could easily take off  because the EPA does very little to regulate the concrete industry. And why is that? Because it is everywhere, and it contributes to most people who are in Congress. Therefore, nothing is done about it.

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What you can do. Be loud. Be vocal in your opposition to using concrete. Tell everyone you can, we need to regulate this industry and do all that we can to find other viable building materials. Surely this dinosaur (no offense to dinosaurs) of a building material can be replaced by something more ecological. Besides, was that building in Miami that recently collapsed built of concrete in a city that is sinking?

Do you want more of that?

Next Steps

  • Call your government representatives at the local, state, and federal levels, and let them know you want something done about concrete;
  • Do research on the internet; and 
  • Boycott companies that pollute when they make concrete.

Concrete is everywhere, and it comprises most buildings in one way or another. It does not always have to be that way though. Concrete may dry quickly and take forever to diminish, but that does not mean the future is already set in stone or concrete, rather. Things can change if we want them to change. 


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Oceans Are the Heart of the Climate Crisis

Washington (Gallant Gold Media Hill Report | Analysis | July 17, 2019)
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

The melting glaciers are an urgent wake up call for all of us to pay attention to global warming. The vast mountains of snow and ice that blanket our poles, are what has provided climate stability for 20 million years. Glaciers breaking apart and melting, immediately raises sea levels along the world’s coastlines, particularly the entire East Coast in the United States, flooding many major cities from Maine to Florida.

If anyone is having trouble visualizing the dramatic impact of rising sea levels, please visit Miami ASAP. Scientists have determined, that due Miami being built on to the lime rock, retaining walls can’t save Miami. It literally won’t survive global warming. In fact, it’s projected that if we maintain to current carbon emission trajectory, Southern Florida is guaranteed to disappear, the only question is “when?”

Ocean waters store carbon, which has always been considered a good thing. Scientists refer to this as carbon sink. The positive benefits unraveled however, when the oceans began to store too much carbon, due to the rise in carbon levels in the atmosphere from irresponsible carbon emitting daily habits and lifestyle.

  • Too much carbon in ocean waters, raises the ocean temperature
  • Warmer ocean waters, melt the polar glaciers from underneath
  • Less snow & ice, and more water cause the oceans to heat faster because dark blue ocean waters store the sun’s heat, while white snow and ice reflects it; an increase in water equal an increase in heat
  • An increase in the amount of water on the globe, also esults in an increase of moisture in the air, causing fiercer storms
  • This massively shifting balance between ice and water and atmospheric moisture, alters the jet streams
  • Without the reliable jest stream moving storms along and out of the way, storms & droughts hover for much longer periods resulting in massive flooding and prolonged droughts
  • Prolonged droughts leads to entire communities having to relocate, often to foreign countries, resulting in a refugee crisis
  • We’re seeing this right now in Central America… the thin section of land, rising sea levels on both coastlines, sustained drought conditions in the middle, all this created by US carbon emission excesses; citizens fleeing the unlivable land to our southern border and then stuffed into concentration camps
  • The military and CIA have both asserted that Global Warming is a major nation security threat, particularly when we are blamed for another countr’s economic woes that result from climate woes

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It only takes a few of these events to open our eyes. But clearly in the past two years, we’ve seen the deadly weather systems destroy communities, and undermine our security.

It will take thousands of years to rebuild out glaciers, but we can immediately curb the rising ocean temperature by making different choices in 4 key areas for ourselves and our families, as well as speak with community leaders about using solar panels to run street and traffic lights as well as town buildings.

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Climate Change Expert  Dr. Joseph Romm, an MIT alumni, has organized Climate Action choices into four categories:

  • Transportation: make the switch to Hybrid or EV autos; public transportation, walk, scooter, ride bikes
  • Home:  go solar, LED lightbulbs, turn out lights when leaving a room
  • Diet: change our eating habits, red meat & dairy increase our carbon footprint
  • Stuff: buying, storing and carting around “stuff”

Switching from our current home electricity source to solar, and from current gas guzzling cars to Hybrids & EV’s is as exciting and life-changing as switching from flip phones to iPhones, or from 3G to LTE. Huge game changer that we immediately love and never look back.

We can do this!

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