Tag Archives: facts

The EPA is screwing up the discussion on global warming

The EPA is reporting the wrong information on global warming and I want them to get it right. The information they publish becomes the gold standard and is reported in the media, covered on TV, and published all across the web. It reaches the eyes and ears of a majority of Americans, and so why are they screwing it up?

The first problem is in using economic terms over plain language. The average person has a hard time understanding the meaning of ‘by economic sector’ or ‘end user emissions’. And nowhere in their mission statement does it say they should be communicating like college professors:

The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.

Neither does it say they should communicate clearly, but that’s covered in the Plain Writing Act of 2010.

Another problem they face is choosing what data to report. Again, they seem to be focusing on macroeconomic data sets instead of what will help the average person. Here is the data set spread out across 20 pages on the EPA website and reported many thousand times over in the press:

 

Emissions by Economic Sector

  • Electricity generation – 34%
  • Transportation – 27%
  • Industry – 21%
  • Agriculture – 7%
  • Commercial & Residential – 11%

 

Very helpful for the big picture and if you’re writing policy, but worthy of ignoring by the common person. What are they supposed to do about electricity, buy a wind turbine? For transportation, go out and buy a new car? What does industry even mean?

For those steeped in the economics of global warming this makes total sense. Our energy is slowly moving towards renewables, cars are becoming electric, homes and business can similarly electrify, and that would make 61-90% of our emissions from electricity. Yes, it is vital we pick up renewables.

But that stymies any discussion about what individuals can do. Here is another data set left to gather dust, buried 200 pages deep in the EPA’s most important report:

 

Emissions by End User

  • Manufacturing – 30%
  • Homes – 18%
  • Business – 17%
  • Personal Cars – 17%
  • Farming – 8%
  • Freight Trucks – 6%
  • Airplanes – 2%

 

End user is an economic term for you bought it you own it. Meaning the person who drives the car is responsible for the emissions, not General Motors. From this perspective the story changes entirely. Transportation moves down into a tie for third most important. The three ahead of it – manufacturing, homes, business – all represent places where the average person has a significant impact.

Individuals could buy less or switch to recycled products, in simple ways, like buying recycled toilet paper. At home they could lower the thermostat or send less to the landfill. At work they could accept normal temperatures for the A/C and support any green company policies.

It is strange that this data, which places the responsibility on individuals and can easily encourage a change in behavior, is buried in favor of the economic report. It would seem like the EPA is purposely avoiding the issue of responsibility, or letting the economists control the marketing. Either way it’s unacceptable and screwing up the discussion on global warming.

Come on EPA get your head in the game!

 

 

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Facts and statistics on the coming plastic bag ban in California

Plastic bags contribute to the pollution of California’s ocean and beaches.

  • Californians use approximately 16 billion plastic bags per year – more than 400 annually per person.
  • Less than 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled. Instead, they end up sitting in landfills, littering streets, clogging streams, fouling beaches, or floating out to sea.
  • Plastic trash threatens ocean ecosystems.
  • The city of San Francisco estimated that the taxpayer cost to subsidize the recycling, collection, and disposal of plastic and paper bags amounts to as much as 17 cents per bag. Applied to California as a whole, that adds up to more than $1 billion per year.

 

More than 80 national and local governments around the world have taken action to protect the ocean by reducing the use of plastic bags.

  • At least 20 nations and 47 local governments have passed bans on distributing specific kinds of throw-away plastic bags, including the nations of Italy, Kenya, Mongolia, Macedonia, and Bangladesh; the states of Maharashtra, India and Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the cities of Karachi, Pakistan and Telluride, Colorado.
  • Approximately 26 nations and local communities have established fee programs to reduce plastic bag use and/or increase the use of reusable alternatives, including Botswana, China, Hong Kong, Wales, Ireland, Israel, Canada’s Northwest Territories, Toronto, Mexico City, and Washington, D.C.

 

Bans and meaningful fee programs effectively reduce plastic bag pollution.

  • Bans and fee programs quickly reduce plastic bag distribution.
    • Fee – In 2002, Ireland established a 28 U.S. cents per bag fee, and saw plastic bag use drop by 90 percent within the first year.
    • Fee – Washington, D.C., implemented a much smaller 5 cent tax on plastic bags, the number of bags distributed by food retailers fell from 22.5 million per month to 3.3 million per month.
    • Ban – San Francisco, the year after banning plastic bags at pharmacies and supermarkets in 2007, businesses distributed 127 million fewer plastic bags, and cut overall bag waste reaching the city landfill by up to 10 percent.

 

Fourteen city and county governments in California have taken successful action to reduce plastic bag pollution.

  • Fourteen California cities and counties have bans on plastic bags in effect, including Long Beach, Santa Monica, San Jose, San Francisco, and Pasadena.
  • Five of these communities, including Marin County and San Jose, have also authorized mandatory charges on paper bags to encourage citizens to use reusable bags.

 

Much more progress can be made to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean and transform our throw-away culture.

  • Education and recycling cannot keep pace with the generation of plastic bag pollution. Despite a 2006 law requiring retailers to place bag recycling bins in front of their stores, less than 5 percent of bags are recycled.
  • To make a real impact, all California cities and counties should restrict the use of plastic bags, and advocate for similar action at the state level.

 

From the Frontier Group.