Recycling Issues

Jan 07 2010

Does recycling really make a difference for the environment? While most people believe so, some don’t.

Con

The Utter Waste of Recycling By Alan Caruba.

Pro

Does Recyling Really Help?

Some responses from student readers.

[The latter] is a very interesting article on landfills (but long with small font so remember to exercise your eyes!) Whatever you do, DONT PRINT IT OUT! Paper is the #1 component of landfills, and no, it does not biodegrade! One study found a decade old hotdog in a landfill. Yum. Anyway, most landfills do not provide an environment where biodegrading can occur, however, this is mostly favorable since biodegrading releases toxic gases and materials. We make a lot of trash and yes, this is sad but remember to recycle your paper products and you’ll be doing a big help to decrease landfill space.
http://www.plasticsresource.com/s_plasticsresource/doc.asp?TRACKID=&DID=487&CID=175

Pro-recycling information seems vague and limited. However, those outspoken against recycling, while more specific, seem to have an agenda of their own, mainly, bashing the “left-wing greens” (YIKES! is that us?). Let’s be civilized about it! The main concern seems to be landfill space. While Mt. Trashmore isn’t my idea of a great national monument, what about all the space recycling processing plants take up? Do they smell any better? And do they save any energy?

I’m sure ideally recycling can reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, but I’m not sure recycled materials offset the demand for cutting down tree or producing new materials. I have the feeling we are just consuming too much and companies will keep creating new materials so long as there is a demand. Aha! So maybe if we buy recycled materials we can make a difference.

General Tricks

Jan 07 2010

G.E. blatantly rips off the style and content of Samurai Jack to lure people to its greenwashing site.

G.E.: Ecomagination or just bad conscience?

The company that has brought a lot of bad things to our lives, like inedible fish in the Hudson River. Byproducts of the plastics, aircraft engines, nuclear reactors haunt our environment. No wonder it’s trying so hard to convince people it is the knight in shining armor that will take us away from all of our environmental problems (G.E. “Ecomagination” website, not to mention the media spin through NBC, CNBC, Telemundo, and msnbc.com). After years of pressure and litigation, the E.P.A. finally demanded that G.E. pay to dredge the Hudson River to clean up the tons of PCB toxins it dumped into the river. But the cleanup has not started, over two years later. That hasn’t stopped G.E. from spending lots of money promoting its questionable environmental credentials.

The videos G.E. has made about solar and wind power technology are enticing. If only their aspirations weren’t so low. They
can “imagine” that only “10 to 20 percent” of the electricty we use might come from solar power in the future. Why aim so low? Habit? If G.E. was such an agent of good, would American tax payers have had to spend millions of dollars in legal fees to get the company to comply with the E.P.A.’s mandate that it clean up the PCBs it dumped in the Hudson river? Thanks to hard work, G.E. was forced to disclose that it spent $800 million to delay the cleanup of toxic PCB discharges in New York, Massachusetts and Georgia — money that, with a bit more imagination, it could have used to clean up the Hudson.

Making animals happy

This commercial prompted the following…

Although it presents itself as being a friend to the environment, G.E. continues to delay removal of PCBs from the Hudson River. In 1977, GE dumped 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Fort Edward and Hudson Falls. PCBs are organic and carcinogenic compounds that have been linked to the underdevelopment and damage of embryos and female reproductive systems in females. In males especially, PCB can lead to damage of the stomach, liver and/or thyroid.

Further Reading

* Cleaning up after G.E.
* PCB Article

Exxon’s Astroturfing

Jan 06 2010

Exxon corporate citizenship? Yeah, right. This is the same company that has worked tirelessly and spent freely to obfuscate the global warming science issues and convince people through bogus science that the process of warming is a natural occurrence. And what about this idea of “corporate citizenship”? The idea is clear enough, but in reality corporations are not citizens and it has been due in no small degree to this confusion that corporate power has gotten so out of control.

Exxon has also been found to be guilty of astroturfing – simulating grass roots activities for the purposes of public relations or industrial persuasion. The Wall Street Journal and ABC News nailed Exxon for producing an anti-Al Gore video and using a front to distance itself from it.

* http://www.youtube.com/v/IZSqXUSwHRI
* http://www.bloggersblog.com/cgi-bin/bloggersblog.pl?bblog=806062
* http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=2273111&page=1

Academic Oil

Apr 06 2009

It’s great that money is beginning to flow to universities to solve climate problems with technological innovation. But this is only part of the solution because carbon levels need to be reduced immediately rather than at some future date when technology may become available. Since the 1970s when the Carter administration began pushing for energy alternatives, it has been the oil sector that has bought many promising patents, only to sit on them and continue their enormous oil revenues. It is with some skepticism, therefore, that one must view the launch of a new climate research project at Stanford, paid for by Exxon-Mobil.

http://www.stanford.edu/group/progressive/2003.03_exxon.html

For example “Due to inconsistencies in G-CEP and Exxon research project goals, a management committee formed by the sponsoring corporations can approve or reject research topics proposed by Stanford researchers.”

Is this science or an offshoot of Exxon-Mobil engineering? If scientists are not permitted to follow directions that may not be profitable for Exxon-Mobil, the value of this initiative begins to enter into the terrain of greenwashing.