Wow. That is one staggering e-waste stat, right?
In this week’s Green Divas myEARTH360 Report, Green Diva Meg and I went down the rabbit hole that is e-waste. We also talked climate change, ocean acidification (unprecedented at least compared with the last 300 million years) and more. So listen up then read on for more WTF and encouraging news… plus ways to take action for the earth. [Side note: In Chicagoland? Join me Sunday, September 14th at the Green Metropolis Fair!]
I was flummoxed after reading NRDC’s How-To Guide for E-Waste Recycling!
Fifty million tons of electronic waste was generated in 2012—that’s 15 pounds per person on the planet. Even more crazy is that it’s the equivalent of throwing away 45,000 to 125,000 fully loaded 747s! Ten million tons were generated by the U.S. which equates to 65 pounds per American! Only 27 percent is recycled, according to the EPA. But I found conflicting stats about how much e-waste is actually recycled and 27 percent was the highest one out there. Most other sites claimed we only recycle 12.5 to 20 percent. Either way, it’s an atrocious number and one we need to fix.
The EPA estimates that the stream of e-waste is growing 2-3 times the rate of any other source of waste. Yikes! It’s expected to climb to 65 millions or more per year by 2017.
Even when we take these electronic items to a recycler, there’s no guarantee it’s actually recycled! As little as 11-14 percent end recycled, the rest is dumped or burned, contaminating our soil, water and air with lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous wastes. Sorry for painting such a sad picture, but we all need to be aware of this. It’s a bummer when we’re jones-ing for the next iPhone or whatever—it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt (which is, ultimately, us).
70-80 percent of what is given to “recyclers” ends up being shipped to developing economies… it may feel like we’re not impacted by this, but the last time I checked, we’re breathing the same air. A significant portion of hazardous e-waste is also sent off to U.S. prisons for them to deal with, where processing is less regulated environments and the prisoners lack protection! Not cool.
Find a responsible electonics recycler near you! Go to e-stewards.org to find a recycler that actually, um, recycles. Novel idea!
Greenhouse Gas Surge to Impact Atmosphere and Oceans, WMO Says
Concentrations in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases reached a record in 2013, raising concerns that ocean acidity is increasing at worrying rates.
Carbon dioxide rose to 396 parts per million molecules of air, the UN World Meteorological Organization said today in an e-mailed bulletin. Atmospheric CO2 levels rose 2.9 parts per million from the previous year, the largest annual increase since 1984, according to the report.
“We know without any doubt that our climate is changing and our weather is becoming more extreme due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in the statement. Read more…
Cato climate change skeptic: Rising carbon dioxide levels a sign of “human progress”
Economically literate libertarians can’t deny that, if climate change is a major risk, the rational thing to do is put a tax on greenhouse emissions. Therefore, in order to oppose that sort of government action, they have to deny that climate change is a major risk. And that’s how we get this mind-bending piece from the Cato Foundation. Last year’s sharp rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Cato’s Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger concludes, “is cause for celebration.” Here is how Knappenberger gets there:
Carbon dioxide is building in the atmosphere and rising to levels that have probably not been seen in along time (hundreds of thousands of years).
This rise is a continued reminder of the steady drumbeat of human progress. The carbon dioxide that is building in the atmosphere, at least in part, gets there through human emissions of carbon dioxide that are the by-product of burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) to produce the vast majority the energy that has powered mankind’s industrial and technical ascent since the Industrial Revolution. . . read more…
Rand Paul Says Hillary Clinton’s Focus on Climate Change Shows She Lacks ‘Wisdom’ to Be President
Last week, Hillary Clinton spoke at the National Clean Energy Summit, calling out climate deniers and saying that the impacts of climate change are the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face.”
Rand Paul, apparently escalating the 2016 presidential campaign early, attacked her comments, saying on Fox News that they prove she doesn’t have the wisdom to be president.
He said, “For her to be out there saying that the biggest threat to our safety and to our well-being is climate change, I think, goes to the heart of the matter or whether or not she has the wisdom to lead the country, which I think it’s obvious that she doesn’t. I don’t think we really want a commander-in-chief who’s battling climate change instead of terrorism.” Read more…
They were the last word in glamour, but has the sun set on LA’s swimming pools?
The Mojave desert stretches in all directions, sand and scrub as far as the eye can see, with no road or trail, no marker or signpost, to indicate that here, in the middle of a wilderness furnace, sits a swimming pool.
The pristine pool, five feet deep, five feet wide and 11 feet long, is no California mirage. It is an art installation.
An Austrian artist, Alfredo Barsuglia, created the sculpture, entitled Social Pool, and declared it open to the public. Before plunging in, you need to contact the MAK Centre for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood to request its secret GPS coordinates and a key to open the white cover. You must bring a gallon of water to replace evaporated water and return the key within 24 hours.
Federal Judge: BP’s “Willful Misconduct,” “Gross Negligence” Led To Deepwater Horizon Disaster
A federal judge in New Orleans minced no words in handing down a ruling this week that found BP‘s “willful misconduct” and “gross negligence” caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The ruling is the result of a jury-less trial to determine who was at fault for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill. The trial was held by District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans.
A blowout at BP‘s ultra-deepwater Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 caused an explosion that took the lives of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which then sank to the bottom of the Gulf, some 5,000 feet below, leaving the well to spew oil for 87 days until it was capped. Read more…
Americas Latino Eco-Festival Aims For Action On Environment
For Irene Vilar, founder of the of the Americas Latino Eco-Festival taking place over the next several days in Boulder, Colorado, the event blends two causes she is passionate about: Latinos in the arts and environmental activism.
“There’s no future for the conservation movement if Latinos are not at the table in a leadership role,” said Vilar, saying that in 2050, almost 30 percent of the nation will be Hispanic. Vilar said now is the time to get diverse minds working on preservation and the environment.
Now in its second year, the green fest is expected to attract 10,000 people over five days of talks, panels and performances, aimed at expanding the mission of “browning the environmental agenda,” according to Vilar. Panels on green technology, achieving less dependence on coal, growing more food without GMOs and water justice are part of the festival’s agenda. Read more…
Pesticide Levels in Waterways Have Dropped, Reducing the Risks to Humans
The development of safer pesticides and legal restrictions on their use have sharply reduced the risk to humans from pesticide-tainted rivers and streams, while the potential risk to aquatic life in urban waters has risen, according to a two-decade survey published on Thursday.
The study, conducted by the United States Geological Survey and published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, monitored scores of pesticides from 1992 to 2011 at more than 200 sampling points on rivers and streams. In both of the last two decades, researchers reported, they found insecticides and herbicides in virtually all of the waterways.
The results nevertheless documented a striking decline in dangers to humans from pesticide pollution. From 1992 to 2001, 17 percent of agricultural streams and 5 percent of other streams contained at least one pesticide whose average annual concentration was above the maximum contaminant level for drinking water. Read more…
Go to the NYC People’s Climate March. Can’t make it? Comment in support of EPA’s new carbon rule!
Join Climate Reality September 16-17, 2014 as they share 24 reasons to be hopeful about solving the climate crisis.
Listen to the latest Green Divas Radio Show…
images via shutterstock.com