A Surge of New Plastic Is About to Hit the Planet

A world awash in plastic will soon get slammed by more, as major oil companies ramp up their production.

As public concern about plastic pollution rises, consumers are reaching for canvas bags, metal straws, and reusable water bottles. But while individuals fret over images of oceanic garbage gyres, the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries are pouring billions of dollars into new plants intended to make millions more tons of plastic than they now pump out.

Companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and Saudi Aramco are ramping up output of plastic—which is made from oil and gas, and their byproducts—to hedge against the possibility that a serious global response to climate change might reduce demand for their fuels, analysts say. Petrochemicals, the category that includes plastic, now account for 14 percent of oil use and are expected to drive half of oil demand growth between now and 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says. The World Economic Forum predicts plastic production will double in the next 20 years.

In the context of a world trying to shift off of fossil fuels as an energy source, this is where [oil and gas companies] see the growth,” said Steven Feit, a staff attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law, an advocacy group.

Source: A Surge of New Plastic Is About to Hit the Planet (WIRED)

The Green “MLS” – Real estate Multiple Listing Service


Until recently, there was no place within the MLS to list energy-saving equipment, energy ratings, or ENERGY STAR certifications.

To address this concern the National Association of Realtors formed a group entitled, The Green REsource Council. This group has helped to “green” the MLS and define the energy efficiency fields and information that should be added to listing service software across the country.  As these additional fields are implemented, buyers will look to these areas to be further informed about the home before purchasing.


Source: The Green MLS: Energy Efficiency and the Multiple Listings Service

United Kingdom to embark on ‘agricultural revolution’ in break from EU farm subsidies


A significant environmental benefit of Brexit and model for other countries: rational, environmentally sustainable agriculture:

After the United Kingdom leaves the European Union at the end of the month, it will sever ties with Europe’s farm subsidy policies—and to many researchers, that is a good thing. This week, the U.K. government proposed radical changes to £3 billion a year in agricultural spending that will focus the money on benefits to climate, ecosystems, and the public.

Under the bill, introduced to Parliament this week and expected to become law within a few months, farmers will be given subsidies not simply for cultivating land—the current EU system—but for delivering “public goods.” These include sequestering carbon in trees or soil, enhancing habitat with pollinator-friendly flowers, and improving public access to the countryside. To ease the transition, direct subsidies will be phased out over 7 years beginning in 2021, and the new payments for environmental services will be tested in pilot projects.

After the destruction and starvation of World War II, European tariffs helped protect farmers from foreign competition and subsidies boosted their yields. “It was just about production, it didn’t matter what you did to the environment,” says Ian Bateman, an environmental economist at the University of Exeter.

Source: United Kingdom to embark on ‘agricultural revolution’ in break from EU farm subsidies (Science)

Daimler Announces Production Electric Garbage Truck

Garbage trucks are great candidates for electrification. They frequently need a lot of low-speed torque. There are electric motors powering hydraulic pumps that move all sorts of arms and whatnot. They drive a known distance before being parked at a central location. And of course, all that stop and go driving could be more efficient with regenerative braking.

EVs are also quieter, which would be nice, and of course, they would be locally emissions-free. Garbage trucks are really one of the best candidates for electrification.

The eActros has a 250 kW motor fed by a 240 kWh battery, presumably this will be shared with the garbage truck variant. Customer testing will start next year with series-production beginning in 2022.

Source: Daimler Announces Production Electric Garbage Truck (Gizmodo)

The case for low-tech, climate change resilient, indigenous ideas for modern environments

Source: The Guardian, “The case for … making low-tech ‘dumb’ cities instead of ‘smart’ ones”

There’s old, and then there’s old – and for urban landscapes increasingly vulnerable to floods, adverse weather, carbon overload, choking pollution and an unhealthy disconnect between humans and nature, there’s a strong case for looking beyond old technologies to ancient technologies.

It is eminently possible to weave ancient knowledge of how to live symbiotically with nature into how we shape the cities of the future, before this wisdom is lost forever. We can rewild our urban landscapes, and apply low-tech ecological solutions to drainage, wastewater processing, flood survival, local agriculture and pollution that have worked for indigenous peoples for thousands of years, with no need for electronic sensors, computer servers or extra IT support.

Book: The Power of Lo—TEK: A global exploration of nature-based technology

Article: Turning cities into sponges: how Chinese ancient wisdom is taking on climate change

Article: Time: How Australia’s Indigenous Experts Could Help Deal With Devastating Wildfires

Article: The Conversation: Aboriginal fire management – part of the solution to destructive bushfires