Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why Do Today What We Can Do Tomorrow?

Not too long ago, I happen to watch an old “Popeye” cartoon while at a friend’s house. I laughed when I heard the character named Wimpy (J. Wellington Wimpy) say: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” At the time, it reminded me of a project I had due soon and the attitude I had taken toward it: Why do today what I can do tomorrow? Unfortunately, too often people take this same attitude, and the things that are really important—our healthy, well-being, and future—are cast aside for convenience and denial.

Just how damaging procrastination can be set in as I read the article “Record high greenhouse gases to linger for decades” by Tom Miles. In sum, the article carbon dioxide gas emissions are continuing to rise, and that there is a limited amount of time for people to change behaviors in order to limit the amount of damage done by contributing to the increase in the Earth’s temperature. The article points out that even if all emissions stopped today, the effects of the damage that has already been done could take decades to rectify or eliminate. There really is no tomorrow in terms of dealing with the emissions problem.

Instead of being “Wimpy,” it is time to start thinking in terms of what will happen if we keep putting off what we need to do today. Rather than paying for a hamburger on Tuesday, we should consider the words of Edward Young: “Be wise today; ‘tis madness to defer. Next day the fatal precedent will plead; thus on, til wisdom is pushed out of life.”

To read Tom Miles full article, visit http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/21/us-greenhouse-idUSTRE7AK0NB20111121.

By: Noor Alzayer

Ways of Reducing Emissions

Use of personal vehicles less often: sometimes it is not always important to drive to some places like a friend’s house, market, and salon or even to the office. To reach some of these places one can ride a bicycle; use a public means or even walking. By reducing the use of personal vehicles by 10% the emission of green house gases can be reduced by 0.2 to 0.8 tons in every year.
Driving moderately: While driving one should make sure that they accelerate gradually. This will help in saving fuels as well as reducing the amount of emissions released as a result of combustion.
Maintaining vehicle in good condition: A well maintained engine consumes half the amount of fuel it would have consumed when under bad condition. This ensures that less fuel is used and so fewer emissions are released to the environment.

Maintaining thermostat at a lower level at home: For every degree of temperature that is reduced there is 3% reduction in the heating costs.

Use of microwave more often: Using stovetop element consumes twice the energy consumed by a microwave oven.

Reducing the consumption of energy by the computer: There are some energy saving tactics that can be enabled in the computer. In case the computer is not in use, it is always good to turn it off. Use of computer hardware that does not consume a lot of energy is highly recommended. For example using LCD monitors instead of CRT monitors saves around 50- 70 % of energy consumption.

Reducing the consumption of electricity. Natural lighting should be utilized when available instead of lighting a bulb. Any room or space that is not occupied should not have the lights left on.
Drying clothes in the sunlight can help reduce the amount of energy consumed by clothes dryer. This in return reduces the amount of emissions.

While shopping individuals can buy appliances that are energy saving. This way they save energy and money too.

Public should be receptive to new ideas: In the world today people are always being given the new solutions and technologies that are saving on energy. Though it may be hard to leave the old habits the public should try to make efforts in everything that they do this can go a long way to saving the environment.

By: Noor Alzayer

Emissions Trading

This is an approach that is market based which is aimed at controlling pollution of the environment through incentives for entities that have achieved a reduction in their emissions. What happens is that a body which has authority sets the level of a particular pollutant that an n organization is allowed to emit. This limit once it is set, it is then sold to organizations as a permit allowing a given organization to release a given amount of pollutants of a specified pollutant. Firms are supposed to have a particular quantity of permits depending on their emissions. The number of permits has to be either below the specified limit or equal to but cannot exceed the limit. For those firms that may require more than what they have they can only buy them from those organizations or firms that require fewer permits.

This reassigning of the permits is what is termed as trade. In this trade, the buyer is required to pay more for polluting more. In return, the seller is getting reward for polluting less. In this, those who are able to reduce emission do so at low cost. Several programs trade pollutants of different kinds. The largest program that deals with green house gases is a Scheme. This program helps in combating climate change. This approach has benefits and drawbacks. One thing is that such a mechanism is likely to succeed as it is a consensus between all the stakeholders. This mechanism is made with verification in mind and due to this people develop confidence in the system and so they can easily provide support for such a mechanism which becomes easier and cheaper to manage. Application of such a mechanism brings closer and combines expert information that what the regulator could have. The uniformity provided by this mechanism makes good and services be more accessible to people (Legge & Egenhofer, 2002). There is also a likelihood of an increase in compliance. This can only be possible if the market and the regulators agree to participate fully and comply.

Critics of this kind of mechanisms argue that the incentive can be short term and so there is a possibility of over polluting. This is in the sense that, permits are issued depending on earlier emission levels. Therefore firms that had cut down their emissions may raise their discharge levels so that they can get a higher permit allocation in the following allocation.

By : Noor Alzayer

What Are Emissions?

Emissions are defined as gases or other small particles that get into the environment when fuels are burned. Most of these come from automobiles and industries. When much of these are released in the atmosphere the air becomes of poor quality causing pollution and global warming. Humans contribute to emissions through air. Digestive processes of livestock contribute small portions of carbon dioxide and methane. Human beings release emissions as a result of their inventions. Some of the emissions include methane gas, hexafluoride, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Another emission is ozone which results from combination of gases and air.

United states have the highest levels of emissions in the world. This is due to the high industrialization. Due to the technological advancements more and more countries are increasing their levels of emissions. Use of clean energy is the only solution that can facilitate decrease in the amounts of emissions that are getting into the environment. Clean energy is any source of energy that does not release toxic gases in to the environment. In addition clean energy sources are never exhausted and so they can be renewed. Examples of these sources are solar and wind energy. These two sources of energy are proving to be more and more popular and they are even more available and cheaper to consumers (UNEP, 2010).

The accumulation of green house gases in the environment causes the formation of ozone layer. This layer acts as a blanket that traps a lot of heat in the atmosphere which then results to changes in the climate. These changes in weather causes extreme conditions like floods, droughts, storms and also rise in the sea levels. Climate change has become a worldwide disaster. It has therefore become an issue of concern which if not prevented will cause destruction of conditions and resources around the globe. These changes have great impact on the lives of individuals.

By: Noor Alzayer

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How Does Your Local Dairy Farm Affect the Environment?


When one thinks of emissions, the mind of most quickly comes up with an image of a big SUV car or a huge truck. Not many think of dairy farms, which are responsible for 18% of the green house emissions.  Dairy farms emissions consist of making the products such as cheese or milk, but also taking care of the animals and their waste. [Cows produce 120 pounds of waste per cow per day. According to the article linked below.] Most farms are unaware of how much damage they are causing to the environment as whole or even to the towns surrounding them. One of the biggest dairy farms in the United States called Threemile Canyon Farms is located 160 miles away from Portland, OR.

The next question that one might have after learning about how dairy farms affect the environment is whether anything is being done about this issue. J-U-B Engineers Inc. of Boise took this issue seriously and designed a machine that is able to use some of the waste created by the animals and creation of dairy products and converting that into fuel for some of the machines used at the farms.  So far the experimental trials of this machine were conducted at the Threemile Canyon Farms and have proven to significantly lower the emissions.

The issue that has presented itself after the design was completed was who was going to pay to have these machines created for all the dairy farms in the United States. Some local dairy farms have taken action and have been collecting donations. Also some bigger corporations, such as NW Natural have asked their customers to contribute to this cause by increasing their utility bill by 6$.

What one can hope is that in the nearest future, the biodigester machine trials will be completed and the machine will become available to all dairy farms in an effort to reduce the emissions created by these farms. As this issue becomes more popular in the media, more supporters of this new way of helping the environment will gain supporters and hopefully financial donations will start flowing in the direction of the smaller local farms which can not afford such expensive machinery at their farms. 

Here is a shortened version:
1. Dairy farms are responsible for a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Biggest dairy farm is in Oregon, meaning it produces more greenhouse gas emissions than smaller dairy farms.
3. Green house emissions affects everyone, whether one lives within a 10 mile radius or on the east coast.  
4. If we bring attention to this issue, more people will know about it and will be able to help out in any way possible to get these machines into dairy farms across the United States, thus lessening the green house emissions. 

For more information about this issue check out these articles:

 by Natalia Sudol

Friday, November 25, 2011

If You Act Your Age, What’s Your Carbon Footprint?

We have all heard about Emissions and how they are affecting the world around us. But, have you ever heard how individual emissions change over a course of a lifetime?

According to a demographer at Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, " most projections of emissions take the overall size of population into account, but not the age distribution.Yet, changes in age structure might be relevant when predicting carbon emissions for the future." To get these predictions we need to use the data on life expectancy.

The average life expectancy in the United States is expected to increase from 78 years today up to 83.1 in 2050. Knowing this will help us focus on ages 2-83.1 when looking at future emissions of Co2.

As we look at the below graph, we see that the emissions increased from age 10-60 then declined quickly. This means that as Americans hit retirement, the carbon-producing peak started going down and as they hit age 80 it had dropped even more.
This shows that as you get older and get a larger income, you can buy bigger cars, travel more (cars/planes) and get bigger houses. At a certain age, we see these trends shift. While older people may spend more money, the outflow goes to different areas like health. Once at age 60, gas consumption decreased and people spend more time at home. With this, more electricity might be used and other household consumptions that make up for the decrease in gas.

This model does not take into account  any future improvements in energy efficiency or emission controls. If and when we see new systems developed, this could change the numbers in any age group.

Jaimie Butterfield

Information From: