Coinciding with the week before last, this blog was also sparked because of the ongoing strikes and protesting in France. Who knew how quickly a beautiful city could turn ugly? Yet again, how many people think about garbage collection going on strike. As overfilled trashcans, some burnt from protesters, and a disarray of litter began to fill the streets, something struck my interest. Not only was I becoming disgusted by the smell and the repulsive site, I was also becoming outraged as I realize how little the people of Nantes really recycle. Don’t get me wrong; I know I am spoiled coming for Portland, where the average amount of recycling is typically at least twice as much as one’s household trash. Yet, why is it that the people of Nantes have less concern for one of the most useful ways of saving our trees and the environment? Why is it that this environmental push is dominant in certain cities of the world and not others?
First off, I think it has to do with the type of culture one resides within. Portland is a young city, founded in 1843, with a very eclectic and open-minded population. Portland is constantly bustling with new innovations and attracting people with naturalistic ideals. On the other hand, Nantes is a historical city, founded in 56 ad J.C.and seems to have stayed true to its historical personality. As my host farther, Allan Cauet, stated, “the people of Nantes have been around for many generations. There is a very slow process of change in this city.” Perhaps this old-fashioned mentality is what is preventing them from moving forward.
Secondly, the government has quite a bit of control. Within Nantes, there is one recycling collection solely for paper items, a minimal amount of plastics and sometimes yard debris. For certain aluminum and glass, which might I remind there is a lot of because of the wine consumption, one must take one’s own recycling to inconvenient collection points around the city. Considering this is a nuisance for the citizens, naturally this leads to less of a collective effort to separate their waste and recycling.
Even though in 2006 about 250,000 tons of plastic bottles were recycled in France; this seems fairly small based on the fact that France creates about 426 million tonsof trash each year. What Nantes does accept as recycling, is insignificant in comparison to Portland. For example, although the French are the number one consumers of yogurt in the world, the yogurt containers are non-recyclable; meaning an average household throws away around 1,500 contains a year.
So, what should be done? As you have witness lately in world news, protesting seems to be a national sport here in France; I suggest there should be an organized effort to educate the French society on the importance of recycling. It takes over 700 years to decompose a plastic water bottle that is thrown into the garbage rather than recycling. Nantes, as well as the rest of France, needs to get on the bandwagon of making an effort to change the way they live to save this earth.
If interested in more about ideas and recycling check out:
Date Added: November 8, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset,Current Events — Tags: Carbon Offset, France, Plastics, Recycling — treeinabox @ 4:36 pm
Some say laws need to be passed to force people to consume less gasoline, others say we need to continue to prove the detrimental effects of CO2 emissions and others say we just need to wait till our older generations pass on. Yet, within less than a week, over 3,700 gas stations in France closed down forcing people to choose other methods of transportation without too much complaint.
How and why you might ask? Well, as I imagine many of our readers have heard, France is dealing with intense protesting against a new retirement reform. The protest is against the government’s decisions to push back the retirement age by two years. Considering that France wouldn’t be the country it is today if it’s citizens did not take to the streets in the past, it is astonishing how accepting the French are of the inconvenience the protesting causes.
As stated by Allan Cauet, a resident of Nantes, “While around 15% of the French population is participating in the protesting and strikes, this small group has still drastically impacted the daily lives of all French citizens. “ Although, the panic buying was blamed for a 50% increase in fuel sales last week, this week a representative of Exxon Mobil stated that the impact of the blockage was climbing to a “critical crisis.” The question is, is that “critical” for the gas mongrels or for the general population?
Considering that an average Renault (an European car) produces an average C02 output of 169.5/km, the lack of petroleum has radically lowered the CO2 output in France in the past week. Instead of depending on one’s car, people are comfortable to take the city transportation, to ride their bike or to even walk over an hour to get to their desired destinations.
Coming from the environmentally progressive city of Portland, I was still extremely surprised to realize how lavishly a majority of Portlanders use their cars. Instead, I think it is time we learn some abstract lessons from the French Protest mentality. First off, mankind as a whole needs to be more accepting of others; and secondly, we need to acknowledge that we need to look at the larger picture rather than just the personal convenience of our own cars.
Everyday that the protests and strikes continue is another day that people are not excessively wasting gasoline and emitting more toxic CO2 into our atmosphere. Francoise Michelle, a 55-year-old Marseille resident very simply stated for Insurance Journal, “Transport, the rubbish, the nurses, the teachers, the workers, the white collar, everyone who works, we should all be united. If there is no transport today, we’re not all going to die from it.”
Even though people all over the world live as though it would be the end of the world if there was no individual means of transportation tomorrow, I believe it’s time we find a way to think communally about how our actions will impact this world as a whole
Date Added: October 29, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset,Current Events,Uncategorized — Tags: Carbon Offset, France Protesting, Less fuel — treeinabox @ 7:42 pm
In 2007, the Vatican City had plans to become the first “Carbon Neutral State” through using solar power and planting a Vatican Climate Forest in Hungary to offset all its carbon emissions. They teamed up with U.S. based Planktos Corporation and its Hungarian partner, KlimaFa Ltd., to get their forestry project underway.
George Russ, CEO of Planktos stated that, “Not only is the Vatican steadily reducing its carbon footprint with energy efficiency and solar power, its choice of new mixed growth forests to offset the balance of its emissions shows a deep commitment to planetary stewardship as well. It eloquently makes the point that eco-restoration is a fitting climate change solution for a culture of life.”
Amid negotiations, the companies promised to restore more than 600 acres of forests in Hungary along the Tisza River. A portion of this reforestation project was to have been designated as the Vatican Climate Forest, and nearly 125,600 oak, white willow, black poplar and wild fruit trees were to have been planted by November 2008. The Vatican Climate Forest was never completed because of company mishaps, yet this has not discouraged the Vatican from creating other projects to offset their carbon emissions.
During 2008, the Vatican replaced the deteriorating concrete panels of the Paul VI auditorium, with photovoltaic cells that will convert sunlight into electricity. These solar panels generate enough energy to light, heat and cool the 6,000-seat auditorium. Plus when it is not in use, the surplus energy is fed back into the Vatican network. Andre Koekenhoff, one of the workers, told the Associated Press that, “with this plant, if it is working, in about two weeks we avoid 200 tons of carbon dioxide, and this is equivalent to 70 tons of oil.”
Considering that the Catholic Church claims to strive for stewardship, this effort to become a “Carbon Neutral State,” is a perfect way to put their values into action. According to Bloomberg reports in 2009, newer reports suggested that the Holy See was planning to invest €500m in a 100MW solar farm, which is expected to come online in 2014, generating enough energy for 40,000 homes.
The project is the latest in a series of moves from the Vatican, designed to enhance its environmental credentials. Alongside the rooftop solar panels, officials looking into a biomass facility at the pope’s Castel Gandolfo summer residence.
However, not everyone is satisfied with the Vatican’s plans to become “more green.” Mr. Iain Murray, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute stated, “To the Church of Green, the Vatican will remain heretical.” Furthermore, with the failure of the Vatican Climate Forest project, another article was published stating, “Buying carbon-offset may ease eco-guilt but not global warming.”
On the contrary, environmentalist Rohonyi told ABC News, “Generally, this is a good thing. The idea is praiseworthy. Because of this deal the Vatican will perhaps start propagating environmental awareness among its faithful.”
Taking into consideration that the Vatican may someday accomplish it’s goal to entirely offset it’s carbon emissions, it will be a shining example of cooperation and diligence on the part of many who are striving for a greener way of living.
Interested in similar articles? Here’s more:
Nine of the Most Carbon-neutral Communities: http://bit.ly/cKXFFS
How do Photovoltaic cell’s work?: http://bit.ly/dseVdG
Vatican may sue carbon-offset company: bit.ly/dlllXV
“Buying carbon-offset may ease-guilt but not global warming”: http://bit.ly/bqjLG8
Date Added: July 15, 2010 | Comments (3) | Filed under: Carbon Offset — Tags: Carbon Offset, eco-restoration, Solar Energy, stewardship, Vatican, Vatican Climate Forest — treeinabox @ 10:40 am
Despite being the centerpiece of celebrations all over the world, firework displays unfortunately release lots of toxic chemicals into the environment, from heavy metals to perchlorate. The American Pyrotechnics Association estimates that typically there are around 18,000 fireworks shows occurring across the U.S. on the Fourth of July. Surprisingly, this does not include backyard fireworks, which have grown quite rapidly throughout the past 10 years or so.
Since 2000, sales have practically doubled for backyard fireworks, meaning that over 238 million pounds of fireworks are fired off every year. An article written by Brian Severin, states: “Fireworks are propelled by black powder, also known as gunpowder. This substance consists of an oxidizer (potassium nitrate), a fuel (carbon), and an accelerant (sulfur). For every 270 grams of black powder used, 132 grams of carbon dioxide are created, the rest of it turning into potassium sulfide and nitrogen. It is estimated that the annual U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fireworks is 60,340 tons or the same emissions from 12,000 cars on the road for a year.”
Furthermore, an article published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology in 2009 found that, following a fireworks display, the amount of perchlorate in bodies of water within close proximity, often increased anywhere from 24 to 1,068 times the amount present before the fireworks. It is estimated that it takes between 20 to 80 days before the chemical levels subside.
Considering all this, what would it take to offset this significant amount of carbon emission that our patriotic celebrations cause each year? Well, one simple answer is to plant more trees. Calculating it out, it would take the entire lifetime of 5,000 trees to offset the 60,000 tons of carbon emissions produced in this one day. Some environmentalists are suggesting different types of fireworks that are more environmentally friendly. Although these “green” fireworks are known to be nitrogen-rich, allowing for less smoke and a cleaner burn; the down side is the higher cost of “green” fireworks still remains a obstruction for wider acceptance.
Photograph by: Evrim Icoz
Written by: Adrienne Carlson
Date Added: July 6, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset — Tags: carbon emissions, Carbon Offset, Facts about Trees — treeinabox @ 10:35 am