Return Burn


I’m not much of a online shopper, but time restraints in early December led to ordering boots online. They were expensive, ordered directly from the manufacturer and arrived promptly. They might have been out of box for two minutes, tried them on, didn’t like the fit, registered a return online, printed a pre-paid return label, dropped them off at UPS a few days later. An effortless process, out of sight, out of mind, not out of pocket another cent.

A few days later my husband mentioned an article he read explaining what actually happens to online returns. Nowhere in internet retailer fine print does it say “returned goods will be incinerated or dumped in a landfill”. My heart sank, grappling with realization I’d unknowingly contributed to a shadowy behemoth environmental calamity.

Roughly 40% of online purchases are returned. In Canada alone, an estimated $46 billion in goods were returned in 2019. That’s a 95% increase in the last five years, a staggering spike resulting in drastic measures. Bottom line – major retailers can’t be bothered to inspect, re-package or return to inventory the mountain of customer returns. To do so would require scores of additional employees, bottom lines deem it cost effective to incinerate or dump most apparel returns in landfills.

Bracketing is common practice of savvy online shoppers – free returns mean buying a small, medium and large, keeping what fits and returning the other two guarantees a garment that fits. How many know returned garments are dumped in landfills?

Upscale retailer Burberry and retail brand H&M admit to incinerating merchandise in order to maintain brand perception. Perish the thought “wrong people” could diminish their brand if clothing was donated to charity. Not only is the practice disturbing, environmental impacts are staggering.

Had I known my ill fitting boots were destined for the dump, chances are I’d have donated them to charity or consigned them to a second hand store.

 

Water, No Ice


Last night a client asked for water, no ice. Seems she disapproved of Pellegrino served at the bar. No problem, I’ll be right back. Oh, you want to come with me? Have it your way. Following me to the kitchen, she watched as I turned the faucet to run cold water. Her jaw went slack, unable to support quivering lips on a face now drained of colour.  Horrified, she mustered “you only have tap water?”. “Excuse me” I replied, handing her a glass of water, no ice. “I can’t drink that” she sputtered, “I need bottled water”. Propriety screamed “easy now, be cool, you’re a professional”. Rather than snap “are you thirsty or not?”,  politest admonishment ahead of “what’s wrong with you”, I smiled, shrugged and replied “there’s bottled juice at the bar”.

Water, no ice lady’s delusion isn’t unique. Convenience, accessibility, marketing and collective apathy sustain bottled water dependency. Why no ice, because it’s made from tap water?

Society resides in a plastic bubble. Insulated from common sense by convenience, consumers take the path of least resistance. Bolstered by marketed delusions, society dwells on plastic bottles and deems the contents crystal clear. Water, no ice lady doesn’t know 93% of all bottled water contains micro-plastics. Nor is she aware of Canadian law as it pertains to drinking water.

Canadian tap water is regulated by Health Canada which sets guidelines for potentially harmful contamination. Municipal water sources are tested constantly to assure quality. Bottled water is another matter – legally defined as “food”, it falls under jurisdiction of the Food and Drugs Act. Translation – “Aside from arsenic, lead and coliform bacteria, the act does not set limits on specific contaminants but says simply that food products cannot contain “poisonous or harmful substances” and must be prepared in sanitary conditions.” Bottom line, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspects water bottling plants – on average once every 3 years. Bottled water producers claim strict adherence to testing practices, legally they’re not obliged to make results public.

With the exception of “spring” or “mineral” water printed on labels, water producers aren’t required to reveal their water source. The Canadian Bottled Water Association claims less than 8% of water bottles in Canada contain municipal water sources. In the United States roughly 45% flows straight from the tap.

“In the U.S., Nestlé’s Poland Spring water, which is not sold in Canada, was the subject of a class-action lawsuit that alleged the company was mislabelling the water as “naturally purified” spring water from “pristine and protected sources… deep in the woods of Maine,” when it fact it was groundwater being drawn from man-made wells, some of which, the lawsuit alleged, were at risk of contamination.” – Kazi Stastna, CBC News

Ponder the link below –

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/bottle-vs-tap-7-things-to-know-about-drinking-water-1.2774182

Water, no ice lady is a cautionary tale. Bottled water is unregulated, unethical, unhealthy and undeniably unscrupulous.

In plastic bottle news – earlier this week Justin Trudeau held a press conference to announce a nation wide ban on single use plastics by 2020. All good until a reporter asked what Trudeau’s family did to reduce plastics. Ponder his cringe worthy response –

 

 

 

197 Myths, Ice Melt And Conservative Apathy


 

Remember when wannabe president Trump tweeted –

How about Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, Republican chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, tossing a snowball in February 2015?

“God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains.”

“The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous,” he said.

Inhofe mocked Obama for saying climate change was a greater threat to Americans than terrorism. He spewed lists of terrorist atrocities and enemy nations, accusing the Obama administration of trivializing national security threats in favour of climate propaganda. Inhofe accused liberal news media of using climate propaganda to create fear.

Trump blames China, Inhofe calls on God – how does a reasonable person crack these nuts? Visual aides?

Image courtesy – https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/4/graphic-dramatic-glacier-melt/

Stunning video documentation?

Gone are the days when skepticism demanded verifiable truth. Collective denial is a modern reality perpetuated by numskulls with money, power and political agendas oblivious to ramifications of climate apathy. That said, I stumbled upon a list of 197 climate myths at Skeptical Science. I challenge anyone to find a more complete, user friendly resource –

https://skepticalscience.com/argument.php

 

“Bee”hemoth Wallace Lives


In January 2019 natural history photographer Clay Bolt captured images of Wallace’s Giant Bee. Considered one of the 25 “most wanted lost” species by Global Wildlife Conservation’s Search for Lost Species initiative, Wallace’s Giant Bee hadn’t been seen in 38 years. Thirty eight years is a long time to miss Wallace’s 6 cm wingspan, science considered the species extinct. Bolt said –

“It was absolutely breathtaking to see this ‘flying bulldog’ of an insect that we weren’t sure existed anymore.

To see how beautiful and big the species is in real life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible.”

Discovered in 1858 on the Indonesian island of Bacan by British entomologist and  namesake Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913), the last sighting of Wallace’s Giant Bee (Megachile pluto) occurred in 1981 when American entomologist Adam C. Messer documented six nests in Indonesia. Two specimens found in February and September of 2018 sold on eBay without a twinge of lost species conscience. Clay Bolt’s capture, imaging and release of a single female giant bee affirm the tenacity of waning species.

Elusive Wallace behemoths build nests inside active tree dwelling termite colonies. With  impressive jaws, females collect and spit out balls of tree resin, forming protective compartments within termite domain. Giant bees depend on low lying forests for resin and termite colonies. Little as we know about resin ball spitting tree dwelling termite colony squatter Indonesian giant bees, science begs us to realize how remarkable it is to photograph one.

 

See the source image

Wallace’s giant bee dwarfs the common honey bee in size. Image © Clay Bolt/claybolt.com.

https://earthsky.org/earth/found-worlds-biggest-bee-wallaces-giant-bee?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=7db7df99b0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-7db7df99b0-393970565

 

Ponder Climate Change Denial


Rampant denial of humanity’s contribution to climate change explains why I’ve been called an “eco-clown” and “nutstoponder”. Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma can toss a snowball across the Senate floor, declaring  “God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains, the arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous,” and I’m the delusional nutter taking exception to   Wisconsin Koch puppet Scott Walker “scrubbing” public Natural Resource websites of references to man made climate change. We’re asked to believe Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA will restore American greatness, and I’m the nutter.

Links to refresh your memory –

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/the-world-according-to-koch/

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/senate-snowball/

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/american-environmental-research-scramble/

Still in denial? Ponder these short videos –

 

 

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – Climate Change Scrubber Extraordinaire


If you visited the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources website on October 30, 2016, this is what you found –

Earth´s climate is changing. Human activities that increase heat–trapping (“green house”) gases are the main cause. Earth´s average temperature has increased 1.4 °F since 1850 and the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 1998. Increasing temperatures have led to changes in rainfall patterns and snow and ice cover. These changes could have severe effects on the Great Lakes and the plants, wildlife and people who depend on them. While no one can predict exactly what climate change will mean for our Great Lakes, scientists agree that the following changes are likely if climate change patterns continue.

Increased summer and winter temperatures will cause increased evaporation, lower lake water levels and warmer water, resulting in reduced habitat for cold water species and a loss of critical wetland areas.

Decreased winter ice cover will also contribute to increased evaporation and lower lake water levels which could have severe economic consequences for our valuable shipping industry, lakeshore recreation, and coastal businesses.

Changes in rain and snowfall patterns (including more frequent and severe storms) could change water flow in streams and rivers and increase stream bank erosion and runoff pollution.

The good news is that we can all work to slow climate change and lessen its effects. To find out more about climate change and how we can all help, please visit the following links.

Take a peek today and weep over climate change denying Governor Scott Walker’s obliteration of truth  –

As it has done throughout the centuries, the earth is going through a change. The reasons for this change at this particular time in the earth’s long history are being debated and researched by academic entities outside the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The effects of such a change are also being debated but whatever the causes and effects, the DNR’s responsibility is to manage our state’s natural resources through whatever event presents itself; flood, drought, tornadoes, ice/snow or severe heat. The DNR staff stands ready to adapt our management strategies in an effort to protect our lakes, waterways, plants, wildlife and people who depend on them.

http://www.snopes.com/wisconsin-department-natural-resources-removes-references-climate-website/

The Wisconsin DNR’s web page was scrubbed of all uses of the word “climate” and altered to imply a lack of consensus about anthropogenic global warming in the scientific community.

 

Mystery Of 1952 Killer London Fog Solved


December 5, 1952 – residents of London, England woke to cloudless skies characteristic of a prolonged pattern of unusually chilly weather. Shivering citizens fed coal burning fireplaces with earnest, soot belched from thousands of chimneys. Within a few hours thick fog settled over the city, by afternoon fog began to turn “sickly yellow” in hue.

Unaware of temperature inversion caused by a stalled high pressure weather system, Londoners had no way of knowing warm temperatures 1,000 feet above ground blocked noxious soot’s escape. Reeking of rotten eggs, poisonous sulfur rich smog halted air, train, boat and surface transportation. Those who ventured outside reported streets thick with sticky goo and blackened faces of coal miners. Over 5 days an estimated 12,000 succumbed to the killer fog. A government investigation resulted in the Clean Air Act of 1956, restricting burning of coal in urban areas and grants to convert coal heat to gas, oil or electric.

Knowing coal emissions trapped in fog are lethal isn’t the same as understanding chemical interactions at play. It took a trip to China (a coal burning nation, home to 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world) by Texas A&M researcher Renyi Zhang to publish findings Oct. 9 2016 in Proceeding of The National Academy of Sciences. Research indicating the same phenomenon takes place today.

“People have known that sulfate was a big contributor to the fog, and sulfuric acid particles were formed from sulfur dioxide released by coal burning for residential use and power plants, and other means.

But how sulfur dioxide was turned into sulfuric acid was unclear. Our results showed that this process was facilitated by nitrogen dioxide, another co-product of coal burning, and occurred initially on natural fog. Another key aspect in the conversion of sulfur dioxide to sulfate is that it produces acidic particles, which subsequently inhibits this process. Natural fog contained larger particles of several tens of micrometers in size, and the acid formed was sufficiently diluted. Evaporation of those fog particles then left smaller acidic haze particles that covered the city.”

http://www.history.com/news/the-killer-fog-that-blanketed-london-60-years-ago

Climate Change GIF


There are those who flatly deny man-made climate change, others who prescribe to global warming as a natural earth cycle, and scoffers convinced the whole thing is an elaborate hoax. Presidential wannabe Donald Trump contends climate change a conspiracy perpetrated by China to undermine the U.S. economy. Bastions of tight ass right wing patriotic duplicity, the likes of Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity and the Heritage Foundation, use their considerable non-profit resources to cast doubt on climate science – target of choice, the NOAA. Inhabiting the opposite end of the spectrum, a plethora of organizations from the David Suzuki Foundation to Greenpeace champion the result of humanity’s indifference to drastic warning signs of climate calamity.

On Monday UK climate scientist Ed Hawkins of the University of Reading, posted this “infographic” on Twitter. In a Washington Post article, Jason Samenow wrote –

“Over the years, scientists have attempted to visually communicate the Earth’s warming in many ways.  They’ve developed an array of maps, charts, and animations that present an unmistakable picture of a warming world.

But I’ve seen no visual as striking and effective as the infographic posted to Twitter Monday by climate scientist Ed Hawkins.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/05/10/the-most-compelling-visual-of-global-warming-ever-made/

Regardless of which camp you call home, ponder Hawkin’s graphic. Each ring represents a year from 1850-2016.

See Earth’s Temperature Spiral Toward 2°C : Discovery News

Imagine Earth Breathing


Ponder the Gaia hypothesis, suspend belief and imagine that “Earth’s living things interact with the physical world around us to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on our planet.”

The notion that Earth interacted with its atmosphere  as a “super-organism” was hypothesized by Scottish geologist James Hutton in the 18th century. Crazy talk at the time, it would be 200 years before English chemist James Lovelock wrote Gaia:A New Look at Life on Earth in 1979. Lovelock looked at chemistry and physics of Venus and Mars, suggesting that absence of life was the reason neither had an atmosphere to sustain life. In short – Earth’s atmosphere exists and sustains itself because of life, living things interact with the physical world to create a “self sustaining”  environment conducive to life.

In 2010 a survey of 400 British scientists ranked the Gaia hypothesis alongside DNA, considered one of the top ten scientific breakthroughs of all time. Wow, that’s heady stuff.

“…once people could travel beyond the atmosphere of Earth and put enough distance between them and their planet, then they could view their home from an extra-terrestrial viewpoint. No doubt that the 1960s photographs of the blue, green, and white ball of life floating in the total darkness of outer space made both scientists and the public think of their home planet a little differently than they ever had before. These pictures of Earth must have brought to mind the notion that it resembled a single organism.”

http://www.scienceclarified.com/Ex-Ga/Gaia-Hypothesis.html

The Gaia hypothesis suggests life on Earth regulates itself based solely on existence and interaction of living organisms. Left alone our world can stabilize itself, muck with it enough – we might find ourselves going the way of Mars.

Edible Water Bottle


Over 50 billion bottles of water are consumed each year in America. A United Nations study estimates our oceans contain 46,000 pieces of floating plastic per square mile. In America alone, 1.5 million barrels of oil (reported at the 2007 U.S. Conference of Mayors, likely much higher today) are needed to produce plastic for water bottles, that’s enough oil to power 250,000 homes or 100,000 cars for a year.

Enter Ooho, the edible water bottle. Brown algae and calcium chloride form a gel around water, the process of “spherification” (think egg yolk) forms a double membrane, keeping contents safe and hygienic while allowing a label to be placed between the two layers of membrane. Water is frozen before being “dipped” in calcium chloride, then bathed in brown algae to strengthen  by creating a second layer.  At a cost of 2 cents per “bottle” Ooho’s future should be bright, but it has a few problems.

London design student and creator Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez concedes container strength is akin to the skin of fruit. Toss in how to re-seal the vessel and ways to keep membranes sanitary for consumption. Technicalities aside, the edible water bottle demonstrates life without plastic water bottles is conceivable.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/Heres-A-Water-Bottle-You-Can-Actually-Eat-180951185/?no-ist

ooho.jpg

The Ooho edible water bottle can’t be closed, but is biodegrade. (Rodrigo García González)

Feeling crafty? Make an edible water bottle at home –