Human-produced mass now outweighs the Earth’s biomass

December 11, 2020 by  
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Research published in Nature revealed that human-made matter now outweighs the earth’s biomass. The research further shows that, on average, every person on Earth is responsible for creating matter equal to their own weight each week. The study, carried out by a team of researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, determined the overall impact of human activities on the planet. Researchers accounted for human activities such as the production of concrete , plastic, metals and bricks. The study also determined that the production of such materials has been on the rise due to increasing urbanization. According to the researchers, the mass of human-made products at the start of the 20th century was about 3% of the Earth’s biomass . However, due to increased urbanization and product consumption, human-produced weight now outweighs the overall global biomass. Researchers say that Earth is already at a tipping point, with the human-produced mass at 1.1 tetra-tons. This increase in human-produced mass means negative consequences for Earth. In fact, the study shows that an increase in human-produced mass correlates with a decrease in biomass. “Since the first agricultural revolution, humanity has roughly halved the mass of plants,” the authors wrote. “While modern agriculture utilizes an increasing land area for growing crops, the total mass of domesticated crops is vastly outweighed by the loss of plant mass resulting from deforestation, forest management, and other land-use changes. These trends in global biomass have affected the carbon cycle and human health.” The paper now suggests that this epoch should be named Anthropocene , implying that the earth is shaped by human activities. They say that the 21st century has been squarely shaped by human activities. Production of human-made objects has transformed Earth in a few centuries. Human activities continue shaping the Earth, with an increase in human-generated mass each year. “The face of Earth in the 21st century is affected in an unprecedented manner by the activities of humanity and the production and accumulation of human-made objects,” the researchers said. Today, human mass is produced at a rate of about 30 gigatons per year. If this rate continues, the weight of human-created mass will exceed 3 tetra tones by 2040. + Nature Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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How to support environmental justice

July 8, 2020 by  
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When most of us think about the environment, we tend to conjure certain images. Clean waterways and national parks full of trees or wildlife come to mind, especially since environmental news often focuses on polar ice caps melting in the Arctic, deforestation in the Amazon and animals close to extinction. How often, however, do we think about the human communities in our own backyard and where we fit into environmental issues? When climate change doesn’t seem to affect you directly, it can be easy to overlook. This is where environmental justice comes in. What is environmental justice? The United States  Environmental Protection Agency  defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” This goal will become reality “when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.” This intersection between environmentalism and social justice forms an important branch of activism that focuses on people’s right to live safely without environmental hazards. Related: 5 growing environmental nonprofits to support in 2020 Concerns linked to hazardous  waste  sites, failing infrastructure and money-saving policy changes in vulnerable communities continue to plague the environment and the humans who live there. Low-income communities and communities of color are especially at risk; think Flint, Michigan, when a 2014 policy change led to at least 100,000 people losing access to clean water. Additional examples of environmental injustice remain plentiful. Low-income communities are more likely than the overall population to be affected by climate change threats (such as flooding), due to inadequate housing. A 2018  study  by the Environmental Protection Agency also found that  air polluting  facilities burdened Black communities at a rate 1.54 times higher than the overall population. Throughout the country, there are even neighborhoods without access to healthy food, and communities with toxic waterways and soil due to oil and gas extraction. How to help All of these environmental injustices can be daunting, but there are ways to help. Especially with  social media , something as simple as raising awareness of an issue can have a lasting effect. You can also show your support by getting involved with or donating to environmental justice  non-profits . One of the best ways to help is by backing socially-equal conservation policies and the organizations or politicians supporting them.  WE ACT  is an organization that helps low-income communities of color fight harmful environmental policies while participating in the creation of fair environmental policies.  Green For All  works to uplift the voices of low-income communities and people of color in the climate justice movement and fights to build a green economy that lifts people out of poverty. The NAACP also has an  Environmental and Climate Justice Program  to support community leadership in addressing environmental injustice and its disproportionate impact on communities of color and low-income communities. Take the time to challenge unjust laws and violations of environmental policies in marginalized communities, too.  EarthJustice  believes that law is the most powerful tool for environmental change. The non-profit public interest environmental law organization supports an experienced legal team that represents their clients from small towns to large organizations (for free) in the fight against environmental injustice. Environmental justice work doesn’t stop there Indigenous communities are also disproportionately exposed to environmental contaminants, often due to federal and state laws that make it easier for extractive and polluting facilities to access tribal lands. A 2012  study  even found that Indigenous American communities face disproportionate health burdens and environmental health risks compared with the average North American population. Organizations like  Cultural Survival , which works to advance the rights and cultures of Indigenous people, and the  Indigenous Environmental Network , an alliance of Indigenous peoples who fight to address environmental and economic justice issues, help educate and empower Indigenous people while raising awareness for their environmental protection. Other facets of the environment, such as the  agricultural  sector, also experience injustice.  The National Black Farmers Association  is a non-profit organization representing African American farmers and their families in the U.S., focusing on issues such as civil rights, land retention, education, agricultural training and rural economic development. A new generation leading the way Especially in recent years, with young leaders addressing the environmental tolls that harmful practices reap upon the planet, several organizations for young people have made tremendous strides in environmental justice.  The Sunrise Movement , a youth-led organization, advocates for political action on climate change and works to help elect leaders who stand up for the health and equal wellbeing of all people. Similarly, the  Power Shift Network  mobilizes the collective power of young people to fight against environmental racism by stopping dirty energy projects and campaigning to divest from  fossil fuels . Images via Pexels

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This Earth Day, take a fresh look at paper

April 18, 2018 by  
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Sponsored: Recycled paper, if sourced correctly, can help to reduce the overall environmental impact of offices and businesses.

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This Earth Day, take a fresh look at paper

Carbon pricing is becoming the norm for big companies

October 16, 2017 by  
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Some firms are taking it more seriously than others, CDP reports, but the overall trend is unmistakable.

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Carbon pricing is becoming the norm for big companies

MIT created a solar cell that breaks theoretical conversion limits

May 25, 2016 by  
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MIT researchers are heating up clean energy technology with a new solar cell capable of converting solar heat into usable light, which raises the overall solar-to-electricity conversion rate of the cell. The new device demonstrates, for the first time ever, a method that allows solar cells to use heat to break through a theoretically predicted limitation on the amount of sunlight which can be converted into electricity. Compared to traditional solar cells, MIT’s new invention could be the thing…

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MIT created a solar cell that breaks theoretical conversion limits

How To Achieve Zero Food Waste

April 28, 2016 by  
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The topic of food waste has gained much-needed attention over the last few years and everyone from food manufacturers to retailers to consumers are guilty of contributing to the overall problem. Statistics show that in the U.S. alone 60 million…

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How To Achieve Zero Food Waste

Nestlé cuts landfill waste, but grows emissions and water use

May 30, 2012 by  
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The company reported strides in waste diversion, but also increased their overall water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

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Nestlé cuts landfill waste, but grows emissions and water use

Calif. Green Jobs Handled Recession Better than Conventional Jobs

February 8, 2012 by  
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Throughout 2009, California's green economy lost fewer than half as many jobs as the overall state economy, according to the latest report from Next 10.

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Calif. Green Jobs Handled Recession Better than Conventional Jobs

Plant-Mimicking Solar Cells Can Self-Assemble

September 7, 2010 by  
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Scientists at MIT have created a breakthrough solution to one of the biggest problems facing solar cells by mimicking the world’s best harvesters of solar energy:  plants.

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Plant-Mimicking Solar Cells Can Self-Assemble

U.S. Still #1 "Most Attractive" for Renewable Energy, But China is Catching Up

December 7, 2009 by  
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Image: Ernst & Young But China is #1 in Wind Power Index In its report titled Renewable energy country attractiveness indices , the firm Ernst & Young tries to measure how “attractive” various countries are to renewable energy development. The biggest news in this new edition of the report no doubt is that China has moved up to #2 on the overall index, bumping Germany to the #3 spot. The only thing that keeps the U.S

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