Tag Archives: consumption

Why Apple’s new iPhone is bad for the environment

Jacob Passy, MARKETWATCH

The new iPhone will come with a sleeker design and improved functions – but it also carries a hefty environmental price tag.

On Tuesday, Apple announced three new models of its smartphone device: The higher end iPhone X (pronounced “ten” at $999) and the more modestly priced iPhone 8 (starting at $699 for 64GB) and iPhone 8S models (starting at $799 for 64GB.) The new iPhone has facial-recognition technology and wireless charging, and has a battery that’s two hours longer than previous iPhones.

But even that cost pales in comparison with the cost to the environment: There have been 7.1 billion smartphones manufactured since 2007, according to Greenpeace – enough to equip nearly every person in the world with a device. Yet, new devices like the iPhone 8 continue to be produced as consumers seek out new and improved models, creating significant concerns related to the environmental impact smartphones have.

Read more at: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-apples-new-iphone-is-bad-for-the-environment-2017-09-12

Filed under Sustainable Living

Is inequality bad for the environment?

Danny Dorling, THE GUARDIAN

That equality matters in terms of health and happiness has been clear for some years. But it is also better for the environment. The evidence (which is still emerging) suggests the most unequal affluent countries contribute more to climate change via pollution than their more equal counterparts.

They may suffer more, too. A new report predicts the United States will actually see its levels of economic inequality increase due to the uneven geographical effects of climate change – resulting in “the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the country’s history”, according the study’s lead author.

In a 2016 report, Oxfam found that the greatest polluters of all were the most affluent 10% of US households: each emitted, on average, 50 tonnes of CO2 per household member per year. Canada’s top 10% were the next most polluting, followed by the British, Russian and South African elites.

In more equitable affluent countries such as South Korea, Japan, France, Italy and Germany, the rich don’t just pollute less; the average pollution is lower too, because the bottom half of these populations pollute less than the bottom half in the US, Canada or Britain, despite being better off.

In short, people in more equal rich countries consume less, produce less waste and emit less carbon, on average. Indeed, almost everything associated with the environment improves when economic equality is greater.

Read more at: Is inequality bad for the environment? | Inequality | The Guardian

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living

Op Ed: A conservative proposal for a carbon tax

Eric Biber, LEGAL PLANET

An impressive lineup of senior Republican leaders has embraced a carbon tax as an approach to address climate change.  The proposal is to trade away the Obama Administration Clean Power Plan and tort liability against fossil fuel companies for a $40/ton carbon tax that would increase over time.  All revenues from the tax would be rebated per capita to individuals, producing a per-person payment of about $2000/year, and increasing over time.

Right now, given the current chaotic political scene in DC, the proposal is probably dead in the water for now.  But I think it is significant, because it is the first serious attempt by Republican institutional leaders to push for action on climate change.  In that light, it is a very positive development for the future.

Is this a deal that we should take?  I’m cautiously optimistic.  As this report from the group that sponsored the proposal indicates, a $40/ton carbon tax would have a major impact on emissions in the U.S., lowering them by about 28% by 2025 from 2005 levels, meeting the U.S.’s Paris commitments.  The carbon tax is about three to four times higher than the current price for cap-and-trade credits in California, and similarly higher than EU emissions trading credits.

Here are the issues that I think still would need to be worked out with the proposal – which I hope the leaders working on this are thinking hard about.

Read more at: A conservative proposal for a carbon tax | Legal Planet

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living

Sonoma County’s improving economy means more trash 

J.D. Morris, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

CalRecycle spokeswoman Heather Jones said the disposal increase and recycling rate decrease suggested the state needed to continue expanding its recycling infrastructure.

Sonoma County threw away nearly 63,000 tons more trash last year compared with the year before, according to recent figures that indicate the nation’s improving economy hampered local efforts to divert more waste from landfills.

The county disposed of about 386,900 tons of material in 2015, the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency reported last month. That’s an average of 4.3 pounds of waste per person per day, compared to 3.6 pounds per person per day a year earlier.

The latest figures show local waste disposal increased significantly as the economy improved in recent years. The county threw out about 306,100 tons in 2012, and disposal has increased each year since then, according to reports from the waste management agency.

Officials said the disposal uptick was driven by the economic rebound — a factor that fueled a similar increase for the state overall.

As a whole, Californians last year sent 33.2 million tons of material to landfills in 2015, up from 31.2 million tons in 2014, according to the state Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, or CalRecycle. On a per-resident basis, Californians threw away 4.7 pounds per person per day in 2015, as opposed to 4.5 pounds in 2014. The Sonoma County waste figures do not include recycled or composted material, nor do they encompass hazardous waste or trash generated on tribal land, said Patrick Carter, executive director of the county waste management agency.

Waste disposed at county transfer stations increased to about 278,400 tons in 2015, up about 5,000 tons from 2014, according to Carter. The total county figure also includes waste that originated in Sonoma County but was disposed of elsewhere. Carter said the total increase was likely driven by a better economy, which he said could have resulted in more construction and demolition debris as well as more trash from consumer spending.

“When people have no disposable income, they’re not going to be buying things, and they’re not going to be throwing those things away,” Carter said. “But when they’re making more purchases, either they’re getting rid of their old stuff or they’re getting rid of packaging and things like that.”

Read more at: Sonoma County’s improving economy means more trash | The Press Democrat

Filed under Sustainable Living