Growing Idea of “Compensatory Green Beliefs”

Many people think that a small bad can be canceled out if they perform a small good. For example, there are some people that believe they can leave their lights on if they drive a hybrid. The wasteful energy being used by the lights are being offset by the more environment-friendly hybrid. 

In a study performed in the U.K, a group of researchers investigated these ideas of “compensatory green beliefs”. Some statements that people agreed with were “It is okay to leave the lights on if you use low-energy light bulbs” and “Not driving a car compensates for flying on holiday”, which had the most percent of agreement, 16.2%. However, the researchers also believe these numbers to be smaller than reality because some people have a hesitation to mark their real mindset if it could be taken in a bad way publicly.

Though these numbers cannot totally translate over to the public opinion of the United States, it gives a good estimate about the mindset in the U.S. Many people believe that scales can be balanced if one does a good after a little bad. If that were to happen with green energy initiatives, their effectiveness would greatly decrease. Mainly, people have these beliefs because a bad environment is not staring them in the face. Regardless, it’s not a good mindset to have because U.S would never change its course towards an unhealthy environment unless it realizes the consequences. If many people did believe in global warming, public policy would follow with them, and a grander scale of environmental recovery could start.

-Huy D.

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Food Waste Likely to Be More Severe

It us estimated that sixty million metric tons of food are wasted every year in the United States, costing about 162 billion dollars. Worldwide, the average food waste is a third of the food produced, costing about 400 billion dollars.

Just reducing food waste by 20%-50% could save about 120 billion to 300 billion dollars a year. The food discarded in most developed countries would be more than sufficient to feed the 870 million people of the world that lives in starvation. If this trend continues, the waste is estimated to cost 600 billion dollars a year in 2030. Despite the economic costs, food waste also carries an environmental cost. Food production uses a huge amount of water, fertilizer, and land. Not only that, fuel is burned to transport, refrigerate and process the food.

Most food waste is thrown in landfills, where they emit about 3.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases globally in a year, which amount to 7% of total emissions. Good to say, however, some cities and counties in the U.S have begun fighting food waste like Hennepin County, Minnesota who gives grants to businesses or non-profit organizations that recycle food waste or practice compost.

Food waste is a huge problem, not only because of economic and social reason, but also environmental reasons. Food waste creates an excess amount of pollution; therefore, I believe that there should be a federal mandate against food waste. However, compost bins, resources, and information will be supplied. It can also be made into a grant with conditions of aid; the top 10 states to reduce their food waste in a year over a set number of years will receive a grant.

– Huy D.

Industry accused of deceiving politicians and public on fracking

Fracking has become a highly debated topic in recent years. It’s a practice that carries with it environmental consequences. For this reason, Energy in Depth may have spun their information noted on their documents sent to a Allegheny City Council to lease mineral rights for gas drilling under Deer Lakes Park.

This was claimed by the non-partisan group Public Accountability Initiative after reviewing these documents to find that only one of the studies was actually peer-reviewed and explicitly addressed health concerns. However, it was completed by the industry. Energy in Depth countered, saying that anti-fracking supporters try to align research with their argument in order to deceive. (Wait whattt???)

Both sides of the issue sometimes manipulate information; however, the oil industry does a bit more a tampering. Studies performed by anti-fracking activists are grounded in research and those who were contributed to the study have their names listed. On the other side, the oil industry made a study in 2013 that claimed that children do not have a higher risk of getting cancer by being near fracking wells. Well, the time interval was so short that cancer could not have possibly formed.

I cannot say that the oil industry has a lot of support for their manipulated information. Most of their documents were not even reviewed and one study was from the 1990s before the shale boom even started. Not only that, most of their documents conflict with a large majority of studies that indicate negative impacts of fracking. So, they soon have to face the public and the council they deceived and well they should.

– Huy D.

Is Fracking Risky or Not?

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Hydraulic fracturing, the current most advanced and efficient method of getting oil and natural gas out of the deep rock. The method is to use pressure to forcefully push tons of gallons of water, which is mixed with sand and other chemicals, through layers of deep rocks where the oil and natural gas are. Some people claim that it’s risky, while others think that it’s not, the truth is, no one is certain.

Recently congressional Democrats sent out their investigation to states that are natural gas or oil producers. They wanted to know if the states regulate the oil and gas waste well as many people are really concern about the potential risks of fracking. As it turned out, not many regulations are made to enforce fracking.

State like New York take caution and become the second in the U.S. to ban hydraulic fracturing. There are people who support the idea, and there are others that don’t. Many researches claim that there’s no evidence of fracturing led to contamination, while others claim that there’s always possibility.

“Some scientists say there hasn’t been enough research” and I do agree with them. Hydraulic fracturing is new and not a lot of regulations are made to protect the public yet. There maybe no sign of risks right now, but there is the possibility. Nothing is perfect or certain.

-“Congressional Democrats seek to step up fracking oversight

*Phiseth O.

Keystone XL Pipeline Legislation Passed…

So, the bill has finally passed. However, president Obama is likely to veto it. The Keystone XL Pipeline has been debated on for a very long time but it passed on January 29th after the addition of 41 amendments to the bill.

The legislation passed 62 to 36, which mainly came from the Republican Party though nine of the Democrats present also voted for the passing of the bill. However, Obama will definitely veto it, which would then require the two-thirds needed of the Senate to pass the bill to override Obama’s veto.

Regardless of the incoming veto, Republicans are happy because of two things: one, that the bill even made it onto the president’s desk and second, that there is greater cooperation between the two parties in the Senate. The opinions of both parties were taken into consideration when amendments were being placed on the bill.

Of those two things, I am really only happy with one. The idea that the two parties can discuss and cooperate in the passing of a bill is great. It cuts down greatly on the amount of gridlock as well as allows for the timely passing of new bills.

However, I do not agree with the pipeline, itself, as it is literally a tube that runs through America carrying tons of oil a day. For one, if accidents occur, it would be on American land. Second, that oil is not even being used domestically; it is being shipped out to other countries through the Gulf of Mexico. Third, America (I imagine) is receiving little profits from having the pipeline through the country as this is Canadian oil. So, Obama… slam that veto down!!

– Huy D.

Keystone XL Pipeline Legislation Likely Due to Be Passed

There has been much debate over the passing of the Keystone XL Pipeline and with good reason. On one side, it is said to boost the economy because it would create jobs. On the other hand, it’s a pipeline that runs through the United States and if accidents should occur, the environmental problem will be on American soil.

According to Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer on Face the Nation, the legislation would not even provide for many jobs. It would create several thousand jobs initially; however, by the end of construction, there would only be 35 permanent jobs. Therefore, he and other Democrats would propose amendments to the bill that would make it more of what Republicans call the legislation, a “jobs bill”.

They would make sure that the steel used in the construction would be American-made. Also, they would make sure that this Canadian oil from the pipeline would be used in America because as it stands, most, if not all, of the oil transported would be sent to foreign countries. To this, the Democratic senator says, “makes no sense.” Not only that, they would create many jobs through clean energy.

If this bill does pass Congress the first time, the president is likely to veto it. However, the bill, Schumer says, would likely to be struck down the second time even with the amendments. Schumer believes that the bill would only satisfy the interests of the oil and pipeline industry and not of the public. However, this legislation will soon begin the political progress as this is notably one of the GOP’s first actions after its majority goes into Congress.

– Huy D.

Oil Industry Fights Back on Fracking Bans

Many cities nationwide have imposed bans on the oil practice of fracking while some others have set a multi-year suspension on fracking. Now, the oil industry has begun its assault on removing these bans.

The oil industry says it is the state’s power to ban fracking and not the municipality’s. However, residents have voted for the bans and the industry, in response, sued the cities who initiated the bans. One such city is Longmont, Colorado where in July, a district court judge threw out the ban but the city plans to appeal.

The oil industry hopes to wear down cities through lengthy court battles by forcing them to use up too money. Some cities have already buckled to this tactic such as Lafayette, Colorado. Longmont plans to continue the ban despite the legal battle; the oil industry will do the same in hopes that it will be able to reach the estimated 500 million dollars of natural gas under the town.

If these legal battles continue, then appeal after appeal could make its way to the Supreme Court where a precedent could then be set for the power of local districts. This battle could decide whether these districts can ban a practice of an industry if the residents there are against it, in their rights as property owners (who decide how they want to live). On the other hand, the battle could go in favor of the industry and that these practices will continue to be in the discretion of the states, on the basis of present law and that the industry would provide for national prosperity.

– Huy D.