Bad weather and zero-waste?

Filed in Blog by on September 1, 2008 3 Comments
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Hey, have you folks noticed the bad weather?
“Can’t help but notice it Mr Green and stop reminding us please …” Well, it’s not just another bad summer, I mean, has summer even started here in England? Surely this must be the wettest coldest, darkest gloomiest summer ever. Ok, I have not checked the records, but it sure feels like it.

So what’s this got to to with zero waste? A large part, can you believe it and this is how its spelled out; Global warming is often associated with heatwaves where weather gets hotter and dryer, with droughts skin cancer, cracked ground and failed crops. Well that’s just  one obvious symptom of global warming. However, in a warmer world, air holds more water vapour, so when cloud conditions are right for that vapor to form droplets, more precipitation falls. Excessive rainfall, cloud and humidity are predictable results of global warming. Heavy rainfall together with long periods of cloud make temperatures drop, but these are are only local effects due to the cooling effect of rainfall.

Rising temperatures boost the probability of extreme weather, says Tom Karl, director of the National Climatic Data centre and lead author of a new report from the Bush administration’s Climate Change Science Program; that can lead to the type of extreme events we are seeing in across the world.

Global warming has left its most obvious effects in higher temperatures and we have seen significant increases over the last ten years, even to the point where ice caps are beginning to melt. Climatologists predict that extremely hot days now arriving only once every 20 years will, by mid century, hit the continental United States once every three years. The accepted view is that extreme weather patterns are evolving where heat, drought, excessive rainfall and hurricanes will come more frequently than even before.

I guess we can all agree to that, so how is this linked with zero waste then?

Remember that phrase, global warming… well, that’s mostly a man-made problem and it means the environment is getting warmer and causing these extreme weather conditions. It’s getting warmer because of certain atmospheric chemicals, known as greenhouse gasses such as methane, carbon dioxide, nitous oxide, ozone and CFCs. Recognise any of those? Sure you do. Many of them are bi-products of decomposing waste, burning of fossil fuels and other man-made activities. This assessment is now unequivocally recognised by scientists across the world. Global warming is taking place, it is causing extreme weather conditions that are worsening and it is due to our contaminating effects on the environment.

Landfill waste and incineration plays a major role in the release of greenhouse gasses, that is also not in dispute. Therefore reducing waste is a major factor to lessening the effects of global warming. Just think about that next time you sling a pile of waste for the landfill.

It just doesn’t seem real does it, how can there be a connection between your little bit of waste and the weather. It’s easy to believe your small addition to waste can’t make that difference. Well no, but if 6 billion people all think that, it’s a whole different story when all the waste and its pollutants are added up. And that’s the problem, too many people just can’t see it and together they are playing a huge role in shaping the future of our planet and its delicate eco-system.

It’s not too late, yet…

But it’s getting really close to a point of no return, where the warming effect of greenhouse gasses will become self fueling. That means, even if we stopped all greenhouse emissions over night, we can’t reverse the effects.

How close do we have to get before we stop and take action?

Really, take a look in the news right now, take a look outside your window and think what’s gone wrong.  No other species on our planet has caused so much change to the environment. Collectively we have enormous power and influence through our skills and technology. We can breakit, but we can remake it.  Then remember, this is your world and together we can all make a difference for positive change.

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  1. Hi Mr Green,

    There are massive problems at varying levels of activity. I like Renewables, Zero Waste and new vehicle technologies. A lot of the problems are nation sized economic pursuits which are hard to oppose, unless people within these countries force change.

    I also think the Earth will adapt and recover eventually. Whether we are part of that recovery may be open to debate.

  2. Mr Green says:

    Hi John, I was thinking about your comment and came upon an entertaining video by comedian George Carlin. There is a series of videos on youtube here This one is called ‘Saving the planet’. Ok, it’s comedy, but making an interesting point that mankind has only been here for a short blink in history. We are maybe overly concerned about the planet, whereas, it will recover pretty easily, however, it’s US that will suffer with extinction. BTW, these videos are pretty adult in content, any parents be aware.

  3. Mr Green says:

    Another thought. You are right by inferring that household waste is only one issue of many. When you step back and take a holistic view of waste control, there are many related challenges, like expending energy to recover and recycle materials. Many experts doubt that recycling is efficient, either in business cost, or environmental cost and that at best it’s a proxy to sooth our conscience.

    To me, all this emphaisises the fact that prevention is better than cure and that as a species we need a more holistic view of ourselves and the planet. There is still too much ‘reaction’ to problems and not enough fore-sight in design. To get it right, we need to go right back to basics and use better models that emulate the natural eco-system. That is a proven system that has a pretty good track record.
    Unfortunately for us, the natural eco-system aslo self-regulates through predator and extinction methods. The irony is that we may be predators to ourselves and bring on our own downfall.

    Unlike George Carlin’s video, I fear that we make be unique in that our interference in the natural world may just tip the balance of self repair.

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