Recycling: The Consumer’s Crutch

Recycling started as an innocent movement; however, over time it has evolved into a way for industry to justify over-consumption. Consumers often ignore the remainder of the saying “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” The idea is to primarily reduce the amount of waste produce (i.e. purchase less products that could be harmful), reuse the products that are purchased (using plastic containers and glass jars for food storage), and LASTLY recycle what is left over.

“Trade groups representing various packaging interests–plastic, paper, glass–have become the largest proponents and financial sponsors of recycling,” according to the Forbes article “Can Recycling Be Bad for the Environment?”. These industries are able to convince consumers that their products are not harmful to the environment, because they are recyclable.

Here are some problems with recycling:

  • The public isn’t well educated about HOW to recycle. Which number plastics can I recycle? Is this container okay? These are questions that almost every person who recycles (myself included) wonders.
  • Some things that are recyclable don’t ACTUALLY get recycled.
  • Many people have to drive to a recycling plant to drop off their recyclables; if they do so often, they may end up polluting more with their car than the recycling is reducing.
  • Processing recyclables can cause pollution.

Although recycling is certainly not a terrible thing, American consumers need to stop relying on it as a crutch to consume too much. If we REALLY want to combat climate change, we, as a country, need to undergo REAL lifestyle changes, not just adopt a few habits that enable us to continue consuming in relatively the same way.

 

Sources

http://www.forbes.com/sites/amywestervelt/2012/04/25/can-recycling-be-bad-for-the-environment/#4434f272b37d

http://www.projectgreenify.com/post/31796900512/the-negatives-of-recycling-recycling-is-nothing#.Vq4ZarIrIdV

 

 

Some Insightful Information

Today, I found a blog with helpful information on climate change www.tamino.wordpress.com

I encountered an interesting post “Global Warming Basics: What It’s NOT,” which discussed the common misconceptions about global warming (many of which I had believed prior to starting my research into climate change). Most useful were the charts and graphs provided in the blog posts which showed the CLEAR trends in increase in global service temperature. I responded to the post because it made points that reminded me of “Climate Change: A Summary of the Science”.

Here is a link to the blog I found, as well as my comment on the blog  

 

Climate Change: The Basics

It is nothing if not fitting that I’m starting my basic research on global climate change while trapped in my house by the aftermath of winter storm Jonas. So far, the most important thing I’ve learned is this: climate change is happening. Of course, there are several other basic matters to address, such as definitions and other basic processes. Firstly, what causes climate change? According to the Royal Society’s article “Climate Change: A Summary of the Science,” climate change can be caused by:

  1. Changes in the energy Earth receives from the Sun
  2. Changes in greenhouse gases and clouds
  3. Changes in the reflectivity of Earth’s surface

But what EXACTLY is climate change? Well, it’s essentially the environment trying to correct the imbalance between the amount of energy the Earth receives from the Sun and the amount of infrared energy emitted by Earth. This imbalance is called “climate forcing.” Another important term I discovered in my readings is climate sensitivity, which is “the amount of climate change caused by a given amount of climate forcing,” (essentially just how much has to happen before the climate system responds), this sensitivity can vary from place to place.

I also encountered the term “internal climate variability,” which refers to the amount of variation occurs within a climate system solely because of the factors in that system and NOT climate forcing.

Possible results of climate change which I found were:

  1. Increases in Earth’s surface temperature
  2. Increases in the temperature of the ocean
  3. Increases in sea levels
  4. Decrease in size of mountain glaciers

So far, I’ve only skimmed the surface of what climate change research has to offer, courtesy of http://whatweknow.aaas.org/get-the-facts/  and https://royalsociety.org/~/media/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/2010/4294972962.pdf. I hope you enjoy whatever weather phenomena that climate change may be bringing you; as for me, I’ll be inside avoiding frostbite!