Sustainability
Give A Shit About Nature's Sustainability Content

0 877

Last week, TreeHugger came out with a somewhat controversial article, Worried About The Planet? Avoid That Extra Kid. By and large, I agree with what they had to say. Of course you can’t shame people for the kids they already have, but it underscores the need to have a dialog about family planning and make safe family planning methods affordable or free to women and men alike.

But what about our pets? What are the carbon footprints of our furry, four-legged friends?

People love pets, and that includes me. I have a dog and a cat, both of whom I rescued from the pound. For the sake of being better educated about the carbon footprints of animals, I decided to dive into the numbers. Here’s what I found.

Dogs.

Meet Ham. Ham’s my 3-year-old medium size mix of something or other. According to the authors of ‘Time To Eat The Dog?’,  feeding Ham for the duration of his life, say, 12-15 years, will require .84 hectares of land, more than the total ecological footprint of a Vietnamese citizen and almost twice as much as the ecological footprint of driving an SUV 10,000 km.

There’s not much I can do to drive down the carbon footprint of Ham. Dogs aren’t vegan, and though some people try to push the idea that a dog can be fed a vegan diet, it’s not based in reality and you can harm your pet by doing so. Dogs are omnivores and they cannot survive without meat. If having a 100% vegan household is an important thing to you, get a rabbit or another type of herbivore as a pet.

For my existing dog, there’s just about no way to drive down his carbon footprint. For future dogs, I have options.

Adopt a shelter dog.

In the United States, 3.3 million dogs are delivered to animal shelters each year. 670,000 of them will not make it out of the ordeal alive. There are a lot of dogs who are born and have nowhere in particular to be. If you’re thinking of adding a dog to your family, consider looking to your local animal shelters and rescues first.

Avoid pet stores and breeders.

I’d never tell you that you can’t have a special breed of dog, no more than I’d tell you you can’t have another kid. It’s your life; you do you. If you have a very specific reason for adopting a pure bred dog, like requiring a hypoallergenic breed or a breed bred to perform a specific work function, then by all means.

But pet stores tend to carry puppies born at puppy mills, places that imprison adult dogs and force them to breed and give birth, often discarding them when they’re no longer of use. There is no excuse for adopting a pet store puppy unless it’s specifically a rescue dog.

Spay and neuter your dog.

That happy dog you see above was neutered before I adopted him, and it’s for the best. With more than half a million shelter dogs facing euthanasia every year, Ham doesn’t need to be contributing to the surplus population.

There are some who argue it’s inhumane to do so and that animals should be left intact, but I don’t subscribe to that belief. Talk with your vet about the best time to spay or neuter your dog.

Cats.

Meet Sylvie. She’s old as hell and full of piss and vinegar. She’s loud, demanding, and wakes me up about a thousand times a night. Her favorite hobbies are walking on my face, shitting on the bathroom mat, sleeping, and being on the wrong side of the door.

What were we talking about again?

Oh yeah. Carbon footprints. According to a study conducted at New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington in 2009, a cat has about the same carbon footprint as a car driven for a year. With cats, there are more options to decreasing their ecological impacts than dogs. Though like dogs, cats are not vegan. Do not try to put your cat on a vegan diet. If you can’t handle a meat eating pet, get an herbivore, like a rabbit.

Keep your cat indoors.

What kills the most outdoor birds? Hunting? Oil spills? Wind turbines? None of the above.

Windows. But second to windows are cats. High estimates indicate that cats, both feral and domesticated, result in about 3.7 billion bird deaths a year. Kitty kills a bird and you probably shrug it off. It’s just one bird, right? But there are 75 million cats in the US. If they all kill a bird or two each year, that’ll really add up fast.

Of course, I don’t see Sylvie catching much of anything these days.

Spay and neuter your cats.

I’ve had it happen before. While cat sitting for a friend’s cat who wasn’t spayed, cat gets loose for a couple days, comes back, and pops out 6 kittens after a few weeks. So now the world has 6 more cats when, every year, 860,000 cats are euthanized at animal shelters. My bad, ya’ll.

I found homes for the kittens, but at the end of the day, those kittens have a negative impact. The mother cat should have been spayed and the kittens shouldn’t have been born. Plus I gave one of them to a friend and he turned out to be kind of a dick.

His name is Cheesepuff and we’re not really on great terms. He is neutered though.

Ignore pet store cat toys.

Every time I see cat toys in the pet store, it just strikes me as a waste of money. A cat will enjoy a cardboard box about as much as they enjoy a cat tree. They’re not hard to please. Or they’re impossible to please. Cats vary widely.

Adopt from shelters and rescues.

The same rules for adopting dogs applies to cats too. Always choose a shelter cat over a pet store cat unless of course you need a specific breed for a specific reason.

Rabbits.

 

Rabbits are awesome. Their poop makes great garden fertilizer, they have unique personalities, and when raised well, they’re pretty relaxed creatures. They also eat a vegetarian diet and can eat some of your food waste like carrot tops, the bases of lettuce and celery, and more.

I had trouble finding data on their overall ecological footprints. Due to the nature of their diet and their (usually) smaller size, I can surmise it’s dramatically less than cats or dogs. But there are still things you need to watch out for.

If you can, don’t buy from a pet store or a feed store.

Rabbits are not as common in animal shelters as cats and dogs, but they still wind up there pretty frequently. If your family wants a pet rabbit, consider keeping an eye on your local animal shelter’s website or look for a local rabbit rescue. Check craigslist and other local postings for anyone looking to rehome their rabbit.

If you have a rabbit and can’t care for it anymore, don’t just leave it somewhere in nature. It will not survive.

Spay and neuter your rabbits.

This tip is often overlooked. Rabbits should be spayed and neutered. Spayed rabbits have a reduced risk of reproductive cancers and neutered males tend to live longer too, as they are less tempted to be aggressive.

Rabbits, domesticated and wild, are prolific breeders. And just as with dogs and cats, there are plenty of rabbits in shelters right now, some some accidental rabbit babies should be avoided at all costs.

Also, and I can’t stress this enough:

Conclusion.

So to summarize:

Dogs have a large carbon footprint due to the meat in their diet. Don’t try to make a dog vegan. Spay them, neuter them, and adopt before you buy.

Cats have a smaller carbon footprint, but it’s still high because of the meat in their diet. Don’t try to make a cat vegan. Spay and neuter your cats, don’t let them go outside, and rescue if you can.

Rabbits have the smaller carbon footprint, but some considerations are needed. If having a vegan household is your goal, rabbits are the right pets. Try to rescue if you can and always spay and neuter your pet rabbits.


This website isn’t paid for by deceitful third party ads or paywalls. If you would like to support more stories like these, visit our store and pick up a sticker or a sweet men’s or women’s tee. 10 trees planted for each one sold. Free shipping in the USA!

india solar train railway
Image courtesy of Anil Kumar Chhatri, Indian Railways

Want to keep Give A Shit About Nature ad free? Me too! Click here to learn more about how you can support our work and get some sweet SWAG too.


India’s rail system is as massive as it is dirty – the trains are powered by diesel. But India, whose commitment to reducing its dependence on fossil fuels has been incredible, sees solar as a solution.

Indian Railways began running its first solar-powered train on July 14th. The panels, situated atop the trains themselves, will power lights, fans, and other electrical devices inside of the passenger coach trains.

The solar panels won’t be powerful enough to actually move the trains; they’ll still be pulled by a diesel-powered locomotive. But by installing sets of 16 solar panels atop each coach train, they’ll reduce the amount of diesel the trains use by 21,000 liters per year.

The first train has been put to use in the suburbs of New Delhi, one of the more polluted cities on Earth.

This is a small step for Indian Railways, but they have bigger plans ahead for solar. By 2020, the transportation authority intends to generate 1,000 megawatts of solar power; 5,000 megawatts by 2025. This will be a considerable chunk of India’s renewable energy goal of 175 gigwatts by 2022.

So far, Indian Railways has installed only 16 megawatts of its 5,000 megawatt goals, currently falling extremely short. But more solar is in the works. With any luck, they’ll reach their goals.


This website is not paid for by third party ads and annoying popups. If you’d like to support more stories like these, consider becoming a supporter for as little as $1 per month. We plant trees and offer some sweet gifts, no matter what level of support your offer. Your pledge will go to paying for this website and hiring more writers. Awesome!

0 739

Want to keep Give A Shit About Nature ad free? Me too! Click here to learn more about how you can support our work and get some sweet SWAG too.


French president Emmanuel Macron thinks he’s convinced Trump to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, reversing a decision last month to withdraw the United States from the non-binding agreement on climate change.

When Trump announced plans to withdraw, he said he’d be willing to negotiate a better deal. European leaders have balked at the idea of changing the terms of the agreement after the fact.

Some think the president now realizes the mistake he made.

“I’ve got a feeling that the president is regretting what he did,” said Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire and climate action advocate. “Maybe his children and son in law are saying, ‘Look, I told you so.’ Hopefully, there is a positive change of mind.”

That change of mind may be coming, according to the French President. Macron said that Trump now better understands the link between climate change and terrorism, the latter being an enormous concern of the president.

“He understood the sense of my approach, notably the link that exists between global warming and terrorism. He told me he would try to find a solution in the coming months,” Mr Macron said in an interview with le Journal du Dimanche.

“We talked in detail about what could enable him to come back into the Paris accords.”

Even with Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement, renewable energy implementation is on track to meet the goal the United States set for itself – a 28% decrease in 2005-level carbon emissions by 2020.

But time will tell.


This website is not paid for by third party ads and annoying popups. If you’d like to support more stories like these, consider becoming a supporter for as little as $1 per month. We plant trees and offer some sweet gifts, no matter what level of support your offer. Your pledge will go to paying for this website and hiring more writers. Awesome!

Want to keep Give A Shit About Nature ad free? Me too! Click here to learn more about how you can support our work and get some sweet SWAG too.


President Trump has been no stranger to cutting the world off from unfavorable data. He even had the USDA remove information about animal abusers to placate the NRA and big ag. Now, Trump’s proposed budget could cut us, and the rest of the world, off from some pretty vital data.

An alert was sent out by a U.S. Geological Survey program coordinator that warned of the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts, set for 2018. The cuts, if they end up being approved, will undermine the availability of data that’s been gathered on critical areas like geology, climate change, and weather.

The email was sent to more than 500 researchers on June 19th in the hopes that it would give them enough time to react and comment on these proposed changes.

Up to 40 programs are threatened by these cuts, with programs that focus on climate change and the impact of land use being the most severely hindered.

Debra Willard, a coordinator for the USGS Climate Research and Development Program, said that the cuts “would reduce or eliminate the availability of current data and collaborations between the USGS, other agencies and universities.”

“There was a consensus that suspension of the USGS projects would impede ongoing activities in the international research and policy communities,” Willard said after reading responses from her colleagues.

Without this data being readily available, we’ll be flying blind in a number of ways. Weather and climate could be harder to predict and the impact of land use may not be thoroughly studied and understood.

Cutting off this data could imperil lives as well, with critical information about natural hazards like volcanoes and earthquakes being affected.

There is, of course, no guarantee that the Trump budget is going to be passed, but it’s clear as day that the proposed changes benefit his core message: take what you want now, stymie resistance, and make someone else pay the price down the road.


This website is not paid for by third party ads and annoying popups. If you’d like to support more stories like these, consider becoming a supporter for as little as $1 per month. We plant trees and offer some sweet gifts, no matter what level of support your offer. Your pledge will go to paying for this website and hiring more writers. Awesome!

0 392
Image by Jon Callas, Flickr Creative Commons

The solar revolution has begun and there’s not much that can stop it. From reducing our need for dirty fossil fuels to allowing people to produce their own energy at home, solar has so many benefits.

In Australia, solar power is well on its way to being ubiquitous. About 25% of the country’s homes are now equipped with solar panels. With the rapidly decreasing price of the solar panel, many of Australia’s residence are rushing to put them on their roofs.

But this isn’t likely to continue at its current pace. It’s expected that the implementation of solar energy on the community level will likely slow some.

According to a report from SunWiz, rooftop solar now accounts for 5.7 gigawatts of energy produced spanning 1.7 million businesses and households. The first 5 months of 2017 saw a record breaking number of installations.

1% of Australian homes (about 94,000) say they have plans to go solar over the next 12 months.


give a shit about nature tee shirt t-shirtThis website is not paid for by third party ads and annoying popups. If you’d like to support more stories like these, consider visiting our shop and picking up a sweet t-shirt or a kickass bumper sticker. 10 trees planted for each one sold.

0 846

The United States has begun the long, four-year process of pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. The rest of the world has remained steadfast in their support of comprehensive goals to avoid catastrophic climate change.

While the politicians in Washington D.C. may not be willing to work with the international community on the issue of climate change, U.S. states are on board and the world is taking notice.

Both China and the European Union have declared an eagerness to work with any states and cities that want to continue fighting against climate change.

“Strong transatlantic ties are far more important and far more durable than the latest unfortunate decisions of the new administration,” EU President Donald Tusk said.

Despite Trump’s desire to “renegotiate” the terms of the Paris climate accord, the international community is having none of it and numerous cities and states have signed on to a climate alliance to meet the goals laid out in our original agreement.

One of the most challenging aspects of the United States pulling out of the agreement is finding the funding dedicated to helping poorer countries develop while meeting their own carbon reduction goals. China and the European Union have made it known that the funding will be available, topping $100 billion by 2020.

“The decision of the United States to pull out of the Paris agreement is utterly regrettable, and that is me choosing very restrained language,” said German chancellor Angela Merkel.

“This is why it is necessary now after this announcement by the US administration yesterday evening, to turn our attention to the future.”

American states with mostly Democratic leadership have begun to declare their intents to see through the Paris agreement. On Tuesday, Hawaii became the first state in the country to officially sign a bill into law that adopts the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

“Reducing greenhouse emissions in Hawaii is now the law — the state law,” reports Hawaii Public Radio’s Bill Dorman. “While the specifics are a bit vague, the political message is clear: to keep pace with environmental commitments made as part of the Paris accord.”

Governor David Ige signed the senate bill, citing his own motivation by the overwhelming evidence of climate change that is visible to Hawaiians every day.

“We are the testing grounds. … We are especially aware of the limits of our natural environment,” Ige said. “Tides are getting higher, biodiversity is shrinking, coral is bleaching, coastlines are eroding, weather is becoming more extreme. We must acknowledge these realities at home. That is why Hawaii is united in its political leadership on tackling climate change.”


This website isn’t paid for by deceitful third party ads or paywalls. If you would like to support more stories like these, visit our store and pick up a sticker or a sweet men’s or women’s tee. They’re made in the United States and for each one sold, we plant 10 trees. Free shipping in the USA!

0 612

Trump has indicated through words and action time and time again that he doesn’t give a shit about nature, allowing big ag to destroy wetlands and streamsas well as letting hunters kill wolf pups and bears while they hibernate.

Now, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is in Trump’s sights. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has issued a directive to find out how much oil is located under ANWR and how much can be extracted.

In 2013, a plan was written that limited the scope of drilling for oil and natural gas in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. Oil companies were quick to complain about these restrictions, and Trump’s administration was all too eager to listen.

“This is land that was set up with the sole intention of oil and gas production; however, years of politics over policy put roughly half of the NPR-A off-limits,” Zinke said in a statement. “Using this land for its original intent will create good-paying jobs and revenue.”

ANWR is a 19-million-acre reserve that was originally established by congress in 1980. Today, it is estimated that 12 billion barrels of crude oil sits below the reserve, which has drawn the interest of oil companies as well as politicians.

Environmental advocates are already pushing back.

“It’s hard to see how they could open up more land to development without putting at risk some pretty sensitive areas,” said Kate Kelly, the public lands director at the Center for American Progress. “Zinke might give lip service to balance, but this announcement shows the scales are tipped pretty far in industry’s favor.”

Regardless, Zinke is pushing forward with further fossil fuel development in the region, which will only end up costing the natural environment, and you, in the long run.


This website isn’t paid for by deceitful third party ads or paywalls. If you would like to support more stories like these, visit our store and pick up a sticker or a sweet men’s or women’s I’m With Her t-shirt. They’re made in the United States and for each one sold, we plant 10 trees.

Located at a waste incineration facility in Zurich, Switzerland, the first commercial carbon-capturing plant is now operational. The plant is able to capture carbon and turn it into something that can be used or simply buried.

Inside of the Climeworks plant, three shipping containers hold six carbon collectors. Inside these collectors, spongy filters are in place to absorb carbon pulled in by fans. Each sponge is fully saturated within a few hours.

Once the container is full, it’s closed and heated to over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which releases carbon in a usable form. This carbon can be turned into products, buried, or sold to interested commercial buyers.

But don’t get too excited about this plant, it’s a drop in an ocean. Climeworks believes that hundreds of thousands more will be needed by 2050 if we’re to put a dent in the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere and keep runaway climate change from happening.

Carbon that has been captured in facilities like this has numerous uses. Researchers at UCLA recently found a way to turn it into concrete for building.

“You can do this over and over again,” Jan Wurzbacher, director of Climeworks, told Fast Company. “It’s a cyclic process. You saturate with CO2, then you regenerate, saturate, regenerate. You have multiple of these units, and not all of them go in parallel. Some are taking in CO2, some are releasing CO2.”


This website isn’t paid for by deceitful ads or annoying popups. If you would like to support more stories like these, visit our store and pick up a sticker or a sweet men’s or women’s I’m With Her t-shirt. They’re made in the United States and for each one sold, we plant 10 trees.

0 982

Pollution will be one of the lasting legacies of our era. You can look no further than Henderson Island, an atoll in the Pacific, for proof of that.

Henderson Island is a tiny chunk of land with no human inhabitants. In a sense, you could argue that humans have left it mostly untouched. And yet, our touch is still present on this pristine island.

Researchers have concluded that more than 3,500 pieces of trash wash up on the island every day, adding to the 38 million pieces of ocean-moved garbage already present on the island. Almost all of this trash is plastic.

“The quantity of plastic there is truly alarming,” Jennifer Lavers, a co-author of the report, said in an interview with the Associated Press. “It’s both beautiful and terrifying.”

Images like the one above, provided by Lavers, shows the variety of trash that washes up on the island, anything from plastic nets, helmets, water bottles, and even plastic garden planting buckets.

These pieces of plastic travel thousands upon thousands of miles through the South Pacific Gyre, a central point where tons of plastic trash accumulate.

Researchers spent a total of three months researching Henderson Island in 2015, analyzing the garbage. Most of the trash was found to come fro industrialized countries around the Pacific rim as well as Europe.

If there isn’t real action soon, the fate of Henderson Island could be seen around the world.


gasantee2This website isn’t paid for by deceitful ads or annoying popups. If you would like to support more stories like these, visit our store and pick up a sticker or a sweet men’s or women’s t-shirt like the one you see here. They’re made in the United States and for each one sold, we plant 10 trees.

0 669

If you’ve opened up a utility bill in recent years, you’ve probably noticed a modest upward trend in the cost of keeping the lights on and the water running. But that upward trend could start going a whole hell of a lot faster if this paper is correct.

Researchers at Michigan State University have found that the cost of water will need to increase by 41% in order to pay for replacing outdated water infrastructure.

Already, about 14 million households have trouble paying for their water. A 41% hike in water costs could expand that number to over 40 million, or one-third of all American homes, by 2020.

The worst part is, in many of the places most impacted by this, the water quality is poor. Already we’ve been hearing reports about how 50,000 households in Flint, Michigan are facing repercussions for their inability to pay for lead-tainted tap water.

There’s a water crisis brewing, and pretty much no one is talking about it.


Want to start saving money on water? Pick up a $5 faucet aerator today. This easy to install device is cheap and saves over $100 on your utility bill every year. That’s more than 18,000 gallons of water per household!