Friday, March 13, 2020

The Green Path Forward and Plastic Pollution

As noted before, I'm a Green and I am supporting Dario Hunter in the Green Party primary.

This is from Dario's campaign website:

The Green Path Forward and Plastic Pollution


Our planet is beset not by an ecological crisis, but a series of ecological crises, of which global warming is only one. While getting to zero net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030 is necessary, it is not sufficient. We also must address a number of other issues to ensure that we have a livable planet, including plastic pollution.
Plastics have become ubiquitous, with uses including cars, clothing, cosmetics, construction, electronics, furniture, marine and road paint, packaging, straws, toys, and utensils. The first synthetic plastic was produced in 1907, but rapid growth in the world’s plastic production did not start until the 1950s. From 1955 to 2015, plastic production increased from about 4 million metric tons (Mt) to 405 Mt.
Cumulative world production of plastics has been 8.3 billion metric tons, of which 55% has been sent to landfills or otherwise discarded, 30% was primary plastic still in use, 8% was incinerated, and only 6% was recycled. Of the cumulative 500 Mt of recycled plastic, only 100 Mt was still in use, with the remainder being incinerated or discarded.
Because plastics have been produced in such large volumes and so much of it has not been disposed of properly, plastic pollution has been found all over the Earth:
The durability of plastics ensures that they will be in the environment for many years to come. Plastics can take hundreds of years to decompose.
While there have been some efforts made to reduce plastic pollution, including bans on plastic bags and the European Union’s targets for plastic bottles to have 30% recycled content by 2030, action has been fragmentary. There is a need for a comprehensive and worldwide plan to address plastic pollution. It is a multifaceted problem that requires a multifaceted solution.

Estimates of total plastic pollution entering the oceans annually range from about 8 Mt to 12.2 Mt. Annual plastic pollution is expected to double from current levels and to double again by 2050. There is likely to be more plastic in the oceans than fish by weight by 2050.
The vast majority of marine plastic pollution is attributable to the improper disposal of land-based plastics. Large plastic items and secondary microplastics, which are small fragments of plastic that result from the degradation of larger plastics, comprise the majority of marine plastic pollution.
Primary microplastics, which are plastics directly released into the environment as small particles, account for between 7.8% and 16% of the plastics entering the oceans every year (between 0.95 and 1.5 Mt) from a variety of sources such as fiber shedding, tire erosion, and bead spills.
Fiber shedding: The washing of synthetic fabrics containing plastic releases primary microplastics into the environment. Fiber shedding accounts for between 1.6% and 5.5% of the plastics entering the oceans every year.
Tire erosion: Tires contain about 25% synthetic rubber. Wear and tear on tires releases primary microplastics into the environment, accounting for between 2.2% and 4.4% of the plastics entering the oceans every year.
Primary microplastics are widely used in road paint. The weathering and abrasion of road paint accounts for between 0.7% and 1.1% of the plastics entering the oceans every year.
The weathering and abrasion of buildings accounts for between 1.1% and 3.8% of the plastics entering the oceans every year.
Spills of beads used in the production of plastics account for as much as 1.9% of the plastics entering the oceans every year.
Abandoned or lost fishing gear and other litter from the fishing industry accounts for 9.4% of the plastics entering the oceans every year.
Litter from the shipping industry accounts for 4.9% of the plastics entering the oceans every year.
Entanglement and ingestion of marine plastic pollution were found to have substantial negative effects upon birds, invertebrates, mammals, turtles, and zooplankton.
Abandoned or lost fishing gear is responsible for a decrease of between 5% and 30% in some fish populations. Coral are also threatened by abandoned or lost fishing gear.
The estimated cost of marine plastic pollution due to the loss of ecosystem services is estimated to be between $500 billion and $2.5 trillion per year. These costs do not take into account the cost of plastic pollution in rivers or lakes or on land and are likely to increase in the future.

Plastic pollution on land is not as well understood as marine plastic pollution. As of 2010, annual plastic pollution in China was nearly 44 Mt; Pakistan, 5.5 Mt; Nigeria, 4.82 Mt; Indonesia, 4.1 Mt; India, 3.8 Mt; and Egypt, 3.7 Mt. It is unclear how much of this remained on land, buried in deep-sea sediments or in the shorelines near the shothe shore in the ocean. Estimates of microplastic contamination range between 4 and 32 times more severe on land than in the oceans.
Annual primary microplastic pollution in soil from sources including bead spills, tire erosion, fiber shedding, and road paint is estimated to be 1.6 Mt.
Microplastics reportedly can affect soil pH, reduce plant growth, and cause earthworms to lose weight.
Primary microplastics shed from clothing and furniture account for the majority of indoor plastic pollution. Secondary microplastics formed by the abrasion of items including furniture, bags, and toys also contribute. Breathing in microplastics can contribute to damaged lung tissue.
Plastic films used in agriculture to increase crop yields and decrease water usage also are significant sources of pollution. They are non-recyclable and not easily recovered for disposal. When they break down, the residues can have deleterious effects upon the soil, including decreased porosity, air circulation, and microbial activity.
Microplastics have been found in table salts.

Freshwater plastic pollution is not as well understood as marine plastic pollution. Microplastics were found in at least 50% of aquatic insects in the rivers of South Wales. The Tennessee River is among the worst rivers in the world for plastic pollution.
Microplastics also have contaminated fractured limestone aquifers in Illinois; fractured limestone aquifers account for 25% of the world’s supply of drinking water.
About 1.4 Mt of plastics enter the oceans every year from rivers. It is unclear how much additional plastic is buried in riverbeds.
  • Phase out the use of microplastics in marine and road paint by 2025. Negotiate a global phaseout by 2027.
  • Eliminate pollution from bead spills by 2025. Negotiate a global phaseout by 2027.
  • Make all plastic in new tires biodegradable globally by 2031.
  • Make all plastic films used in agriculture biodegradable globally by 2031.
  • Eliminate plastic fiber shedding in clothing and furniture globally by 2031 by substituting natural fabrics for synthetic and capturing fibers.
  • Adopt the European Union’s banon single-use plastic items, such as cotton buds, straws, and utensils for the U.S. by 2023. Negotiate a global ban by 2025.
  • Ban plastic bags by 2023. Negotiate a global ban by 2025.
  • Ban non-recyclable and non-biodegradable plastic packaging and wrapping other than bottles and food containers and wrapping by 2025. Negotiate a global ban by 2027.
  • Make all plastic bottles and food containers biodegradable or recyclable by 2031.
  • Make plastic used in construction fully recyclable by 2035.
  • Make plastic used in consumer items (electronics, furniture, toys, and vehicles) fully recyclable by 2035.
  • The plastics recycling industry needs to be overhauled. There are promising developments in creating plastic that can be recycled indefinitely. Research and development into fully recyclable plastics must be a top priority.

    At the current time, recycling alone cannot solve the problem. Not all plastic is recyclable, and even recyclable plastic cannot be recycled indefinitely without losing quality in the same way that glass and metal products can be. Plastic is composed of polymers, which are long, repeating chains of molecules. Every time a piece of plastic is recycled, its polymers become shorter, and it degrades after being recycled two or three times to the point where it is unusable.
  • Research into making plastics biodegradable must be a top priority.
  • As plastic pollution on land is not as well understood as marine plastic pollution, a much more comprehensive understanding of the sources of pollution needs to be achieved by 2025.
  • Eliminate land-based plastic pollution from currently unidentified sources by 2035.
  • As freshwater plastic pollution is not as well understood as marine plastic pollution, a much more comprehensive understanding of the sources of pollution needs to be achieved by 2025.
  • Eliminate freshwater plastic pollution from currently unidentified sources by 2035.
  • Provide aid to developing countries to build their recycling industries.
  • Negotiate a global commitment to ensuring that all recyclable plastics are actually recycled.

And here are two Tweets from candidate Dario:

ImageEarlier tonight, the Lavender Caucus accepted my proposal to initiate an in-person dialogue with the Georgia Greens re: the impact on trans rights of its recent resolution. A leader in the Georgia Green Party (speaking personally) has expressed willingness to participate.

Show this thread

It is my hope that through direct dialogue we may resolve this issue, contribute positively to party unity, and ensure a safe space in the party for all members while honoring our commitment to trans rights.

Show this thread

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, March 13, 2020.  The US government bombs Iraq (in that war that never ended -- someone might need to ask Joe Biden about that since he keeps claiming credit for ending it) but first we focus on the coronavirus with regards to the US.

Starting in the US with the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

Sen. Bernie Sanders addressed the public Thursday on the "health and economic crisis" facing the United States as the coronavirus spreads across the nation, causing layoffs, threatening entire industries, and exposing gaping holes in America's social safety net.
"Now is the time for solidarity," Sanders said. "Now is the time to come together with love and compassion for all, including the most vulnerable people in our society."
Sanders demanded that President Donald Trump declare the coronavirus a national emergency and urged Congress to immediately work to ensure that everyone in the U.S. can access the healthcare they need "without cost." The Vermont senator also said that any coronavirus vaccine must be free and available to all.

"Now is not the time for price-gouging and profiteering," Sanders said.
The Vermont senator went on to call for an "immediate moratorium on evictions, on foreclosures, and on utility shut-offs so that no one loses their home during this crisis, and that everyone has access to clean water, electricity, heat and air conditioning."

Those are the issues at stake, Bernie is correct.  He's very presidential.

If we are lucky in the United States, warmer weather will send the coronavirus away for a few months -- it will not defeat it but, if we're lucky, it will send it away for a few months.  It would mirror 1918's influenza in that regard.

If we're not lucky?  Temporary measures will be more than temporary.

That means a loss of jobs.

Broadway is closed down, late night shows are suspending production (in part due to issues involving booking guests -- it's a lot harder in the current climate), Disney Land and Disney Wold and Universal's amusement park are shut down, tours at movie studios are shut down, concerts are suspending, the NBA has 'paused' the season . . .

These are jobs lost.

Not just for athletes and performers but also for the people who feed you at these places and events, the people who clean up these places, the people who . . .

Nursing homes are examining options and one that many are going with or leaning towards is not transporting their residents off the facility for basic doctor's appointments, only for critical ones.

All of this is impacting the economy.

For how long?

That's the issue right now.

For many Americans, it is a pay check to pay check existence and that is in good times.

Should the warmer months not put the virus on hold, these closing could go on and on.  And, no, the economy will not be able to handle that.  People will not be able to handle that.

You will see evictions, you will see utilities shut off.

Unless the right thing is done, what Bernie's calling for.

A lot of people are trying to make political hay out of this moment -- a lot of 'resistance' garbage.

US President Donald Trump has made some ridiculous statements and I have not slammed him for it because I assume he's trying to manage public perception.  I'm not that kind of person.  I believe you throw all the information out there and keep the public aware.

But we are being managed -- by Republicans and Democrats -- so it doesn't surprise me that Donald would be doing the same.  The role of the president is often little more than national cheerleader on an international stage.

Mistakes that he and his administration make should be called out.  They should be called out because we've got to do better.  That's not do better after the election, that's right now in this moment of crisis.

Bernie's proposing a real plan and that's what we need.  We should be pressuring our Congressional representatives as well as Donald Trump to implement what Bernie is calling for.

Peter Gowan (JACOBIN) explains:

As the reality of the coronavirus takes hold globally, our capacity — or lack thereof — to deal with the crisis is suddenly a burning question. Housing security is a looming concern, and without a Homes Guarantee, many people are at risk.
Widespread availability of public and social housing, universal rent control, the abolition of homelessness, and a tenants’ bill of rights are necessary measures to protect people from predatory behavior by landlords and unjust evictions. But we do not live in that world yet, and emergency measures in the field of housing will be required to stabilize and protect people during the unfolding public health crisis of our time.
In a crisis where we suddenly need to work less, and so risk reduced paychecks or even layoffs, many renters are fearing eviction and even homelessness if they cannot make a payment. This needs to change.
Socialists and progressives can and should be demanding an immediate emergency program to stabilize people in their homes until the crisis has passed. Against the profits of landlords and developers, we must demand the basic measures to support public health, allowing people to take time off work without fear of eviction.
The measures proposed below should be considered in addition to, not as a replacement for, workers’ protection from layoffs, as well as guaranteed free and universal testing, treatment, and, ultimately, vaccines. We must also demand extensive paid sick leave. But without controls on the housing market, it is likely that pressures and fears will persist.
s a baseline, we need laws to guarantee people the right to remain in their homes for the duration of this period and its immediate aftermath. As a first step, we should impose a freeze on all rents, backdated to 2019, and a moratorium on all evictions, foreclosures, as well as a suspension of mortgage interest accrual on owner-occupied and rental housing. This will ensure people are stabilized in their homes for the duration of the crisis, regardless of whether they are working or not.
A nationwide rent freeze means no increase in the price of rent over what the monthly price was in December 2019. Any rent increases since then, or announced during the process of passing the law, should be rolled back to December prices. (If the tenancy began after 2019, the rent should be frozen at the lowest monthly value charged since the tenancy began). This should apply to single-family rentals and group house tenants as well. It must be universally applicable to all people renting housing, and should be applied on the basis of the unit or room rather than the tenant, so if somebody leaves a home voluntarily, the landlord cannot charge more than the previous tenant paid to lease it.

It must apply for the duration of the coronavirus crisis — potentially ceasing after a three-to-six-month period elapses, the clock starting once the total number of cases falls below one-third of its peak — and automatically resetting if the number of cases rises above that number again.
In order to prevent price gouging after this period, annual rent increases should be indefinitely restricted to the level of the local consumer price index or 3 percent, whichever is lower — as proposed by the Homes Guarantee campaign. This should remain the baseline for an extended period, ideally permanently.
Throughout the duration of the crisis (including the cool-off period), all evictions must be suspended. People should still be required to follow reasonable lease terms and pay the frozen rents if they are capable of doing so, but highly punitive sanctions, including evictions, should be off the table entirely
These are the required measures in order to ensure confidence that staying home from work will not result in potential homelessness. If a less effective “stick” results in some people not paying rent they owe, that is a far less severe issue than people going to work with the coronavirus. In the aftermath of the crisis, in order to ensure no retaliatory evictions occur, tenants should be guaranteed that a tight just-cause eviction law will be imposed federally on a permanent basis, limiting the legitimate reasons for eviction to a small set of circumstances, proven in a court of law.

The government should offer to acquire properties whose landlords no longer wish to own them permanently at a significant discount, and convert them to income-based rents, capped at a percentage of tenant incomes, in order to ensure people who lose their jobs are still able to pay their rent without potentially clogging up the adjudication offices. They should also potentially establish a fund to compensate landlords whose tenants are not paying their frozen rents due to hardship. While landlords in general are not an especially sympathetic group, this would help to soften the blow for the more sympathetic actors who could otherwise sink the proposal. The backdated rent freeze ensures that this fund cannot be exploited by landlords increasing the rent to extract value from the government, which would otherwise be a serious concern. Applications for this fund should require proof that the property already meets all local housing codes and is safe to inhabit — any legally required repairs should be taken out of compensation.

Sarah Lazare (IN THESE TIMES) addresses these issues and more in her latest piece:

My best friend works as a standardized patient, which means she is a practice patient for medical schools to train and test students. One day she’ll play an older woman with a pulmonary embolism, her face stricken with worry, the next someone with depression, limp and listless. Each workday medical students fumble at her bedside, and at her body, some nervous and gentle, others over-confident and brusque, as she guides them through learning their craft. It’s not bad for wage work, with each gig paying somewhere between $16 and $25 an hour, although this doesn’t always cover the time spent learning the part, let alone biking miles through Chicago’s potholed streets so she can make it from one 3-hour gig to the next.
Even though it’s not bad, she’s living—like most people in this country—on a razor’s edge. One of her gigs this week was cancelled because of the COVID 19 outbreak, which is now officially a global pandemic. Her employer paid her for the job, because she got less than 24-hours notice, but she will receive no pay for the other upcoming events this and next week that have been cancelled. One of her other gigs (all her jobs are non-union) has a two-week cancellation policy, a source of comfort to her. But what if that workplace gets shut down for more than two weeks? What if all of her jobs are shut down for six? If her income dries up, there’s no designated person to swoop in and help her, no bailout or government agency that has her number and will make sure she’s okay. She’s about two months out from not being able to pay rent or buy food.
My friend’s situation is unremarkable. She’s slightly better off than many Americans, 40% of whom don’t have enough money in the bank to weather a $400 emergency. She’s got $1,960 in her checking account, and $2,010 in her savings—although the latter will all go to her taxes, which are high because she's classified as an independent contractor at some of her jobs. Perhaps most critically, she has access to extended networks of white wealth that people of color don’t have, and she can call on them in a pinch.
But like 27 million Americans, she doesn’t have health insurance. Of the last two bike accidents she got in, one was serious, but she couldn’t afford to go to the doctor, so she instead relied on friends who are nurses. One diagnosed her with a concussion over the phone. According to a Gallup poll from 2019, 25% of people in the United States say they or a family member “put off treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because of the cost.” My friend, like all these people, can’t afford to miss work due to sickness, let alone treat what’s wrong with them when there’s not a global pandemic. What will she do if she gets COVID 19?
The GOP just blocked an emergency paid sick leave bill from advancing in the Senate. Oil and gas companies are pressing the White House to grant them a bailout from a downturn linked to COVID 19, and at the same time urging the Trump administration to avoid supporting any paid sick leave policy. Just like we lack a federal paid sick leave law, we have no guaranteed paid bereavement leave in this country. And in case we’d forgotten our precarity, Joe Biden just reminded us by suggesting that if he were president he’d veto Medicare for All—a universal, single-payer healthcare program—because it’s too expensive.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, higher-earning wage workers are “more than three times as likely to have access to paid sick leave as the lowest paid workers.” But only 30% of the lowest paid workers—who are more likely to have contact with the public in restaurants, daycares and retail outlets—get paid sick leave. Workers are not taking this sitting down. In New York, Chipotle employees are walking off the job and publicly protesting the company for allegedly penalizing workers who call in sick. "They want us to shut up," worker Jeremy Pereyra, who says he was written up by Chipotle for calling in sick, told Gothamist. "They want us to stop. But we're not going to stop until things get better."

The first round of job losses is already here. The Washington Post reports that some drivers at the Port of Los Angeles were sent home without pay, others laid off. Travel agencies in Atlanta and Los Angeles let people go, as did a hotel in Seattle, a stage-lighting company in Orlando, and Carson’s Cookie Fix bakery in Omaha, hit by declining customers. “If my job’s laying off people, I can only imagine other employers are as well,” said Baiden King, who lost her job at the bakery, telling the Post she plans to move back in with her parents. “I’m not sure anyone will be hiring.”

If we implement what needs to be done (addressed above) and we get lucky and the warmer months send the coronavirus reeling, what do we do?  We learn from 1918.  We don't act complacent and think it's all over.  We realize it could (and most likely would) return again in the next winter.  We pour serious money and time into a vaccination and treatment process.

Too many mistakes have already been made.  It's time to focus on doing what needs to be done.

[Dona adding to C.I.'s snapshot: A number of e-mails to the public account are asking about the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.  This has been addressed by Ava and C.I. in various community newsletters. For non-community members, you can refer to Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The future is out there" which addresses the way some PBS member stations are taking a needed -- and old -- documentary on that pandemic and only allowing people who donate money to stream it online. ]

Turning to Iraq, BBC NEWS reports:

The US has launched retaliatory air strikes against a pro-Iranian militia group in Iraq after a rocket attack killed two of its soldiers.
The strikes targeted five weapons storage facilities across the country, the US defence department said.
The Iraqi military says three soldiers, two policemen and a civilian were killed in the US counter-strikes.
It said the US had carried out "a blatant attack" on Iraqi military sites in Babil province and an airport under construction in Karbala province. It also said the headquarters of the Popular Mobilisation (PM) forces - an umbrella militia which is officially part of the Iraqi security forces - was hit.

Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) adds, "Other reports suggest the US hit as many as 5 militia sites inside Iraq, and while there is no confirmation it is expected there will be more casualties to come. The US has confirmed those attacks, despite only saying they think the militia’s guilt is “likely” and that investigations will continue."  ALJAZEERA notes:

Iran on Friday warned US President Donald Trump against taking "dangerous actions" after the overnight air raids.
"The United States cannot blame others ... for the consequences of its illegal presence in Iraq and the nation's reaction to the assassination and killing of Iraqi commanders and fighters," foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

"Instead of dangerous actions and baseless accusations, Mr Trump should reconsider the presence and behaviour of his troops in the area," he added.

Arthur Scott-Geddes and Jack Dutton (THE NATIONAL) report another government's response:

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab on Friday praised the US-led response to an attack on coalition forces in Iraq, calling it "swift, decisive and proportionate".
On Thursday, the United States carried out several air strikes against an Iran-backed militia in Iraq that it blamed for a rocket attack that killed two US troops and a British soldier, 26, the previous day.
The Pentagon confirmed the US had struck five Iran-backed militia weapons stores in Iraq.
The strikes were "defensive, proportional and in direct response to the threat posed by Iranian-backed militia groups", it said.
The Pentagon said US President Donald Trump had authorised the military to response to Wednesday's attack, blaming Iran-backed militia.
On Friday, Mr Raab warned that attacks on coalition forces will lead to a strong response.

"UK forces are in Iraq with Coalition partners to help the country counter terrorist activity and anyone seeking to harm them can expect a strong response," he said in a statement.

The following sites updated: