Archive for Policy

Water Woes

With the recent floods in the United States, we can see that water prices, water shortages, and disaster flooding are problems being dealt with all around the international community. Currently countries like Bolivia, have failing water pipes and the water sector is being privatized which is driving prices for water. It is suggested that the United Nations pay for the upgrade of the water system. They are an international organization that specializes in helping countries that are in need. Multiple countries are a part of the U.N and they are mostly all developed countries. They have the obligation to chip in pay help out a country in need. The water pipes should all be fixed and even privatized like in United States. Because there is a shortage of water, first fixing pipes and allowing the Bolivian government to deal with it will allow for it to be a prosperous industry in the future. A shortage of water in Saudi Arabia will cause water wars in the Middle East that will spillover into the oil industry. This will affect investors and drive up oil costs as well as create conflict in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is a corner stone country that is integral to the international community. A shortage of water will affect the economy of the country because it is so heavily reliant on oil and with water wars, the country will eventually crumble. Humans don’t prepare for floods with urbanization because the soil from land is capable of absorbing the water, but building the streets will prevent that from happening. To reduce these effects, we can reduce urbanization, improve sewage/drainage systems, and prepare for flooding disasters.

-Nicholas Chan

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The Not So Silent Spring Summary

The author of Silent Spring is Rachel Carson and it was published on September 27, 1962. The book focused on the detrimental effects of certain pesticides on birds such as DDT. The pesticide causes harm to birds eggs and makes the shells thinner. The book even suggests that DDT caused a decline in the reproductive rates of birds. She mentions how the chemical industry that produces this pesticides using disinformation to misinform the public about the effects of DDT.  Uncontrolled and unexamined pesticide use in the environment has the potential of harming and even killing not only animals, but also affecting humans as well. The title even suggest the long-term effects of DDT could produce a spring season where birds are extinct and society is unable to hear the songs of birds; creating silence. It became quite popular after its publication and made its way to the Book-of-the-Month-Club as well as the New York Times best seller’s list. Finally, the novel became so popular in 1972 that it generated enough support to ban DDT in the United States. Finally, President John F. Kennedy directed the Science Advisory Committee to investigate the claims made. After investigation, there was an immediate strengthening of the regulation of chemical pesticides all around theUnited States. We can see how our environment was threatened and through voicing a strong opinion, change in policy can make a long-lasting difference in our community.

 -Nicholas Chan

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The Wolves of Yellowstone

The wolves of Yellowstone were wiped out because ranchers hunted the wolves and felt as though they were dangerous. Between 1850 and 1900, an estimated 2 million wolves were shot, trapped, and poisoned by ranchers, hunters, and government employees. The idea was toe make the West and Great Plains safe for livestock and for big-game animals prized by hunters. The reintroduction of wolves was a success because in 2005, the park had 118 gray wolves that had been brought from Canada.  The rancher’s main concern was that it hurt livestock and killed too many big-game animals.  Their arguments are valid because they did hunt their animals, but their existence is necessary to control other populations. Elk gathered around streams less which helped with plant growth, stabilized stream banks, and lowered the water temperature for trout. They also cut coyote populations which helped the growth of smaller animals and also provided more food for eagles and hawks. In order to make both sides happy, the park should be fenced off or the ranchers can fence off their cattle to protect them from wolves so they can continue their habitat without harming the livestock. I think the human intervention is necessary because it was human intervention in the first place that caused the wolves to be endangered and it’s their duty and obligation to bring them back toYellowstonepark. We can see that each species, regardless of the dangers they might posess to one group, can be an integral part of our biodiversity and environment in the long run.

-Nicholas Chan

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Hooray for Hemp?

 legal-hempBiofuels have been proven to be cost effective and efficient since 1973. It is estimated that biomass produces 146 billion metric tons a year. Many new alternatives are emerging across the country and hemp is a potential. Hemp has the potential to be the number one biomass producer on Earth. 77% of the plant contains cellulose and cellulosic ethanol is the term referring to types of energy that we are familiar with. Cubing the plant can condense the bulk which reduces the cost and the amount of land used in the pyrolosis reactor which makes the fuel.

Hemp has promising potential because it is drought resistant making it easier to grow in dry regions across the country and is the only resource capable of functioning as an independent energy source. Although this seems like a great idea, there’s an underlying problem, it was outlawed in the United States in 1938. It is said that marijuana and hemp are of the same category, so the government made them illegal, but scientifically speaking you would need to smoke a 60ft pole of hemp just to get high. American farmers are now encouraged to apply for a license to cultivate hemp, but the Department of Agriculture rarely gives them out discouraging farmers.

The United States spends so much money on petroleum and coal exports that we are now feeling the effects of it in our economy. If the government were to legalize hemp, then the crop would provide us with a clean energy source, easier ways of producing cotton, a reduction on oil, and a better outlook on our future. To outlaw something with such great potential is completely absurd and its many uses can change the face of the green America.

-Nicholas Chan

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Renewable Portfolio Standards

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An RPS is a regulation or incentive that promotes the use of alternative energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, or biomass. The RPS system forces electricity and utility companies to produce usually 20% of their energy from renewable energy sources. Not only do companies gain profit from the 20% switch, but customers are happier as well as the environment for a small shift in a brighter future.

The use of private market implementation ensures success and efficiency that produces energy as the lowest possible price that competes with cheaper fossil fuels. The United States still trails behind large countries like Britain, Italy, and even Belgium. With the annual extensions of PTC’s or production tax credits, the RPS system is more reliable because its mandated and obligated nature forced upon electric companies.

Not only would the fossil fuel market be allowed to stay afloat ensuring strong relations with huge importers such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, but our world is bound to last a bit longer and the satisfaction of a greener energy source in our homes makes us not feel as bad when we flick on that light switch. Finally, the light bulb has lit up, a new idea and new found transition backed with potential and support.

-Nicholas Chan

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From Brownfields to Greenfields.

P1010195Brownfields are abandoned once industrialized locations that suffer from pollution and deserted heavy factory industries. Unfortunately, as hazardous as these locations might sound, the poor make up a large population in these dreadful lands.

A newly proposed green movement actually advocates a full sweep of a green revolution into these neighborhoods. With the combination of reducing poverty and protecting the environment, a switch to a greener life-style can actually be what those in poverty need. With greener jobs and a switch to new forms of alternative energy, these brownfield dumps can be the starting point for the domestic transition to a greener world.

Not only is equality and the economic status change to a richer community, but the abandoned locations can make as great wind farms, solar power sites, nuclear power plants that give the poor jobs and incorporate them into the policy making process that opts for the green movement. Is it a coincidence that both “eco” show up in both economy and ecosystem? The two are both dependent on each other and luckily, we’ve found our starting point in the revolution.

-Nicholas Chan

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Go Big or Go Home!

captradeGlobal Warming and greenhouse emissions are becoming a bigger issue than we ever expected. Our own industrial revolution seem to coming back to bite us in the butt, but President Barack Obama is currently proposing a policy to Congress concerning cap and trade emissions. The policy calls for the auctioning off of permits to large emission companies. There will be a cap set to determine the amount of carbon released and carbon permits will be traded to carbon emitters. Since the U.S never signed the Kyoto Protocol, getting this passed through Congress will be a huge achievement and a positive thumbs up from other countries around the world. Obama wants to reduce emissions by 83% during the 2050. Although the legislation is being debated now, it might end up being crowded out by the controversial health care proposals. The President is using up tons of his political capital in order to get health care passed and it might be incredibly hard to squeeze cap and trade in there as well. There is also still public opposition to the policy because Americans just don’t seem to care about global warming because it doesn’t seem to affect their current day to day lives, but U.S citizens must open up their eyes and look to the bigger picture. Melting ice caps, depleting animal habitats and resource wars are just small scale consequences to a much larger problem. If Congress doesn’t follow through, we’re going to be expecting warmer winters.

-Nicholas Chan

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