from the world's big
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
What would happen if the U.S. guaranteed every citizen a job with a living wage and benefits?
Stephanie Keith / Getty
- A new book from Pavlina Tcherneva, chair of the economics department at New York's Bard College, makes the case for a "Job Guarantee" federal program.
- The program would grant jobs to every citizen who's willing and able to work.
- A 2019 poll found that a majority of Americans would support a federally funded jobs program.
$15 minimum wage and benefits<p>Jobs granted through the program would offer at least $15 per hour, and this base wage would remain flexible to match inflation over time. The Job Guarantee would also provide workers with health insurance, paid leave, childcare, and possibly fewer hours than the current 40-hour standard work week.<br></p><p>Establishing standards like these, Tcherneva argues, would pressure private firms to treat and pay workers better, considering that now they'd have more employment options and wouldn't have to settle for <a href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/06/case-for-job-guarantee-review-pavlina-tcherneva" target="_blank">poor working conditions</a>.</p>
Jobs would be funded federally, administered locally<p>Across the U.S., unemployment offices would be converted into employment offices. The unemployed would be able to enter these offices and "leave with a list of employment options, public-service opportunities you'll be able to access locally," Tcherneva told Vox.<br></p><p>What would those jobs look like? Tcherneva offered some examples: performing weatherization on a local <a href="https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/5/4/21243725/coronavirus-unemployment-cares-act-federal-job-guarantee-green-new-deal-pavlina-tcherneva" target="_blank">hardware store</a>, replacing lead pipes on a construction site, helping out at a homeless shelter, or working on local <a href="https://therealnews.com/stories/why-the-green-new-deal-includes-a-jobs-guarantee" target="_blank">alternative-energy projects</a>.</p><p>The federal government would remain mostly hands off, allowing state and local governments to decide which public projects to pursue, and how to allocate resources.</p>
The program would be 'counter-cyclical'<p><span style="background-color: initial;">In the current economic system, unemployment spreads like a virus: people lose their jobs, stop spending money, businesses are forced to shut down, and so on.</span><br></p><p>A Job Guarantee could act as a buffer that absorbs unemployed people before they fall to the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. And this could help to stabilize the economy during recessions, assuming these workers continued to spend money. As the economy improves, workers could move back to their previous jobs, or to other employment options.</p>
How the U.S. might pay for a Job Guarantee<p>Tcherneva doesn't deny that a Job Guarantee would require <a href="https://therealnews.com/stories/why-the-green-new-deal-includes-a-jobs-guarantee" target="_blank">massive public investment</a>, but she notes that what's lacking isn't the money, but political will. What's more, she notes the high social costs of having a large swath of the American workforce remain, more or less, permanently unemployed.<br></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I came to the Jobs Guarantee from a macroeconomic perspective — the realization that we were using unemployed people as a kind of "buffer stock" to control inflation," she told the <a href="https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2020-06-24/forget-ubi-says-an-economist-its-time-for-universal-basic-jobs" target="_blank">Los Angeles Times</a>. "Having unemployed people means that when the economy grows, those people would be there to take those jobs."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"But what if we could use <em>employment</em> as a buffer stock? That's obviously the superior option. I realized that you couldn't just argue about this as a macroeconomic policy, you have to bring in the human rights framework, the moral framework. You have to think about the kind of neglect, the health effects, the pain that unemployment inflicts on people who want to work."</p><p>According to <a href="http://www.levyinstitute.org/publications/the-job-guarantee-design-jobs-and-implementation" target="_blank">projections</a> from the Levy Institute, with which Tcherneva is affiliated, the program would cost about 1.5 percent of the U.S. GDP, boost real GDP by half a trillion dollars, and create 3 to 4 million jobs.</p>
Solar geoengineering ideas could weaken storms in both hemispheres, scientists find.
It's one of the nation's worst oil spills on record.
- The accident occurred in the Siberian city of Norilsk.
- The company said thawing permafrost caused a fuel tank to collapse.
- Thawing permafrost poses a major threat to Russia's oil industry, which is the world's third largest.
Greenpeace Russia<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The incident led to catastrophic consequences, and we will be seeing the repercussions for years to come," Sergey Verkhovets, coordinator of Arctic projects for WWF Russia, <a href="https://wwf.ru/en/resources/news/zelenaya-ekonomika/wwf-razliv-diztopliva-v-norilske-trebuet-federalnogo-vmeshatelstva-/" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. "We are talking about dead fish, polluted plumage of birds and poisoned animals."</p><p>Greenpeace <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/06/04/869936256/russian-power-plant-spills-thousands-of-tons-of-oil-into-arctic-region" target="_blank">said</a> the clean-up won't do much good:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The booms that were set up will only collect an insignificant part of the pollution, so we can assert that almost all of the diesel fuel will remain in the environment."</p><p>Norilsk Nickel, the owner of the power plant, said the fuel tank collapsed because of "abnormally mild temperatures" in the permafrost.</p>
How climate change threatens Russian oil<p>Russia, the world's fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The nation is warming <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/russian-government-acknowledges-climate-change-publishes-a-plan-outlining-its-positives/" target="_blank">two and a half times faster</a> than the rest of the planet, and in recent years it's suffered costly floods and <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/siberia-wildfires-russia-potential-disaster-climate-change-both-feed-off-and-contribute-to-warming-greenpeace/" target="_blank">wildfires</a>.</p><p>Thawing permafrost in Siberian regions poses a major threat to Russia's oil industry, which is the world's third largest. One key reason, as evidenced by last week's accident, is that melting permafrost jeopardizes the structural integrity of oil-field infrastructure.</p><p>Of course, when oil infrastructure is jeopardized, so is the environment. That's why Greenpeace Russia is calling for increased environmental regulations and unscheduled audits of oil producers in the nation's Arctic region.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Environmental control should be strengthened, and the operation of facilities should be under special control to prevent accidents, especially in the conditions of melting permafrost due to global climate change," the organization said in a <a href="https://greenpeace.ru/news/2020/06/02/do-i-posle-avarija-na-tajmyre-v-kosmosnimkah/" target="_blank">statement.</a></p>
Or is doubt a self-fulfilling prophecy?
'We're doomed': a common refrain in casual conversation about climate change.