Fracking: The Good, the Bad, and the Regulations

What is Fracking?

Fracking is the common use term for “Hydraulic Fracturing”, the process by which a rock is fractured using a highly pressurized liquid in order to open it up and extract oil or gas. Usually, water is the substance used to pressurize and break the rock. This technique is used to re-exploit old wells that dried up. Breaking the rock releases the embedded natural gas that was trapped within the rock. There are some signs that the procedure causes an increase in seismic activity, i.e. earthquakes. The process also uses a wide variety of chemicals that have caused concern for contamination of ground water supplies. The first documented use was in 1947; more widespread use began in about 1950. Today the fracking industry is estimated to have added 725,000 jobs between the time of 2005 and 20012. These numbers have been disputed and the entire industry has been disputed, both positively and negatively.

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Benefits

Fracking has brought numerous benefits to society beyond the gas companies themselves.US consumers’ pockets also have much to gain from fracking. Exploiting domestic energy sources keeps capital circulating within the American economy and also keeps prices down. “Gas bills have dropped $13 billion per year from 2007 to 2013 as a result of increased fracking, which adds up to $200 per ear for gas-consuming households” (Dews). Dews notes that households using gas save 200 dollars a year, which allows people to spend that money elsewhere, thus moving them to a higher indifference curve. In Michigan, we experience savings above the average, “Michigan with $259 per person in benefits” (Dews). As a colder state, Michigan residents tend to use more gas, increasing benefits derived when compared to other states. Fracking has a lot of economic value to offer by putting more money in people’s pockets, allowing them to do more with the money they earn.  

Negatives

Fracking has become a polarizing political issue, although it does not necessarily divide along traditional political lines. Fracking has two primary negative outcomes: potential for pollution of groundwater and the proliferation of fossil fuel use. Research into pollution of groundwater has not been carried out on a wide scale, primarily due to the complicated nature of testing wells. The most oft cited feature of fracking pollution is methane turning up in well-water. Hundreds of YouTube videos have surfaced showing citizens lighting water coming out of their faucet on fire. This consequence is likely a result of methane (i.e. natural gas) seeping into groundwater sources. This can occur due to the volatile nature of fracking; however, such effects have been shown to occur in areas where fracking is not present, suggesting it can occasionally occur naturally. Earthquakes associated with fracking is a controversial topic. Man-made earthquakes can occur for a variety of reasons, most notably waste water removal. However, the concern has become very real due to an increase in earthquakes over the past decade. Geological composition of the earth where fracking occurs has a large effect on whether pollution of groundwater or earthquakes are likely to occur. Government regulation could go a long way to prevent negative effects, but fracking regulations in the U.S. are famously divisive.

Regulation

Regulations and protections by the EPA surrounding hydraulic fracturing are meant to aid in prevention of stress on surface and groundwater caused by actions of the oil and gas extraction industry. Heavy withdrawal, contamination of water sources, and impacts from discharges are of concern. (Natural, 2016) These forms of legislation include the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Potentially problematic exemptions and limitations involved with these standards include the lack of requirement for Underground Injection Control Permits except instances where diesel fuel is involved, the absence of hazardous waste regulation for oil and gas exploration and production wastes, no liability and reporting provisions for injections of fluids, and no requirement of operations to report releases of listed chemicals to Toxics Release Inventory. (Regulations, 2016) Due to these exemptions at a federal level, states are in control of regulation when it comes to hydraulic fracturing. Vermont and New York have completely banned the practice, and as of 2015, 31 states have considered 187 related bills. Environmental groups worry that state level policies are not as strong as the potential for an all encompassing federal activity with the removal of exemptions and permitting agencies such as the EPA more regulatory authority. (Davis, 2012)

Conclusion

Fracking is bound to be a battleground topic in coming years. With this in mind, it is important to check inherent biases when disusing such a controversial and little understood topic. Fracking could have numerous benefits for the U.S. economy as it promotes energy independence and reduces cost. Additionally, natural gas burns much cleaner than the widely used coal, although it still has all negatives associated with any fossil fuel. The negative environmental impacts associated with fracking are undeniable, but may be overstated in the media. The best option moving forward is likely a compromise between unfettered exploitation of natural resources and no exploitation at all. Regulation on a federal level could serve as a baseline to create better protections nationwide. However, a potential problem could be whether states that currently ban fracking should continue to exercise that right.

Parker Haskin

Taylor Maurer

Kyle Brooks

Matthew Hurth

Sources

https://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/induced/myths.php

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fracking-can-contaminate-drinking-water/
Natural Gas Extraction – Hydraulic Fracturing. (2016, August 16). Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing

Regulations and Exemptions. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.watershedcouncil.org/hydraulic-fracturing—regulations-and-exemptions.html

Davis, C., & Hoffer, K. (2012, September). Federalizing Energy? Agenda Change and the Politics of Fracking [Scholarly project]. In Colorado State University. Retrieved from https://wpsa.research.pdx.edu/meet/2012/davisandhoffer.pdf

Dews, Fred. “The economic benefits of fracking.” Brookings https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2015/03/23/the-economic-benefits-of-fracking/. Accessed 23 Mar. 2015

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The United States’ Destiny to the New Energy

As global temperatures rise, it becomes more and more important to curb the emission of greenhouse gases such as CO2. One of the greatest contributors to CO2 emissions is, of course, the energy industry. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), “In 2015, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by the U.S. electric power sector were 1,925 million metric tons, or about 37% of the total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions of 5,271 million metric tons.” The large proportion that US energy sector represents of CO2 emissions can be seen as a great opportunity to reduce environmental harm. The emergence of alternative energy sources and the gradual decline of traditional energy production are an optimistic indicator that CO2 production in the U.S. will continue to fall. Technological development and investment in alternative energy industries is a strong path to improving pollution rates in this critical sector of the U.S. economy.

 

Perhaps the most textbook example of an inelastic good is electricity. It is a fixed cost for every firm, and a constant expense for every household. Once energy infrastructure is established in a region, the owners of production and distribution has an effective monopoly on that area. This makes the energy industry a very unique landscape for investment. New energy sources are difficult and costly to establish, but whoever finances the next widespread energy technology will undoubtedly see colossal return. A renewable energy source will likely be that next big industry, but who is to say which it will be?

There is evidence that investors are currently seeing great opportunity in sustainable and renewable energy sources. The wealthiest man in the world, Bill Gates, has recently formed the Breakthrough Energy Ventures Fund with an all-star cast of investors. On the list are major technological, financial, and political players, including Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard, Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan of Facebook, Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg, and George Soros. Though many previous investments in new energy technology have flopped, Gates believes that large-scale long-term investment will have different results. Quartz reports that the fund believes “Being a 20-year fund with patient capital that’s not needing short-term gains allows us to have a longer-term outlook as well as fund technologies that don’t fit into the traditional VC model as it exists today.”

The public sector in the U.S. is also supporting renewable energy alternatives. The Department of Energy had $3.4 Billion for direct investments in 2013, and 51% of it went to energy efficiency and renewable energy (see graph). This is a different story than the private investment being done by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, however. Those investors are concerned with technological advancement as a way to make energy alternatives efficient, while the 2013 DOE allocated only 8% of their budget for advanced research projects. While public money is being contributed in large proportion to sustainable energy, some is still being spent on subsidizing fossil fuels. The new administration also seems friendly to the coal industry, so this spending is not likely to decrease in the next four years.

International financial advisory firm Lazard put together a report of levelized energy costs for each energy source in 2014. It indicated that per megawatt-hour, onshore wind had the lowest levelized cost. It was below coal, nuclear, and gas, more traditional energy sources. This analysis does not account for the practicality of onshore wind of course, the large land use necessary disadvantages it. The point to this analysis is that the efficiency for alternative energy sources is nearing the point where traditional energy generation may begin to be replaced. Perhaps some of this data is convincing Breakthrough Energy Ventures of the potential in renewable energy technology.

Transitioning off of fossil fuels will certainly be a long and arduous process, but it can be worth it in more ways than one. While alternative energy provides the obvious benefits of reducing CO2 emissions, it may soon be more cost-efficient than fossil fuels. Non-renewable resources such as coal and natural gas are vulnerable to the law of supply: as they become scarce, their marginal cost of production increases. The combination of influx of investment into new technologies combined with this force of scarcity means that all signs are pointing to the prevalence of new energy sources. Coal power in the U.S. has even begun to emit less CO2. This downturn is of course influenced by a number of factors including environmental restrictions and the rise of natural gas, but that does not undermine the nature of scarcity.

By encouraging the development of energy technology, we are bringing closer the day when a new energy source usurps traditional technologies. It must be more efficient by a significant magnitude to overcome the costs of replacing and building infrastructure, but that day will come. When it does we will have more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly energy sources to power the growing economy in the U.S. and in the rest of the world.

Works Cited

http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=77&t=11

http://qz.com/859860/bill-gates-is-leading-a-new-1-billion-fund-focused-on-combatting-climate-change-through-innovation/

http://www.b-t.energy/coalition/who-we-are/

http://energyinnovation.org/2015/02/07/levelized-cost-of-energy/

http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/browser/?tbl=T12.06#/?f=A&start=1973&end=2015&charted=0-1-6

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Circular Economies

It has become clear that human – particularly industrial – waste does more than damage the environment. It also creates inefficiencies in the markets in which it is involved, and inhibits economic success in several ways. For example, many valuable materials are sitting useless in landfills, instead of being used by industry. Additionally, the costs to maintain these waste sites could be better spent in other industries that contribute more to social welfare. In fact, the idea that waste is tied to economic prosperity is so pervasive that there is an entire form of economy based on the idea of minimizing waste. This is what is called a circular economy.

A circular economy is a commercial system designed to reduce and reuse as much material as possible, and intentionally restores the natural world (World Economic Forum). It does so through the maintenance of two, circular waste streams: biological and technical nutrients. Biological nutrients can be safely returned to the earth, technical nutrients are objects that are hazardous, but designed to be infinitely reused by industry. If there is a transition to a circular economy, the net economic benefit would be roughly one trillion dollars in material savings alone (WEF). This number doesn’t even include the benefits that stem from the increase in job creation, the reduction in the volatility of natural resource prices, and the increased health of the environment.

The use of a circular economy has been implemented as an official policy in China starting in 2002. (The Circular Economy) This was implemented in the hopes of decreasing the rate of the depletion of resources. It would also help increase the potential GDP per capita of China by allowing them the continuous access to these resources and by creating a more sustainable future. They are also hoping this will decrease the current pollution stream that exists. There are tons of toxic waste going into landfills and streams in China. However, the Chinese government does not seem to be actually following this trajectory. As of 2016 there have been deaths reported from inhaling toxic gas through drainage pipes. Also, China still seems to be putting current economic growth over the sustainability of the growth of their economy. (China’s Toxic Waste)

    If our country were to embrace the idea of a circular economy and implement it, we would greatly reduce the environmental degradation and resource depletion associated with our current materials/waste system. Instead of reducing waste, we could eliminate the concept of waste, replacing it with the concept that waste = food for some other organism or process. This transition in thinking will decouple our waste generation from our consumption. On the environmental Kuznets curve for waste, this point would be the crest of the parabola where we can start actually reducing our waste generation while efficiently developing our economy and increasing consumption.

Currently many societies use linear programed (LP) waste allocation, which does not take into consideration many different factors such as uncertainties, scales of problem, and effectiveness.  By only considering two possibilities, the upper and lower bound, or best and worst situation, LP does not account for externalities.  By using more intricate programming such as Gray-linear (GLP) these problems are accounted for.  GPL breaks does each problem and when there is an externality found, it breaks that down that, until there are only solutions.  In order to properly implement circular flow waste allocation economies can not continue to run on a all or nothing scenarios.  Waste allocation can quickly be eliminated with the help of circular flow and more extensive programming.  

Not only can circular waste systems offer a solution to the ever-present waste problem, but it can encourage a movement towards circular economies. Provided that the actions of a country follow through with whatever policy is written to discourage exploitation of natural and industrial resources. Moving towards a circular waste stream, and economy can be seen as a serious commitment to changing the way we think about, and use waste, however, it’s not a perfect system. Our current implementation and metrics of circular economies neglects many of the intricacies which contribute to our waste problem. By exploring new ways to deal with the many inextricable externalities of waste, we see that a movement towards circular systems can offer new ways to think about and deal with waste.

Written collectively by: Waste Group

Sources:

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Food Group Blog Compilation

Daniel Ciaravino:

The following is a compilation of five topics from five Aquinas College students in Dr. Todd Yarbrough’s environmental economics class from the fall semester of 2016. The main focal point of these five topics is to explores issues related to food consumption from an environmental economics standpoint. Students have chosen these topics based both on personal interest, and more importantly on the relevance to the focal point of the compilation. The goal of this work is to briefly bring to the reader’s attention important issues regarding food consumption as to educate and help the reader understand some of the choices human society makes in the provision of sustenance.

In the united states “40 percent of the U.S. land area is used for farming” (1). So why exactly is so much of our land devoted to agriculture when “economic returns to agriculture have generally been volatile and below prevailing market rates of return to capital and labor” (1)? One of the main reasons why is due to the government subsidies farms receive to survive in harsh economic times. However, because of policy lags, this often means that the bigger farmers survive, and the smaller ones dies off, not being able to financially cope during the lag period. The economist reports that “though farmers make up only a small number of voters, even in agricultural states, they are loud and organised enough to punish lawmakers who vote against a farm bill” (2). Not only do farmers occupy massive swaths of land in the United States, but they also have a great deal of political power. This political power has largely been why farmers have been able to receive so many subsidies historically, and this is an essential point when voting for political actors who are supposed to be aiming at bettering society as a whole.

Chloe Benzer:

While the issues related to global climate change and other environmental disturbances are innumerable and ubiquitous, one of the most worrying consequences of a deteriorating environment is the future availability of food. Climate change will shift agricultural growing locations and an exponentially-increasing global population is demanding more and more nourishment. As we have discussed in class, over-farming and overfishing are associated with the aforementioned issues, especially as farmers and fishermen face the pressure of providing enough food without degrading the environment. An example of fishermen working towards both goals is the partnership of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute with a local fisherman designing “a trawl net that targets profitable species while avoiding cod.” Because cod is a dwindling species – due to overfishing in the past – current maintenance quotas make fishing in the Gulf in general difficult for fishermen who must try to catch fish besides cod. The net designed by the Institute with trawler Jim Ford is tailored to catch pollock, grey sole, and other seabed fish while avoiding cod, who swim closer to the surface. This net not only reduces the number of cod caught while maintaining the catch of profitable species, it also reduces drag on the ship, improving fuel-efficiency. Examples like this can create hope for the future of environmental improvements.

Campbell Crosby:  

The wrath of climate change has affected a wide variety of infrastructure and industries in the world, but arguably none have been impacted as heavily as the agriculture industry and maintaining food security. Implementing infrastructure that makes it possible for every member in society to get food is a tall task and having a decreased food supply as a result of climate change has made that task much taller. Cities all around the world have utilized a solution for this problem and that is “Urban Farming”. Urban farming was a concept that started with “3 gardens and a pamphlet” in 2005 and has grown exponentially since. The goal of urban farming is to create an abundance of food for people that are in need and to create this supply within the cities. Urban farming could be taking an old run down plot of land and cultivating it, or even utilizing the limited amount of balcony space one might have to produce food. Urban farming started as a small idea as a potential way to save people money and the stress of not being able to find their next meal and since has blown up into a worldwide phenomena that is accomplishing more than the founders could ever have expected.

Amie Kolenda:

The varying effects of climate change on extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods also have both direct and indirect effects on our ability to produce and distribute food.  Our conventional ways of life, particularly in agriculture and the meat industry, are not sustainable systems as they require enormous amounts of water for their processes and destroy the very soil that is essential for growing crops.  These systems contribute to the extreme increase in climate change and therefore are self-destructing.  Increases in heat waves, drought, pests and parasites will negatively affect food production.  Extreme weather conditions can also affect food transportation and distribution, and the resulting scarcity will increase food prices.  This tangled web system isn’t the answer and we need to pursue other options with positive environmental impacts, particularly self-sufficiency and local community alliances (which, oddly enough, are near opposites).  Species that have survived for ages have done so largely through connections in their local ecosystems.  Natural ecosystems and self-sufficient or nearly self-sufficient communities (not all of which are cults) may serve as examples for the restructuring of towns and cities to become more localized and sustainable.

Brett Sack:

Observing the field of environmental economics, specifically through food, has opened a broad spectrum or research and thought experiments to myself and group members this semester. As a team, we have shown our professor and classmates the value of viewing food as an inelastic good that should not be wasted or mistreated. I personally examined this issue from both an international and domestic standpoint from two specific examples and current issues. France is years ahead of the United States and the rest of the world in the context of how it handles food waste by offering it to charities. At the same time, the United States has a major problem with water consumption and usage in the agriculture industry. However, this is not to say we are not aware and unable or unwilling to make strides to a more sustainable future. Having conversations with others is something that has been brought up throughout the semester, and it is the start to solving issues regarding environmental tribulations.

Works Cited:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK305168/
  2. http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21643191-crop-prices-fall-farmers-grow-subsidies-instead-milking-taxpayers
  3. http://www.urbanfarming.org/welcome.html
  4. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/12/13/505266789/fishermen-team-up-with-scientists-to-make-a-more-selective-net
  5. http://www.urbanfarming.org/welcome.html
  6. https://www.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-agriculture-and-food-supply
  7. http://water.usgs.gov/edu/wulv.html
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Great Lakes Dying?

The Great Lakes have suffered from major pollution  problems for many years as once thought water could dissolve anything put into. Obsessively that was proven pretty wrong. As we had river catch on fire from being so polluted.

Why is it so Important that we pay attention to the Great Lakes?

The Great Lakes is one of the biggest fresh water source in the world. “One-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water (only the polar ice caps and Lake Baikal in Siberia contain more); 95 percent of the US supply” (Source #1 Great Lakes Facts and Figures). The great lakes being the major source for america from fishing to shipping goods to water we drink. The Great lakes are a major benefit to the US and if they became non usable it will be major lose to the US economy and people. “Today roughly one-quarter of Canada’s population and a 10th of America’s population drink from the Great Lakes Basin” (Walker Source #2). This water is very important to both Canada and the US and pollution threatens the lose of the ability to lose it and adverting to knew water source to make up for the lost water would be expensive.

What has caused the pollution in the Great Lakes?

A lot of issues that have affected the Great Lakes start in the 18th and 19th century. “Under the belief that water could dilute any substance, industries and individuals during the 18th and 19th centuries often used rivers and lakes as garbage cans. Industrial effluent, raw sewage and animal carcasses would often be dumped into water ways” (Source 3). Though this thinking has caused major damages to the great lakes and were carried out until the mid 1900’s. This lead to many rivers surrounding the lakes to also becoming polluted. These have ways have caused major pollution stress on the lakes. alacarte_main(Picture From Nick Walker, Source 2)

This picture shows the stress on the Great Lakes. The lakes with more Urban areas around it are way more stressed then others and Lake Superior having really no big urban place around it and having very little stress on it. At the worst point of pollution of the great one of the lakes was called dead. “Lake Erie was even pronounced ‘dead’ for a time during the 1960s because of an overload of phosphorus from municipal waste” (Walker, Source 2). This is pretty huge problem if one of the Great Lakes is so polluted is so bad that it was called dead for a period of time.

Ending

“In June of 1969, the day that the Cuyahoga River, flowing though Cleveland, Ohio, on its way to Lake Erie, caught on fire because it was so polluted” (Source 3). This event caught the eye of the nation and promoted to new laws being formed to protect the great lakes. Which lead to the Clean water act that lead to regulations on quality and restriction on what could be but into water in the US.

Sources

#1                                                                                                                                                                             Great Lakes Facts and Figures,  http://www.great-lakes.net/lakes/ref/lakefact.html

#2

Nick Walker, Pollution in the Great Lakes, https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/pollution-great-lakes

#3

http://www.great-lakes.net/teach/pollution/water/water1.html

By Kyle Brooks

 

 

 

 

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Donating Destruction?

The fashion culture of our modern day consistently enforces “More is better”. We are perpetually taught that we need the next new trend to avoid being faux pas. But where do all our endless attempts to fit in end up?

In many cases, sadly, landfills. The Council for Textile Recycling states that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates about 3.8 Billion pounds of clothing are recycled per year; Think that’s a big number? It’s not. It’s only about 15% of all Post-Consumer Textile waste (PCTW); meaning 85% ends up in our landfills.

That 85% accounts for around 5% of all landfill waste.

We have dramatically increased our buying and disposal of textile goods. The EPA stated that from 1999 to 2009 alone we have increased our PCTW by a whopping 40%, while only 2% more has been diverted toward recycling initiatives.   We are not only buying more nondurable, inexpensive, cheap, labor exploiting, chemically ridden clothing, we are also throwing it away like yesterday’s old bologna sandwich.

Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 10.06.56 PM.png

Where do these textiles go? Well the ones that are donated go through lengthy processes of meet n’ greets with different opportunities for recycling. They start out like we would imagine, in second hand shops and consignment stores, then make their way through this cycle…

Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 1.49.03 AM.png

In the end game, it’s divided up into 3 main sections; usable clothing, wiping cloth grade and fiber conversion grades. Meaning either people wear it as second hand clothing, convert it into wiping cloth (not even regular cloth, specifically wiping cloth), or transform it into fiber material such as car and sound insulation or carpet padding.

Companies such as Goodwill and Salvation Army use cycles such as this to help create jobs and opportunities for people who would not otherwise have them.

Many people have made quite the stink over companies stating they are using the donated clothing for good causes such as Habitat for Humanity or impoverish countries when there is an entire ‘man behind the green curtain’ that no one wants you to know about. Specifically: 1. That many of the recycled textiles are done so by for profit companies making money off of our donated goods and 2. That the clothes donated to third-world countries are having a drastic negative affect on the textile economy of those countries.

Although we wish for the world to be perfect place where all of our excess and underused clothing get passed on to the next generation of budget friendly shoppers, it just is not going to happen. The bulk of donated clothing does go on to be worn again, specifically 45%. But 30% is made into rags and 20% into fibers. At least it is being recycled friends. Although people are making money off of your donated clothing, it is being repurposed AND creating jobs as well as a market for those recycled goods. There are some good initiatives but we cannot always expect people to take care of our trash and then donate the recreated goods, it is semi-selfish of us to think so.

The real pressing issue is the economies over seas, specifically places such as Ghana and Nigeria where entire textile economies are being shut down because 85% of clothing bought and sold is second hand. Although I believe in creative destruction when it comes to jobs, donating mass amount of clothing with out any implementation plan is comparable to the angel of death. What are they doing with THEIR excess?  We are reaking havoc on economies that we will never come face to face with.

Both of these are pressing concerns, but what type of activism are these outraged patrons taking?

To start out a huge step everyone can take is to donate ALL of your unwanted textiles. Now I am not saying “clear out your closet and go buy the next quick fashion trend”, we’ll get to that in a moment. What I am saying is, any time you are about to throw a piece of clothing out, donate it.

If you are worried about how your goods are being handled places such as churches, violence/abuse centers and children’s hospitals are great places to donate to. If you’re interested in seeing if you can make a few bucks try and sell your clothing to a local consignment shop, they’ll buy it if they think they can sell it. What you want to be weary of is big corporations, do you homework and research where the majority of their goods end up, make them take accountability.

The bigger and harder step to take is to simply buy less, better goods. It is a lot easier said than done folks. Quick easy fashion is a trend and our social society thrives on it as much as our economy depends on it. What I urge you to do again is make theses fast mass-producing companies take accountability. Some companies such as Patagonia have even advertised against buying their goods if you do not need them to reduce the consumption of our economy.

Dont-Buy-This-Jacket-Ad-2.jpg

Research the companies you support and spend your money wisely. Research shows that people who spend more money on experiences than on materials have higher utility related to money spent. You can get more bang for your buck by buying quality goods once and spending the saved money on memories.

Let this open your eyes to the current textile waste situation that all of us can make an impact on everyday. Quality/Quantity.

Written By : Hannah Jablonski

http://fashionista.com/2016/01/clothing-donation

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-does-goodwill-do-with-your-clothes_us_57e06b96e4b0071a6e092352

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/where-does-discarded-clothing-go/374613/

http://www.weardonaterecycle.org/about/issue.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30227025

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/buy-experiences/381132/

 

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“I Need… Waaaaaater.”: Did SpongeBob Forecast Our Water Consumption Issues?

High water consumption and rising water deficits create an issue which will depend on agricultural and technological innovation in the future. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, over 80 percent of water in the America is used for agriculture purposes. Subsidized corn industries, and other agricultural producers have been lacking to lower water consumption due to relatively low cost, even with large amounts of waste.Image result for agricultural irrigation

The United States is largest producer of corn and grains in the world, so it is no surprise that agricultural water use is heights above any other area of water usage. Another flaw in the system is that a majority of crops are grown in the western part of the country. One major characteristic of this geographic area is water shortage. Californians see higher water prices than most states in America, and it is the country’s leading agricultural producer.

Almonds are a great example of the extreme water usage needed to produce crops in California. According to an Aquinas College geography professor, to produce one almond in California, it takes roughly one gallon of water.Image result for almonds and waterIn an area of the country where neighbors bicker at each other about watering lawns or washing cars, this should raise some red flags as to how badly consumers need almonds, and if they are paying to also cover environmental damages to the area pertaining to water levels.

An argument that an environmentalist or an economist might make is to put a pigovian tax on almonds to help justify the extreme use of water to produce the good. This type of approach would be met with a lot of force, and would require more research. However, it would also create an incentive to find a more sustainable way to produce the tree nut. Moving locations or beginning to import any crop which can be created in a more environmentally friendly way could be put up for discussion.

America is becoming a service driven economy. Technology is at the forefront of any major advancement in recent times. People have the talent to create the change and limit water consumption within the agriculture industry. Before we end up like SpongeBob, let’s give out a cry for water.Image result for i need water spongebob

 

Written by: Brett Sack

Food Group

 

https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-practices-management/irrigation-water-use.aspx

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