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Beto’s first major 2020 policy proposal is a $5 trillion climate plan

Not to be outdone by Elizabeth Warren’s public lands bill or Cory Booker’s environmental justice proposal, Beto O’Rourke announced a $5 trillion climate plan on Monday. The presidential hopeful unveiled what he called “the most ambitious climate plan in the history of the United States” in a 40-second Twitter video, gesticulating wildly on a backdrop of luscious flora in Yosemite Valley, California.

Beto’s first major policy proposal of the election season has four components: slash pollution, invest $5 trillion, reach net-zero by 2050, and protect communities on the frontlines of climate change. Each of those categories includes sub-agenda items, like re-entering the Paris climate agreement, phasing out the mega-pollutants hydrofluorocarbons, clamping down on methane leaks, creating a federal “buy clean” program for cement and steel, and halting the sale of new fossil fuel leases on federal lands. O’Rourke aims to accomplish at least part of this agenda by way of executive order.

The meatiest portion of the former Texas congressman’s plan is the investment bit. He plans to propose a bill that would invest $1.5 trillion in innovation, infrastructure, and “people and communities,” which will mobilize $5 trillion invested in climate change over the span of a decade. The money will be parceled out for different initiatives: tax incentives to bring existing green technologies to scale, researching and developing new ways to bring down greenhouse gases, housing and transportation grants for front-line communities, and more.

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How will he pay for it? Good question. The massive investment will be funded through changes to America’s tax code. Corporations and the nation’s wealthiest citizens will be expected to pay their “fair share,” and O’Rourke said he would put an end to the billions fossil fuel companies receive in tax breaks. The candidate promised that this would be the very first bill he’d send to Congress as president.

“Given the gravity of the work that lies ahead, this fight will require much more than a president signing executive orders,” O’Rourke wrote in his plan. But it’s unclear how the Texan expects his bill to pass a Congress that will surely remain at least relatively divided in 2020, even if Democrats manage to flip the Republican-controlled Senate.

Other climate-oriented 2020 candidates, like Washington Governor Jay Inslee, have advocated for eliminating the legislative filibuster, in addition to taking action through executive order. (The filibuster, a long-standing Senate rule that requires a supermajority to pass legislation, is a major obstacle between Democrats and their sweeping proposals to accomplish everything from climate to health care to gun reform.) O’Rourke makes no mention of the rule in his climate plan*.

Despite O’Rourke’s promise to make climate change a day-one priority, some climate activists weren’t entirely convinced by the Democrat’s enthusiastic unveiling. “Beto claims to support the Green New Deal,” climate activist group the Sunrise Movement said in a statement, “but his plan is out of line with the timeline it lays out and the scale of action scientists say is necessary.” The group wants O’Rourke to move his 2050 timeline up to 2030, and take the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, a vow not to take donations over $200 from the fossil fuel industry. O’Rourke was removed from the pledge last year when an investigation found that he had taken money from fossil fuel executives during his Texas Senate race.

But the more established League of Conservation Voters commended the candidate for taking an ambitious stand on climate. This is “the kind of leadership we need from our next president,” the group wrote in a press release.

*Update: In March, Beto told reporters he’d “seriously consider” ditching the filibuster. 

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Beto’s first major 2020 policy proposal is a $5 trillion climate plan

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Will Congress leave the Colorado River high and dry?

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Imagine this grim scenario: The drought that has plagued the Colorado River over the past two decades continues into 2021. The water level in Lake Mead drops precipitously, hitting the 1,075 feet mark — a critical threshold that triggers mandatory water restrictions — and then plunges further. The seven Western states that rely on the beleaguered river are forced to reduce the amount of water they draw, threatening water supplies for Phoenix, Las Vegas and other cities and forcing farmers to let thousands of acres lie fallow. Hydropower production at Hoover and Glen Canyon dams becomes impossible.

That may sound far-fetched, but it’s the picture representatives of the seven Colorado River basin states recently painted of what lies ahead if Congress didn’t authorize a drought plan the states put together for the river soon.

“The urgency is real because our system is stressed by warmer temperatures,” Colorado’s lead water official, James Eklund, told the House Natural Resources Committee last week. “When water resources are stressed in any river basin, our environments and people in poverty bear a disproportionate amount of the pain,” he said. “We really need you to, in order for us to control our own destiny, act now.”

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Colorado River is the lifeblood of the American West, a source of water for 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland. But the river has been under enormous stress. Among the many problems: a long-running drought, ballooning demand for water as cities in the West grow, poor policies that incentivize water waste, bad underlying data that led water managers to believe the river held more water than it did, and, of course, warming temperatures.

After months of negotiations, the seven Colorado River basin states settled on a drought plan they can live with last month. Now, they’re asking Congress authorize the federal government to implement the plan. Senator Martha McSally and Congressman Raúl Grijalva, both from Arizona, introduced legislation on Tuesday to do just that.

Here’s a look at what’s at stake as well as other potential land mines that lie ahead.

So, how’d we get here?

To understand why the Colorado River is in the sorry state that it is today, you have to go back to 1922 when a compact was signed by the seven states — Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming — that share the Colorado River’s water. At the time, the states believed that roughly 18 million acre-feet flowed through the Colorado. (One acre-feet is the amount of water needed to flood a one-acre field with a foot of water. It’s about 325,000 gallons.)

But that was based on surveys collected during an extremely wet period in the river’s history. More recent studies show that its river’s annual flow is about 15 million acre-feet. Since the states divvied up the water based on information gathered in an exceptionally wet year, states have rights to more water than is available in the river. It’s like promising 18 slices of pie when you only have 15.

This “structural deficit,” as it’s called, is a major underlying issue in managing the river. Add it to the fact that cities in the West have grown dramatically in the last few decades and that farmers dependent on the Colorado are growing thirsty crops like cotton and alfalfa in the desert, and you can see why there’s just not enough water to keep everybody happy.

What about climate change?

It’s making the situation worse. More than half of the decrease in water in the river is a result of warming temperatures, according to recent research. The snowpack in the Rockies that feeds the river has been dwindling, and rising temperatures mean more water evaporates from the river. The Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that manages water in the West, projects that as the planet continues to warm and demand for water increases, the imbalance between the water available and human need will grow to 3.2 million acre-feet by 2060. That’s more than all the water allocated to Arizona from the river at the moment.

So how does the drought plan help?

Lake Mead is a critical reservoir on the Colorado River that has the capacity to store the entire flow of the river for two years. If levels at Lake Mead sink to 1,075 feet, it will automatically trigger cuts to water use. Water managers have called this mandatory restriction “draconian” because it follows a set of laws that primarily cut off water users with newer water rights. There’ll be little room for compromise or trade offs. Lake Mead currently sits at 1,090 feet, and the Bureau of Reclamation has estimated that there is more than a 50 percent chance there will be a shortage in the lake in 2020.

The states are now trying to avoid that situation by voluntarily agreeing to use less water. California, Arizona and Nevada have agreed to decrease the amount they pull from the river by 400,000 to 600,000 acre-feet every year depending on how low water levels get at Lake Mead. An international treaty between the U.S. and Mexico also requires the U.S. to deliver 1.5 million acre-feet of water to Mexico. A separate agreement has been reached with Mexico to conserve water.

All this talk of compromise is at odds with the oft-repeated maxim in the water world that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over. Researchers expect that as climate change strains water availability, conflict over shared water resources will increase.

But at the Congressional hearings last week, lawmakers and state water managers emphasized collaboration. “There was a point in time when the Colorado River was the most litigated river in the world,” said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. “Since the 1990s, we’ve been a model on how you can come together as a region.”

That’s all fine and dandy. What could go wrong though?

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Well, there’s one key player that’s not on board with the current plan. Imperial Irrigation District is a powerful interest in California politics. It’s one of the biggest irrigation districts in the country and the river’s largest single user. In January, the district upset the states’ drought plan when it demanded $400 million in state and federal funds for rehabilitation work in the Salton Sea — California’s biggest lake — in exchange for its commitment to cut water use. The Salton Sea has shrunk dramatically in recent years exposing a contaminated lake bed and threatening nearby communities with toxic dust.

Though the district had the support of powerful politicians, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, other water users in the state balked at the demand. In February, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water to Los Angeles, stepped up and agreed to contribute IID’s share. That left IID with no role to play in the drought plan.

IID has issued strongly-worded statements claiming the Salton Sea issue is the “proving ground” for the drought plan and that by sidestepping the issue, water users on the Colorado are “just fooling themselves or have other agendas.” Representatives for the irrigation district were reportedly on Capitol Hill lobbying lawmakers last week.

What happens next?

The seven Colorado River states have set a deadline of April 22 for Congress to pass legislation signing off on their drought plan. What happens if they don’t? Mexico wouldn’t have to cut its water use in 2020 as promised.

In a press release, Patrick Tyrrell, Wyoming’s state engineer, said that the drought plan is an “indispensable bridge” until the states negotiate a longer-term solution. “With these plans, we have direction,” he said. “Without them, we face an uncertain future and increased risks.”

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Will Congress leave the Colorado River high and dry?

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Western voters care more about climate than ‘energy dominance’

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This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

According to a recent poll, voters across the West are substantially more worried about climate change now than they were just two years ago. What’s more, a majority identify as “conservationists.” These attitudes are at odds with the priorities of President Donald Trump’s administration, which have included aggressively cutting environmental regulations while shrinking national monuments and encouraging fossil fuel production on public lands.

These findings come from Colorado College’s annual Conservation in the West poll, which surveys residents in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming on issues of climate, energy, and public lands. This year, a majority of the approximately 400 respondents in each state rated climate change a serious problem, and every state saw an increase in climate concern.

These fears may be driven by climate change’s growing impacts in the West, such as drought and fire. Nearly 70 percent of poll respondents said that wildfires were more of a problem today than ten years ago. Climate change is playing an increasing role in the West’s lengthening fire season and intensifying blazes, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Indeed, the survey found that climate impacts have started to surpass more traditional political preoccupations, like the economy: Respondents rated low river and stream levels, water quality, and insufficient water supplies of greater concern than wages and unemployment.

Approximately two thirds of respondents also prioritized environmental protections and public lands access for recreation, compared to 24 percent who support Trump’s “energy dominance” policy of ramping up energy production on federally regulated land. Almost every state polled had at least a 30 percent margin in favor of conservation, including states that tend to vote red in statewide elections, including Arizona, Idaho, and Utah. Only Wyoming stood apart, with just an 8 percent gap between those who emphasize public lands and those who support increased energy production. In all, a significant bipartisan majority — almost 90 percent of respondents — rated the outdoor recreation economy as important to their state, while 70 percent called themselves “outdoor recreation enthusiasts.”

The poll has habitually found bipartisan support for the outdoor recreation industry and land access, said Corina McKendry, director of the State of the Rockies Project and an associate professor of political science at Colorado College. But “the rejection of the current administration’s priorities is particularly intense here,” she said in a press release.

Whether that influences upcoming elections — such as 2020 re-election bids by Trump and by the politically vulnerable Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican who will face questions about his ties to the administration and support of fossil fuel industries — is unclear. Public opinion polls often find widespread concern regarding climate change and support for policies to address the crisis. But these issues rarely swing elections, where foes of climate policies often highlight the economic and social costs of increased environmental regulations. In Colorado, where poll respondents overwhelmingly claimed to prefer environmental protection over energy production, voters roundly rejected a ballot measure in 2018 to limit hydraulic fracturing, following an industry-backed publicity campaign against the measure.

“There is strong evidence that Americans support environmental protection and conservation efforts and that they have substantial concerns about environmental issues such as climate change,” said Christopher Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, who has worked on other environmental polling projects.“However, their concerns are often less intense than those regarding other issues.” Midterm exit polls showed healthcare, immigration, the economy, and gun control as the top national issues for voters in 2018.

According to Borick, achieving robust climate policy requires that the environment compete with, and even surmount, these other political concerns. How soon this happens is an open question, even as Westerners increasingly worry about rising temperatures, drying streams, and hotter fires.

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Western voters care more about climate than ‘energy dominance’

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Beto O’Rourke might have an oil money problem

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Beto O’Rourke, millennials’ favorite wannabe-senator-maybe-president, has landed himself in the burn book. The Texas Democratic representative has been taken off the list of politicians who signed a “No Fossil Fuel Money” pledge, according to a new report by Sludge.

Taking the pledge, led by Oil Change USA, means politicians will not knowingly take contributions of over $200 from “the PACs, executives, or front groups of fossil fuel companies — companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution, or sale of oil, gas, or coal.”

O’Rourke received $430,000 from individuals working in the oil and gas industry, 75 percent of which he received in the form of a donation over $200. There were 29 large donations from fossil fuel executives, according to Sludge reporter Alex Kotch, a strict no-no if you’re sitting pretty on that list. O’Rourke accepted no money from any PAC throughout the entirety of his campaign.

“While we are pleased he hasn’t taken fossil fuel PAC money, he needs to go further in order to be in compliance with the full No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge,” David Turnbull, strategic communications director at Oil Change USA, told Sludge. Other millennial favorites still on the list include Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Bernie Sanders.

In the 2018 Texas midterms, O’Rourke faced incumbent Senator Ted Cruz, who received $505,000 in donations from the oil and gas industry. No surprise, Cruz didn’t signed the pledge.

O’Rourke has the high, high score of 95 percent from The League of Conservation Voters, but has a couple less-than-green votes on fossil fuels. In 2015, he voted against the oil export ban and in 2016, he voted against an amendment which would prohibit the use of funds for offshore drilling research in the Gulf of Mexico. O’Rourke also failed to mention climate change in the first high-profile debate between him and Cruz in September.

The 2020 rumor mill is churning despite O’Rourke’s claims that he isn’t interested. It’d probably be easier for O’Rourke to avoid oil-stained contributions during a presidential bid versus a Senate run in the major oil state. If he does run, the O’Rourke campaign may want to reread the fine print of the pledge and do their best to get back on the nice list.

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Beto O’Rourke might have an oil money problem

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Reduce Your Plastic Footprint

On World Environment day this past June 5, the United Nations (UN) called for the end of single-use plastic. Using the #beatplasticpollution hashtag, there were all kinds of conversations on Twitter about how to minimize your plastic use.

Plastic takes significant amounts of energy to create. It doesn?t decompose, which makes it a huge environmental issue, especially for our oceans. It is all too common for birds and other animals like sea turtles to die from eating plastic. And because plastic never entirely breaks down, lots of that plastic stays in the food chain; some of it even ends up in the food we eat.

I want to share some of the top tips from the UN and the Nature Conservancy of Canada for trying to reduce your plastic footprint.

1. Do a plastic audit

This is also a fun thing to do in your workplace. After discovering how much plastic your workplace uses, set goals as a team and maybe even have prizes for successfully reaching your goal.What does that mean? It means collecting all of your plastic use for a set period of time. I suggest at least two weeks so you get a shopping trip or two in during that time. Then count all of the plastic that you have amassed so you can know how big your plastic footprint is. One idea is to gather all of the plastic so that you can have a visual for how much plastic you use. You can then set a goal to cut back and consume less of it. It is amazing how many bags, containers and other plastic objects you only use once. Set a goal that is realistic but meaningful.

2. Ditch the single-use plastic water bottle

If you haven?t already invested in a good reusable water bottle, it is the easiest way to cut your plastic consumption. By drinking out of a reusable water bottle you are not only helping to keep plastic out of the landfill and ocean, you are also saving money in the long run.

Reusable water bottles are in style right now too. They come in all shapes and sizes, but it seems like bright colors and patterns are very stylish at the moment. Get with the trend and get a reusable water bottle.

The next time you go for a hike, take a garbage bag and fill it with any trash that you find along the trail. We recommend taking plastic gloves or a trash grabbing stick. You only have to go once or twice to see a noticeable difference in your local trail, especially in the city.

3. Do a plastic cleanup

My parents do this every spring at their favorite park. One walk through the park with a garbage bag in May means the walk will be more beautiful for the rest of the summer.

Invite some friends and have a competition to see who can pick up the most garbage. You would be surprised how much fun this can be!

4. Avoid pre-made food when possible

Many groceries stores now stock ready-to-eat meals that almost always come in plastic containers. Soups, salads, sushi or sandwiches are often over-packaged in plastic. We are all busy people who sometimes want a quick meal, but you can significantly reduce your plastic use by buying fresh fruits and veggies that aren?t over packaged in plastic. Ask for them wrapped in paper if you can.

5. #Banthebag

Start saying “no” to plastic grocery bags, and bring your own reusable?cloth bags. Plastic bags are almost indestructible in nature and are easily carried by the wind. It is no wonder our oceans are becoming clogged with them. Bringing a reusable shopping bag helps lessen the number of bags ending up in nature.

It has become a global movement to avoid single use plastic bags at grocery stores. Many cities, like Montreal, have gone so far as to ban them altogether. The hashtag #banthebag has become the unofficial slogan of refusing to use single-use plastic bags.

Anything beats single-use plastic bags, but if you really want to be an eco-friendly shopper, use the multi-use polyurethane bags that are sold at most grocery stores. These bags take less energy to create than standard canvas bags, which makes them more carbon friendly.


Hopefully these helpful tips will help you try to do your part. Together we can beat plastic pollution.

This post was written by Logan Salm and originally appeared on the Nature Conservancy of Canada?s blog, Land Lines. The Conservation Internship Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada?s Summer Work Experience program.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Reduce Your Plastic Footprint

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Citizens put renewable energy on this year’s ballots

This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The fossil fuel-friendly Trump administration has been busy rolling back environmental regulations and opening millions of acres of public land to oil and gas drilling. Just last week, the Interior Department announced plans to gut an Obama-era methane pollution rule, giving natural gas producers more leeway to emit the powerful greenhouse gas.

With the GOP controlling the executive branch and Congress, that means state-level ballot initiatives are one of the few tools progressives have left to advance their own energy agendas. Twenty-four states, including most Western ones, permit this type of “direct democracy,” which allows citizens who gather enough petition signatures to put new laws and regulations to a vote in general elections.

“In general, the process is used — and advocated for — by those not in power,” explains Josh Altic, the ballot measure project director for the website Ballotpedia. Nationwide, 64 citizen-driven initiatives will appear on state ballots this November, and in the West, many aim to encourage renewable energy development — and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.


Proposition 127, known as the Renewable Energy Standards Initiative, would require electric utilities to get half of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar — though not nuclear — by 2030. California billionaire Tom Steyer has contributed over $8 million to the campaign through his political action organization, NextGen Climate Action, which is funding a similar initiative in Nevada.

The parent company of Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility, tried to sabotage the initiative with a lawsuit arguing that over 300,000 petition signatures were invalid and that the petition language may have confused signers into thinking the mandate includes nuclear energy. APS gets most of its energy from the Palo Verde nuclear plant, and the initiative could hurt its revenue.


The progressive group Colorado Rising gathered enough signatures to put Proposition 112 — the Safer Setbacks for Fracking Initiative — to a vote this year. It would prohibit new oil and gas wells and production facilities within 2,500 feet of schools, houses, playgrounds, parks, drinking water sources, and more. State law currently requires setbacks of at least 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools. It’s opposed by the industry-backed group Protect Colorado, whose largest funder, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, attracted scrutiny last year after two people died in a home explosion linked to a leaking gas flow line from a nearby Anadarko well.

Amendment 74, sponsored by the Colorado Farm Bureau, would allow citizens to file claims for lost property value due to government action. It is largely seen as a response to Proposition 112, which the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says would block development on 85 percent of state and private lands. The Farm Bureau’s Chad Vorthmann says Amendment 74 would amend the state Constitution to protect farmers and ranchers who wish to lease their land for oil and gas from “random” setbacks.

Critics argue that the amendment could lead to unintended consequences. In Oregon, for example, a similar amendment passed in 2004, resulting in over 7,000 claims — totaling billions of dollars — filed against local governments, according to the Colorado Independent. Voters then amended the constitution in 2007 to overturn most aspects of the amendment and invalidate many of these claims.


Two energy-related questions will appear on Nevada’s ballot: Question 6, known as the Renewable Energy Promotion Initiative, and Question 3, the Energy Choice Initiative. Funded by Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action, Question 6, which would require utilities to get 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030, faces little formal opposition.

Question 3, however, has attracted more attention — and controversy. The initiative was approved in 2016, but because it would amend the state constitution, voters must approve it a second time. It would allow consumers to choose who they buy power from. It’s spearheaded by big energy consumers, including Switch, a large data company, and luxury resort developer Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which want the freedom to buy cheaper power on the open market without penalty. But environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club and Western Resource Advocates, say the initiative threatens clean energy development. NV Energy, the regulated monopoly that provides 90 percent of Nevada’s electricity, has several solar projects planned but has said it would abandon some of these projects if the initiative passes due to costs.


Washington could become the first state to pass a so-called “carbon fee.” Initiative 1631 would create funding for investments in clean energy and pollution programs through a fee paid for by high carbon emitters like utilities and oil companies. In 2016, a similar initiative lost by almost 10 points. However, many former opponents are now supporters.

What changed? The 2016 initiative would have imposed a revenue-neutral tax instead of a fee, meaning the money generated by the tax would have been offset by a sales tax cut. Environmental groups felt that the initiative didn’t do enough to promote clean energy or to address the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities. But the new fee would bankroll clean energy projects, as well as help polluted communities. The oil and gas industry is funding the opposition campaign, with Phillips 66 contributing $7.2 million so far.


Citizens put renewable energy on this year’s ballots

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8 Ways to Green Your Water

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8 Ways to Green Your Water

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How to Throw a Trash-Free Barbecue

We all know that barbecues produce a whole lot of garbage?? a lot of laughter, connection, and full bellies, of course, but a lot of garbage all the same. Seeing those stacks of paper plates, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and piles of disposable?cutlery going into the trash bin can make even the most blissfully unaware of us uneasy.

It doesn’t have to be this way! There are so many creative ways to enjoy a cookout with friends without creating three enormous bags of garbage. Simply embrace the package-free, the homemade, the reusable, and the compostable, then?let your imagination do its work.

How to Host a Zero-Waste Barbecue

1. Prepare in advance.

As soon as you know you’re hosting the gig, plan out your menu. Consider the list: what can you make ahead of time? Think you can whip up some burger buns? Why not spend a lazy weekend afternoon mixing up some vegan mayo? Many favorite condiments and toppings can be made at home, no problem.

2. Greenify your shopping trip.

When you shop for ingredients for your black bean burgers, plus all the summery sides you can imagine, work to avoid any excessive, non-recyclable packaging. Look for fresh, non-deli options like watermelon and blueberries, buy?snacks in bulk, and bring your own reusable?bags to the store. In addition, it’s a great idea to ask guests to bring their own reusable containers for leftovers at the end of the event!

3. Eliminate single-use items.

Plastic cups, paper plates, and disposable napkins should be a thing of the past ? they’re such a waste of cash! Instead, put out a nice pile of cloth napkins or bandanas, a collection of reusable cups, mason jars, and plates, and various silverware. Host events like this often? Consider investing in a cohesive set that you really like. Otherwise, thrift your stash and roll with the eclectic vibe!

4. Avoid single-serve beverages.

Rather than buying a large selection of canned and bottled beverages, consider making something at volume yourself (we especially love iced tea and fresh lemonade). Still want to offer additional choices? Purchase?those you know can be recycled locally ? say, drinks in glass or aluminum.

5.?Simplify clean-up for yourself and others.

For informal events, request that your guests scrape food scraps into the compost bin (don’t forget it!) and bring their dishes and cloth napkins inside for washing. For larger or more formal events, put out bins for dirty dishes, napkins, compost, and recyclables. Just make sure they’re clearly marked to avoid confusion!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Throw a Trash-Free Barbecue

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Is Sustainable Fishing Really Possible Right Now?

Conventionally, the term “sustainable fishing” implies a harvesting model by which fish are captured at a sustainable rate ? i.e. one where?the fish population does not notably decline over time due to?overfishing.

Unfortunately, wild fisheries are believed to have peaked and begun their decline ? some would argue an irreversible one. So where does that leave us? Is sustainable fishing really a possibility in 2018? Let’s take a look.

What makes a fishery?”sustainable”?

The goal of a sustainable fishery is to guarantee long term constant yield ? a.k.a. fishing at a level that still allows nature to adjust to its “new normal,” without compromising future stock.

Sustainable fisheries study the population dynamics of fishing, employ individual fishing quotas, and work to curtail destructive fishing practices by lobbying for better policies and setting up protected areas ? the goal, of course, being to maintain healthy habitats, as well as healthy gene pools, and to avoid depleting?fish populations in general.

That said, whether this is enough to ensure?sustainable?harvesting is a really?touchy subject. Keep reading to see?what the research has to say!

Isn’t there plenty of fish to go around?

There really isn’t ? at least, not anymore. Overfishing,?while?considered economically foolish, is not typically considered?unsustainable,?provided that rebuilding the population afterwards would?take no more than a single generation. Unfortunately, it seems that we’ve been overfishing for too long.

Overfishing precedes severe stock depletion and fishery collapse.?Today, more than 80 percent of fish species are either fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. If we do not halt overfishing, it’s predicted that the stocks of all species currently commercially fished will collapse by 2048. That’s just around the corner.

What about farmed fish. Aren’t they immune to overfishing?

Unfortunately, no. Farmed fish are fed products from wild fish (also called forage fish, prey fish or bait fish), populations of which?are also threatened. Simultaneously, fish that occupy higher trophic levels ??salmon, for example ? are carnivorous and require high protein diets to sustain growth throughout the entire lifecycle, making them very inefficient sources of food energy.

This dependence of salmon farming, for example, on the availability of high-quality proteins such as fishmeal and?fish oil is already having negative effects on wild fish stocks. There’s only so much food to go around.

Is overfishing an isolated problem?

Nope. First, as with most environmental issues, overfishing has the potential to drastically alter the balance of our global ecosystem. Experts?are concerned that heavy?fishing, and the resulting loss of marine diversity, may result in a serious erosion of resilience to environmental fluctuations and, ultimately, an inability to recover former levels of productivity. At some point, the ecosystem just can’t take it any more.

Second, overfishing is happening in the context of climate change?and global warming. Rising ocean temperatures, ocean pollution, and ocean acidification are radically altering marine ecosystems (75 percent of the world’s key fishing grounds are affected), while rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns, and increased drought are putting inland fisheries at risk. No fishery is immune.

Third, overfishing?is beginning to stir up social unrest. With fish supplies declining?all over the world, fisherman are traveling farther and farther to maintain their livelihoods. Frequently, fishermen are forced?to cross over into competitor territory, creating both social and political conflict.

While the geopolitical impact is being felt most strongly in Southeast Asia, mainly the South China Sea, tensions between Mexico and Florida, as well as?Russia and those fishing?in the Bering Sea are growing. If overfishing continues, you can expect international conflict?to grow with it.

What?can I do about it?

As Captain Paul Watson says, there’s no such thing as sustainable seafood in a dying ocean. “If the oceans die, we die.” If you want to protect marine wildlife and prevent the negative affects of overfishing, lowering?your seafood consumption?is the best thing you can do.

You can also make a difference by becoming more informed on issues of overfishing. Many people are still unaware of the consequences of overfishing. Fortunately, you are not!

Does overfishing worry you? ?What are you going to do about it?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Is Sustainable Fishing Really Possible Right Now?

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Why Don’t More People Care About Climate Change?

Today, one of the primary focuses of work on climate change has less to do with conservation and more to do with the human heart. The truth is: people know the facts about climate change ? or they’re starting to ? but they just don’t care that much.

Research into the psychology of risk perception clearly demonstrates that simply knowing about potential danger, no matter how monumental, is likely to elicit only indifference?if it’s too abstract. A distant, impersonal threat?just isn’t scary enough; whereas, confronting an immediate threat?? say, a hungry?tiger for example ? would kick you into action. Right now, climate change doesn’t feel “it could ruin my life, if not kill me” personal.

I mean, let’s be real: can you name a single?way that climate change will seriously and negatively impact you ? you, personally ? in the next ten years? You probably can’t. Most people, even the most ardent of believers, can’t.

So, let me ask you this: do you feel that?same sort of blas? attitude bubbling up within you? Does climate change feel like a five-years-from-now problem? A decade-from now problem? A generation-from-now problem? You’re not alone.

But here’s the thing: you and I both live on streets in neighborhoods and communities ? not in the rainforest. We both care about the weather. We both want our food systems to stay healthy. We both want to keep our homes flood free, but keep our access to clean drinking water. Buying into the myths that “climate change is someone else’s problem,” or “climate change won’t affect me” puts these beautiful things at risk. And the reality is, climate change is?already affecting us. This is not tomorrow’s problem.

Here are just a few of the ways?climate change is worth your immediate attention.

Extreme weather events?are coming to your front door.

Extreme weather events like?tornadoes, hurricanes and widespread forest fires are becoming more common. In fact, the intensity, frequency and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes have all increased just since the 1980s. Tidal floods have also increased tenfold in several US coastal cities since the 1960s.

It’s getting hotter ? way hotter.

Average annual temperatures?in the United States have already increased by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit between 1901 and 2016. Cities are bearing the brunt of this, experiencing an increase in daytime temperatures up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit. This is especially true in the Eastern and Southeastern United States.

Rainfall is more aggressive.

Rainfall in the Midwest, and the Northern and Southern Plains is increasing significantly, but much of the West, Southwest and Southeast is?getting drier, causing serious droughts. Heavy rainfall in the former areas is becoming more frequent, causing deadly flash floods and nutrient runoff, which affects water quality and is shutting down fisheries.

Sea levels are rising.

So far, the global sea level has already risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began back in 1880. Scientists project that it will rise an additional 4 feet by 2100. That’s just around the corner! On a similar note, the arctic is likely to be completely ice free in summer before the middle of this century.

But you probably know this. Here are some even more specific ways climate change is affecting your daily life.

Beer is suffering.

First, many breweries are encountering shortages of fresh, clean water for brewing. Second, heavy rains in Australia and drought in England have damaged barley crops and hops crops. Your coffee supply is experiencing the same issues with production.

Grocery prices are spiking.

Climate change is affecting global agricultural supply. Extreme weather events area already severely damaging the food supply of African and Central America, causing civil unrest. Why? Staples of daily life are suddenly unaffordable.

Many homeowners can no longer insure their homes.

Faced with several rounds of losses due to severe storms, many insurers have been drastically altering their underwriting of homeowner policies. Premiums for those?who live in?South Carolina or?Florida, for example, have skyrocketed.

Our lakes and forests are disappearing.

Vast swaths of pine forest have been devastated by bark beetles and forest fires, thanks to rising global temperatures, and lakebeds across the United States are drying up. One third of the world’s major lakes and rivers are drying up, affecting water supplies for more than 3 billion people.

Now that’s personal.

Related Stories:

6 Surprising Ways Climate Change Impacts Health
How Climate Change is Bad For Our Pets
What You Can Eat to Fight Climate Change

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Why Don’t More People Care About Climate Change?

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