Feed aggregator

This Fourth Of July Celebrate With American Made Organic Mattress...

PR Web - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 10:46

TheFutonShop.com, the largest organic and green futon mattress manufacturer, is celebrating 2015 Fourth of July with fireworks exploding with huge discounts.

(PRWeb June 29, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015_Fourth_Of_July/The_Futon_Shop/prweb12817861.htm

Categories: Environment

SourceOne Events announces partnership with West Park Productions

PR Web - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 10:46

SourceOne Events & West Park Productions partner to provide unmatchable services to clientele

(PRWeb June 29, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12814030.htm

Categories: Environment

DETECTO's New Solar-Powered Hanging Scale

PR Web - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 10:46

DETECTO’s exclusive new digital solar hanging scale is powered completely by light and never requires battery replacement.

(PRWeb June 29, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/Detecto-Scale/Hanging-Foodservice-Scale/prweb12816048.htm

Categories: Environment

How should I get rid of old Barbies and Legos?

Grist.org - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 10:02

Q. My parents have decided to take the plunge and move into a smaller house for their upcoming retirement! This summer I’ll be helping them with some downsizing before their move. My question has to do with how to appropriately reuse/recycle some childhood toys. I’m not sure the Goodwill wants our 20-year-old Barbies and Legos. What is the best way to dispose of some used childhood toys and games or other things that might come about during downsizing?

Erin
Providence, RI

A. Dearest Erin,

Oh, I think you underestimate the appeal of old-school Barbies and Legos. Twenty years ago was the era of Medieval Lady Barbie and the Sea Claw 7 submarine Lego set, after all — there are plenty of kids and nostalgic adults who would gobble that right up. I feel quite sure that your old toys will bring delight to a new generation. And that’s great news on the environmental front as well, as we should always strive to reuse before we recycle.

As long as your playthings are in decent shape, I encourage you to donate them to a worthy, child-centered cause: a children’s hospital, homeless shelter, Goodwill, Salvation Army, even your young neighbors or second cousins. Kids don’t care if a particular toy isn’t brand new, as long as it’s new to them.

One caveat with Lego, however: Some organizations might not accept a loose bin of bricks, preferring complete sets instead. If you don’t have your Sea Claw kit still corralled in its own box — and really, you deserve immediate induction into the Type A Hall of Fame if you do — check with your charity before donating to make sure they won’t just toss your toys. A couple of charities specifically collect loose Lego pieces for this reason (like this one and this one), cleaning and resorting odds and ends into more complete, donation-ready sets.

Above and beyond the simple, pure joy of a child, there’s another reason to do all we can to reuse old toys: Many cannot be recycled. Lego bricks, for example, fall into the inscrutable #7 plastic category and aren’t accepted by most recycling companies (though by all means, check with your local recycler to be sure). It’s the same with Barbie, who is made of a strange amalgam of PVC, polypropylene, EVA, and other bendy plastics.

Now, a few words about the safety of that old Barbie: One 15-year-old Danish study reported that really old dolls — from the ’50s and ’60s — might pose a risk by leaching dangerous, PVC-related chemicals (since phased out of Barbie production). Another study detected lead and cadmium in old toys, including Barbies, from the ‘70s and ‘80s, but not in more contemporary samples. So if you happen to have any truly vintage toys, they’re best donated or sold to an adult collector who won’t touch them much, rather than to a kid who’s still exploring the world through her mouth — or even thrown out.

Newer dolls still contain PVC, which we strive to avoid for several reasons, not least that it can emit endocrine-disrupting phthalates. However, Barbie came up clean for phthalates in a 2007 analysis by the Washington Toxics Coalition, and parent company Mattel uses an alternative plasticizer that’s considered safe in the U.S. and Europe. PVC is still a no-no because of the dangerous pollutants it forms during manufacture, so from this perspective, reusing a non-vintage Barbie is nice because it reduces the need to make more toxic PVC.

Still, I can’t say with certainty just how safe your particular dolls are, Erin. Chemical exposure is one of those unsettling topics we need to research in much more detail. If you want to play it absolutely safe with your old Barbies while still diverting them from the landfill, perhaps your best option is creating some subversive art with them (or donating them to someone else who will). Hey, maybe Barbie’s greatest value lies in forcing us to confront unrealistic beauty standards and the career glass ceiling for women.

Or maybe she’s just a toy. Sigh. Some days I really long for the era of cloth dolls and wooden train sets.

Playfully,

Umbra


Filed under: Living
Categories: Environment

TRID Implementation Date Moved To October 1

PR Web - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 07:46

The Federal Savings Bank shares news of how the date of implementation for a Federal housing regulation has been pushed back to October 1st.

(PRWeb June 29, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12817447.htm

Categories: Environment

Naturalist Journeys Announces New Opportunities to Celebrate Dark...

PR Web - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 07:46

New opportunities will be added to Naturalist Journeys’ Southwest National Parks tour this fall as a result of the recent International Dark Sky Park designation for Capitol Reef National Park by the...

(PRWeb June 29, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/BryceCapitolReefZionNatur/DarkSkiesNationalParks/prweb12817244.htm

Categories: Environment

Benzer Pharmacy Goes Green by Offering Customers Free Safe Disposal...

PR Web - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 07:46

TakeAway Environmental Return System now available in chain retail pharmacy, a convenient solution for customers to safely dispose their unwanted drugs

(PRWeb June 29, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12813072.htm

Categories: Environment

Tibet Tour Planning: What’s Been Most Popular in June 2015

PR Web - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 07:46

When planning to travel, Tibet visitors will find that there are a multitude of destinations to choose from, which can make the tour planning process intimidating for some. To help travelers plan...

(PRWeb June 28, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/Tibet-travel/July/prweb12808701.htm

Categories: Environment

MED|Ed Facilities Phoenix Call for Speakers Open

PR Web - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 07:46

MED|Ed Facilities is seeking proposals from qualified professionals interested in presenting at next conference, March 1 + 2 in Phoenix. Case studies are typically the best attended sessions at the...

(PRWeb June 28, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12816625.htm

Categories: Environment

Parker & Sons Adheres to Tradition, Renewing its Vow to Uphold...

PR Web - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 07:46

By winning the BBB Business Ethics Award, and Arizona’s Top Service Provider by Ranking Arizona, Parker & Sons are upholding their customer satisfaction guarantee

(PRWeb June 28, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12767431.htm

Categories: Environment

Tips To Avoid Mistakes When Selling A Home

PR Web - Sun, 06/28/2015 - 16:45

The Federal Savings Bank offers some helpful tips on how to avoid mistakes when selling a home.

(PRWeb June 28, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12817378.htm

Categories: Environment

Aussie Researchers Credit Sex Hormones with Improved Mesothelioma...

PR Web - Sun, 06/28/2015 - 13:44

Researchers in Sydney, Australia say younger women live longer with mesothelioma than their male counterparts and sex hormones may be the reason why.

(PRWeb June 28, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12817231.htm

Categories: Environment

Here’s the only explainer on California drought you need

Grist.org - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 12:08

Why do I keep hearing about the California drought, if it’s the Colorado River that we’re “killing”?

Pretty much every state west of the Rockies has been facing a water shortage of one kind or another in recent years.  California’s is a severe, but relatively short-term, drought. But the Colorado River basin — which provides critical water supplies for seven states including California — is the victim of a slower-burning catastrophe entering its 16th year. Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California all share water from the Colorado River, a hugely important water resource that sustains 40 million people in those states, supports 15 percent of the nation’s food supply, and fills two of largest water reserves in the country.

Wolfgang Staudt

The severe shortages of rain and snowfall have hurt California’s $46 billion agricultural industry and helped raise national awareness of the longer-term shortages that are affecting the entire Colorado River basin. But while the two problems have commonalities and have some effect on one another, they’re not exactly the same thing.

Just how bad is the drought in California right now?

Most of California is experiencing “extreme to exceptional drought,” and the crisis has now entered its fourth year. This month, signaling how serious the current situation is, state officials announced the first cutback to farmers’ water rights since 1977, and ordered cities and towns to cut water use by as much as 36 percent. Those who don’t comply with the cuts will face fines, but some farmers are already ignoring the new rules, or challenging them in court.

The drought shows no sign of letting up any time soon, and the state’s agricultural industry is suffering. A recent study by U.C. Davis researchers projected that the drought would cost California’s economy $2.7 billion in 2015 alone.

In addition to the economic cost, the drought has subtle and not-so-subtle effects on flora and fauna throughout the region. This current drought may be contributing to the spread of the West Nile virus, and it’s threatening populations of geese, ducks, and Joshua trees. Dry, hot periods can exacerbate wildfires, while water shortages are making firefighters’ jobs even harder.

Lake Shasta.David Greitzer / Shutterstock

And a little bit of rain won’t help. NOAA scientists say it could take several years of average or above-average rainfall before California’s water supply can return to anything close to normal.

What about a lot of rain? Couldn’t that end the drought in California and across the West?

Not necessarily. A half-decade of torrential rains might bail California out of its crisis, but the larger West’s problems are more structural and systemic. “Killing the Colorado” has shown that people are entitled to more water from the Colorado than has flowed through it, on average, over the last 110 years. Meanwhile much of the water is lost, overused, or wasted, stressing both the Colorado system, and trickling down to California, which depends on the Colorado for a big chunk of its own supply. Explosive urban growth matched with the steady planting of water-thirsty crops — which use the majority of the water — don’t help. Arcane laws actually encourage farmers to take even more water from the Colorado River and from California’s rivers than they actually need, and federal subsidies encourage farmers to plant some of the crops that use the most water. And, as ProPublica has reported, it seems that “the engineering that made settling the West possible may have reached the bounds of its potential” — meaning that even the big dams and canals we built to ferry all this water may now be causing more harm than good.

Water use policies — perhaps more than nature — have caused the water crisis in the West. As the former Arizona governor and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt told ProPublica: “There is enough water in the West‚ [but] there are all kinds of agriculture efficiencies that have not been put into place.”

While there are mixed views on whether climate change can be blamed for California’s drought, a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report found climate change was not the cause. Global warming has caused excessive heat that may have worsened the drought’s effects, but it isn’t necessarily to blame for the lack of rain. It’s true that recent years have yielded much less rain and snow than previous times in history, the NOAA report explains, but that’s just a result of “natural variance” and not necessarily because of human-made pollution. But in both California and the larger Colorado River basin, mismanagement of the water supply has left the West more vulnerable to both short and long-term changes in climate.

What do you mean by mismanagement?

When officials divvied up rights to Colorado River water nearly a century ago, it happened to be a wetter period than usual. The result? The states vastly overestimated the river’s annual flow. Today, the river’s reserves are especially low and states are still claiming the same amount of water from the Colorado River that they always have — which is 1.4 trillion gallons a year more than the river actually produces. This sort of oversubscription is similar in California, where historic water rights give many farms first rights to California’s streams and rivers, and haven’t been adjusted as the state’s population has increased and its cities have grown.

Wait — don’t we all have equal water rights?

Well, if you believe Steve Yuhas, a resident of affluent Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., “we’re not all equal when it comes to water.” (Yuhas made the unfortunate mistake of complaining on social media that he and his neighbors deserve more water because they pay more property taxes, and “should not be forced to‚ golf on brown lawns,” and was pilloried by readers of the Washington Post article that drew attention to his comments.) But actually, every state has its own laws about who gets how much water — and it has nothing to do with property taxes.

To the uninitiated, “water law” is arcane and confusing — hence the need for, yes, water lawyers. Sometimes, water law seems to defy common sense. For instance, in Colorado, if you put a barrel in your yard to collect rainwater for your plants, you are technically “stealing” that water right out of the sky; under water law, “nearly every drop is spoken for.”

But the underlying rule of water in the West is that the first people to show up and claim it were the first people to get it, and everyone who came after took a place further back in line. Called “prior appropriation,” this remains the dominant thread in Western water issues, more than 100 years later.

So where is all this water going?

For all of the warnings people in the West get about taking shorter showers and turning off sprinklers, the fact remains that agriculture uses the most water, by far. Farming and agriculture use more than 70 percent of the water that flows from the Colorado River to the seven river basin states.

Kimberly Vardeman

In addition to those crops, cotton is one of the thirstiest crops a farmer can grow, especially in a desert. As it happens, many of the crops that use less water entitle farmers to fewer federal subsidies, and so farmers don’t have much of an incentive to switch crops. Though cotton production has dropped steeply in California, since 1995, California farmers have gotten $3 billion in federal subsidies to grow it. On top of subsidies, “Use it or Lose It” clauses in state water laws actually encourage farmers to flood their fields with much more water than they need lest they lose the right to that amount of water in the future.

Urban development is also a big factor. Las Vegas has grown faster than any other city in the West, its footprint doubling in the past 25 years as more and more people have moved there. It is far from the only urban strain on the West’s water supplies, but its approach to growth is emblematic of cities from Phoenix to San Diego. Denver’s metro population hit 2.7 million in 2013, more than three times what it was in 1960. For all its problems, Las Vegas pioneered ways to save water and incentivize efficiency more than a decade ago that Los Angeles is only beginning to adopt today.

What is California doing to address its water problems? Is it working?

Californians do seem to be answering the call to use less water in their daily lives after Gov. Jerry Brown imposed cutbacks in March. The state’s “water czar,” Felicia Marcus, continues to crack down on water waste, and creative ad campaigns are finding varying degrees of success. The state has cut deliveries of water to farmers through the state and federal aqueduct systems, and is now beginning to tackle the tough tasks of reforming water rights and curtailing some of the state’s most senior users.

The federal government is also sending millions of dollars in “drought aid,” and local counties are exploring how to desalinate ocean water to replenish water supplies. Some enterprising individuals are even proposing to revive old plans to tow icebergs or haul water down from Alaska.

Meanwhile, like any prolonged crisis, the drought is drawing out the best and worst in people. Some people are conscientiously conserving water in their homes in little ways — by not washing their cars or by capturing shower water from inside for their gardens outside, for instance. The drought has also inspired innovation in water conservation for restaurants, pools, and lawns. Meanwhile, others have been caught stealing water from their neighbors and drought-shaming campaigns have multiplied online.

To the extent that climate change exacerbates the drought, California’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions may eventually help. In 2006, the state passed a law mandating that it buy less coal-fired energy. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is now also selling its stake in the Navajo Generating Station to invest in clean energy alternatives, though the plant (which generates more climate-warming gases than almost any other plant in the nation) will continue pumping Colorado River water to Arizona.

Will California cutbacks alleviate the larger Colorado River problem?

California uses almost one-third of the entire Colorado River flow, having a larger share than any other Colorado River basin state. California gets 16 percent of its surface water — water that comes from snowpack, streams, and rivers — from the Colorado River via two huge aqueducts. The California Aqueduct runs beneath mountains into Riverside County and eventually toward Los Angeles, providing a substantial supply for both L.A. and San Diego. The All-American Canal moves water along the tail-end of the Colorado River near the Mexican border, nourishing one of the state’s most valuable agriculture areas, Imperial County, where a large proportion of the nation’s winter fruits and vegetables are grown.

Of the seven basin states, California holds the most senior legal rights to the Colorado, which entitle it to keep drawing water even as Lake Mead runs dry and the rest of the Colorado River states suffer through shortages. That means in the short term, not much that California does will change the situation on the Colorado, unless it were to voluntarily surrender more of its entitlement to the river. But should Colorado River shortages worsen to the point that the states ever renegotiate that division of water, a reduction of California’s Colorado River water rights could have a brutal impact on California’s remaining supplies. Officials in California, like every other state in the region, are now facing a “new normal,” as nature places new limits on the state’s previously unchecked growth.

I don’t live in California or the West, so why is this my problem?

California grows and exports a majority of the fruits and nuts eaten by the rest of the country, so water shortages there affect food supply everywhere. Calculations by the Pacific Institute indicate that, by eating food grown in California, each American indirectly uses more than 300 gallons of the state’s water each week. Almonds, which require a comparatively huge amount of water to produce, have become the most visible scapegoat for an enormous problem of which they are only one small part. One almond takes almost an entire gallon of water to produce — but so does a tiny slice of cantaloupe, four strawberries, two florets of broccoli, or a fraction of an egg.

Shutterstock

In fact, some of the biggest “water hogs,” indirectly, are meat and dairy. Cows and chickens and other animals eat a lot of crops, which in turn require a lot of water. So it takes 86 gallons of water to make just 1.75 ounces of beef. Some research has suggested that the country’s meat industries create such a high demand for water-thirsty feed crops, that if every American ate meat one less day a week, it could save as much water as flows through the Colorado River in an entire year.

Regardless, if the water crisis gets worse, Americans across the country can expect the cost of their food to go up, and some of it, perhaps, to not be available at all. Power prices may also rise as hydroelectric plants have difficulty generating with low water flows — and to the extent that very complicated power distribution affects a larger region, consumers far away from the Colorado River basin might feel the pinch. Finally, California and the rest of the Colorado River basin amount to the world’s seventh largest economy, and contribute significantly to the country’s GDP. When California struggles economically, the nation is close behind.


Filed under: Climate & Energy
Categories: Environment

Integrated Sustainability honoured with Water Management Company of...

PR Web - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 07:40

Calgary, AB-June 25, 2015 - Integrated Sustainability attended the inaugural Canadian Oil and Gas Industry Summit and Awards held at the Westin in Calgary on June 24th and received the award for Water...

(PRWeb June 27, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12813231.htm

Categories: Environment

Deco Lighting to Exhibit at 2015 BOMA International’s Every Building...

PR Web - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 07:40

Deco Lighting has announced that they will be exhibiting at BOMA International’s Every Building Conference & Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA.

(PRWeb June 27, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/Deco-Lighting/LAD-Solutions/prweb12814700.htm

Categories: Environment

Women's World Blends Haute Couture With Science To Put A New Spin...

PR Web - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 01:40

Stylish and affordable clothing, shoes and accessories are the main attraction at Women's World, but the fashion website is putting a new spin on the concept of "Fashion With A...

(PRWeb June 26, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/wwfashionaccess/06/prweb12796455.htm

Categories: Environment

Coco Libre Behind the Scenes at the BET Awards

PR Web - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 01:40

Organic Coconut Water hydrates BET Awards artists, cast and crew

(PRWeb June 26, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12816907.htm

Categories: Environment

Feeling guilty about the climate? Confess, sinner!

Grist.org - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 00:00

You know the feeling of Climate Guilt: When you know what you’re about to do (or, more likely, have already done) is wrong, and you just can’t help yourself. Or even if you don’t know if it’s wrong, you strongly suspect that it is — after all, every breath you take is a carbon emission.

You order that burger. You board the flight to Italy. You toss your water bottle in the trash can because you cannot, for the life of you, find a goddamn recycling bin in your supposedly progressive city. But who’s counting?

The planet is, you asshole.

That wasn’t helpful, I’m sure! But this is: A place to safely confess your transgressions, and be absolved. The Adaptors, a podcast showcasing the weird tales of climate change adaptation, have your back:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU WILL NOT BE JUDGED. THE CLIMATE CONFESSIONS HOTLINE IS A CHANCE TO EASE YOUR CONSCIENCE. PICK UP THE PHONE. GET THE ISOLATING FEELINGS OFF YOUR CHEST.

Past confessions include this love-lorn Romeo, who is tearing up the atmosphere with monthly flights to see his long-distance lady. Is he going to cut back on his heart’s desire for the sake of the rest of humanity? Probably not. Confess, child.

If you’re getting a little hot under the collar, probably you have some Climate Guilt you need to get out of your system — or it might be the global warming you brought on yourself. Sorry! But you may also discover — like many adherents of religions varied and far-flung — that confession is also a good time to get some smugness out of your system. For example, this Prius scold feels really bad about how good his gas mileage is — yes, he’s That Prius Guy:

Nervous? Don’t be:

ALL CALLS ARE ANONYMOUS. YOUR NAME AND NUMBER WILL NOT BE TRACKED, UNLESS YOU CHOOSE TO IDENTIFY YOURSELF. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE CONTACTED BY A CLIMATE COUNSELOR, PLEASE LEAVE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION. YOUR CONFESSION WILL BE RECORDED. IT MAY BE BROADCAST.

Get right with the Mother (Earth) … or at least make yourself feel a teensy bit better. Call the hotline.


Filed under: Article
Categories: Environment

“The Last Survivors” is drought’s worst-case-scenario — and it looks pretty bad

Grist.org - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 23:50

Welcome back to Green Screen, where Grist writers free their inner film buffs to talk movies, television, video games, and whatever other heretofore undiscovered screen-based media forms. This week, we turn to indie post-apocalyptic thrille The Last Survivors, directed by Thomas S. Haddock and written by Haddock and Jacob Forman.

What makes it green: The Last Survivors depicts everyone’s (just ours? OK, fine) water privatization nightmare: It hasn’t rained in 10 years; agriculture of any kind is a long-forgotten coke dream; and one pretty creepy and very weird guy (Jon Gries) somehow owns all of the water in “The Valley,” sucks it up and hoards it at his Water Headquarters, and roams around with a surly ginge daughter and a team of Sand People to kill off any ancillary humans who might dare to drink it up.

What we liked about it: What can I say — I’m a sucker for a good desert-y apocalyptic landscape. I regularly watch the music videos for “Run The World (Girls)” and “Bad Girls” and still think to myself, “Yes — this looks very good” each time. “The Last Survivors” takes place in pretty much the most parched, inhospitable setting imaginable, so I was on board from the first sun-bleached, dusty shot.

In a world where everyone is hazy-eyed and foamy-mouthed with declarations of “MOST FEMINIST CHARACTER OUT,” I can still say without hesitation that protagonist Kendal (appealingly played, I thought, by Haley Lu Richardson) is truly a badass bitch. I have nothing but respect for a woman who is able to slay a single foe with nothing less than a rifle, a sword, a pocket knife, and a hatchet. (Efficiency is clearly not the priority here, but no one ever said efficiency made for a good killin’ scene.)

But seriously: The girl protects her dwindling water supply and her invalid, bed-ridden buddy (Booboo Stewart) with truly impressive fervor, while — in a land with literally no spare water — somehow maintaining impeccably conditioned hair. She also gives few enough fucks to say to above-mentioned invalid buddy, when he presses her about why she hadn’t disclosed how dire their situation truly was, essentially: “Well, I thought you’d be dead already.” Spoiler: This is possibly the best moment of the entire film.

What we were less fond of: As my more nitpicky viewing partner pointed out, little things like character development and natural human dialogue are pretty lacking here. The cast of secondary characters are basically Limping Bedridden Pal, Evil Water Mogul, His Vain Daughter, Morally Void Priest, Small Wily Child, and things never really go much deeper than that. Sometimes, however, you’re not in the mood for a nuanced or thought-provoking take on water scarcity, utility privatization, and death. You’re in the mood to see a girl go full samurai on a dude wearing Cillian Murphy’s headgear from Batman Begins.

And if you’re in the mood for that nuanced, thought-provoking stuff — well, you’ve come to the right place!

The Last Survivors, which premiered at Film Independent’s 2014 Los Angeles Film Festivalwill be released in theaters by MPI on Aug. 4.


Filed under: Climate & Energy, Living
Categories: Environment

Does shame have a place in the climate fight? Jennifer Jacquet thinks so

Grist.org - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 23:34

Jennifer Jacquet thinks we all need more shame in our lives.

At least, that‘s the premise of her pointedly titled book Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool, in which she describes the troubling lack of chagrin demonstrated by the corporations and governments who have been busily trashing the environment for decades, nay, centuries. Meanwhile, the more sensitive among us (i.e. anyone who has ever Asked Umbra) are wracked with guilt about what untold horrors our lint rollers and beach reads and unweeded gardens might wreak on the climate.

To roughly paraphrase Jacquet: Chill, y’all! No one is going to make or break the planet on one anxiety-ridden trip to Whole Foods, so stop acting like it. Your time would be much better spent wagging a finger at the 90 companies responsible for the bulk of historical emissions.

We sat down with Jacquet to talk about the difference between guilt and shame, and why the latter will serve us much better than the former. Along the way, we stumbled across some other vocab terms, and she was happy to tell us all about them. No need to crack a dictionary this time, folks —  we’ve got your climate shame glossary right here.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Guilt vs. Shame

“For me, guilt is about an internal conversation you have with yourself, about your own moral standards and how you hold yourself to those. Whereas shame, the way I define it, means thinking about what others think about you, or concerning yourself with the way that others think about you.”

“The fundamental way in which guilt has risen in our society is through a very subtle but profound shift in focusing our attention from supply, and the way industries operate, to focusing on the demand side. That puts a lot of so-called decisions in the hands of consumers, individuals. So pesticide use or battery-raised hens or animal cruelty more broadly [or] unfair trade — this is now something that each and every one of us is asked to feel guilty about, because what we buy is contributing.”

“You can arguably shame people who are shameless, in a strange way, as long as you expose them to public opprobrium. Even if they don’t feel shame — and it’s very likely they may not — do they change their behavior in response to the stimuli, even if they don’t feel a certain way?”

Moral Licensing

“This is what happens when, if you somehow do something positive in one domain, it leads to negative behavior in another. If I buy an eco-certified product, maybe later I’ll justify taking a flight — something with much higher marginal impacts.”

The Attention Economy

“We don’t live in the information age, we live in an attention age — information is not scarce, attention is. And everybody in marketing knows this — but shame, like marketing, is only as good as the number of people involved, or the power of the eyeballs involved.”

“There’s a lot of strategy going on behind actually getting attention. Maybe in some cases — let’s say, the latest political scandal — you don’t have to try much at all. But as most of us know who do any environmental or labor or animal issues, people are quite tapped out. So shaming — or social change in general — has to reach out to the arts, and to the people who are really in the business of getting attention.”

#TheBlackfishEffect

“Since the Blackfish film was released, the stock value of SeaWorld has dropped 60 percent, which is enormous, even though attendance has only fallen 5 percent. Why is that? Maybe it’s the right film at the right time. But there might be more specific reasons — think about Food Inc., where the target is not exactly clear. There are a lot of issues with food! Whereas Blackfish had a very clear and easy — maybe to some degree, oversimplified — target. SeaWorld is not the only corporation doing this, but they’re very much the target of the shaming. Plus, there was a human element of ‘gosh, this is really putting humans at risks.'”

“This is a perfect storm.”

Bullying

“When the strong try to shame the weak.” [Editor’s note: Not cool.]

The Sweet Spot of Shame

“Does the crowd find it acceptable? Is it actually the weak aiming against the strong? It’s not too weak, it’s not too strong, it doesn’t get [zero] attention, but it doesn’t get too much attention. In some ways, people are criticizing climate for trumping every other environmental issue.”

“For issues related to the environment, shame is more salient than it might be for others. For example, there’s an app that alerts your social network if you press the snooze button too many times in the morning. That’s not a great use of shaming, because the audience is not inherently concerned with your transgression. Whereas [with] environmental issues like water pollution — maybe even the disappearance of certain species — these are problems that by their very nature concern all of us. Because they’re cooperation dilemmas, because you’re doing something that affects my enjoyment or my future, that makes it inherently more of a social dilemma, and therefore lends itself to social tools.”

“Almost all environmental issues fall into that. With climate change, while we are all in it together, certain countries are going to pay disproportionate costs. And those countries, conveniently, are not the ones doing the pollution. I think the pervasive unfairness in the problem of climate change is really difficult — that’s why those countries have the option of using shame, and have done this really great street theatre. But I think there is way more room for shaming the U.S. and China from these countries than they’ve picked up on so far.”

Humor as a Tool

“Not just humor, per se; it’s like The Onion or The Daily Show — it’s humor with an added twist of irony. It’s not a knock-knock joke. It’s really asking us to engage more actively with something.”

[Ed. Note: Here, Jacquet drops a headline from The Onion] “‘Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs, Humanity Says “Oh Shit.”‘ You get the joke, because you have to understand that dolphins are smarter than humans. That’s the whole undercurrent — it’s just resting on the surface quite nicely. That’s what Jon Stewart does.”

Concealed Irony

“If Jon Stewart is pure irony, Colbert is concealed irony — you have to be in on the joke. The question is how well they work; they definitely work to get attention. There are writers — like David Foster Wallace or Jonathan Franzen — who say that sincerity is needed. Some people criticize the climate movement for being a little too earnest, but, on the other hand, attention is not the end goal. The end goal is large-scale changes in behavior. And it may or may not be that concealed irony leads to those outcomes. What’s for certain is that it’s attention grabbing. Past that, there may have to be some other, more sincere strategy involved.”

“Shame on Me? Well, Shame on You.”

“When you carry out a shaming campaign, you put yourself at risk of being dragged through the mud as well. Anything else, anything you can find, any dirt on someone you can say, ‘Well, you did this.’ Then it’s a struggle for who has the better reputation.”

“Westboro Baptist Church are notorious shamers, very unsuccessfully so. Often they have the effect of moving the dial even further in the direction that they’d hoped to avoid.”

“Climategate is another great [Editor’s note: she means “terrible”] case of that. That was timed so strategically to be right before Copenhagen. That was a pure PR stunt. The effects were never reversed. Copenhagen ended with zero success — there were nice write-ups, in Nature, but ask your average undergrad and they don’t have that impression at all. That was a real number on climate scientists generally.”

Rough Justice vs. Soft Power

“Shame can be either of these things. The whole goal is for soft power, not rough justice. Maybe in some cases, harsh is necessary — but that harshness is aimed at institutions that don’t leave a bunch of victims in their wake.”

“There’s that saying ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ We know that’s not necessarily true, right? Shame is like that — it’s not exactly value-neutral. It’s designed to do harm. But there can be moments in which it can really work as a positive force in society. My point with the book was to get people to reconsider shame as being simply a negative force.”


Filed under: Climate & Energy, Science
Categories: Environment

Pages