Google Camp on Climate Crisis Attended by Rich and Famous in Private Jets, Mega Yachts
Google's seventh annual meeting of the minds, dubbed Google Camp, is happening at a seaside resort in Sicily and this year, it is dedicated to the climate crisis. Luminaries from tech, business, entertainment and politics descended upon the Italian island to discuss ideas and solutions for tackling the climate crisis at the three-day event that costs Google upwards of $20 million, according to Business Insider.
The highly secretive event at the Verdura Resort near a UNESCO World Heritage ruins prevents attendees from posting on social media while in attendance. On the first night, Chris Martin of Coldplay performed a private concert for attendees with the Valley of the Temples ruins in nearby Agrigento as a backdrop.
The Verdura Resort is a short distance from the airport in Palermo, though many guests arrive via private helicopter or on private yachts, according to Forbes.
In fact, the Palermo airport had made preparations for the expected arrival of 114 private jets, according to Giornale Di Sicilia. The influx of private jets, private yachts, helicopters, sports cars and limousines seems in stark contrast to the theme of the conference. By contrast, Greta Thunberg, the teenage activist, eschews meat, dairy and air travel, to mitigate her carbon footprint. She will sail to New York from Europe to attend the UN Climate Summit next month.
The transportation of the various guests, including Barack Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harry Styles, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Mark Zuckerberg, and Diane Von Furstenberg amongst many others have drawn condemnation on social media and in the press. After all, a flight from New York to Palermo, Sicily, generates around 4.24 metric tons of CO2, or the equivalent of 540,652 smart phones being charged at one time, according to EuroNews. That's a lot of carbon for just a few people. And, that doesn't include the greenhouse gasses emitted by the 2,300 horsepower diesel-engine private yachts.
One Twitter user commented, "Several #celebrities, wealthy and famous people have arrived in Sicily for #Google summit to discuss climate change. Are these folks going to push for a bill to be passed to ban use of private jets and mega yachts?" as Fox News reported.
Several #celebrities, wealthy and famous people have arrived in Sicily for #Google summit to discuss climate change. Are these folks going to push for a bill to be passed to ban use of private jets and mega yachts?— breezabeach (@breezabeach) August 1, 2019
And another wrote, "The hypocrisy of all these celebrities and billionaires that are traveling to a climate change summit in their private jets! The fact that Google spent $20bn on this initiative just shows that they'd rather look the part than be the part! Put that money INTO ACTION! not a parade!"
The hypocrisy of all these celebrities and billionaires that are travelling to a climate change summit in their private jets!The fact that Google spent $20bn on this initiative just shows that they'd rather look the part than be the part! Put that money INTO ACTION!not a parade!— R (@rahilkn) August 1, 2019
And, after Prince Harry gave an impassioned speech about saving nature in his bare-feet at the conference, one New York Post columnist wrote, "It doesn't get much sillier than being lectured on carbon footprints by a prince whose family rattles around in multiple palaces."
"While the facts remain, following the influx of private vehicles to Google's Italian retreat, there is an argument to be made that both the coverage generated and the environmental awareness resulting from it, makes it all worth it. To center such an important event around climate change in this day and age is a positive step in the right direction, given the amount of influential figures in attendance, all with staggering platforms to effect change all around the world.
'To have them all in one place, working together to achieve a common goal that could really make a difference along the road to becoming carbon neutral before 2050 - perhaps the positives outweigh the negatives? And even if you disagree, at least the very fact they all arrived in such sheer extravagance has brought all the more attention to the event and the eco themes surrounding it!"
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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