Putin Now Denies Humans Cause Climate Change
By Andy Rowell
These are dangerous days for the climate. Not only do we have a climate denier in the White House, we have one in the Kremlin, too.
At the end of last week, while visiting the Arctic, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that global warming was not caused by humans: "The warming, it had already started by the 1930s," he said. "That's when there were no such anthropological factors such as emissions, and the warming had already started."
In comments that will alarm many, Putin said that trying to curtail climate change was not a priority, but rather adaption was the key: "The issue is not stopping it … because that's impossible, since it could be tied to some global cycles on Earth or even of planetary significance. The issue is to somehow adapt to it."
Commentators have pointed out that this seems to be a dangerous U-turn by Putin and in direct contrast to his speech made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015, when he said: "The quality of life of all people on the planet depends on solving the climate problem."
Environmentalists will also be alarmed that Putin seemed to endorse Scott Pruitt. The Russian president commented that "Positions and suggestions of those who don't agree with their opponents are not so stupid. God grant [Pruitt] health and success, everybody should listen to one another and only then you can find an optimal solution to the problem."
Pruitt, under pressure from a Fox News host on Sunday, acknowledged that humans are contributing to climate change. "There's a warming trend, the climate is changing and human activity contributes to that change in some measure," Pruitt was forced to concede, before adding: "The real issue is how much we contribute to it and measuring that with precision."
Trump to Roll Back Obama Climate Plan, Pruitt Calls Paris Agreement a 'Bad Deal' https://t.co/yz1RXJrsRo @climatechange @climateinstitut— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1490660113.0
There is a crude self-interest for Putin with climate change. The more the Arctic region melts, the more he believes it could be exploited for oil. While other leaders at the Arctic meeting warned of the dangers of climate change, for example the Finnish Prime Minister Sauli Niinisto labeling it a "serious threat," Putin argued that global warming brings "more propitious conditions for using this region for economic ends."
He added that the melting of the Arctic was beneficial to Russia's GDP and "improves the economic potential of this region."
And you can see why Putin thinks climate change is good. As an article in the New Scientist pointed out last month, "Russia's economy is a basket case. Apart from oil and gas, it produces little anyone wants to buy … Without restructuring, a global clean energy revolution will likely put the Russian economy in a death spiral."
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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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