Livestock production causes many forms of pollution, from being the largest source of greenhouse gases (44% globally), to polluting water (feces, blood, etc) with diseases that can jump from animals to humans. Historically bubonic plague, bird-flu, HIV/AIDS, and Ebola were transmitted from animals to people, and new zoonotic diseases are highly likely given the scale of current factory farming methods. Processing leather is also especially harmful to the environment, most notably in the third world. For instance, untreated tannery wastewater laden with animal parts and heavy metals freely flows through Dhaka, Bangladesh.
ndustrial production of animals could be steered toward less environmentally destructive ends, especially by employing permaculture methods, which involve making use of feces. There are supplements to reduce the greenhouse gases released in cow burps (farts are surprisingly not as harmful). However, the most practical solution for individuals concerned about pollution, and other ethical considerations regarding slaughtering animals, is to simply stop buying animal products. Stop buying meat, leather, etc and organize against a factory farm near you.
1. Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics
Wherever you live, the easiest and most direct way that you can get started is by reducing your own use of single-use plastics. Single-use plastics include plastic bags, water bottles, straws, cups, utensils, dry cleaning bags, take-out containers, and any other plastic items that are used once and then discarded.
The best way to do this is by a) refusing any single-use plastics that you do not need (e.g. straws, plastic bags, takeout utensils, takeout containers), and b) purchasing, and carrying with you, reusable versions of those products, including reusable grocery bags, produce bags, bottles, utensils, coffee cups, and dry cleaning garment bags. And when you refuse single-use plastic items, help businesses by letting them know that you would like them to offer alternatives.
2. Recycle Properly
This should go without saying, but when you use single-use (and other) plastics that can be recycled, always be sure to recycle them. At present, just 9% of plastic is recycled worldwide. Recycling helps keep plastics out of the ocean and reduces the amount of “new” plastic in circulation. If you need help finding a place to recycle plastic waste near you, check Earth911’s recycling directory. It's also important to check with your local recycling center about the types of plastic they accept.
3. Participate In (or Organize) a Beach or River Cleanup
Help remove plastics from the ocean and prevent them from getting there in the first place by participating in, or organizing a cleanup of your local beach or waterway. This is one of the most direct and rewarding ways to fight ocean plastic pollution. You can simply go to the beach or waterway and collect plastic waste on your own or with friends or family, or you can join a local organization’s cleanup or an international event like the International Coastal Cleanup.
4. Support Bans
Many municipalities around the world have enacted bans on single use plastic bags, takeout containers, and bottles. You can support the adoption of such policies in your community. Here is a list of resources for legislative bodies considering limiting the use of plastic bags.
5. Avoid Products Containing Microbeads
Tiny plastic particles, called “microbeads,” have become a growing source of ocean plastic pollution in recent years. Microbeads are found in some face scrubs, toothpastes, and bodywashes, and they readily enter our oceans and waterways through our sewer systems, and affect hundreds of marine species. Avoid products containing plastic microbeads by looking for “polythelene” and “polypropylene” on the ingredient labels of your cosmetic products (find a list of products containing microbeads here).
6. Spread the Word
Stay informed on issues related to plastic pollution and help make others aware of the problem. Tell your friends and family about how they can be part of the solution, or host a viewing party for one of the many plastic pollution focused documentaries, like Bag It, Addicted to Plastic, Plasticized, or Garbage Island.
Burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, oil and gasoline raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and global warming. You can help to reduce the demand for fossil fuels, which in turn reduces global warming, by using energy more wisely.
The following is a list of 10 steps YOU can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Buying products with minimal packaging will help to reduce waste. By recycling half of your household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
There are many forms of renewable energy . Most of these renewable energies depend in one way or another on sunlight. Wind and hydroelectric power are the direct result of differential heating of the Earth's surface which leads to air moving about (wind) and precipitation forming as the air is lifted. Solar energy is the direct conversion of sunlight using panels or collectors. Biomass energy is stored sunlight contained in plants. Other renewable energies that do not depend on sunlight are geothermal energy, which is a result of radioactive decay in the crust combined with the original heat of accreting the Earth, and tidal energy, which is a conversion of gravitational energy.
Solar. This form of energy relies on the nuclear fusion power from the core of the Sun. This energy can be collected and converted in a few different ways. The range is from solar water heating with solar collectors or attic cooling with solar attic fans for domestic use to the complex technologies of direct conversion of sunlight to electrical energy using mirrors and boilers or photovoltaic cells. Unfortunately these are currently insufficient to fully power our modern society.
Wind Power. The movement of the atmosphere is driven by differences of temperature at the Earth's surface due to varying temperatures of the Earth's surface when lit by sunlight. Wind energy can be used to pump water or generate electricity, but requires extensive areal coverage to produce significant amounts of energy.
Hydroelectric energy. This form uses the gravitational potential of elevated water that was lifted from the oceans by sunlight. It is not strictly speaking renewable since all reservoirs eventually fill up and require very expensive excavation to become useful again. At this time, most of the available locations for hydroelectric dams are already used in the developed world.
Biomass is the term for energy from plants. Energy in this form is very commonly used throughout the world. Unfortunately the most popular is the burning of trees for cooking and warmth. This process releases copious amounts of carbon dioxide gases into the atmosphere and is a major contributor to unhealthy air in many areas. Some of the more modern forms of biomass energy are methane generation and production of alcohol for automobile fuel and fueling electric power plants.
Hydrogen and fuel cells. These are also not strictly renewable energy resources but are very abundant in availability and are very low in pollution when utilized. Hydrogen can be burned as a fuel, typically in a vehicle, with only water as the combustion product. This clean burning fuel can mean a significant reduction of pollution in cities. Or the hydrogen can be used in fuel cells, which are similar to batteries, to power an electric motor. In either case significant production of hydrogen requires abundant power. Due to the need for energy to produce the initial hydrogen gas, the result is the relocation of pollution from the cities to the power plants. There are several promising methods to produce hydrogen, such as solar power, that may alter this picture drastically.
Geothermal power. Energy left over from the original accretion of the planet and augmented by heat from radioactive decay seeps out slowly everywhere, everyday. In certain areas the geothermal gradient (increase in temperature with depth) is high enough to exploit to generate electricity. This possibility is limited to a few locations on Earth and many technical problems exist that limit its utility. Another form of geothermal energy is Earth energy, a result of the heat storage in the Earth's surface. Soil everywhere tends to stay at a relatively constant temperature, the yearly average, and can be used with heat pumps to heat a building in winter and cool a building in summer. This form of energy can lessen the need for other power to maintain comfortable temperatures in buildings, but cannot be used to produce electricity.
Other forms of energy. Energy from tides, the oceans and hot hydrogen fusion are other forms that can be used to generate electricity. Each of these is discussed in some detail with the final result being that each suffers from one or another significant drawback and cannot be relied upon at this time to solve the upcoming energy crunch.
If you think 100% renewable energy will never happen, think again. Several countries have adopted ambitious plan to obtain their power from renewable energy. These countries are not only accelerating RE installations but are also integrating RE into their existing infrastructure to reach a 100% RE mix. Read this article..
What are renewable energy sources? Solar power can be used directly for heating and producing electricity or indirectly via biomass, wind, ocean thermal, and hydroelectric power. Energy from the gravititational field can be harnessed by tidal power; and the internal heat of the Earth can be tapped geothermally.
These tools and more can help make the transition from non-renewable to renewable and environmentally friendly energy. However, none of these is sufficiently developed or abundant enough to substitute for fossil fuels use. Every one of these power sources (with the exception of hydroelectric) has low environmental costs, and combined have the potential to be important in avoiding a monumental crisis when the fossil fuel crunch hits. These energy sources are often non-centralized, leading to greater consumer control and involvement.
However, currently each of these energy forms is significantly more expensive than fossil fuels, which will lead to economic dislocations and hardship if they become the only power source for the future.
In the future, it’s likely we’ll go far beyong photocatalytic coatings when it comes to air-cleaning building design. This year’s eVolo Skyscraper Design Competition featured several pollution fighting concepts, including the Hyper Filter. “Located in the big cities between skyscrapers surrounded by busy traffic roads, stations and factories, the structure soaks up CO2 and other harmful gases and releases clear concentrated oxygen into the atmosphere,” reported Inhabitat.
Fortunately, there are ways you can minimize air pollution in your home, car or at work, Dr. Khatri says.
Here are some simple steps you can take:
Taking some simple precautions can help boost air quality in your home and improve your health.