Emissions Report: Emissions Causes, Solutions, & Making A Difference
What are the causes of emissions and what are their sources?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an emission is the term used to describe the gases and particles that are put into the air or emitted by various sources. There are many different kinds of emissions, some harmful others not. The EPA is mainly concerned with emissions that are or could be harmful to people as they have decided. The EPA calls this set of principal air pollutants, criteria pollutants. They are as follows:
The mentioned above criteria pollutants are harmful to our environment so the best way to understand how to fight them is to ask the question “What Causes These Specific Emissions?” The EPA has lumped the answers into 4 general categories of what causes emissions.
1. Point sources include things like factories and electric power plants. Factories, including oil refineries, pulp and paper mills, and chemical, electronics and automobile manufacturers, typically discharge one or more pollutants in their discharged waters (called effluents). Some factories discharge their effluents directly into a water body or the waste material is mixed with urban runoff in a combined sewer system. This untreated, polluted water then runs directly into a sewer system. Large farms that raise livestock, such as cows, pigs and chickens, are other sources of point source pollution. These types of farms are known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). If they do not treat their animals' waste materials, these substances can then enter nearby water bodies as raw sewage, radically adding to the level and rate of pollution. (Ocean Service)
2. Mobile sources include cars and trucks, of course, but also lawn mowers, airplanes and anything else that moves and puts pollution into the air. Motor vehicles emit several pollutants that EPA classifies as probable human carcinogens. EPA estimates that mobile (car, truck, bus, tractors and snowmobiles) sources of air toxics account for some cancers attributed to outdoor sources of air toxics. This estimate is not based on actual cancer cases, but on models that predict cancers that could be expected. Some toxic compounds are present in gasoline and are emitted to the airwhen gasoline evaporates or passes through the engine as unburned fuel.Benzene, for example, is a component of gasoline. Cars emit smallquantities of benzene in unburned fuel, or as vapor when gasolineevaporates.A significant amount of automotive benzene comes from the incompletecombustion of compounds in gasoline such as toluene and xylene thatare chemically very similar to benzene. These mobile source pollutants undergo chemical reactions in the atmosphere. (EPA)
3. Biogenic sources are natural sources like plants or trees, which once absorb a dangerous material like nuclear waste for example, can release a toxic emission.Biogenic emissions account for 30 percent of all the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted in urban areas in the eastern half of Texas. Emissions are estimated and taken into account the species of trees present, the density of their foliage, the temperature and solar radiation on the day in question, and the distribution of vegetation throughout the modeling domain. Most plants emit some VOCs, but the largest emitters are oaks, pines, sweet gums, eucalypti, and poplars.Monoterpenes are found in small reservoirs in the leaves or needles of plants, to ward off herbivores. When an insect feeds on the leaf, the monoterpenes are released and can adversely affect the insect’s health. Because the monoterpenes are always present in the leaves, their emission rate depends mostly on the temperature. Higher temperatures will evaporate larger amounts into the atmosphere.There are a few other important organic compounds emitted by plants. Alcohols are often emitted by damaged vegetation; there is some evidence that these alcohols act as an antiseptic. A few recent studies suggest that alkenes are also emitted by some plants. (Texas)
4. Area sources refers to any given area or region. For example this would be like the state of Oregon. This is less of a cause and more of a grouping.The amounts and types of emissions change every year. These changes are caused by changes in the nation's economy, industrial activity, technology improvements, traffic, and other factors. Air pollution regulations and emission controls also have an effect.Area sources are unique to measure because unlike a point source, the effects are hidden and need to be studied by region. Major categories of area sources are stationary source fuel combustion such as residential fuel combustion. Solvent use (e.g., small surface coating operations.) Product storage and transport distribution (e.g., gasoline.) Light industrial/commercial sources or agriculture (e.g., feedlots, crop burning waste management e.g., landfills.) Miscellaneous area sources (e.g., forest fires, wind erosion, unpaved roads) (Texas)
The list to reduce emissions is endless but lets take a look at some of the changes that we can make today and ones that we can actually afford: Make educated food choices: -Eat less meat especially beef. Pound for pound, beef production generates greenhouse gases that contribute more than 13 times as much to global warming as do the gases emitted from producing chicken. For potatoes, the multiplier is 5, so be aware of this before making your choice. - Build a community garden, buy local and buy what is in season. You may be surprised at how many emissions are produced by shipping a watermelon 3,000 miles to your grocery store. If we don’t buy them, they won’t ship them. - Ditch bottled water, bottled water has a huge carbon footprint - When buying your food use reusable bags. (Grocery stores like Winco give you six cents of credit for each bag you bring)
Recycle Your Waste: -Natural composting, or biological decomposition is a great process, which produces a natural source of enriching soil. This practice is a great new innovation for the agricultural world. The practice of compost is a form of recycling kitchen waste along with your yard trimmings. A great way in which this practice of reducing garbage works is complying your waste in a designated spot in the ground.
“Composting organic materials that have been diverted from landfills ultimately avoids the production of methane and leachate formulation in the landfills. Compost has the ability to prevent pollutants in stormwater runoff from reaching surface water resources. Compost has also been shown to prevent erosion and silting on embankments parallel to creeks, lakes, and rivers, and prevents erosion and turf loss on roadsides, hillsides, playing fields, and golf courses.” http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/composting/benefits.htm http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/composting/basic.htm - content
What to Compost – The IN List Animal manure, Cardboard rolls, Clean paper, Coffee grounds and filters, Cotton rags, Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint, Eggshells, Fireplace ashes, Fruits and vegetables, Grass clippings, Hair and fur, Hay and straw, Houseplants, Leaves, Nut shells, Sawdust
The Methods: -Two Bin and Three Bin Systems -Rotating or Tumbling Systems -Sheet or Trench Composting -Commercially Available Bin Systems -Worm Bin Composting ** For more information on each method visit http://vegweb.com/composting/systems.shtml Tips to make your home more efficient: - Paint your roof white; the average building would use fifteen percent less energy with a white roof. - Keep all appliance unplugged when you are not using them. (Energy is flowing constantly when you are not using them. - Do not buy a larger home then you need, huge homes are extremely inefficient. - Add insulation (Adding insulation to prevent leaky ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your home’s energy draw by 20 to 30 percent. If totally redoing your insulation isn’t in your budget, try thermal shades, which block the sun in the summer and retain heat in the winter, or even something as low tech as a draft guard on your outside doors.) - Don’t dump, donate (By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you buy don’t another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill) This is a tax write off as well. - Switch out your light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75% less energy. This might come as a surprise to you but keep your car! -With gas prices seemingly always on the rise, it is tempting to buy a hybrid or an electric vehicle. But if your older-model car is in good condition, you are better off keeping it in good running condition. Even hybrids create a big footprint when they are built, so consider driving that old clunker for a little while longer.
There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint, some affordable and some not so affordable. We usually hear about the pricey options because someone is trying to make a buck. With that being said we can all eat less beef, recycle, change our lightbulbs, and not buy the biggest house on the street. I challenge you to try at least one of our tips and maybe you will even save some money in the process. How can we get others involved?
The EcoPol Project is in the business of influencing its readership to adopt new methods of reducing toxic and harmful emissions. The status quo presents us with frightening information as to the apathy displayed by society in general toward the consequences of emissions. Thus, we seek to understand how we can change the minds of people in order to create a higher level of pressure on political figures capable of implementing change to law regarding harmful emissions. So how do we create true mind change in society? For this answer the EcoPol Project has been studying not only emissions, but also how to change people’s minds based on the text of Howard Gardner.
How we change our minds dramatically, and our behavior as a result, is author Howard Gardner’s thesis in his book “Changing Minds.” In it, he explores the art and science of changing not only our own minds but also the minds of others around us. Asking the reader to question, ‘what does it take to change our own minds?’
Gardner proposes to explain what causes us to change our mind by implementing various tactics that he refers to as levers. He essentially explains that there are several levers that must be pulled or activated to cause people to change their mind at different levels. In fact, the levers actually represent tactics we all might use when confronted with a debate of any kind.
Remember, it’s important to distinguish that we seek a positive mind change and not in any way mind control. We want people to understand the consequence of emissions and the value of reducing them. While the levers themselves are figurative their influence is literal.
The first lever is the rational approach or the “reason” lever. When utilizing this lever it is important to base our reasons for proposed change to be based off a rational approach making the emission reduction proposal at very least, conceivable. This means as social scientists studying emissions we want to make a compelling case for reducing emissions. Without a solid case presented to society they have no reason to pay attention to our claims.
Lever 2 is “research.” We need to know everything about emissions in order to change them. We need to do the required research and planning to present evidence for our findings so that society will be convinced this truly is an issue that needs to be addressed. The EcoPol Project is doing research now and posting those findings in our blog or on the website. However, these first two levers have been offered to society before and we are left at the same spot we are now, with society wondering, “So what does this mean to me?” This is where we the EcoPol Project stands to make a difference.
The third lever is learning how to make our information and solutions resonate with readers or in other words its “relevance.” Our top priority is to make indisputably clear the relevance of our findings to society that they may be equally concerned. We want them to want to do something about the emissions and pollution in their daily life. This is without a doubt the most difficult portion of influencing mind change because without it all other levers are of absolutely no use to any cause. Gardner suggests we use ideas, concepts, stories, theories, and skills to help relate with and create the mind/behavior change in society.
If our emission reduction proposition can be made relevant our next lever is to demonstrate the idea in action via several working models and “representations” all slightly differing to offer society a choice. It is important in civil society that everyone feels that they have some input and control of solving their own problems. This provides for the democratic processes and also a sense of ownership in the community when people are able to analyze a social problem and reach a consensus together.
In addition, once society has made a choice based off of our working models and proposed solutions of emission reduction they should be “rewarded.” People respond to rewards and are more likely to participate and be involved when something important is at stake. This could be something like an environmental tax break for cities or individuals that develop and carry out solutions to solve pollution issues relevant incentive. Additionally, individuals from society who are willing to go along with a plan to lower emissions are going to need the resources necessary to act.
After all of this planning it is time to put the ideas into action. This is where Gardner explains that “real world application” come into play. The implementation of an emissions reduction plan into the real world could take many on many different forms. A solution that might not seem like a big step is simply raising awareness of an issue. The more people know the better off we are at making lasting changes. Another solution could at the local level like deciding to drive less for example. Other changes could be at the state or federal level with the implementation of new laws that would lower our emission output.
The final lever Gardner reminds us of when working to change minds is to be thoughtful and prepared to deal with “resistances.” We should be aware that we are going to be dealing with people who have been set in their ways and may be resistant to change even when they realize it is a change for the better. This is where it is important to communicate, be creative, an also courageous.