Friday, May 25, 2018

Landmark lawsuit claims Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller, plus Glyphosate fate

Landmark lawsuit claims Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller for decades | Business | The Guardian:

There is lots of mounting evidence against Roundup, and/or the use of genetically modified crops. The research seems to be evenly split between the research paid for by Monsanto ( directly or indirectly ) and the more independent research that points to issues.

The evidence is pretty clear, however, of the negative impact of prolonged glyphosate use on the soil.

Want to know more about Glyphosate on the soil, go to the Soil Association  (www.soilassociation.org). They summarized available research related to the impact of glyphosate on soil health as of mid 2016. They found mixed results but strong evidence to support serious concerns about glyphosate and its impact on these specific areas of soil health:
1) leaching into the water, especially with prolonged glyphosate exposure
2) impact on soil micro-organisms, especially when regular use of herbicide(s)
3) impact on fungi (that live near plant roots that provide nutrients as well as protect against drought and disease
4) severity and occurrence of crop diseases
5) impact on earthworms.

For example, two studies found no impact of glyphosate on earthworms, 4 studies did (related to reproduction, movement or activity of different species of earthworms).

Although the World Health Organization has a report that suggests that glyphosate can "probably" cause cancer, other international organizations have not gone so far. See the article in Wikipedia on glyphosate.

Note that glyphosate was first patented in 1950 as a chelator. "Stauffer Chemical patented the agent as a chemical chelator in 1964 as it binds and removes minerals such as calciummagnesiummanganesecopper, and zinc." (View patent here.)

It wasn't until 1970s that Monsanto came out with its patented herbicide under the brand name RoundUp.

Note that a chelator can be used to deliver certain minerals as a fertilizer to the soil in ways that would not otherwise be readily absorbable to plants. But in the case of glyphosate, it ties up critical minerals (calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc), depriving the plant (weed) to the point of killing it.

Glyphosate is a registered pesticide (EPA) since 1970s. The most recent draft of the risk assessment by the EPA is here. The draft is open for discussion, so those people/organizations who think that glyphosate is more of a health (and nutrition) risk than Monsanto would want us to believe have an  opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

RoundUp is applied to the entire field, both the genetically modified crop (corn or soy) and the weeds within. The weeds die, the crop does not. But you have to wonder about the health and nutritional value of the crop?

It is unlikely that Monsanto has been fully truthful and completely forward on the health impacts of phosphate. It seems even more unlikely that Monsanto has been totally forthright on the nutritional values of organics vs. industrial farming with GMO crops that are heavily doused with glyphosate.

If Monsanto has been untruthful, these court cases could go against the company. If the company has been covering up damning evidence, it could become really, really ugly for the company.

No matter what happens, the merger of Monsanto with Bayer is eminent. (Bayer's $66B buyout offer is from September of 2016, but still facing regulator approval.) Monsanto has enough negative image issues, that the name should be discontinues within a year or so. It will be interesting to see how much liability from RoundUp, Bayer will bear!???

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

California Becomes First State to Mandate Solar on New Homes - Bloomberg

California Becomes First State to Mandate Solar on New Homes - Bloomberg:

California is 1/3 of the US economy and probably 1/3 of the US housing market. So, when California voted today to have mandatory solar on most new construction houses, this blows the top off of the non-solar rooftop.

Headlines read that the CA house will now cost about an additional $10,000 to build with the energy efficiency and solar roof mandates. This Bloomberg article says that the savings will be about twice the increase in building costs.

True, it costs more to build, but the operating costs are dramatically less.

This is related to new houses, so the decision is easier than for an existing house.

However, that decision should be really simple as well for a house with good sun exposure. There are tax credits and ways to finance that will allow the homeowner to pay for the solar system out of the savings in power, until the whole solar system is paid off in 15-20 years and then it is a perpetuity of savings!...

So, a $40,000 system in Florida is $28,000 after a 30% federal tax credit. The payment on the loan would be equal to, or less than the payments for electricity, on average. And, after you pay off the system in, say, 15 years, you have about $250 worth of net savings per month for a long, long time. That's $3,000 per year in year 15; as a perpetuity, at 5% interest, the net present value is about $29,000 positive.

Wait a minute. That is more, net present value-wise, then the entire out-of-pocket cost of the system if you had paid cash up front (less the tax credit). But you may not have paid any cash up front for it and paid all loan/lease payments from the savings on the electric bill!

So, if the same math applies for a $300,000 home in California (cause everything's far more expensive in California), which is now increased to $310,000. The additionally $10k can be separately financed; probably, with terms of nothing down and loan payments that are less than the electric bill. That is, from day one, the cash flows from operations are as good or better than paying full electric bills.

Once you pay off the PV loan, you now have free electricity, for a long time.

Plus, it is good for the environment and reduces CO2 emissions, and significantly reduces the reliance on centralized energy production form your favorite power utility.

The net present value of the cash flows may be $10-$20,000 positive.

A couple important factors: Power companies have traditionally increased costs by more than the level of inflation (inflation at about 2% and rising). Inflation and interest rates should rise significantly with full employment. PV technology reduces very slightly over time (0.5% per year).

The private PV power system protects against the rising costs of power.
....
So, the headlines might more accurately read:

New CA Solar Mandate will increase home costs by about $10,000 but offset by about twice from the reduced of operating costs. 

Another win, win, win of sustainability.

This should not be a hard decision to make, in any sunny state. The mandate should not be necessary. Consumers should be making this decision as a smart decision, not just a green decision.
Being Green, and making Green too.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Time to DrawDown and Look at All the Sky, not just Half


In the US, we often characterize women hitting the Glass Ceiling where men are in the highest positions of companies – executives and board rooms. Interestingly, men don’t see much of a glass ceiling, maybe because they are usually upstairs and not looking down. Old white men may be complicit and complacent in women knocking at the other side of the glass, but world-wide the imperative to give women respect and opportunity is critical, with profound implications for the world population and sustainable economic development. It’s a human and a humanity issue for everyone everywhere.
Let’s talk about Drawdown and Half the Sky (Wikipedia contributors, 2018). Both are bestselling books and global initiatives.
Everyone should be familiar with each of these.
Half the Sky is a bestselling book by Kristof and WuDunn (2009), a movie, and an activist movement. See Half the Sky movement: http://www.halftheskymovement.org/
Women are not allowed to do many things in many countries. The limitations on women in many cases mean that only half of the human resources in a country/area are utilized. It's a lot like seeing only half of the sky!
Women are often not encouraged to go to school. In many cultures girls are expected to drop out of school very early, say age 11 to 13, so they can get married and/or work. (Or worse, funneled into sex slavery.) Encouraging women to stay in school longer solve many problems simultaneously. At an older age, with education, they are better able to do family planning and more productive work. This is key to population control. Educating women is key to reaching a global population of 9B or less, instead of 11B or more.
In terms of economic development, a better use of women resources is a critical asset to the work economy. In fact, women are absolutely critical to sustainability efforts: lower population, higher GDP, higher per capita GDP, and reduced environmental impacts on the planet.
There's an effort call DrawDown (www.DrawDown.org) that looks for the best initiatives, using the current technology that will make the biggest difference in CO2 emissions and global warming. Groups use the best, peer-reviewed, information available to analyze each initiative. Initiatives are evaluated on the emissions savings as well as the actual cost saving on a world-wide bases. When taken together, two women's initiatives, ranked #6 and #7, would move up to #1 position. The two categories are: educating women and family planning.
Note that the three women/girl initiatives are ranked 6, 7 and 62; however, combined, they represent arguably the best single initative to address in terms of impact on global warming reduction. And, oh, by the way, they will contribute massively to world GDP and assist dramatically with cost savings compared to business as usual.
The book Drawdown and the web site Drawdown.org are edited by Paul Hawken (2017).
The first table shows the summary by sector the top 80 Drawdown initiatives. These initiatives are all things that we should do, no matter how aggressively you think our action toward Global Warming might be. It would be simply irresponsible not to address these issues. Note that an initiative related to utilities is ranked 77 but has 3 parts; therefore, there the top 80 lists is actually 82 items (see the Top 80 list below).
We need to be more proactively regarding women and girl’s rights; or, we could continue to see only half the sky.
(Including Net Costs to Implement and Projected Savings)
Summary by Sectors of the top 80 Initiatives
Sector
Initatives
CO2e GT Reduction
Net Costs (US$B)
Savings (US$B)
Buildings and Cities
              15
                                   55
                        4,927
                 17,906
Electricity Generation
              20
                                 246
                        4,896
                 21,447
Food
              17
                                 322
                           777
                 10,017
Land Use
                9
                                 150
                           131
                   1,199
Materials
                7
                                 112
                        1,125
                   1,040
Transport
              11
                                   46
                     17,753
                 22,666
Women and Girls
                3
                                 121
                               -  
                         88
TOTAL
              82
                             1,051
                     29,609
                 74,362
Source: Paul Hawken (Ed.), 2017, retrieved from www.DrawDown.org.
* Note. Energy Storage and Grid are ranked 77, but represent 3 options, so 82 entries are in this list.
See the top 80 table below.
References
Kristof, N., & WuDunn, S. (2009). Half the sky: Turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.
Hawken, P. (2017). Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan every proposed to reverse global warming. (P. Hawken, Ed.). New York, NY: Penguin Books.
Wikipedia contributors. (2018, April 9). Half the Sky. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:55, April 10, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Half_the_Sky&oldid=835610476
(Including Net Costs to Implement and Projected Savings)
Total CO2e (GT)
 Atmospheric
Net Costs
Savings
Rank
Solution
Sector
 reduction
US $B
US $B
1
Refrigerant Management
Materials
89.74
N/A
($902.77)
2
Wind Turbines (Onshore)
Electricity Generation
84.6
$1,225.37
$7,425.00
3
Reduced Food Waste
Food
70.53
N/A
N/A
4
Plant-Rich Diet
Food
66.11
N/A
N/A
5
Tropical Forests
Land Use
61.23
N/A
N/A
6
Educating Girls
Women and Girls
59.6
N/A
N/A
7
Family Planning
Women and Girls
59.6
N/A
N/A
8
Solar Farms
Electricity Generation
36.9
($80.60)
$5,023.84
9
Silvopasture
Food
31.19
$41.59
$699.37
10
Rooftop Solar
Electricity Generation
24.6
$453.14
$3,457.63
11
Regenerative Agriculture
Food
23.15
$57.22
$1,928.10
12
Temperate Forests
Land Use
22.61
N/A
N/A
13
Peatlands
Land Use
21.57
N/A
N/A
14
Tropical Staple Trees
Food
20.19
$120.07
$626.97
15
Afforestation
Land Use
18.06
$29.44
$392.33
16
Conservation Agriculture
Food
17.35
$37.53
$2,119.07
17
Tree Intercropping
Food
17.2
$146.99
$22.10
18
Geothermal
Electricity Generation
16.6
($155.48)
$1,024.34
19
Managed Grazing
Food
16.34
$50.48
$735.27
20
Nuclear
Electricity Generation
16.09
$0.88
$1,713.40
21
Clean Cookstoves
Food
15.81
$72.16
$166.28
22
Wind Turbines (Offshore)
Electricity Generation
14.1
$545.30
$762.50
23
Farmland Restoration
Food
14.08
$72.24
$1,342.47
24
Improved Rice Cultivation
Food
11.34
N/A
$519.06
25
Concentrated Solar
Electricity Generation
10.9
$1,319.70
$413.85
26
Electric Vehicles
Transport
10.8
$14,148.00
$9,726.40
27
District Heating
Buildings and Cities
9.38
$457.10
$3,543.50
28
Multistrata Agroforestry
Food
9.28
$26.76
$709.75
29
Wave and Tidal
Electricity Generation
9.2
$411.84
($1,004.70)
30
Methane Digesters (Large)
Electricity Generation
8.4
$201.41
$148.83
31
Insulation
Buildings and Cities
8.27
$3,655.92
$2,513.33
32
Ships
Transport
7.87
$915.93
$424.38
33
LED Lighting (Household)
Buildings and Cities
7.81
$323.52
$1,729.54
34
Biomass
Electricity Generation
7.5
$402.31
$519.35
35
Bamboo
Land Use
7.22
$23.79
$264.80
36
Alternative Cement
Materials
6.69
($273.90)
N/A
37
Mass Transit
Transport
6.57
N/A
$2,379.73
38
Forest Protection
Land Use
6.2
N/A
N/A
39
Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management
Land Use
6.19
N/A
N/A
40
Trucks
Transport
6.18
$543.54
$2,781.63
41
Solar Water
Electricity Generation
6.08
$2.99
$773.65
42
Heat Pumps
Buildings and Cities
5.2
$118.71
$1,546.66
43
Airplanes
Transport
5.05
$662.42
$3,187.80
44
LED Lighting (Commercial)
Buildings and Cities
5.04
($205.05)
$1,089.63
45
Building Automation
Buildings and Cities
4.62
$68.12
$880.55
46
Water Saving - Home
Materials
4.61
$72.44
$1,800.12
47
Bioplastic
Materials
4.3
$19.15
N/A
48
In-Stream Hydro
Electricity Generation
4
$202.53
$568.36
49
Cars
Transport
4
($598.69)
$1,761.72
50
Cogeneration
Electricity Generation
3.97
$279.25
$566.93
51
Perennial Biomass
Land Use
3.33
$77.94
$541.89
52
Coastal Wetlands
Land Use
3.19
N/A
N/A
53
System of Rice Intensification
Food
3.13
N/A
$677.83
54
Walkable Cities
Buildings and Cities
2.92
N/A
$3,278.24
55
Household Recycling
Materials
2.77
$366.92
$71.13
56
Industrial Recycling
Materials
2.77
$366.92
$71.13
57
Smart Thermostats
Buildings and Cities
2.62
$74.16
$640.10
58
Landfill Methane
Buildings and Cities
2.5
($1.82)
$67.57
59
Bike Infrastructure
Buildings and Cities
2.31
($2,026.97)
$400.47
60
Composting
Food
2.28
($63.72)
($60.82)
61
Smart Glass
Buildings and Cities
2.19
$932.30
$325.10
62
Women Smallholders
Women and Girls
2.06
N/A
$87.60
63
Telepresence
Transport
1.99
$127.72
$1,310.59
64
Methane Digesters (Small)
Electricity Generation
1.9
$15.50
$13.90
65
Nutrient Management
Food
1.81
N/A
$102.32
66
High-speed Rail
Transport
1.52
$1,038.42
$368.10
67
Farmland Irrigation
Food
1.33
$216.16
$429.67
68
Waste-to-Energy
Electricity Generation
1.1
$36.00
$19.82
69
Electric Bikes
Transport
0.96
$106.75
$226.07
70
Recycled Paper
Materials
0.9
$573.48
N/A
71
Water Distribution
Buildings and Cities
0.87
$137.37
$903.11
72
Biochar
Food
0.81
N/A
N/A
73
Green Roofs
Buildings and Cities
0.77
$1,393.29
$988.46
74
Trains
Transport
0.52
$808.64
$313.86
75
Ridesharing
Transport
0.32
N/A
$185.56
76
Micro Wind
Electricity Generation
0.2
$36.12
$19.90
77
Energy Storage (Distributed)*
Electricity Generation
N/A
N/A
N/A
77
Energy Storage (Utilities)*
Electricity Generation
N/A
N/A
N/A
77
Grid Flexibility*
Electricity Generation
N/A
N/A
N/A
78
Microgrids
Electricity Generation
N/A
N/A
N/A
79
Net Zero Buildings
Buildings and Cities
N/A
N/A
N/A
80
Retrofitting
Buildings and Cities
N/A
N/A
N/A
Sum of top initiatives
              1,050.99
    29,609.30
    74,362.37
Source: Paul Hawken (Ed.), 2017, retrieved from www.DrawDown.org.
* Note. Energy Storage and Grid are ranked 77, but represent 3 options, so 82 entries are in this list.