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The Paris Accords, Energy and Ocean Trash - Mitzvah Moments


The Paris Accords, Energy and Ocean Trash
Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - January 2016

by Tish Levee

The Paris Accords

Leaders from nearly 200 countries met in Paris in December and hammered out what many see as a defining climate agreement, but which others feel falls far short of what’s needed. See my article elsewhere in The Gazette.

Warmest November on Record

November was so hot globally it’s now over 99.999 percent certain 2015 will be the hottest year on record—driven overwhelmingly by record levels of carbon pollution in the air plus a super El Niño in the Pacific.

According to NASA, November’s global average temperature was 1.05º C, or 1.89º F, above the 20th-century average, the second straight month to average above the 1º threshold. NASA’s records, dating back to 1880, show no comparable rise. This is significant, since the global goal established in Paris is to hold global warming to “well below 2º C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5º C.”

Mixed News for Energy

In the just passed Federal spending bill, lawmakers lifted the four-decade-old ban on crude oil exports in exchange for an extension of expired or expiring renewable energy tax breaks. Both the wind production tax credit and the solar investment tax credit won five-year extensions. Meanwhile analysts say leading renewable-energy technologies will add the equivalent of 6.2 million barrels of oil a day to the global energy mix, exceeding the 5.7 million barrels a day pumped from U.S. shale oil wells since 2010. Solar and wind energy are saving a gigaton of carbon dioxide emissions—LEDs, solar PV, onshore wind, and hybrid and electric vehicles are the front-runners in the emerging low-carbon economy; the market for them is worth more than $600 billion annually.

Bad News for Sonoma Clean Power Customers

 The CPUC just voted 4-1 in favor of doubling the “exit fee” (Power Cost Indifference Adjustment) charged to customers who join SCP or other CCAs, despite hundreds of protesters and petitioners. For the average residence this will increase the bill by $6.61. With roughly 196,000 SCP customers this will give PG&E nearly $1.3 million a month, in perpetuity! This is a blow to all the new CCAs coming online soon. But SCP is still cheaper than PG&E and a lot more renewable!

Lots of Ocean Trash

A lot of that pollution is plastic—8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every single year.

Right now, about 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are floating around the ocean.

Microbeads Are a Real Problem 

While California banned products containing microbeads this fall, they’re still polluting our water. A study from Oregon State estimated that about eight billion microbeads (so small they go right through filters in waste-water facilities) make it into aquatic habitats daily just in the US—that’s 2.9 trillion beads annually, enough that if placed end to end they wrap around the Earth more than seven times. Help by voting with your wallet. Avoid purchasing products with microbeads by companies like Aveeno, Crest, Clean & Clear, and Neutrogena, whose soaps and toothpastes can contain up to 2.8 million plastic beads per 5-ounce bottle.

New Way to Upcycle Ocean Trash 

Adidas is working on a a sneaker woven entirely out of ocean trash. The sample shoe is made from illegal gill nets dredged up from the ocean. ” net that was spanning the bottom of the sea like a wall, and killing pretty much every fish passing by,” says the founder of a new Adidas-supported nonprofit that’s helping the company develop a larger strategy for fighting ocean waste. “They confiscated this net, and we’re bringing it back to life.” See more at

In 2016, a New Technology Will be Placed in the Ocean.

Ocean Cleanup, ”the longest floating structure in world history,” a 1.2-mile-long system, designed to collect and remove plastic from the ocean, will hang out in the ocean near Tsushima, an island between Japan and South Korea. The plan is to use all the plastic junk it collects as an alternate energy source. See more at

What do you know? Find Out Here.

© Tish Levee, 2016