How Amazon Is Polluting The Planet

Amazon Is Taking Over And Killing The Planet

Two-day shipping may be doing a lot more bad than good.

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Over 100 million people have Amazon Prime memberships, meaning 62% of the U.S. population has a membership. This number isn't that shocking when you think of all of the perks that come with having a membership. People are drawn to the convenience of free two-day shipping, that is even faster in some cities, the free books, movies and music, and the discounts at stores like Whole Foods.

It has become difficult to go a day without using or being exposed to something that is owned by Amazon. Even if you're not browsing the Amazon website, if you go to Whole Foods, use Audible or Twitch or even Goodreads, you are using an Amazon company.

This can be shocking and it makes it seem like Amazon is taking over the country, and it actually is trying to do that. According to Vox, Amazon is pushing to become the source of consumer needs for the U.S. government. This means that Amazon will be the company that provides the government with all of their needs: paper products, pens, office supplies, books, and pretty much anything else that the government may need.

So, what does this mean for us? This means a lot. If the U.S. government, along with local and state governments, turn to depend on Amazon for its consumer needs, it could mean the end for a lot of local businesses who depend on big accounts like a local government.

Driving out local businesses can mean more harm will be done to the community and the environment. If someone was living in a town that relies on small businesses that are then run out of town due to a lack of customers, then people are being forced to rely on the convenience of online marketplaces to do their shopping.

The number one online marketplace in the U.S. as of right now is Amazon, who, as of 2015, had a clean energy index of only 23%, compared to Apple's 100% and Yahoo's 73%. Although these numbers are old and only reflect the numbers of their data centers and not their overall carbon footprint, it doesn't look much better today, looking at the whole picture. Amazon Prime's free two-day or less shipping is a major contributor to the company's carbon footprint. Since free shipping is offered on pretty much anything someone could need off of Amazon, people are no longer waiting to fill their cart to reach a quota to get free shipping.

What this leads to is people buying one or two small things that they want and getting it shipped to their house. However, in those two days, some people have already placed another order of one or two little things. That's how we run into the situation where you get that pack of pens you ordered in a box that could fit 40 packs of pens. This is more cardboard and plastic packaging that ends up in landfills and adds to your carbon footprint.

Two-day shipping is also counterintuitive to the methodology of online shopping. Originally, online shopping was marketed as a great way to reduce carbon emissions, and it was. By being able to pack a truck full of goods to then be delivered in a planned route to a number of houses, companies were able to emit less carbon than if each person were to go to the store to get what they needed. However, with two-day shipping, trucks are being sent out half-full and the routes are more sporadic and deliveries are often being made to the same neighborhood, or even the same house, multiple times a week.

People are also using online shopping in a way that was not the original intention. Online shopping was meant to be used instead of going out and doing the shopping yourself. People have started using this along with regular shopping, meaning not only is carbon being emitted from the delivery trucks that are being used to deliver their items that were purchased online, but carbon is also be emitted by their cars when they go out to do more shopping.

In some cases and in some places it may not be possible to avoid using Amazon, but there is a lot we can do to help reduce the carbon footprint that we help amazon produce. First of which, is to fill your cart. Instead of only buying one or two things, buy everything that you may need. This might mean waiting a couple of days or even a week before ordering, but it also means that you are going to get a full package that was probably in a full truck.

You can also avoid ordering something online if you can buy it at a store that you will go to soon. By keeping in mind how we use online shipping services and the number of carbon emissions they produce, we can help to eliminate our overall carbon footprint.

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

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Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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The End Of The World As We Know It Might Be Closer Than We Think

Well, if we continue to put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at our current rate, scientists predict we are currently on track to exceed 1.5C of warming between 2030 and 2052, and by 3C by the end of the century.

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Scientists in the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii have just made a very shocking discovery. It is an organization that is known for releasing daily CO2 rates in the atmosphere, made up of a group from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On may 12th they tweeted out what the CO2 rates in the atmosphere are, and it shocked the environmental community. The .measure of CO2 in the atmosphere was found to currently be over 415 parts per million (ppm).

To put this into perspective, levels haven't been this high in the past 800,000 years... Why is this so startling? There is no end in sight.

The levels continue to rapidly rise as humans continue to advance and adapt. In March 1958 the same observatory in Hawaii recorded levels of 313ppm; a number significantly lower. Why is all of this so bad you may ask? An increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere has a direct correlation with increased atmospheric temperatures. Our current CO2 levels are getting close to what they were during the mid-Pliocene epoch nearly two million years ago.

During this time the atmosphere was nearly 2-3 degrees Celsius hotter than normal, which had devastating effects on the planet. If our atmosphere were to even raise just 2 degrees Celcius life as we know it would change forever. The arctic will and its ice will melt causing devastating floods to thousands of cities, deadly heat waves and fires will become more frequent, and our livestock and animals would suffer a serious blow due to loss of land and resources. As you can see, just two degrees Celsius can cause a near doomsday-like scenario.

So... will it happen? Well, if we continue to put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at our current rate, scientists predict we are currently on track to exceed 1.5C of warming between 2030 and 2052, and by 3C by the end of the century. This sounds terrifying, however, we as humans have the power to make a change. If the world powers join together and recognize this issue as a potentially catastrophic event, things will change. Not only that, everyone must do a better job of trying to reduce their daily CO2 emissions. It is important that we realize how serious of an issue this potentially is before we can do anything. Not just us here at Rutgers. But for us as a planet.

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