SUNTEX Mendoza

Our Contacts

2909 E Arkansas Ln Suite C,

Arlington, TX 76010

817-841-9632

Category: Global Warming

Read More

5 Quick Ways to Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint (Part 3 of 3)

Thanks for coming back for the final portion of this blog series! In the previous two posts we have discussed a few different ways to lessen your company’s carbon footprint—switching your company fleet to electric vehicles, installing solar panels, repurposing old buildings for your company needs, and looking into banking intentionally. The last, but not least, way you can reduce your ecological impact on the world is to switch over to sustainable packaging. I know some company’s offer services instead of products, and in that case buying from companies that use sustainable packaging whenever possible. Let’s dive in!

5. Use Sustainable Packaging

Cutting out single use packaging is paramount to reducing your carbon footprint in today’s world. From plastic bubble wrap to Styrofoam, single use plastics to cardboard, the materials used in product packaging plays a role in our daily lives and impacts the environment in a negative way. Our culture has become reliant on convenience and cheap and quickly made products, which makes it difficult to lead a zero-waste life. Using ecofriendly packaging in your companies’ operations is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.

Carbon FootprintIn 2018, the EPA reported that containers and packaging make up 28.1%—that’s 82.2 million tons—of total waste generation. Out of the 82 million tons generated, landfills received 30.5 million tons of packaging waste that year and 10 million tons of it was plastic containers and packaging.  The packaging materials that end up in the landfills are lost forever as a resource leading to more environmental waste.

Another report done by the Organisation Economic Cooperation and Development in 2022, estimates that the total amount of global waste will almost triple by 2060, two-thirds of it being made up of short-lived items such a plastic packaging. Aside from that, plastic leakages are expected to double by 2060, furthering concerns about plastic pollution in our soils and marine ecosystem.

We can do our part in helping to reduce the amount of packaging that ends up in landfills or in the oceans by switching to eco-friendly packaging. There are a few things to look for when it comes to choosing packaging that is sustainable. Some things to pay attention to when shopping around for ecofriendly packaging are:

  • Raw or 100% recycled materials
  • Choose paper over plastic

Paper is renewable and biodegradable, which makes it a great place to start.

  • Look for FSC certified paper

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies that any product that has come from a forest has been sourced in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible way.

  • Paper with safe non-toxic dyes

Steer clear of toxic dyes like petroleum-based ink, and dyes that are natural and non-toxic such as soy.

  • Aim for acid-free paper

If you use paper for packaging, look for paper that is acid free; not only does it last longer than acid-based papers but it can also be reused more often.

  • Avoid excess packing materials

Less is more in today’s world, especially when it comes to packaging. If you need to use more materials, try to use materials that can be reused instead of new packaging.

To really go the extra mile, aim for truly compostable synthetic alternatives to packaging, while it is more difficult to find truly biodegradable packaging it is out there. Instead of using stryofoam you can use corn foam; which is biodegradable, water dissolvable, and even edible. It can be used to make biodegradable packing peanuts and is also an excellent alternative to bubble wrap.

If you’re packaging breakables, try using mushroom packaging such as, MycoComposite. It’s made from mushrooms and it’s C2C Certified, flame and water resistant, and also biodegradable. You can also look into packaging that has been recycled packaging that is compostable! Some other forms of ecofriendly packaging are corrugated packaging, glassine packaging, and cellulose packaging; which is a great alternative to plastic packaging because cellulose is biodegradable and compostable!

Some of these options may cost a little extra but look at it as an investment to humanity’s future while creating a loyal customer base. PackHelp found that 30% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that deliver on sustainability claims and 37% prioritize sustainability when making purchasing decisions. Keep that in mind the next time you are packaging your products or purchasing products from other companies.

By switching to sustainable packaging or buying from companies that use sustainable packaging you’re taking a step in the right direction of reducing the number of materials that end up in landfills and our environment. Using packaging that can be reused creates a circular economy around the packaging, which extends its life cycle and usability.

 

I know there are plenty of additional ways to reduce your carbon footprint, these five were ones that I felt to be the most important from a company viewpoint. Some of you may be asking ‘why do I need to reduce my carbon footprint?’ The reality of the situation is that climate change is too extreme to ignore anymore and the links between climate change and greenhouse emissions is too evident.

By lowering your carbon footprint, you can help contribute to the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  When companies start reducing their ecological footprint, consumers will follow suit and start taking steps to reduce theirs. If you are curious to know what your companies or even your own personal carbon footprint looks like, you can find out here. Hopefully these tips have helped to start your journey to living a net-zero life. With our powers combined, we can save the world!

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out to SUNTEX directly if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

 

Read More

5 Ways to Quickly Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint (Part 2 of 3)

Welcome back everyone! On our previous blog post, we discussed the first two ways to quickly reduce your company’s carbon footprint—transitioning your company fleet from fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles and installing solar panels—today we will touch on two more ways that can quickly reduce your carbon footprint.

Like I mentioned in the previous post, getting to net zero will take everyone working together to achieve this goal. Once businesses—from small businesses to large corporations—start exhibiting these behaviors, it will be easier for their customers and competitors to follow suit.

Now, the third way to reduce your footprint is by repurposing existing office spaces. This is one of my favorites and we will dive further into this one in a future blog post.

3. Reuse Existing Office Spaces

 Most people never think about what goes into creating a building from the ground up, but a vast amount of energy goes into a building creation—from extracting and processing raw materials required for construction, to hauling and disposing waste from a job site—also known as “embodied energy.” This embodied energy is projected to make up 49% of the total carbon emissions of global new construction between now and 2050, according to Architecture 2030.

Adaptive reuse instead, focuses on taking a building that’s past its prime and renovating it for new purposes in line with current technological and social needs. If we want to make our cities more sustainable, adaptive reuse is one of the best strategies that we can implement. It also bridges the gap between the old and the new to create more unique and memorable spaces.

NYC – the historic Farley Post Office Building transformation into the new Moynihan Train Hall—a part of the Penn Station redevelopment

By choosing to adaptively reuse buildings, we are actively bypassing the cost of demolition and construction while extending the lifespan of already existing resources. A Deloitte blog post states that “compared with a new construction, adaptive reuse and restoration can be 16 percent cheaper in terms of construction costs and take 19 percent less execution time.”

Climate change has made adaptive reuse a more viable option, now more than ever before. It is also a compelling one in terms of business and finance too. On top of saving costs, there are also federal tax initiatives for creating sustainable and economically valuable alternatives to new construction thanks to the Tax Reform Act of 1976.

In a report on the global status of buildings and construction, The International Energy Agency found that the building and construction sector worldwide emitted 39% of all global carbon dioxide emission in 2019. On top of that, according to ArchDaily, it could still take anywhere from 10 to 80 years to zero out the carbon costs that come from construction even if choosing to build with energy efficient technology.

Carbon emissions are not the only thing that makes construction problematic; waste from a new build is also a massive issue. For example, when a 50,000-square-foot commercial building is torn down, about 4,000 tons of material end up in the landfill. Aside from that, demolishing a building wastes its initial investment, and a building can only be considered truly sustainable if it is in use long enough to justify the resources used for its creation.

Retrofitting existing buildings to meet high-performance standards is the most effective strategy for reducing near- and mid-term carbon emissions, the most important step in limiting climate disruption.”Kermit Baker, American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chief Economist

In 2014, the construction and demolition industry generated 534 million tons of debris, based on Dorma Kaba’s recent research; and a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report shows that building related construction and demolition debris accounted for 26% of all non-industrial waste generated in the United States.

“As more cities each year pledge to cut carbon emissions, adaptive reuse is an essential component of sustainable development. Creative solutions to renew the buildings we already have will make the difference in the fight against climate change.” – Frank Mahan, Design Principal, Adaptive Reuse Practice Leader at SOM, an innovative architectural firm.

It’s not that it doesn’t take energy and resources to restore an existing building — but rather, that it takes far less of both compared to constructing a new building and when we shift our thinking from “new is best,” to “reuse what’s left;” we are actively considering the environmental impacts associated with demolition and building anew. So, let’s put our hard hats on and tackle this together!

4. Bank Intentionally

When thinking of how to reduce your carbon footprint, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not who you bank with; especially when looking at climate solutions and environmental justice. Oddly enough, intentional banking is one of the easiest and most effective ways each of us can quickly create positive impact.

By banking intentionally, consumers can choose a bank that favors investing in renewable energies and socially responsible businesses over businesses that are destructive to the environment, like fossil fuel companies. These banks pledge their commitment to sustainability principles and align themselves with environmentally conscious customers and investors; helping them to fund a low-carbon future.

Banks play a major role in the American economy; each year trillions of dollars flow through them to fund the growth of various industries—whether that industry or company invests in fighting climate change or worsening climate change. Where banks decide to give their loans helps determine the direction of the economy, and to some extent, the future of our societies.Carbon Footprint

In 2020 alone, natural disasters accounted for about $210 billion in damages around the world. The challenges brought about by climate change and the pandemic have led to increased calls for banks to take a greater role in addressing where money is flowing to.

Climate change has been a top agenda for several banks. A growing number of financial institutions have realized that financing fossil fuels, and other projects that harm the environment, is bad for their long-term future. An Ernst & Young report found that in 2020, 52% of banks considered climate change as a key risk to their business within the next five years. Climate change development – such as the wildfires in Australia, winter storms in central Texas, the unprecedented London heatwaves, and the historical flooding in Pakistan – have created a sense of urgency that impact the growth or business and threaten company and client assets.

Banking on Climate ChaosConsider looking into which banks finance fossil fuel companies and instead, banking with one that supports green financing, fights climate change and aligns with your own personal values. By doing this, you are ensuring that your deposits are being put towards building the tomorrow you want to live in.

There are a few groups of banks that have come together to help align customers and investors with banks and financial institutions that are working toward a sustainable future. One of these groups is The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). The GABV is a network of independent banks using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social, and environmental development. You can find a bank that invests in fighting climate change and aligns with your personal values by visiting their website in the link above.

Another group that has come together to help the banking and financial sector is The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). The UNEP FI was created when six banks came together at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit with the same concerns regarding sustainability and the state of the global climate. There are now more than 450 financial institutions that are members of the UN’s largest partnership with the finance industry. In the past year, member banks have given 113 million customers access to financial services and advised over 15,000 companies on their climate strategies.

By choosing to bank with financial institutions and demanding that these institutions uphold environmental standards; you’re not only helping people and the planet, you’re also helping secure the future of financial stability. With their cooperation, banks can help to finance companies, projects, and loans that support a green economy and help reduce our carbon footprint. Their role should not be underestimated when working towards a more sustainable future.

Becoming more environmentally sustainable requires us to redesign our company’s business models and turn towards the adaptive reuse of buildings and learning to bank intentionally to forecast the future. These two ways of reducing our carbon footprint have shown that this decade is critical to the determination of the future of this planet and it’s in our hands to act now and provide a sustainable and responsible framework for other companies to follow.  The last part of this blog series will be posted Monday, so make sure to check back for the final tip on reducing your company’s ecological footprint.

 

 

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out directly to SUNTEX if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

Read More

5 Quick Ways to Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint: Part 1 of 3

Now, more than ever, our world is being impacted by climate related mega disasters, due to extreme climate change. We as a whole, need to act quickly to lessen our carbon footprint to save the planet, otherwise there will be dire consequences.

Over the past two weeks, five areas across the United States alone, have experienced flooding that happens once every thousand years. Areas in Dallas, St. Louis, eastern Kentucky, Mississippi and southeastern Illinois have been inundated with historic levels of rainfall. According to the Washington Post, this amount of rainfall usually has a .1 percent chance of happening in any given year; it has happened in five different areas in less than two weeks!

This type of flooding and other massive natural disasters is not uncommon for people to experience anymore. Natural disasters have been gradually getting worse while becoming more frequent as global temperatures continue to rise, in fact the United States experiences the highest number of natural disasters every year.

Carbon FootprintTo reduce the number of natural disasters and lessen their impacts, we need to balance the carbon equation. Per the Paris Agreement, the United States has pledged to eliminate its emissions and work towards capping the global temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2050 before climate change turns calamitous. If we fail to reach this goal the natural disasters happening around the world will be amplified to biblical proportions.

There’s good news though, we as consumers and businesses can help to reach this goal! It will require radical and rapid changes across the entire American economy, but by working together to reduce our ecological footprint we hold the keys necessary to counteract climate change.

According to Seth Godin, best-selling author of The Carbon Almanac, states that “it’s not too late.”  He believes we can start to solve the problem of reducing our carbon footprint with businesses leading the charge in sustainability and ecological innovation and technologies. With businesses spearheading this revolution, consumers will start to follow suite until it’s a normal idea to support companies that are backing green initiatives.

Building businesses that create more demand for carbon-zero products or services is not something that can be accomplished overnight, but there are ways you and your company can quickly take steps in the direction of reducing your carbon footprint. By supporting sustainable causes and ideas, we can all start building a sustainable and hopeful future.

In today’s blog post, we are going to look at the first two ways you and your company can start reducing your carbon footprint!

1. Buying Electric Vehicles

Our first way to help shrink your ecological footprint is to look into switching fleet vehicles your company currently uses from gas to electric, especially if those vehicles put on a lot of miles in a year.

Transportation is a growing source of global greenhouse emissions that is helping drive climate change. A PBS article on global warming states that, “in 2019, 23% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions came from transportation and contributed to 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.”

Not only can switching to electric vehicles cut emissions by 60% over fossil fuel vehicles, but they can also save an average of 1.5 million grams of carbon dioxide! Since electric vehicles do not have tailpipes, they emit nothing when operating, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, most models can go more than 200 miles on a fully charged battery.

In other great news, EV batteries can now be recycled! The Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched the first lithium-ion battery recycling center, The ReCell Center, in hopes of creating a profitable method to improve recycling rates and reduce the reliance on supplies from foreign countries. Recycling EV batteries reduces the production costs by 10 to 30% along with reducing emissions, waste, and the need for new materials.

Outside of government incentives that lower the price of purchasing electric vehicles, they also have a lower operating cost. The DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center states that “the operation and maintenance costs of EV’s averages about 3 cents per mile and they achieve their best fuel economy during stop-and-go driving conditions.”

While some companies don’t need a fleet of vehicles; the ones that do have fleet vehicles should take consideration into moving the company fleet to electric. There are a wide range of electric vehicle options available from your typical run of the mill electric vehicle to off-road EVs, forklifts, mowers, tractors, school buses, and public transit.

If we work towards transforming how we fuel our transportation needs, electric vehicles could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions anywhere from 80 to 90% of current levels by 2050!

2. Installing Solar Panels

The second way to reduce your carbon footprint is to harness the suns energy by installing solar panels. What’s cool about solar energy is that it’s completely renewable and one of the cleanest sources of energy out there.

The best part about shrinking your carbon footprint with solar energy is the reduction for demand of fossil fuels and less greenhouse gas emissions are produced. By going solar, users can eliminate the same amount of carbon emissions that would result from burning over 5,000 pounds of coal each year.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) also found that widespread adoption of solar energy can significantly reduce nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter emissions.

Solar energy is becoming one of the fastest growing sources of sustainable energy. According to the International Energy Agency, “solar and wind energy account for almost 10% of total electricity generation.” The U.S. is now the third largest market in the world for solar energy. 23.6 gigawatts of solar were installed in the U.S. in 2021. The United States receives so much solar energy that an array of solar panels in the Mojave Desert could generate a year’s worth of our energy needs in a single day.

In fact, solar power will account for almost half of United States’ new electricity generation this year. At the beginning of 2022, The U.S. Energy Information Administration expected solar generating capacity to grow by 21.5 gigawatts, which would surpass last year’s 15.5 gigawatts of solar capacity additions, with many of these additions in Texas (6.1 gigawatts, or 28% of the national total).

Not only is solar energy great for the environment, but it’s beneficial to its users too! Solar energy is the most affordable source of energy in the world and the coast of solar panels has dropped by 80% since 2008. In December 2016, the cost of building and installing new solar electricity generation dropped to $1.65 per watt; it’s renewable counterpart—wind—was $1.66/watt.

Aside from solar energy being extremely affordable, there are also incentives to switch to solar power. Users can receive 30% system costs back from equipment and installation as a federal income tax credit, along with receiving Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) by selling any excess energy produced to utility companies.

In order to reach our goal in 2050 set out by the Paris Agreement, almost 90% of global electricity generation needs to come from renewable sources, with solar PV and wind together accounting for nearly 70%.

 

Now that we’ve covered the first two ways you and your company can decrease your ecological impact, come back Saturday for the second portion of this post! I’ll be detailing three and four in how to quickly reduce your company’s carbon footprint!

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out to SUNTEX directly if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

Read More

Living Sustainably, Since We May Soon Have N0 Choice

Sustainable Living

We’ve discussed how to live sustainably on this blog plenty of times – just check out the following links to see what I mean:

However, we’ve really only mentioned the ‘Why’ to this question a couple of times, so this week we’ll dig a little deeper on why we recommend working and living sustainably, and just what it means to do so.

What is Living “Sustainably”?

To learn more about this movement and where it first began, we consult the help of UNICEF to explain what sustainable development looks like and how we can achieve it. Check out the link, here: https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/guide-sustainable-living/35821.

The most simple definition I can think of is that ‘Living Sustainably’ involves consuming as little energy via fossil fuels as possible, to undergo your normal daily routines (I specifically mention fossil fuels here because if you use a renewable energy source such as wind, solar, or hydro-power, you can still live sustainably even if you consume a lot of energy).

Why Live Sustainably?

Climate change, climate change, climate change! If you haven’t heard this phrase by now, you must be living in a hole, because newsrooms, science labs, classrooms, and the workplace – have all been inundated with this phrase and the insundry implications that accompany it. Take a look at our previous blog posts on the subject to get an idea of what Climate Change is, and why it’s occurring: https://suntexllc.com/?s=climate+change.

Living Sustainably is Cheaper

Though I’ve worked in green energy for a few years now because of my own personal desires to “make the world a better place,” most people choose to ‘Go Green’ because it’s actually cheaper for them financially! How is this possible? Read the following article to see why, however in many times the simple answer is that you’re using less, and choosing a more efficient means of producing energy for consumption when you do – Eco Friendly Home Improvements.

SustainablyLiving Sustainably is Greener

Of course, as I already mentioned, even if you’re a traazillionaire, and your goals do not include saving money, living sustainably is much greener, and therefore healthier for the environment. By using fewer fossil fuels, or using fossil fuels more sustainably, you’re actually reducing your own carbon footprint, thereby mitigating some of the greenhouse gases and other types of pollution in the environment, all on your own!

How can you measure your own carbon footprint? For the answer to that question, we turn to Nature.org to help us out: Calculating Your Carbon Footprint.

Living Sustainably is Cooler

While I don’t always adhere to the latest trends, I do think it’s important to note that one common reason why people may paint the exterior of their homes, or adorn more and more Christmas lights in their display each year is the idea of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Understandably, this thought might just make you cringe a little – after all, we’re all unique individuals living our own lives, right? Of course it can be a bad thing, if it leads to debt or buying things you don’t need – check out the following article to see what I mean: Keeping Up with the Joneses is a Terrible Pursuit.

However this psychological phenomenon is something we are all guilty of to an extent, and while it can have some negative implications, it’s not always a bad thing. The following article explores where this phrase came from, and what it really means: How the Jones Effect Can Help Brands Better Understand Consumers.

Particularly as it pertains to not buying material goods, but living sustainably and minimally, this trend is one that can be helpful for your pocketbook, as well as de-cluttering your space and mind (see Marie Kondo’s method of de-cluttering your home and your life: https://konmari.com/about-the-konmari-method/), so I for one hope this trend remains for a long time, so that hopefully, we won’t be forced to live sustainably by climate change.

Read More

Climate Change: Oh No! What on Literal Earth Are We Going to Do Now?

ClimatePerhaps you’ve heard this phrase – in particular if you’ve been following this blog I would hope you’ve heard the words “climate change” at least a time or two (see previous blogs, here: https://suntexllc.com/?s=climate+change). Maybe you even have an idea about what it is, or what it will mean for your personal future and the future of those around you. However it’s important to note that this isn’t just a buzz word designed to increase your blood pressure, and it’s not something we can just sweep under the rug either. Climate change is here, and it will get worse before it gets better.

There are lots of ways to determine that climate change is happening – from the flooding experienced all over the world (see London in 2015, https://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/news/uk-winter-20152016-floods-one-century%E2%80%99s-most-extreme-and-severe-flood-episodes#:~:text=The%20highest%20ever%20recorded%20rainfall,(cubic%20metres%20per%20second)…New York Subways in 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/21/20976248/mta-floods-test-nyc-subway-climate-change-equipment-flex-gate..Bangladesh, annually, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201201-bangladesh-the-devastating-floods-essential-for-life, and the list continues), to raging wild fires that engulfed much of the U.S. (and Australia in 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-50951043) and have devastated several different species of plants and wildlife in the area still recuperating from the last fire season.

Since we’ve discussed these phenomenon in previous blogs, I won’t spend much time focusing on the actual weather effects that climate change is already bringing us each year – instead, I’d like to focus on something that is seemingly much smaller, with a potentially even greater impact: bumble bees.

A few years ago I met someone during my time in the U.S. Peace Corps that kept repeating the phrase, “save the scorpions.” Naturally, I thought she was nuts.

“Scorpions?! Have you ever met a scorpion in real life?! They’re not exactly nice creatures,” I would say, and I think most people would agree we should avoid them at almost all costs. However, having learned a little more about what she was trying to tell us, I understand now what she meant: that human developments can/will/and is already having a devastating impact to many different species, and whether or not we even know what these species do to benefit the earth, we might just wipe them out before we ever even learn about them. Hence her chant, “save the scorpions.”

While they’re only marginally better company, I would suggest that “Save the bees” would be my variation of this chant. You probably learned in first grade or so, that bees are pollinators, but what does this really mean? To engage the experts, I navigated to pollinator.org for a little help; here’s what I found:

Climate Change

Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.

Pollinating animals travel from plant to plant carrying pollen on their bodies in a vital interaction that allows the transfer of genetic material critical to the reproductive system of most flowering plants – the very plants that

  • bring us countless fruits, vegetables, and nuts,
  • ½ of the world’s oils, fibers and raw materials;
  • prevent soil erosion,
  • and increase carbon sequestration

This nearly invisible ecosystem service is a precious resource that requires attention and support – – and in disturbing evidence found around the globe, is increasingly in jeopardy.” (https://www.pollinator.org/pollinators). The web article outlines exactly what it means to “pollinate,” and why this is so very important to our lifecycle – keep reading on to learn more.

Which brings us to the main point of this article: bumble bees are disappearing, and rapidly. Check out the following USA Today article to learn more about this phenomenon, and which states are feeling the impacts first: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/10/14/american-bumble-bees-disappeared-8-states-face-extinction/8448637002/.

Some of you may be thinking, “but there are plenty in other states, why not simply migrate them over?” and the answer of course is two-fold: 1) bees only live 28 days (https://www.gopests.com/how-long-do-bumblebees-live/#:~:text=The%20Bumblebee’s%20Lifespan&text=Like%20all%20bees%2C%20bumblebees%20don,their%20queen%20can%20last%20longer.)!

So, if you want to help them move to a new home, you’d better be quick about it because they’re not exactly able to wait for the close of escrow before they take to their new hive. 2) the issue is not that they simply don’t enjoy living here, but that they no longer can live in these areas – thanks to rising temperatures (or natural disasters like fires and floods), and in large part thanks to unsustainable fertilizers damaging the environments in which they live.

Maybe it sounds alarmist, but if we run out of bumblebees, we may run out of food, and while I too enjoy the occasional processed food, there won’t be anything at all to process if the bumblebees are all gone. What will you do to make sure the bumblebees stay? Please share your experience in the comments below – you may be our last hope to “Save the Bees!”

Read More

Texas Senate: Following the Bills, Where are we Now?

If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you’ve likely been following along as we attempted to analyze the events of the Texas winter storm in February, and what has been done to mitigate this from happening again in the future. If you need a quick refresher, feel free to check out the following links:

Texas SenateHaving read these posts, as well as a myriad of other news reports from February and the months following, you probably already know two main things: 1) that this winter storm was (hopefully) a once a decade type storm, though the intensity of winter storms, hurricanes, and other weather patterns may continue to intensify as the planet temperature continues to heat up; and 2) that the power outages, and resulting deaths from the winter storms, could have been prevented had the Texas grid been better prepared.

So what’s the government response to this issue?

“Texas natural gas companies will not be “weatherized” for the upcoming winter. Senators say they’re angry over the slow timetable and loopholes that allow the companies to opt out of improvements But those lawmakers OK’d the loophole in the law.” https://www.texastribune.org/2021/09/28/texas-power-grid-loophole/.

Unfortunately, very little is the answer. Weatherizing the grid for winter is expensive, especially when it’s already prepared to handle the extreme heat temperatures we see in the summer time, and thus the major issue Texans face is mitigated since we’re able to keep the air-conditioner on even in the sweltering temps of June, July, and August. However it seems that the price of winterizing that same equipment – which cost over 400 people their lives in February (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jemimamcevoy/2021/05/27/report-finds-hundreds-more-died-in-texas-winter-storm-than-state-says/?sh=7b3a86a352cc) – is just too high of a burden for Texas law makers to bear.

Instead, “some of the legislative moves are targeting renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, which experts and some lawmakers say seems more like a way to protect oil and gas interests than fix problems with the state’s beleaguered power grid” (https://www.texastribune.org/2021/04/19/texas-renewable-energy-oil-gas/).

Senate Bill 3, which was enacted and signed into law in June 2021, reads as follows (as it pertains to natural gas regulation and weatherization, for the full text of the bill, check out the following page, https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=SB3): 

Texas Congressional Bills

“Sec. 81.073. CRITICAL NATURAL GAS FACILITIES AND ENTITIES. (a) The commission shall collaborate with the Public Utility Commission of Texas to adopt rules to establish a process to designate certain natural gas facilities and entities associated with providing natural gas in this state as critical customers or critical gas suppliers during energy emergencies. (b) The rules must:

(1) establish criteria for designating persons who own or operate a facility under the jurisdiction of the commission under Section 81.051(a) or engage in an activity under the jurisdiction of the commission under Section 81.051(a) who must provide critical customer and critical gas supply information, as defined by the commission, to the entities described by Section 38.074(b)(1), Utilities Code;

(2) consider essential operational elements when defining critical customer designations and critical gas supply information for the purposes of Subdivision (1), including natural gas production, processing, and transportation, related produced water handling and disposal facilities, and the delivery of natural gas to generators of electric energy; and

(3) require that only facilities and entities that are prepared to operate during a weather emergency may be designated as a critical customer under this section.”

Senate bill 3 (SB3) also states:

Texas Senate Chambers“(e) The commission may submit additional [subsequent] weather emergency preparedness reports if the commission finds that significant changes to weatherization techniques have occurred or are necessary to protect consumers or vital services, or if there have been changes to statutes or rules relating to weatherization requirements. A report under this subsection must be submitted not later than:

(1) March 1 for a summer weather emergency preparedness report; and

(2) September 1 for a winter weather emergency preparedness report.”

Full text for SB3 here: https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=SB3

Alas, natural gas and retail energy providers must provide reports on weatherization and energy generation, however there is still no mandate to actually enact said practices to protect the people of Texas. That decision will still be left to appointed individuals to oversee said reports and decide the appropriate course, much like they did in February – hopefully in the future, these appointed people will make a different decision about what’s needed to properly weatherize the grid ahead of any winter storms.

Hopefully you’re in an area deemed “critical” so that you may turn on your heat if temperatures should dip below freezing and remain there for days at a time.

Hopefully, we will not see massive outages and resulting deaths.

Hopefully, someone will do something this time, before it’s too late to do anything at all.

Read More

Climate Change & the Powerful Role Glaciers play in Cooling our Planet

Glacier National Park

Jackson Glacier, Glacier National Park

I’ve heard before that glaciers are essential in our planet’s cooling cycle, however to be honest I wasn’t sure exactly why or how it worked. Thankfully, there is plenty of information online to help out, and the scientists over at USGS.gov seem up to the task. Check out their information on glaciers and the “hydrological” cycle, here: https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/glaciers-and-icecaps?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.

This article helps to answer questions such as:

Glacier National Park

Jackson Glacier over time, Glacier National Park

What is a glacier?

“In a way, glaciers are just frozen rivers of ice flowing downhill. Glaciers begin life as snowflakes. When the snowfall in an area far exceeds the melting that occurs during summer, glaciers start to form. The weight of the accumulated snow compresses the fallen snow into ice.”

How do Glaciers impact global sea levels?

“Glaciers store about 69% of the world’s freshwater, and if all land ice melted the seas would rise about 230 feet¹ (70 meters)(NSIDC).”

And perhaps most importantly: How do glaciers impact the earth with regard to climate change?

Glacier Facts

For that answer, we navigate to another link within the ‘Related Science’ tab on the same site, and find that “Mountain glaciers are excellent monitors of climate change; the worldwide shrinkage of mountain glaciers is thought to be caused by a combination of a temperature increase since the Little Ice Age, which ended in the latter half of the 19th century, and increased greenhouse-gas emissions” (https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/ice-snow-and-glaciers-and-water-cycle?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects).

As to the how, the same article from usgs.gov had this to say about it, “Just because water in an ice cap or glacier is not moving does not mean that it does not have a direct effect on other aspects of the water cycle and the weather. Ice is very white, and since white reflects sunlight (and thus, heat), large ice fields can determine weather patterns. Air temperatures can be higher a mile above ice caps than at the surface, and wind patterns, which affect weather systems, can be dramatic around ice-covered landscapes” (https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/ice-snow-and-glaciers-and-water-cycle?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects).

Please do give this link a quick read, since it’s an excellent source of information and even contains a reference to the Grinnell Glacier inside of Glacier National Park. See image above, or click on the direct link to read more about how Glaciers impact Climate Change.

The Absolute Beauty of Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

I honestly thought I would have to travel to Alaska to ever see a glacier, however I now know that’s not quite true. Even while the world seems to have turned upside-down, and things have seemed pretty dire during this pandemic “season” – which has lasted over two years now, even as we head into another fall – I can’t help but feel grateful for the blessings in my life, that I’m reminded of every time I step out into nature.

I am grateful to be able to take the last few weeks of August off from work to do some site seeing; I’m grateful that whether it be a dining room table or a campfire, we’re able to fill it with food to eat; and I’m grateful that in my lifetime, I was able to go to Glacier National Park to see the beautiful sites – as well as the main attraction, Glaciers.

Glacier National Park

The weather in Montana had already turned colder than the day we arrived, however we were also climbing in elevation again, so we had to stop by the local outdoor-outfitters shop and pick up some snow gear to make sure we made it through the night. I guess in hindsight, not realizing that a park with Glaciers year-round would be cold, was in fact, pretty dumb! Alas, we survived to tell the tale, and warn all of you camping and glamping advocates to layer up when visiting Glacier National Park (https://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm)!

Camping Glacier National Park

Camping with the Family in Glacier National Park

So when we finally started setting up camp – putting down the tarp & tent in the driest location, then setting it up and adding the rain-protector over it; building up our “to-go” kitchen while being mindful of bears; and adding our warmest bedding within the tent – we were just happy it was no longer raining. Since we were pretty cold and tired from all of the travel and camp tear down, we heated up some pre-made tortilla soup (don’t tell my mother I did not make it from scratch), and bundled up as we watched the sun go down over the edge of the mountains.

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

“Surely we’ll see a bear here!” I thought, “…just hopefully not too close”. From time to time all week I would joke that I was going to leave out a little honey to see if they came – to both my husband and my in-laws fear. Alas, I do not want to end up in the news so of course I did not follow through with this plan, however given my strong desire to see wildlife I was definitely on the lookout all week. We stayed in the Apgar Campground near McDonald lake – which certainly did not disappoint. I mean, look at these pictures (see photos on the right and below post)!

Glacier National Park

Apgar Campground, Glacier National Park

The hikes were incredible as well – trekking through the man-made paths through dense pine trees that smelled fresh and hopeful – and trying to keep Earl in check so he didn’t chase any wildlife to his demise. Though we went in August the air was frigid cold most of the time we were there, however it would warm up just enough mid-day to sweat a little so you felt like you had earned your shower each (or every other) night.

On the day we decided to drive across the park to see the whole thing (an hour-long drive into a cloud forest, on top of the mountain range), we finally saw our first Glacier! While driving the “Going-to-the-Sun Road”, through the Rocky Mountain mountains, there is a trail you can take to see one of the closest Glaciers to the road, named Jackson Glacier.

Admittedly, It was somewhat difficult to decipher it from the mountains around it, however it had a much smoother top and looked like it was covered in dense snow, in the middle of August (see photo below)! The sad truth is that this Glacier, among many others in North America (and all over the world), is shrinking – just check out the excerpt below from the hike to see a little bit about the history of this Glacier.

Glacier National Park

Jackson Glacier, Glacier National Park

There’s a lot more to unpack within that statement, so please check out tomorrow’s blog post (https://suntexllc.com/climate-change-the-powerful-role-glaciers-play-in-cooling-our-planet/) to learn more about Glaciers and the role they play in Climate Change.

Read More

On the Road Again…Next Stop, Climate Change

Utah

Now, I’ve only been to Utah a handful of times – once when I was moving to Seattle in my twenties, and this time during our road trip, when going back to visit family – but I have to say, the views are honestly unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen. The red-rocky oasis with mountains, steep plateaus, desert flora and fauna is truly breathtaking, and I would recommend a trip to Utah at least once in your lifetime to truly expand your imagination.

We stopped a few times along the road, even though we were short on time, because we just couldn’t wait to take in the views any longer. Check out what I mean in the photos featured below – Benny and Earl of course scared us to death with their fearless trips to the edge of the mountains, but thankfully we wall survived, and got a nice lunch in too. Utah

We were tempted to stop in Moab on the way to Salt Lake City, and check out the infamous Arches National Park (https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm), but tragically, we decided to visit another day when the sky wasn’t filled with smoke from the wildfires in the West.

While I have not so far, nor will I focus much time on the impacts of climate change that changed this journey today from the one we took just a few years ago – traversing the same path – it would be imprudent not to spend some time discussing it here.

Utah

In each state we saw after leaving New Mexico (in order: Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and then back to Colorado), there was at least some part of our journey that was shrouded by smoke-filled skies. Yes, America, we have a “smoke” season now, and it occurs in the west from June-August. This is certainly not to say that this problem was uniquely curated by the states they occur in, however it is happening with more frequency and devastation each year (https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-wildfires).

It’s fair to also note here that we also saw evidence of wildfires that were deemed ‘good’ and were a naturally reoccurring phenomenon of Yellowstone National Park, helping to re-grow the forest and diversify plant life each year (check out more about this process here: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/fire.htm). However given the statistics on naturally occurring vs man-made fires, I think it’s a fair assumption that the smoke we saw was from near-by fires in California and Montana. A quote I found particularly interesting was this one, from the National Geographic website:

Climate Change

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/wildfires

UtahThe reason I mention this here, was that we agreed we should probably come back to visit Moab (I mean seriously, check it out: https://www.discovermoab.com/) on another National Parks tour in the future – perhaps in June – when we can visit our friends in California and hit up little-known areas like Yosemite National Park (https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm), Joshua Tree National Park (https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm), or Tahoe National Forest (https://www.fs.usda.gov/tahoe). Of course, the much larger and scarier implication is that we also need to do everything we can to tackle the major problem that is climate change, which is undeniably hitting our shores. Climate change, more than any other factor, is my main drive in learning about solar, however I am in strong support of any type of energy-saving and/or greenhouse-gas-emission-reducing technique used! This doesn’t imply perfection, simply a reduction in the amount or type of energy we consume, and while that may be a scary concept to some, the really clever and creative among us have already started to develop smarter ways to thrive. All we have to do, is install it.

Read More

Nature vs. Nurture: Earth’s Greatest Hero

We’ve focused a lot on the past two weeks on historical energy heroes – from inventors, to activists, to authors, and political figures but in reality there is one major energy component that is constantly working on maintaining homeostasis for our planet, and that is the planet itself! The science behind how our earth is constantly regulating it’s own temperature, or removing CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, or how decomposition brings nutrients back to earth so that new plants can grow is nothing short of remarkable.

You’ve likely heard that trees produce oxygen, but how does it work? An article from National Geographic describes it as follows: “Trees—all plants, in fact—use the energy of sunlight, and through the process of photosynthesis they take carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and water from the ground. In the process of converting it into wood they release oxygen into the air. In addition to the CO2 that trees capture, they also help soil capture significant amounts of carbon” (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/how-to-erase-100-years-carbon-emissions-plant-trees#:~:text=Carbon%2Deating%20trees,release%20oxygen%20into%20the%20air). There is a lot to be gained from even planting just one tree in your own back yard, and as it grows and grows it will continue to produce oxygen, contributing to the planet’s supply.

Alternatively, you may have heard the saying that the amazon rainforest produces 20% of the worlds oxygen, however this is a myth! While photosynthesis in plants does consume CO2 and produce oxygen as a byproduct, once the tree dies and decomposes, the process releases CO2 back into the air. According to a Newsweek article published in 2019, James Randerson from the University of California, Irvine, explains the key problems in deforestation as follows: “‘Deforestation and fire-driven forest degradation affect the carbon cycle in two ways. First, there is a direct release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the conversion process. Second, the loss of forest reduces the ability of the forest as a whole to absorb carbon. More forest fires in the Amazon will accelerate the buildup of greenhouse gases and we will have higher levels of global warming’” (https://www.newsweek.com/how-much-oxygen-amazon-rain-forest-1456274). While both points in his statement are alarming, the second portion is the key – forests, and other plants/bushes/etc, have a unique ability to absorb large amounts of carbon, and in a healthy, growing plant, it will continue to do so over the lifespan of the plant. So, if we burned down all of the trees in the world, we would not lose as much oxygen, as we would gain carbon since it’s no longer being eliminated by photosynthesis.

I won’t even begin to pretend that I understand Earth’s wind cycles and ocean currents, however I’ve come across some very interesting articles on natural planet heating and cooling while trying to learn more about these phenomenon – check them out below!

From volcano ash/sulfur entering the stratosphere and cooling the planet, to El Niño producing rain in the northern hemisphere, there are forces at work in helping to keep the planet’s temperature somewhat consistent. The problem is that these forces are almost negligible in the face of burning fossil fuels, hence the need to offset your carbon footprint as much as possible!

Translate »