Nats double down on commitment to coal, Joyce rants against wind and solar | RenewEconomy

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If there were any questions over the National Party’s commitment to the coal sector after the loss of Matt Canavan from the resources portfolio, they were quickly answered by new deputy leader David Littleproud who reasserted his party’s commitment to a new coal generator in Queensland on his first day in the job.

In an interview with ABC’s RN Breakfast program on Wednesday, Littleproud trotted out the three consistent assertions of the coal lobby; that you can reduce emissions using more coal, that more coal generation is necessary to lower electricity prices and that baseload power is a necessary feature of the future energy system.

Each of these three assertions have been repeatedly debunked, but it confirms that it’s business as usual in a Morrison cabinet that will continue to face internal divisions over a need to act on climate change and the fossil fuel advocates within its ranks.

It is understood that Queensland Nationals MP Keith Pitt is the front runner to take over Canavan’s former positions as the minister for resources and Northern Australia when new ministerial appointments are announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday.

Pitt himself has been an outspoken advocate for a new coal-fired power station in Queensland, so while Canavan – who liked to describe himself as “Mr Coal” – has exited the federal cabinet, the pressure to push forward with the Collinsville project is likely to continue.

Pitt has also been a strong supporter of a nuclear industry in Australia, and will have the backing of failed Nationals leadership candidate Barnaby Joyce, who again argued for nuclear power to be considered as part of Australia’s efforts to reduce emissions as part of a bizarre Facebook rant against renewable energy.

“We have to recognise that the public acceptance of wind towers on the hill in front of their veranda is gone, and the public dissonance on that issue is as strong as any other environmental subject,” Joyce said.

“If zero emissions are the goal then surely nuclear energy should be supported, but it is not. If wind towers are a moral good and environmentally inoffensive, why can’t we have them just off the beach at Bondi so we can feel good about ourselves while going for a surf? It would cause a riot.”

“Do you want a 3,000ha solar farm next door to you? Lots of glass and aluminium neatly in rows pointing at the sun. I am not sure others will want to buy that view off you when you go to sell your house.”

The coal industry might have lost its most enthusiastic advocate from the federal cabinet, but the Nationals were quick to show that it won’t lead to any changes on the party’s energy and climate change policies.

In his interview, Littleproud, who is also tipped to take on the now vacant agriculture portfolio, told the ABC that investments in new coal generators would help lower emissions and lower electricity prices.

“You need to make sure that you create an environment in the marketplace with a mix of renewables and coal-fired power stations, and if you can improve the emissions of coal fired power stations, you should make that investment if it means that we hit our targets and we reduce energy prices,” Littleproud claimed.

It has been well established for some time that the cheapest source of new electricity generation capacity are renewable sources like wind and solar.

A recent update to the CSIRO’s GenCost assessment of the costs of different generation technologies re-confirmed that new wind and solar are, by far, the cheapest sources of electricity generation. Even when additional storage is accounted for, prices of firmed renewables are competitive with fossil fuel generators when the costs of carbon emissions are considered.

Renewables are already helping to drive down electricity prices.

This week, the ACT, which has recently achieved its 100 per cent renewable electricity target, is also set to see an almost 7 per cent fall in its electricity prices this year, as the territory’s investments in wind and solar projects have helped deliver lower electricity prices for Canberra households, ensuring they continue to pay some of Australia’s lowest electricity prices.

But this also didn’t stop Littleproud asserting that it is possible to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while still embracing coal.

“You can invest in clean coal technology in and reduce emissions,” Littleproud said.

“I’m not disputing the science, what I’m saying is I’m not gifted academically to have that science background myself.” – @D_LittleproudMP when asked about his recent statement that he didn’t know if climate change was man made. #abc730 @leighsales #auspol pic.twitter.com/sFh44eNP2a

— abc730 (@abc730) February 4, 2020

Again, there are fundamental limits to how much emissions from coal-fired power stations can be improved. Even with a complete transition to the Coalition’s favoured high-efficiency low-emissions (HELE) coal power station technologies, the most generous estimates put the amount of emissions reductions at 20 per cent.

In his review of the National Electricity Market, chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel compared the emissions intensity of different generation technologies, showing that the HELE coal-fired power stations promoted by the Nationals will still produce 0.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for each megawatt-hour of electricity produced, and is only slightly below the NEM’s current average emissions intensity.

When the science, and the international commitments made under the Paris Agreement, are calling for governments to achieve zero net emissions by 2050, a 20 per cent cut in coal power station emissions is going to be grossly insufficient.

It’s a position that leaves the Nationals at odds with science, but also the business community which is undergoing an accelerating exit from the coal industry. This includes BlackRock, which manages USD$7 trillion (A$10.15 trillion) in investments, which announced in January that it was divesting its portfolios from thermal coal companies.

Littleproud argued for the need for “baseload” power, suggesting that coal-fired power stations are necessary, as Australia currently lacks sufficient levels of battery storage.

“We’ve still got to have baseload, the thing is that we don’t have battery storage to the capacity that we need to be able to keep the lights on,” Littleproud said.

With the emergence of new energy management technologies, a growing market for energy storage that is outpacing growth in coal generation in Australia, demand response platforms and the falling prices of renewables, the concept of baseload is quickly becoming outdated.

With system planners recognising the crucial role that a ‘flexible’ energy system will have into the future, pushing new inflexible baseload power stations, like a new coal generator, into the energy system will only be counterproductive.

Chair of the Energy Security Board, which has been tasked with redesigning Australia’s energy market in response to the widescale transformation underway in the energy sector, labelled Australia’s existing “baseload” generators as “dinosaurs”, singling out coal-fired generators Bayswater and Liddell saying that their inflexibility made them poorly suited to a future energy system.

There has been a surge of installations of large-scale battery storage systems, and new investments continue to be made in deploying storage projects, while coal-fired generators are readying to exit the market.

The renewed push from the Nationals for a new coal generator appears to have been bolstered by the findings of a $10 million feasibility study into a potential new coal-fired power station in Collinsville. The feasibility study was funded as part of the government’s Underwriting New Generation Investments initiative and has yet to be released publicly.

“Collinsville, there’s a there’s now a report that’s come back to say that that business case should advance and then obviously, that will be backed by the economics of it,” Littleproud told ABC’s RN Breakfast.

The saga of the Collinsville power station has been a source of tension within the Coalition party room. Outgoing resources minister Matt Canavan had been desperate to get the project off the ground, and confronted prime minister Scott Morrison when he thought progress on the proposal was progressing too slowly.

Those tensions continue to play out in the party room, with a fiery confrontation occurring during the first coalition party room meeting of the year, and after a summer dominated by bushfires and calls for stronger climate action.

Several Nationals members shouted down calls from moderate Liberal MPs, who called for the Morrison government to demonstrate that it was taking climate change seriously.

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Facebook group begins education advocacy project

By Kofoworola Belo-Osagie

With all it achieved last year, the Concerned Parents and Educators Initiative (CPE), a Facebook group of school owners, teachers, parents and other lovers of education plans to push its influence further by pursuing advocacy and reforms in the Nigerian education space this year.

Founder of the group, Mrs Yinka Ogunde said in an interview that last year the CPE raised millions of naira in cash and kind that was used to provide mobility equipment for some cerebral palsy children; support about 50 families, pay fees in low-cost schools; reward creativity in teachers through the short story challenge; connect people in need with those that had to give, among others.

She added that through CPE members’ generosity, children of widows got scholarship, examination fees got paid, teachers got trained, and affluent schools gave supplies to smaller schools.

“We never thought when we started we would make this kind of impact.  To us we just simply wanted to provide a platform for discussion between parents, school owners and stakeholders in the education sector.  But it has gone beyond our initial brief substantially to what it is today,” she said.

This year, Mrs. Ogunde said the group which has over 112,000 members – with more than 90,000 of them in Nigeria – would get more coordinated in its approach with the aim of deepening its impact on society. Tagged the Year 2020 Advocacy for Qualitative Education, members of the group would be expected to raise issues of education in their areas of influence, including places of worship, and advocate for a call to action.

Read Also: Education gap: Turning information to action

To this end, Mrs. Ogunde said CPE had identified volunteers in various states who would drive conversations towards critical areas of need in the education sector.  The CPE in various states are already planning meetings for this week in Ibadan, Kano and Kaduna- starting from today (Thursday) that would identify areas of needs to focus on ahead of its advocacy month – February.

Throughout February, Mrs Ogunde said CPE members would engage people in churches, mosques, clubs and other places highlighting the problems in the education sector and calling for action in such areas.

“February is our education transformation month – where everyone on CPE would be talking about education.  It is something that would require a seven minute pitch that all we will be saying is the same thing and asking what can be done  about the state of education.  We will also be writing to corporate organisations to ask them what they are doing,” she said.

Mrs. Ogunde said a key lesson she has learnt from running CPE with other administrators was that impact can be achieved regardless of government.

She said: “When we go out to all these schools, they don’t believe we are private individuals; they keep on thanking government for the support.  So, we say  we are not government; this is not your local government chairman; it is people just like you.

It shows that people can actually do what government is supposed to do and invariably make the government to do its work.  That is why we are just determined that we will not keep quiet about it but call their attention.”

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ActionAid Nigeria advocates death penalty for corrupt officers

As Nigerians join the rest of the world to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day, Mrs Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), has advocated for a death penalty for corrupt officers in the country.

Obi was speaking in Abuja on Monday, during a rally to mark the day which has the theme: “United Against Corruption. My constituency, my project.”

She regretted that many people, who had looted the economy, were moving freely in their houses and even sitting in the parliament, urging Nigerians to stand up against such characters.

She called on public officers owing salaries to do the needful so as not to encourage people to get involved in corrupt tendencies.

According to her, the government should ask themselves how many hospitals and schools they have built to improve the society.

“We are standing here today because many women are dying in our hospitals due to the poor healthcare system; many young Nigerians are in the universities without allowances.

“We are standing here today because somebody gave us scholarship. Many years ago, our colonial masters gave scholarships to build human capital that will build Nigeria. The story is different today.

“What is happening to our education? Our public schools have been rendered almost powerless. Many people have so many houses; why do you have so many houses when you can sleep on only one bed at a time?

“We stand here to say that all those who are found guilty and charged for corruption should be brought to book.

“I want to advocate that those who are looting the economy should be sentenced to death if found guilty.”

Obi, however, called on the Nigerian government to stand against corruption, especially since President Muhammadu Buhari had vowed to fight the menace.

She, therefore, said that corruption should be fought from all fronts, and called on those in government, who had been indicted in corruption cases, to step down from office.

ALSO READ: FG recorded significant successes in fight against corruption — TUGAR

Mr Newton Otsamaye, Manager, Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project, an NGO, said that there was the need for a consensus to end corruption in the country.

“We are collaborating with civil society groups, ICPC, NOA so that we can have collective engagement to end corruption.

“As Nigerians, we are tired of living without water, hospitals, good roads and transparent government. We are here to join other voices to end corruption in our government, Churches, families, schools, parliament and executive.”

Otsamaye called on communities to report abandoned projects in their various constituencies to ICPC.
Mrs Rasheeda Okoduwa, Director, Public Enlightenment, ICPC, in her remarks, said that corruption should be fought to a standstill from the home before it spread to the wider society.

She emphasised the need for Nigerians to report corruption cases to ICPC to enable it bring those involved to book, saying that there was no hiding place for corrupt officers.

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DSS Wanted Sowore To Sign Death Warrant While In Detention –- Falana SAN

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Femi Falana, counsel to the convener #RevolutionNow movement, Omoyele Sowore, on Monday alleged that the federal government, through the Department of State Services (DSS) offered the Sahara Reporters publisher a death warrant deal while he was in their detention.

Falana, who made this revelation featuring as a guest on TVC flagship programme, “Your View”, insisted that the Nigerian government reached out for the deal during Sowore’s first 45 days in detention.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) alleged further that when the government went behind Sowore to get an order to detain him for 45 days to investigate his alleged terrorism, “at the end of the investigation, nothing was found but they went to him in detention to reach a deal.”

To buttress his claims, Falana explained that the DSS also reached out to him to convince Sowore when they could not persuade him to take the death warrant deal he was being offered.

“When they could not succeed, they met me and they wanted me to persuade him to agree to sign his death warrant and I told them off. So, when they could not convince him to take the deal, the DSS then filed charges against him,” he said.

While giving clarifications on the event that happened in the courtroom last Friday, he maintained that his client was assaulted inside the court contrary to the claims by the DSS.

“We have already identified those involved in this act of gangsterism. We know them. They know I know all of them. Sowore’s rearrest inside the court was acknowledged by the head of the DSS team inside Justice Ijeoma’s office.

“The judge summoned the DSS leader to her office and challenged him on the incident and he apologised profusely right in her office in my presence. Their claim of arresting Sowore outside the court is a reckless lie,” said Falana.

Countering the DSS claim, he posited that if truly “Sowore’s arrest was stage-managed by his supporters assaulting him in court, was the DSS not supposed to protect him?” he queried.

The post DSS Wanted Sowore To Sign Death Warrant While In Detention –- Falana SAN appeared first on TheNigerialawyer.

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Senate again proposes death by hanging for hate speech

Sanni Onogu, Abuja

The Senate on Tuesday once again proposed death by hanging for anybody found guilty of hate speech in the country.

This followed the first reading of a Bill to set up an agency to prohibit hate speech in the country.

The Bill titled: “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019” is being sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate who is also the Senator representing Niger North, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

It could be recalled that the Senate had last week introduced legislation to regulate the social media and also to punish what it termed “abuse of social media” with a three-year jail term or N150,000 option of fine or both.

The social media regulation Bill titled: “Protection from internet falsehood and manipulations bill, 2019” was sponsored by the Senator representing Niger East, Mohammed Sani Musa.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, recently vowed that the Federal Government is poised to regulate the Social Media.

It could be recalled that Senator Abdullahi had sponsored the same Hate Speech Bill during the Eight Senate but the toxic Bill which attracted widespread condemnation from Nigerians never returned for second reading in the upper before the eight-session of the National Assembly elapsed

The Bill had prescribed death by hanging for any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person.

It also sought the establishment of an Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches.

The Bill as presented to the Eight Senate had proposed that the commission would enforce hate speech laws across the country, and ensure the “elimination” of hate speech.

For offences such as harassment on grounds of ethnicity or race, the Bill had proposed that the offender shall be sentenced to “not less than a five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.”

The Bill had also proposed that, “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” committed an offence.

It added that the charge would be justified if such a person intends to stir up “ethnic hatred”.

However, a cursory look at the new Bill showed that it is not different from the way it was presented in the Eight Senate by the same sponsor.

The Bill retained a provision that any offender found guilty under the Act when passed would die by hanging.

“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging,” the Bill said.

On Hate Speech the Bill provides that “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

Read Also: Senate appeals to FG to ban importation of textile for five years

“In this section, ethnic hatred means hatred against a group if person’s from any ethical group indigenous today Nigeria.

On discrimination against persons, the Bill also provides that: “For the purpose of this act, a person who discriminates against another person if on ethnic grounds the person without any lawful justification treats another Nigerian citizen less favourably than he treats or would treat other person from his ethnic or another ethnic group and/or that on grounds of ethnicity a person put another person at a particular disadvantage when compared with other persons from other nationality of Nigeria.

“A person also discriminates against another person if, in any circumstances relevant for the purposes referred to in subsection (1) (b), he applies to that person of any provision, criterion or practice which he applies or would apply equally to persons not of the same race, ethnic or national origins as that other.”

On harassment on the basis of ethnicity, the Bill further provides that “A person (who) subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where on ethnic grounds, he justifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of: a) Violating that other person’s dignity or b) Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.

“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as saying that effect.

“A person who subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to an imprisonment for a term not less than ten years, or to a fine of not less than Ten million Naira, or to both.”

On Offence of ethnic or racial contempt, the Bill provides that “Any person who knowingly utters words to incite feelings of contempt, hatred, hostility, violence or discrimination against any person, group or community on the basis of ethnicity or race, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than five years, or to a fine of not less than Ten million Naira, or to both.”

On Discrimination by way of victimization, the Bill provides that “A person victimizes another if in any circumstance relevant for the purpose of this Act, the person does any act that is injurious to the wellbeing and esteem of another person by U eating the person to less favorably than, in those circumstances, such person treats or would treat other persons, and does so by reason that the person victimized has:

“(a) Made a complaint under this Act; (b) Otherwise done anything under or by reference to this, (c) Given evidence or information in connection with proceedings brought by any person against any other person under this Act; or (d) By reason that the person who has violated the provision(s) of this Act knows that the persons victimized intend to do any of those things, or suspects that the person victimised has done or intend to do, any of them.

“A person who subjects or threatens to subject another person to any detriment because the other person, or a person associated with the other person: (i) has made a complaint against any person; (ii) has brought any other proceedings under this Act against any person; (iii) has given evidence or information, or produced a document, in connection with any proceedings under this Act; (iv) has otherwise done anything in accordance with this Act in relation to any person;

“(v) has contravened a provision of Pan III, unless the allegation is false and was not made in good faith; (vi) has refused to do anything in accordance the allegation is false and was made in good faith;

“(b) fails to comply with a notice by the Commission under section 57; (c) hinders or obstructs a Commissioner, member of staff of the Commission 01′ the Secretaly in the exercise of powers or the performance of functions under this Act;

“(d) uses insulting language towards a Commissioner, member of staff of the Commission or the Secretaty when the member Commissioner, Member of staff 01′ Secretaty is exercising powers or performing functions under this Act; or

“(e) gives any information 01‘ makes any statement to the Commission, the Secretary or a person acting on behalf of the Commission or the Secretary in exercise of powers or the performance of functions under this Act which the person knows is false or misleading in any material particular, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of two million naira or to imprisonment for a term not less than twelve months or both.”

On Offences by body of persons, the Bill said that “In the case of an offence under this Act committed by a body of persons” (a) where the body of persons is a body corporate, cvcry director, trustee and officer of that body corporate shall also be deemed to be guilty ofthal offence; and

“(b) where the body of persons is a firm, every partner of that firm shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence”

The objectives and functions of the proposed commission on Hate Speech, according to the Bill includes to facilitate and promote a harmonious peaceful co-existence within the people of all ethnic groups indigenous to Nigeria and more importantly to achieve this objective by ensuring the elimination of all forms of hate speeches in Nigeria, and to advise the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on all aspects thereof.

It added that without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), the Commission shall:

“Promote the elimination of all forms of hate speeches against any person(s) or ethnic group indigenous to Nigeria.

“Discourage persons, institutions, political parties and associations from advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices through the use of hate speeches.

“Promote tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity in all aspects of national life and encourage full participation by all ethnic communities in social, economic, cultural and political life of other communities;

“Plan, supervise, co-ordinate and promote educational and training programs to create public awareness, support and advancement of peace and harmony among ethnic communities and racial groups;

“Promote respect for religions, cultural, linguistic and other fonns of diversity in a plural society;

“Promote equal access and enjoyment by persons of all ethnic communities and racial groups to public or other services and facilities provided by the Govemment;

“Promote arbitration, conciliation, mediation and similar forms of dispute resolution mechanisms in order to secure and enhance ethnic and racial harmony and peace;

“Investigate complaints of ethnic or racial discrimination and make recommendation to the Attorney-General, the Human Rights Commission or any other relevant authority on the remedial measures to be taken where such complaints are valid.”

The Commission shall also: “Investigate on its own accord or on request from any institution, office, or person any issue affecting ethnic and racial relations;

“Identify and analyze factors inhibiting the attainment of harmonious relations between ethnic communities, particularly barriers to the participation of any ethnic community in social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political endeavours, and recommend to the Government and any other relevant public or private body how these factors should be overcome;

“Determine strategic priorities in all the socio -economic political and development policies of the Government impacting on ethnic relations and advise on their implementation;

“Recommend to the Govemment criteria for deciding whether any public office or officer has committed acts of discrimination on the ground of ethnicity or race;

“Monitor and review all legislation and all administrative acts relating to or having implication for ethnic or race relations and, from time to time, prepare and submit to the Government proposals for revision of such legislation and administrative acts;

“Initiate, lobby for and advocate for policy, legal or administrative reforms on issues affecting ethnic relations;

“Monitor and make recommendations to the government and other relevant public and private sector bodies on factors inhibiting the development and harmonious relations between ethnic groups and on barriers to the participation of all ethnic groups in the social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political life of the people;

“Undertake research and studies and make recommendations to the Government on any issue relating to ethnic affairs including whether ethnic relations are improving;

“Make recommendations to the Govemment on any issue relating to ethnic affairs including whether ethnic relations are improving;

“Monitor and report annually to the Nation Assembly the status and success of implementation of its recommendations;

“Issue notices directing person, persons or institutions involve in actions or conduct amounting to violations on the basis of ethnicity or race to stop such actions or conduct within a given period; and

“Do all other acts and things as may be necessary to facilitate the efficient discharge of its functions.”

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Losing Someone Close To You – 5 Things You Can Learn From It | Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self ImprovementPick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement

Something the average person does not go through

Death isn’t something most people in life encounter, meaning many don’t have a near-death experience or have someone close to them die.

Put it this way, the average person in life wakes up in the morning, and reads up on tragic news of the world in the papers.

And then they move on with life.

That is a very fortunate life.

Now, I hope to relay some messages and lessons over from my own experience, something which I think many can learn from.

1) When death comes close to you, everything else in life seems so minor

That’s the truth.

This is an extension towards, “Seeing the bigger picture”.

Work, money, career or dealing with people all suddenly become so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

It’s good to see the bigger picture in life. Sure, we’ve our responsibilities and usual routines in life, but ask yourself, is that all to it in life? Is it making you happy?

When my dad passed away, I didn’t see a point in making myself feel so stressed in my studies or caring about what others think of me. I didn’t see why I should be weighed down by the world, when I can sit on top to live the life I want.

If you open up your eyes a bit, seeing the bigger picture in this world can actually bring you far. The grasp of society and expectations on you would wither, allowing you to go forward for a better life.

2) Care for yourself, more than anything in this world

I used to be a lot angrier before my father’s death.

Because I kept doing the right things in life. I never argued back against friends who insulted me. I walked away from fights and I always held back my opinions.

But all the right things in the world just made sure that I’d be going home angry.

Upon my father’s death, I realized it’s very okay to care for yourself, more than anything else in this world.

I was always angry last time because I felt so repressed. I had so much I wanted to say or do, but yet I held back.

When my dad passed away, it made me wonder why I tried to keep doing the right thing only to suffer a tragic loss. It felt like everything was thrown back in my face.

So care for yourself more, and watch out for your own well-being. That’s not to say that you should become a self-centered person, but do a check on what’s important for you. Dive deep into your innermost feelings, rather than always having to appease the world.

3) Life is really short

It is.

It is a universal truth, but not many can realize that. I think most people realize that only after they retire and start getting old.

Life is also very unpredictable. You never know what it can throw to you.

That being said, what do you want to do with life?

All too often people are too caught up with the world to realize that our life, is not the world.

The world is big, but our lives are short.

I say, start living. You don’t need to go through what I did to realize life is short. Start living, before it’s too late.

4) Make a positive change for yourself, and those around you.

I had several friends who were there for me right after my dad’s death. I was extremely touched as they willingly helped me as they went through the exact same thing before.

I was very comforted to know that I wasn’t alone in this world.

Now, I want to pay it forward and help others.

That’s not to say I think “everything happens for a reason”. It’s also easy for me to advocate kindness and giving others a helping hand.

I just think positivity and kindness exist in their own right, simply to be. It is as clear as that.

And that is an important message because all too often love today, is based on conditions, a form of exchange which both parties must benefit one way or another.

I felt at my lowest when my dad was taken, and it made realized, whatever that I was feeling then, many others in this world are too.

So pay it forward, and help others. It would go a long way, for both you and others.

5) Love your parents

Because they’re pretty much the only two people in this planet who can offer you unconditional love.

And this picture pretty much says it all.

Just for PickTheBrain readers

I’ve put together an email course for people who’ve trouble blocking the noise out. You know, when you’re constantly thinking about what others think.

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Doctors of Death: Nigeria’s medical misdiagnosis crisis | P.M. News

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*A Special Report by P.M.NEWS

Doctors at work in Idah General Hospital, Kogi state: Misdiagnosis of ailments now a major crisis in Nigeria

By Lanre Babalola

His patient lost a kidney and died but Dr Yakubu Koji was unwilling to admit responsibility when he faced in September a tribunal set up by the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council to try a tribe of reckless and professionally negligent doctors in the country.

According to the tribunal documents, Koji of the Jimeta Clinic and Maternity, Adamawa was charged with gross professional negligence which led to the death of a patient in his care.

He was accused of incompetence in the assessment of the patient and incorrect diagnosis of his illness. To worsen matters, Koji operated on the patient because the patient insisted he should do the operation.

At the tribunal, Koji was told he was negligent in advising the patient on the risk involved in the operation, and also failing to obtain an informed consent of the patient.

At the same tribunal in September, Dr Ikeji Charles of Kefland Family Hospital, Apo Mechanic Extension, Abuja,was arraigned for causing the death of his patient, after surgery for hernia.

Charles was charged with four counts of incompetence and negligence. But like Koji, he also pleaded not guilty.

Regularly, the medical council tribunal holds sessions to hold Nigerian doctors to account and at the end, it suspends doctors found guilty of professional negligence for some months or in rare cases, ban them from practising. The session in September was the third this year.

Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire

One of the doctors recently convicted by the tribunal was Kebbi-based Jamilu Muhammad who erroneously diagnosed that a baby in the womb was dead and then carried out surgery to evacuate the supposedly dead baby. The operation however showed that the baby was alive, but the doctor had amputated the baby’s upper limb as he dissected the mother.

The medical council revealed recently it was investigating 120 doctors for various professional misconduct, while 60 others were awaiting trial at the Tribunal.

Chairman of the medical tribunal, Professor Abba Hassan, right with former health minister, Professor Adewole

Although the tribunal often sanctions the errant doctors, it is debatable if the sanctions were fitting enough for the death of their patients and the anguish this triggers for their families.

Many Nigerians have had unpalatable experiences in the hands of doctors who misdiagnosed their ailments and went on to prescribe the wrong drugs and the wrong treatment. Not many of these patients lived to tell their stories.

Across the country some Nigerians of all classes are dying of common ailments due to wrong diagnosis and drug prescriptions by supposedly trained Nigerian medical doctors.

Wrong diagnosis has become a major and lingering crisis afflicting Nigeria’s medical sector. No wonder, those who could afford it, including the nation’s president and the political leaders, whenever they fall ill, dust their passports and head to Europe, America, Middle East and Asia to seek help.

May be Nigeria would still have had human rights advocate, Chief Gani Fawehinmi alive today, if his lung cancer was detected early. But a Nigerian doctor who examined him said he was suffering from asthma and plied him with plenty asthma drugs. Fawehinmi lamented in the latter part of his life that if his ailment had been correctly diagnosed earlier, he would have taken proper care of himself. He died in 2009.

Gani Fawehinmi: lung cancer diagnosed as asthma

Afrobeat star, Femi Kuti recently tweeted about his late younger sister, Sola, who died due to wrong diagnosis by Nigerian doctors.

Wrong diagnosis has always been a problem in our country.

In 1985, Abudu Razaq, a young student of The Polytechnic, Ibadan complained of severe pains in the lower abdomen and was rushed to the State House Clinic in Marina, Lagos Island. After examining him, the doctors referred him to the then newly founded St. Nicholas Hospital, near City Hall. The team of doctors examined him and concluded that he was suffering from what they called Appendicectomy and an operation to cut the appendix was recommended. They opened him up and later realised that the appendix was not ripe enough to be cut. They removed the stones in the appendix and sealed him up— a classic case of misdiagnosis by supposedly well-trained doctors. What if the patient had died in the course of the ill-advised operation based on the wrong diagnosis?

Another case of misdiagnosis by Nigerian doctors is that of Ade Bisiriyu(not real name) a patient with a sleeping disorder who walked into a clinic at Ikeja, Lagos and complained to the doctor that he couldn’t sleep at night. He told the doctor he was urinating five, six times in the night. The doctor took his body temperature, samples of his blood and urine for examinations and gave him some injections (anti-biotic) which he took for five days.

The patient came back to complain that he still couldn’t sleep. The doctor now zeroed on the patient’s age, he was 56 and declared the patient must be having prostate issues. The doctor advised him to go for a scan at a diagnostic facility on Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja. After perusing at the scan result, he concluded that the patient was suffering from prostate enlargement and recommended some drugs.

But rather than abate, the ailment became worse with the patient observing blood in his stool and pains in the anus. He went back to the doctor and the doctor analysed that it has resulted in haemorrhoids caused by acute pile. He recommended drugs again but the drugs fail to provide succour to the patient.

The pains in the anus got so severe that the patient became so confused.

He went to the doctor again and the doctor recommended that he go for another prostate scan and what he called Colonoscopy.

”After this consultation and the doctor’s reaction to my complaint, I knew he has reached a dead end. He has no solution to my problem. He was only interested in the money. I had to seek a new medical advice,” said the distraught patient.

He sought help with a doctor in Ado Odo-Ota, Ogun State. The doctor at the private medical facility listened to the patient’s complaint, asked him to go for an abdomen scan. After studying the result of the scan, the patient was placed on drips in the hospital for a 24-hour observation. Some injections were given and drugs recommended. After weeks of taking the drugs, the pain did not abate. Rather, it got worse. The patient had emaciated considerably and it was visible he was suffering internally.

Dr. T. A. Sanusi, Registrar Medical and Dental Council

The patient went to complain again to the doctor. The doctor conducted further tests and concluded it was cancer of the anus. The patient is still battling with this ailment.

Bayo Onanuga: I nearly lost my leg

I nearly lost my leg

In 2006, journalist Bayo Onanuga had a freak accident at home. He fell off a ladder and fractured his ankle. It was a bad fracture, what orthopaedic doctors called ‘pilon fracture’. The right ankle bone was badly shattered.

‘It happened about 5.30 am, as I jumped down from a ladder, that I felt was giving way under me, while changing the bulb In my pantry. I was helped to the General Hospital at Ikeja by a colleague, immediately after.

“At the hospital, an x-ray was done, which confirmed that the ankle was badly broken. The doctor on duty was given the x-ray and then he proceeded to cast my foot in POP.

“I immediately complained about serious discomfort after the POP cast was done: I felt some burning sensation in the sole of my foot. What I felt was beyond pain. My leg was literally on fire.

“I told the doctor, what I was feeling. He said I should bear the pain and gave me analgesic.
I took the analgesic and yet the sensation did not subside.

Dr Jonathan Osamor: offers suggestions on helping doctors

“I was lucky, I was stretchered into a LASUTH VIP ward for observation after the casting. As I lay on bed, I kept complaining that my leg was ‘burning’. The nurses on duty could not understand why an adult that I was should be complaining like a baby. I persisted in ventilating my complaint.

“When it seemed they would not listen to me and they appeared not to empathise with me, I peeled off the POP. It was still wet and in minutes, I succeeded in removing it. I instantly felt relieved and I fell asleep, leg raised on a wooden plank.

Some hours after, an orthopaedic surgeon came to check on me. The first question he asked was: “Who put the POP on this man’s leg?” The nurses kept conspiratorially mute.

”And then the surgeon dropped the bomb: “If this POP had remained on this leg for five hours, the leg would have developed gangrene and we would have needed to cut it off.”

”The nurses were too ashamed to say anything. I was right and they were wrong. And the doctor who put the cast, without checking the x-ray was more criminally negligent.

“The surgeon said my ankle needed an operation and because the leg had swollen up, I would wait for one week for the operation to take place.

“I had no choice. I waited. Exactly a week after, the operation was done to deal with the pilon fracture that I had sustained.

“Though the operation was successful, with some metals put inside my leg to allow the broken bone regrow, it came with its own issues. The metals were not properly set. I ended up spending seven months at home, for an injury that should not have taken me off my routine for more than three months.

“In my case, after four months at home in Lagos, without appreciable healing, I had to travel to the UK for assistance. Three months after, I was back on my feet.

I nearly died of pneumonia

Onanuga also shared his experience with another doctor when he nearly died of pneumonia. His doctor diagnosed it as muscular pain.

“On a Saturday morning, one day in 2010, I drove myself to my doctor and told him I had pneumonia.

“He asked me about the symptoms I had. I said I felt breathless when I climbed the stairs. I could no longer exercise because of this. I said I felt some pain in my rib cage on the right and I was not feeling very well.

“He didn’t agree with me that my symptoms spelled pneumonia. Instead, he said what was ailing me was ‘muscular ache’.

“To resolve all arguments, he asked me to go for a scan. I did. The result however did not confirm my own diagnosis. The area of my body scanned showed nothing.

“My doctor said: “I told you so, you do not have pneumonia. You have muscular ache. So he gave me some analgesics.I took the medicine home and used as prescribed.

“By the evening of same day my diagnosis was confirmed by what I began to notice. In the night, I went downstairs in my house to pick something in the backyard and suddenly I was gripped by excruciating pain in my stomach. I crouched and had to maintain the position to crawl back into the house. I was the only one at home. My wife had travelled.

“The following day, I became more alarmed. When I sneezed, the mucus that came out was laced with blood. When I coughed, I also saw blood in my phlegm. These are signs of pneumonia that a senior colleague of mine had experienced. I decided to help myself and Googled the best medicine for pneumonia.

“I wrote it down and went to one of the best pharmacies in Ikeja to buy the drug. I started to use it instantly. Two days after, I decided to seek help, again in the UK.

“I was diagnosed with pneumonia. The scan done by a female Nigerian trained radiologist, now working in the UK, picked up some blood clots in my rib cage area. The doctor said the pneumonia would have killed me and even wondered how I had survived. I didn’t tell him I was on my own self-prescribed medication.

“He gave me the same drug that I bought in Lagos, with an additional one. And he asked me to start using them immediately. About five days after, the pneumonia was clear and I was fit enough to return to my country.

Another case of misdiagnosis by Nigerian doctors was narrated by a female journalist who blamed wrong diagnosis by doctors for her brother’s death.

”I lost my immediate elder brother to the cold hands of death on Saturday, February 25, 2017, due to what I call inconclusive diagnosis. Prior to his death, he was a known Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) patient, and he was well managed by my parents and other members of the family.

“He came over to my parents’ complaining of fever and leg pain, and on Thursday night, he became unconscious and was rushed to the hospital, unfortunately, he didn’t survive the experience. His blood sample was collected and a series of tests conducted on him.

“Initially, he was said to have suffered from stress, which was as a result of insomnia he experienced some weeks before he took ill.Then another result came in on Friday evening that he had a Stroke, and it had affected his brain.

“I didn’t understand what that meant, especially since he could move his limbs, but his eyes were open with him rolling his eyeballs involuntarily; he was neither here, nor there.

“Once the result about the brain stroke was handed to my mum, we were advised to take him for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – a brain scan, to ascertain the depth of the damage caused by the stroke to his brain. This was only done in 2 hospitals in Lagos.

“When his condition became really unstable Friday night and this caused my mum to shout and panic as she sought help for her son, one of the doctors carelessly said that she should not disturb them with her noise as he was going to die eventually.

“After a series of attacks and instability on Friday night with doctors battling to keep him alive, they managed to resuscitate him with oxygen, unfortunately, he passed on Saturday morning.

“He died before midday. Doctors claimed he died from jaundice complications and that confused me the more”, she said.

Fictional Aneurysm

Sumbo Adeyemi, a Nigerian lady in her twenties complained of severe headache all the time. She first went to St Nicholas Hospital in central Lagos, where the doctor she met, after a scan, diagnosed that she had Intracranial aneurysm and recommended a brain surgery for the supposed ailment.

Alarmed, her relations asked her to seek another diagnosis, from another doctor. The new doctor recommended an MRI scan at a Mecure centre in Lekki. The scan showed not aneurysm but another ailment in the brain.

Confused because of two conflicting diagnosis, Sumbo’s family suggested a third diagnosis outside the country.

In the UK, about 12 doctors, who attended to her rejected outright the two conflicting scans done in Lagos and said they could not have been for the lady.

They then told her that her problem was migraine and that it was caused by insufficient sleep and stress. They advised her to stop watching football, among other stressful things. She was then given some analgesics to use.

The lady is married now and has children and the “migraine” had disappeared. What if she had agreed that doctors open up her brain, in search of a non-existent aneuryism?

Certainly, something is wrong with Nigerian doctors such that they keep missing the goal post in diagnosing their patients’ ailments.

Dr Jonathan Osamor of the Oyo State General Hospital, Moniya, Ibadan gave some explanations: .

“For wrong diagnosis to be made, there are so many components. The first important component is clerking, taking down the history from the patient. If your patient cannot explain very well, you may not be able to extract relevant information from him or her. There could be communication barrier, which may occur as a result of the patient speaking one language and the doctor speak another. Your interpretation of the complaint goes a long way. You may misinterpret the complaint. Another component is you physically examining the patient, whether you can elicit any kind of sign from the patient. That is where your own clinical skill comes in. If you are not versed clinically, you may not be able to identify which of the system of the body is faulty.

“The body is divided into systems – cardiovascular for the circulation, chest for respiratory, abdomen and so on. So, if you examine the system and you are not able to elicit information on some signs that will point to where that pathology is, then you fall back on investigations. Investigation also depends on if the patient has the money and if the laboratory facility is adequate. In other words, there are so many components that could go wrong.

“But you see, it supposed to be a team work. The first point of contact is the junior doctor who has to review with his senior. That is the check, the control. But if you have a facility such as a primary healthcare centre or a local government hospital whereby the doctor is all in all, then there is bound to be a problem.

So, it is the fault of the system we are running. There is no funding, there is no policy from the policy makers as to the milestones you can achieve. The point is that when you have a system that is not organised, it becomes chaotic and things like wrong diagnosis and prescription can occur”, Osamor said.

“Take for instance, general hospitals where the staff are not enough. They may not be able to interpret the complaint of the patient accurately. That can lead to wrong diagnosis and of course, that will be predisposed to wrong prescription. So, it is a lot of components that are involved: Patient communication, presentation, the language barrier, your own understanding or level of your experience, how you were exposed and then laboratory interpretation. If the lab is not functioning, you may just prescribe without waiting for laboratory confirmation of the particular complaint the patient has.

“So, it is the fault of the system we are running. There is no funding, there is no policy from the policy makers as to the milestones you can achieve. The point is that when you have a system that is not organised, it becomes chaotic and things like wrong diagnosis and prescription can occur”, Osamor said.

Dr Sulaiman Abiodun, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at University College Hospital, also in Ibadan largely agreed with Osamor. Abiodun also blamed poor training of medical doctors, work load and poor rewards as the reasons for rampant misdiagnosis.

“When doctors are overworked, there may be a problem. Everybody has a limit. The moment one has gotten to his or her limit, you cannot expect him or her to perform optimally compared to when he or she has not been over stretched. When you are over stretched, stress will surely set in. The system cannot have the best of you again. Also, many doctors do not have adequate sleep due to the enormous and overwhelming work they do. All these factors will affect the efficiency of the doctors or the quality of the services they will render.

Abiodun also identified poor and non-functioning equipment for diagnosis as part of the crisis of medicare in Nigeria.

How can we stem the crisis of misdiagnosis? Osamor again volunteered some suggestions:

“First for all, the policy makers must have a vision that will guarantee a standard practice in the medical industry. The policy making bodies like hospital management board and ministry of health must be determined to do things rightly. There must be political will to make things work.

“Funding is another issue. The government must fund healthcare system properly. A lot of hospitals don’t have adequate consulting rooms. The roof of a hospital is leaking. There is a structural decay. Also, staffing is very important. You must be able to staff and encourage your staff to the level that they are retained.

“So, there is need for manpower, human capacity building, in-service training, seminars, conferences that they should go so that they can be exposed. And of course, remuneration. Remuneration is very important. If the doctors are well remunerated, they will stay in Nigeria and give their best and there will not be issue of brain drain. So, we have a problem of systemic failure. Policy makers should be able to make a lot of difference when it comes to that”, Osamor said.

Like Osamor, Abiodun also stressed the need for training and retraining doctors. Training, he said, is very important to any profession. “To enable doctors receive good training in medical schools, government needs to properly fund medical institutions and adequately provide necessary equipment to train them with. After medical schools, training and retraining is important so that the doctors will not be outdated”.

*With reports by Gbenro Adesina/Ibadan; Olufumilola Olukomaiya & Jennifer Okundia.

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How Fossil Fuel Companies Are Killing Plastic Recycling

So many things we buy come packaged in plastic containers or wrappers that are meant to be used once, thrown away and forgotten ― but they don’t break down and can linger in the environment long after we’re gone. It’s tempting to think that we can recycle this problem away, that if we’re more diligent about placing discarded bottles and bags into the curbside bin, we’ll somehow make up for all the trash overflowing landfills, choking waterways and killing marine life.

For decades, big petrochemical companies responsible for extracting and processing the fossil fuels that make plastics have egged on consumers, reassuring them that recycling was the answer to our trash crisis. Just last month, Royal Dutch Shell executive Hilary Mercer told The New York Times that the production of new plastics was not the problem contributing to millions of tons of plastic waste piling up in landfills and drifting in oceans. Instead, she suggested, the problem is one of improper waste disposal. Better recycling, she implied, is the solution.

“We passionately believe in recycling,” Mercer told the Times.

But plastic recycling is in trouble. Too much of the indestructible material exists in the world, more than our current recycling networks can handle. And the very same companies that say recycling is the answer are about to unleash a tidal wave of fresh plastics that will drown recyclers struggling to stay afloat.   

“We’ve been trained [to think] that we can purchase endlessly and recycle everything,” said Genevieve Abedon, a policy advocate at the environmental nonprofit Californians Against Waste. “There is no way that recycling can keep up.” 

Big oil, natural gas and chemical companies have poured an estimated $200 billion into more than 300 petrochemical expansion projects across America from 2010 to 2018, according to the American Chemistry Council. Fossil fuel giants ExxonMobil and Shell, as well as plastic makers like SABIC and Formosa Plastics, are building and expanding at least five ethane cracker plants in Appalachia and along the Gulf of Mexico. The facilities will turn ethane, a byproduct of natural gas fracking, into polyethylene pellets, which can be made into a variety of products, including milk jugs, shampoo bottles, food packaging and the air pillows that protect your Amazon orders.

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Many consumer goods companies would rather purchase newly made plastic resin pellets than those made from recycled materials.

Already, over 350 million metric tons of new plastics are produced worldwide annually. In the next decade, production will jump 40%, spurred in part by the new manufacturing plants, according to an analysis by The Guardian. 

Current rates of recycling are dismal. In Europe, about 30% of plastics are recycled, but the U.S. recycles only 9.1%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s about all our networks can manage without significant improvements and investments in recycling technologies and infrastructure.

Recycling will suffer when the new manufacturing plants begin pumping out more virgin plastic, said Ted Siegler, a resource economist at waste management company DSM Environmental Services Inc., based in Vermont. 

“They will hurt recycling,” he said.

The Making Of A Recycling Emergency

In theory, more plastics should be good for recyclers. But the industry is already in the midst of a crisis.

America has grown accustomed to shipping low-value trash overseas for recycling. This practice began on a large scale in the early 2000s. Last year, that system fell apart, leaving recyclers scrambling and consumers confused.

The country never developed recycling networks that would handle all kinds of plastics, according to Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the nonprofit National Stewardship Action Council. Instead, local recyclers process only the stuff they can make money off of. Most high-value plastics, like soda bottles (which come stamped with a “1” symbol) and milk cartons or shampoo bottles (which bear a “2” stamp), are pulled out and recycled domestically. Everything else ― that’s anything stamped with the numbers 3 through 7 ― remains unsorted and gets shipped as “mixed plastics” to other countries, where they can still turn a profit. (Things like potato chip bags and candy bar wrappers are practically worthless and aren’t considered recyclable. People still try to mix them in with their household paper and plastic, much to the consternation of recyclers.) 

“We did the world a disservice by not doing our due diligence and saying it’s worth paying American citizens to do the work and keep the jobs and the recycling infrastructure solid at home,” Sanborn said.

Plenty of other countries export their recyclables as well. Until recently, China had been the world’s largest buyer of recyclables, taking 40% of America’s scrap paper and plastic. At the end of 2017, however, China blocked shipments of foreign recyclables, causing mixed plastics (numbers 3 to 7) and paper to pile up at ports around the world. Prices for these scrap materials tanked, wiping out what little value the plastics had to begin with.

In the wake of China’s ban, with no place for mixed paper and plastics to go, curbside collection programs from Maine to Michigan to Florida were suspended. Reports have emerged from cities and towns across the country about collected recyclables ending up in landfills and incinerators.

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Recyclers across America have had to cancel service or scale back after China’s clampdown on imports of contaminated foreign waste. Some have had to send recyclables to landfills. 

The latest big blow to recycling came in early August with the closure of rePlanet, California’s largest chain of recycling centers where consumers could return empty containers and redeem bottle deposits. Even though plastic bottles still have some value in the States, it’s not what it was before the China ban.

“The scrap value of recycled materials has dropped across the board for every material, some much worse than others,” explained Martin Bourque, who heads up the Berkeley, California-based Ecology Center, home to one of the country’s oldest curbside recycling programs. 

For recyclers like rePlanet, which made money only on the materials it sold, low scrap prices make it difficult to cover operating costs. In rePlanet’s case, there were other factors at play: For one, a state-run mechanism designed to help recyclers ride out hard times didn’t adapt quickly enough to save the company. 

But there was another problem, too: Consumer goods companies don’t necessarily want to source recycled plastics for their products, not when they can save money by purchasing freshly made plastic.  

“It’s so much cheaper to buy new, virgin resin,” Bourque said. 

A Glut Of Virgin Plastics

Since oil and natural gas are the raw materials for making plastic, the price of virgin plastic is tied to oil and natural gas prices, which are currently low. Natural gas, in particular, is now very cheap due to the fracking boom in the U.S. Remember the ethane crackers getting built in Appalachia and the Gulf of Mexico? They will only make virgin plastic cheaper, according to Siegler. 

“All the new plants that are coming online are just going to continue to drive the price of virgin plastics down, which will encourage consumption on new plastic and discourage recycling,” Siegler told HuffPost.

Some contend that virgin plastic prices are already artificially low. 

“The government has intervened and subsidized virgin materials extraction and made it impossible for recycling to compete,” said Sanborn. 

Companies that are building new plastic manufacturing plants are getting help from the government, too. Oil and gas giant Shell is building a massive complex in Pennsylvania that will open in 2020 and produce 1.6 million metric tons of polyethylene every year. The plant will also receive $1.65 billion in tax breaks over 25 years. A Shell official told the Northeast U.S. & Canada Petrochemical Construction Conference in 2016 that without this fiscal package, the company may not have gone ahead with the project. (The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

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Part of a petrochemical plant being built on the Ohio River in Monaca, Pennsylvania, for the Royal Dutch Shell company. The plant, which is capable of producing 1.6 million tons of raw plastic annually, is expected to begin operations by 2021.

Recycling efforts, from collection to sorting to reprocessing, have not received comparable subsidies, Sanborn said.

Some of the big fossil fuel and chemical corporations are funneling money into projects meant to improve recycling ― though not nearly as much cash is going toward this effort. In January, 28 oil and gas, chemical and plastics companies, including Exxon, Shell, SABIC and Formosa, formed the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and collectively pledged $1.5 billion over five years for improving recycling infrastructure. That amount is far short of what’s needed to see real change start to ripple across the recycling industry, Siegler says. 

Petrochemical companies, if they wanted to, would need to make investments of up to $20 billion every year for a decade to make sure that 50% of global plastics get recycled or reused, according to a McKinsey analysis. The Alliance said in a statement to HuffPost that it hopes its initial investment will encourage governments, banks and other big corporations to spend more on recycling. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

Conservationists still believe that recycling is a worthwhile endeavor, just not a silver bullet to fixing our plastic waste crisis.

Recycling definitely has to be a part of the solution,” Genevieve Abedon, of Californians Against Waste, told HuffPost.

Siegler years ago proposed a plastic tax to pay for much-needed recycling infrastructure. Charging plastic producers just a penny a pound ― roughly a 1% tax, since most resins cost a dollar a pound ― would raise $4 billion to $5 billion per year, Siegler estimated. 

“The price of plastic is too low,” he told HuffPost. “It doesn’t reflect the environmental damage associated with plastic.” 

His idea has not caught on.

A landmark pair of bills in the California Legislature would help recyclers compete with virgin plastic producers by boosting demand for recycled plastic. The measures seek to force manufacturers to use more recycled materials in their plastic products.

“If we can increase the demand for recycled plastic, investment will then flow through the whole recycling chain,” said Kara Pochiro, of the Association of Plastic Recyclers.

Though the bills failed to pass before the end of the legislative session, they’ll be eligible for a vote again next year. 

Consumer goods companies could make a big difference by signing long-term contracts with recyclers for material, Pochiro says. This would help insulate recycling companies from fluctuations in the commodity market and potentially stop more collapses like that of rePlanet. 

Last November, beverage maker Nestle Waters North America signed a multiyear contract with CarbonLITE, a company that recycles and produces food-grade PET plastic. With this guaranteed demand, CarbonLITE is now building a new facility in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, that is expected to recycle more than 2 billion used bottles every year. 

There are things that shoppers can do, too. 

“Buy recycled,” Pochiro recommended. 

Sanborn said that consumers who don’t like the plastic packaging they receive with their products should lay it all out on the floor, take a photo of the plastic, upload it to social media, tag the company that sent it to them and complain. 

“Be really loud and squeaky. The squeaky wheels get greased,” she said. 

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The Problem With ‘Bachelor’ Stars Dating Real Celebrities | Betches

I’ve been a loyal member of Bachelor Nation for longer than is psychologically recommended (according to my therapist). In fact, I’m so invested in them that I spend almost seven months out of every year chained to my TV for two hours on Monday nights, just to watch these people find love while simultaneously bringing dishonor to their family name. I then meticulously record this aesthetically-pleasing car crash in a weekly recap so that we can all remember that one time Chris Harrison had to explain to Colton which hole to put it in for posterity purposes. One could even argue that watching The Bachelor has been my longest relationship to date. 

And, like any other toxic relationship in my life, I’ve put up with my fair share of bullsh*t. Getting rid of Jorge The Bartender on Bachelor in Paradise in favor of Wells, who is about as much a mixologist as I am a person with good credit? Fine. Letting Chris Harrison negotiate a new contract that allows him to speak seven words or less per episode, despite the fact that he is the glue that holds that insane asylum together? Also fine. Giving Nick Viall not one, not two, not three, but FOUR separate seasons to con the American public into thinking he could ever be a catch? Fine, fine, fine. But what I won’t stand for—what I absolutely refuse to allow—is Bachelor Nation infiltrating the lives of real celebs. 

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, recently there has been a number of former Bachelor contestants vying for the hearts of actual celebrities, like Tyler C and Gigi Hadid, Demi Lovato and Mike Johnson, and as of last week, potentially Nick Viall and Rachel Bilson. And these are just the most recent couplings! 

When I first found out about Tyler C hooking up with Gigi Hadid, I was disappointed and a little upset. My friends, on the other hand, were ecstatic. “Good for Tyler!” They’d say. “He deserves only good things!” Look, I’m not going to pretend that watching 30 hours of TV footage of the man makes me an apt judge of his character, but I was inclined to agree. Good things? Sure. But going from dating a girl who names her zits and regularly butchers the English language to dating one of the highest-paid models in the world, who also happens to be an international superstar? Are you f*cking kidding me, Tyler?

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Bottom line? I felt lied to. I had just spent weeks this summer watching Tyler profess his love for Hannah B, a girl who is the definition of “hot mess” in Urban Dictionary, only to find out that what he was really searching for in a partner was 108 pounds of hairspray and coconut water. Part of those feelings of betrayal came from the fact that these guys are supposed to be somewhat attainable. These are supposed to be guys who would theoretically be into us, the viewer (assuming we are under a size 4, have at least 10K followers on Instagram, and look professionally airbrushed at all times). AND GIGI F*CKING HADID IS NOT LIKE US, THE VIEWER, IS SHE TYLER C?!

Furthermore, I’ve always considered the stars of Bachelor Nation to be their own sad, demented sorority/fraternity, that real stars—people with certifiable talents and ambition that goes beyond which Instagram sponsorship will pay for their Revolve credit card—would look down upon. Bachelor contestants are willing to debase themselves on national television, wear chicken suits and cry about being seagulls instead of pigeons. Why would a person who has won Emmys for acting or hit the Billboard Hot 100 want to date a person whose bio can be summed up as “social media participant” or “former high school athlete”?

Take Mike Johnson and Demi Lovato, for instance. Do I love them both? Yes. Do I want both of them to be happy? Also, yes. But Demi is a rockstar, a huge advocate for mental health, and has a world-wide fanbase, while Mike… has a really great smile? Calls women “queens”? Seriously, what does this guy do for a living and is he really good enough for MY queen Demi? Their budding relationship feels mismatched and off-kilter. That’s not to say some relationships can’t be mismatched, but this feels like something more than that.

And for the most part, it’s the men of BachelorNation who are sliding into the DMs of A-list stars. You don’t see Bibiana hitting up Michael B. Jordan’s IG comments section with flirty emojis or Kristina Schulman going on dinner dates with Chace Crawford. Which brings me to the real reason I’m so offended by these recent couplings: why is this phenomenon so one-sided?

We’ve talked at length about how The Bachelor men dating A-listers won’t be great for the franchise. It already felt like a real suspension of reality that these conventionally attractive, mildly successful men weren’t able to find love in real life and that’s why they came on the show. Over the years, it’s felt like less of the contestants are actually there to find love with the lead and more of them are there to find fame and careers on Instagram. And now the female leads must contend with the likes of Demi Lovato and Gigi Hadid potentially sliding into the guys’ DMs post-production, apparently. 

Hannah

Aside from Lauren Bushnell’s recent engagement to country music singer Chris Lane, the majority of the ladies in Bachelor Nation are single or are dating in the Bachelor pool of potential suitors, but the men aren’t playing that game anymore. While Nick Viall serenades Summer Roberts on his podcast, Caelynn felt so desperate for a happy ending that she settled for a man who lives in his van.

More and more I watch this show and think, “man, she’s settling” and I’ve realized that’s not the kind of reality TV I want to watch anymore. This used to be a show about real people looking for love. Over time, that’s shifted into cosmetically enhanced, famous-adjacent people looking for love, and I was fine with that too. But I can’t stand for this new turn of events. I don’t watch The Bachelorette or Bachelor in Paradise to find out how a good looking dude from Florida somehow managed to bag a supermodel. I watch this show to root for the women, for them to find themselves and maybe find love too.

Hannah B set a new precedent  for Bachelorettes: that we can be funny and messy and say the wrong things and STILL be desirable—still be wife material. But watching her men declare that’s what they want in a wife and then go out and date international superstars in the next breath is enraging and upsetting. If this is what the next generation of Bachelor looks like, then count me out. 

Images: ABC; Giphy (2)

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Trans models: From decades of rejection to centre stage

BBC Image copyright Pantene
Image caption Paris Lees is a brand ambassador for hair care brand Pantene

Being outed as transgender was once enough to end a career in modelling, but some brands and magazines are now actively seeking to work with people who are openly and proudly trans. How did being transgender become viewed as not only acceptable but aspirational?

“I never actually thought that trans people would be celebrated,” said Paris Lees. “When I was growing up the only time I ever saw trans people in the media or in advertising, we were presented as objects of pity, ridicule or disgust.”

The trans rights campaigner and writer was speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women conference, where she was announced as a brand ambassador for hair care brand Pantene.

Lees, who grew up in the Nottinghamshire town of Hucknall, is the first transgender woman to be appointed by Pantene. However, she is far from the only transgender person to model for a mainstream brand, with transgender men and women including Valentina Sampaio, Chella Man and Andreja Pejić being hired by the likes of Victoria’s Secret, Gap and Make Up For Ever.

“Increasingly trans has come to signify a certain wokeness or hipness that it has not always had,” says Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution. “To show somebody trans in a positive light as something that is desirable or normal or acceptable, that is like a marketing use of a subcultural chic, to sell shampoo or soap or tequila or what have you.”

How did this happen, and who blazed the trail?

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption April Ashley was one of the earliest people from the UK known to have had gender reassignment surgery
BBC

April Ashley is thought to have been the first successful transgender model. Born George Jamieson in Liverpool in 1935, she had gender reassignment surgery in 1960 at the age of 25, and her striking looks led her to grace the pages of Vogue magazine.

She kept her past a secret, but her modelling career was cut short when she was outed by tabloid newspaper the Sunday People in 1961, under the headline “The extraordinary case of top model April Ashley: ‘Her’ secret is out”.

“My agent called me and she said ‘April your career is finished. You will never get another job in this town’,” she told the BBC in 2013.

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tracey Norman, shown here in 2016, was a successful model in the 1970s before being outed

African-American transgender model Tracey Norman, who later changed her last name to Africa, had a similar experience. For about 10 years she enjoyed a successful career, with her work including a high-profile campaign for Clairol cosmetics.

“As far as I know Tracey Norman is the first trans model in the United States who we know about,” says Prof Elspeth Brown, author of Work! A Queer History of Modeling.

But she was outed in 1980 after being recognised during a photo-shoot for Essence, a magazine aimed at African-American women. “All I know is that my work stopped that day,” Norman told The Cut in 2015. “I just felt so upset about it because it was my people and my community that did this to me – the black community and the gay community.”

She later got modelling work in Paris and was then was hired for an Ultra Sheen cosmetics advert back in the US. However, the advert created too much attention, she was recognised from before, and struggled to get work again.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Another 1980s model, Teri Toye, was open from the start about her trans status and was “really welcomed”, Prof Brown says, although she was not working for mainstream consumer clients
BBC
BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Caroline Cossey, also known as Tula, appeared in a Bond film and was the first transgender woman to pose for Playboy

Back in the UK, a closeted transgender women called Caroline Cossey had been climbing the ladder of the fashion industry under the name Tula.

“Cossey worked as a model from 1975 to 1981, appeared in magazines such as Australian Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and did extensive work as a model,” says Prof Stryker.

She even appeared in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, and in Playboy alongside the film’s other Bond girls. However, the film led to her being outed by the News of the World in an article with the headline “James Bond’s girl was a boy”.

“I was destroyed overnight,” she said in 2016. “There was nothing I could do and my life was in tatters so I ran away. I hid from the limelight because it was the only way to feel safe.”

She was offered work again but it was based around her transgender status, and she felt she was being “portrayed like a freak”. She also wrote a book and did countless interviews in an effort to raise awareness of trans issues, but hid from the limelight again after being made to feel like “a circus act”.

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Image caption Caitlyn Jenner, shown here with Andreja Pejić, is sometimes credited for a “trans tipping point”
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So what has changed in recent years?

Prof Brown says people refer to a “trans tipping point” within popular culture, and she dates this to 2015 when former Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner came out as Caitlyn Jenner.

“Also other things have happened in the United States, in particular in terms of politics,” Prof Brown says. “The right wing’s targeting of trans people has brought the issue of transness into the public imagination. Also in the United States you have very popular television shows like Orange is the New Black, that has the trans actress Laverne Cox on it, and she’s been incredibly outspoken and an advocate for trans people.”

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Image caption Laverne Cox rose to prominence in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black

Prof Stryker says hiring somebody who is out as trans becomes “a political comment of some kind that flags a certain kind of progressive, woke mentality”.

“You’re using disability or fatness or transness or racial diversity as a way of saying ‘our product fits in with your progressive, woke, metropolitan, hip, progressive views’.”

In fact, Victoria’s Secret apologised in 2018 after its chief marketing officer Ed Razek said trans models should not be cast in its shows. The lingerie brand has since hired transgender model Valentina Sampaio, who has more than 377,000 followers on Instagram.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Victoria’s Secret cast Valentina Sampaio after previously saying it would not work with transgender models
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Jay McCauley Bowstead, a lecturer at the London College of Fashion, believes social media has “provided a space through which more diverse representations can emerge”.

Brands and magazines can now look old-fashioned, he argues, if they do not mirror the diversity seen on social media.

“I think that’s part of why maybe brands and fashion weeks and catwalks and magazines are changing the way they represent people,” he says.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chella Man has documented his transition on YouTube, where he has 235,000 subscribers
BBC

He names Chella Man and Krow Kian as two prominent transgender male models.

“Someone like Chella Man did actually pose for The Gap, the American brand. You can’t get much more mainstream,” he says.

“What’s interesting is he’s reasonably buff and muscular, but he poses with his shirt off so you can see the scars on his chest. He sometimes wears quite androgynous garments, and I think that’s intriguing because it maybe marks a moment in which trans guys are feeling like ‘I don’t have to conform to this very narrow model of masculinity’. It’s not about ‘passing’ in some very narrow way.”

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Andreja Pejić started her career as an androgynous male model

Andreja Pejić is another example of a model not conforming to gender norms. She started her career almost a decade ago as Andrej Pejić, an androgynous male model. Pejic then had gender reassignment surgery in 2013, despite being warned against transitioning as it might jeopardise her career.

“There was definitely a lot of ‘Oh, you’re going to lose what’s special about you. You’re not going to be interesting any more’,” she said. One agent apparently told her: “It’s better to be androgynous than a tranny.”

Despite the warnings she continues to be a leading model and has branched out into films, recently appearing as Claire Foy’s love interest in The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption April Ashley was appointed MBE for services to transgender equality in 2012

So what happened to April Ashley, Tracey Norman and Caroline Cossey, models who lost work after being outed as trans?

Norman was hired by Clairol once again at the age of 63 to be the face of a new hair colour campaign. Cossey found the confidence to come back into the limelight, appearing alongside Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox in documentary film The Trans List. And the once ostracised Ashley has featured in a major exhibition in her home city of Liverpool, and in 2012 was appointed MBE for services to transgender equality.

BBC Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Paris Lees was chosen as a Pantene ambassador alongside boxer Ramla Ali and model and broadcaster Katie Piper

Prof Stryker believes increasing representation of trans people is positive, but cautions that it is “not enough”.

“I wouldn’t want to say ‘Oh Paris Lees has got a Pantene commercial so now the world is safe for trans people’,” she says.

“Positive representation of trans people can be a good thing, but it’s not like it’s changing laws or keeping people from being killed by transphobes.

“It’s a good thing but it’s a small part of the big picture.”

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