"Cold Hard Cash for Greenhouse Gases": How to Save a Planet Commentary

Updated: Oct 26

As I am an extremely active earthling on the " How to Save a Planet Podcast", I think that a weekly editorial on Dr. Anaya Johnson and Alex's Blumberg's informational podcast and newsletter is more than appropriate on my blog. I want to make clear in no way, shape, or form did I contribute to the production, recording, or publication of "How to Save a Planet", for I am just an overly excited fan of their amazing productions. In this episode of "How to Save a Planet", another one of Alex Blumberg's podcasts, Planet Money, joined Dr. Johnson and Mr. Blumberg along with guest speakers: Tim Brown, Gabe Plotkin, Merideth Fowlie, and Danielle Wright. "Let's get right into how to save a planet."

To begin the episode Alex Blumberg teams up with his mates to discuss the profits of Tradewater, a business run by Tim Brown and Gabe Plotkin, but I want to backtrack and give a little more insight into what laid the groundwork for their million-dollar annual profit. We all have heard of the villainized, big, bad, wolf of greenhouse gas emissions, carbon, but do you know there is a greenhouse gas 12,000 times more harmful than carbon. Now, while carbon emissions earn the well- deserved title as big, bad, wolf, as it's emissions mass to 150 million metric tons in the United States, but as of 2002, the United States released 181,158 metric tons of CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, and more into the atmosphere, which if you calculate that number in terms of carbon emissions equates to 1,811,580,000 worth of carbon emission. Yeah, I know. While CFCs and HFCs are equally if not more detrimental, I will cover those later in the editorial. While looking at these larger than life greenhouse gas emissions could frighten the most zealous activist, it can also provide a clear path of priorities for climate reform, and this is how the state of California, the home of dreamers, is planning to fix it. First, it is illegal to own refrigerant freon R-12 anywhere in the United States as it is 10,000 times more harmful than carbon. Freon R-12 is a refrigerant commonly found in refrigeration and air conditioning and as Alex's buddies call it "a climate change timebomb". Freon R-12 receives the name "ticking timebomb due to its tendency of leaking out of tanks once they begin to rust, which all tanks inevitably do, so the objective is to destroy the harmful gas inside of the tank before the tank gives in. Since it is illegal to own this substance in all 50 states if a person is aware of the ownership of this gas, they must find a safe way to dispose of it, but the problem with this legislation is that it cost owners money to release this gas, which they may not have.

This is where California's kick-a** legislation comes in. The state of California start

ed its honor roll of legislation benefiting the climate by passing something called Cap and Trade, which was expertly explained by Merideth Fowlie, an environmental economist at UC Berkeley. Mrs. Fowlie explains," A particularly appealing quality of the "cap-and-trade(CAT) approach to regulating industrial emissions is that an efficient permit market will direct firms with the lowest abatement costs to reduce emissions first(Coase, 1960; Dales, 1968; Montgomery, 1972)". The CAT limits the number of metric tons of new greenhouse emissions to 334,000,000, and every business from a tire shop to a hair barber must get one pollution permit per metric ton of greenhouse gas they wish to emit, each costing $17 when bought from the state of California. However, when putting this into the context of the greenhouse emissions cap, there are only 334,000,000 permits to be given out, so businesses have the opportunity to sell these permits to one another. This creates a market around climate conservation where companies get rewarded for doing the right things and punished for the wrong. To understand the intricacies of California's CAT by Merideth Fowlie and Jeffery Perloff at the University of California, Berkeley, and where I got my information, read here.

The state of California also enacted somethings amazing called Carbon Offset

Credits, this legislation provides credits to citizens, who have passed thousands of papers of verification, with profitable credits in turn for actively preventing climate change. Amazing, I know. It gets even better. These "climate change warriors" can then, in turn, sell these credits to businesses that require pollution to produce a profit. Bada** climate change warriors such as Tim Brown and Gabe Plotkin can create companies around this legislation, such as Tradewater. Tradewater is a for-profit business that pays to collect amounts of Freon R-12 ranging from 1- 40,000 lbs off of people's hands, so instead of losing money for destroying it, they gain money from giving it away. Good right? It gets even better. Tim Brown and Gabe Plotkin then turn around to properly dispose of the refrigerant in quantities of 20,000 - 30,000 lbs at a time for a fraction. So how do they make a profit? This is how the Carbon Offset Credits finally come into play. They, then, receive their credits from the Californian government to sell back to businesses that require emissions for profit. Are you ready for the best part? They do all of this undercover. While obtaining amounts of R-12 legally and in a clean process, they do not advertise the reason for collecting it is for destruction. As Dr. Anaya expertly put it they are the "super stealth, Malcolm X of refrigerants", and I do not think I could have said it better. Eleven out of the fifty states have adopted this legislation, and many have tacked on their own new legislation to supplement it. Of course, not to get political(but to get political), the change in the carbon tax is happening within the state's legislation, and little to no progress has been made in the Trump administration. To find out more check out some of these links:

Learn more about Tradewater and Tim and Gabe here

Wow, that was a lot, and there's more. Remember when I mentioned the Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and hydrofluoric carbons (HFC)'s emission crisis. Well, let's go back to that. Danielle Wright, the head of the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC), has been all over the topic of CFC and HFC emissions, which I mentioned are 12,000 times more dangerous than carbon, ranking higher than R-12, yet they still are used worldwide. But who is using this harmful, harmful greenhouse gas that is absolutely destroying our atmosphere? The main offender: grocery stores. Grocery store refrigeration, besides absolutely freezing anyone within a 75-foot radius, require hundreds and hundreds of thin copper pipes. One thing about thin copper pipes, the bust easily, and while copper pipes with CFCs and HFCs streaming through them are the cost-effective choice for any supermarket, it is a choice which is ruining our environment. So, how do we get these supermarket moguls to switch to more environmentally friendly options, including ammonia or carbon dioxide? To start, while both of these options are extremely off-putting at first glance when looking deeper into it, they are very simple solutions, but pricey ones. Ammonia was the original refrigerant, but due to you know...its toxicity, but now we have the technologies to adapt it to meet health standards, so the only reason stopping us from utilizing it is the expense of changing. But, as Dr. Anaya would love to argue, when appealing to the people fails, there is always legislation! So, Danielle Wright has shifted her focus to federal legislation to prevent the constant emissions of CFC and HFC into the atmosphere, and she has been met with support! The American Inovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM) will phase out 85% of importantion and production of HFCs by 2035. That is 13 years away! This bill has been met with loads of support from both the democratic and republic sides of the House or Representatives AND the Senate, but (dun, dun, dunnn),once again not to get political, Donald is the main and only obstacle in the bill's ratification. Thanks Donald, I appreciate your hindering ignorance. Anways that brings me to one of the most important points I will write, vote and vote Biden-Harris for the 2020 elections, thank you.

Read more about the AIM act here

Read more about the NASRC here

How to Save a Planet's October 22 podcast was jam-packed with tons of useful information, but if I could pick one main theme out of it, it would be: carbon emissions are not the only powerful greenhouse gases, so we need to broaden our focus to account for all of the dentriments emmited. I want to reiterate that I in no way, shape, or form contributed anything to the original podcast, but without further ado: quick facts.

- CFC and HFC leak 3,000-5,000 lbs per grocery store annually.

- CFC and HFC emissions equate to 152 billion lbs of carbon dioxide annually.

- By destroying forms of R-12 properly you can save the atmosphere from 99.99% of the harmful gas.

- F-23 is another refrigerant that is made and destroyed by companies in India and China for a profit.

- Cow burps can produce methane in the air, so by that logic, if you found a way to reduce cow burps, in the state of California and 10 other states, you could receive a profit.

- Out of 40,000 supermarket moguls only 1% of them have gone HFC free

- Anaya Johnson is my personal hero :)

Go give the original podcast a listen if you haven't already, and these are all the people featured in this episode, so go show them some support!

How to Save a Planet Podcast

Anaya Johnson

Alex Blumberg

Planet Money


Tim and Gabe

Merideth Fowlie

Danielle Wright