All businesses should be required to operate their business in a way that does not significantly degrade the quality of the environment. Simply put, businesses should try to operate in as much of a closed system as feasible. They should internalize all negative externalities by either doing what it takes to prevent these externalities from negatively affecting the environment or by paying a penalty for allowing them to affect the environment. All these costs would naturally be incorporated into the prices of products and services produced by these businesses.0 Comments
There ought to exist an environmental scale in which every parcel of land of any size could be graded on a scale of 1 through 100 in which 1 would be the most natural, anthropogenically untouched environment and 100 would be an environment which is totally polluted, destroyed, and changed by human activities. Larger sections of land with many parcels of different environmental grades lying within it would be graded by taking the weighted average environmental grade of all these parcels to determine the overall grade for that larger section.
Constructing maps showing the environmental grades received by each parcel of land would enable people to quickly assess the degree and spatial distribution of human influences on the natural environment. Governments could set zoning policies defining how far from ‘natural’ lands are permitted to be managed. For example, an entire area dedicated as a Nature Preserve could be prohibited from having an average environmental grade higher than 5 points on this scale, while Nature Conserves could be allowed a deviation of up to 10 points from what would otherwise be the environment in its ‘natural’ state (being defined as a grade of 1 on this scale). The Sarcophagus structure entombing the destroyed Unit 4 nuclear reactor near Chernobyl, Ukraine, would probably qualify as a 100 or very near to it because the area is virtually permanently contaminated with huge amounts of long-lived radioactive pollution, the site also contains almost entirely manmade materials, and it consists of a built up structure whose permeability, albedo, thermal mass, and other qualities are different than what could be expected if that land were to have been left in a purely natural state.
Some anthropogenic influences such as air and light pollution cannot realistically be prevented from crossing the boundaries of any protected area, thus causing a degradation of the protected area, or at least portions of it, and thus causing it to deviate from a purely ‘natural’ grade. Therefore, while all grades should fully reflect all negative human alterations of the natural environment, policy decisions firmly requiring a grade of 1 on this environmental deviation scale may not be the most practical thing to do because of this kind of spillover effect. Rather, it may be better to make policies based upon the ‘natural’ environment plus any ‘unavoidably’ intrusive environmental pollutants.
Alternatively, this spillover effect could be factored into such land grades with just the assumption that these lands are anavoidably altered and affected because of pollution spilling over from adjoining lands.
Using such a grading scale, governments could fairly and meaningfully fine or tax landowners for exceeding the allowable environmental deviation limit by a clear, quantitative amount.
Environmental Preservation & Development Limits
All lands intended for the preservation of the natural environment (against permanent agricultural, residential, commercial or industrial developments) should be given one of the first three classifications that would more clearly indicate their degree of environmental protection: the Preserve, the Conserve or Protected Area, and the Park.
- The Preserve would be the most protective level of classification and would involve the virtual total preservation of the environment, attempting to keep it in its naturally pristine condition. In these Preserves, extremely limited infrastructures would be allowed. This would include no roads, electrical, plumbing, or other utility lines, no maintained clearings for campgrounds, and nothing else that would either aesthetically, physically, or biologically infringe on the natural state of the environment. No more than one-tenth of one percent (.1%) would be allowed to be permanently developed. The only possible exception may be minimally maintained trails and perhaps markers or signs scattered throughout the Preserve to aid people in navigation. Very few people, who have obtained the proper permits and passed educational classes which deal with living in harmony with the environment and the penalties for failing to do so, would be allowed to permanently live in such areas. These people, and perhaps others, may engage in subsistence food gathering and hunting after obtaining the proper educational classes and permits. However, to make such Preserves more visually accessible and enjoyable to the public, perhaps very silent and unobtrusive monorail systems could be built throughout some areas of the Preserve on tall columns so that the whole system would operate with a minimal footprint, minimal noise pollution and minimal tree trimming maintenance requirements. In fact, these monorail systems could be merely part of regular long distance mass transportation networks that travel through such areas without stopping at stations.
- The second level of lands classification is the Conserve or Protected Area. Permitted on lands under this classification would be infrastructures such as campgrounds, bathroom facilities, limited paved roads, electrical, water, and gas lines, maintained hiking trails and bicycle paths, etc. The goal is to conserve as much of the natural environment as possible, while allowing for broad, low-impact human enjoyment. No more than 10% of the total area dedicated as a Conserve should be allowed to be permanently developed.
- Finally, in the third level of classification there would be the Parks that would allow the use of motorized watercrafts, off road motor vehicles, they could offer maintained grassy play areas, paved roads and bike paths, play equipment, and allow the use of other recreational aids and permit virtually any recreational activity.
Adjective words such as Nature, Natural, Historical, Archeological, etc., should be included in the names of protected areas to denote the kinds of lands they are. More descriptive nouns could also be used such as Seashore, Lakeshore, River, Parkway, Trail, Battlefield, Cemetery, Monument, etc.
Archeological or historical human monuments, or Battlefields, etc., which are not natural environments per se, are worthy of similar levels of protection, even up to a Preserve, because they also are intended to be protected from human induced alteration.
The adjectives International, National, State, County, or even City should also be included in the names of each of the relevant protected areas so people know which level of government was responsible for creating it.
Developments and permanent human habitation should be allowed within all environmentally protected lands, though they would be most restrictive for Preserves. However, all such developments must remain within a maximum deviation of ‘natural’ established by the controlling governing authority. For example, if the maximum allowable degree of anthropogenic deviation from the natural environment is 10 points for an entire area dedicated as a Conserve or Protected Area, the weighted average of all establishments and landowners occupying 100% of that Conserve cannot exceed this limit of 10 points.
In other words, even very protected areas could allow small scale residential and commercial developments so long as all forms of pollution including water, noise and light pollution are mitigated to sufficient degrees. Developments should also fully treat all their sewage and not have large impermeably paved areas (roads, parking lots, etc). Such developments should operate in as much of a closed system as possible. Perhaps taxes could be applied based on the degree of deviation from ‘natural’ that each parcel is deemed to be. This should incentivize the management of lands under increasing levels of protected status, thereby more effectively controlling future developments and creating powerful tendencies to reduce negative human influences on the environment.
Preserving Agricultural Land From Residential/Commercial/Industrial Development
Also needed is a mechanism that would facilitate the preservation of agricultural land, which generally has less of a negative environmental footprint than residential, commercial or industrial developments. More levels of land designation should be added to the list of three designations above.
- An Agricultural lands category could be used to describe any lands that are being used as to grow crops for human or animal use. This would include land used to grow seasonal crops or permanent crops such as orchards or vineyards. Meadows and pastures used for anthropogenic activities (such as for grazing domesticated cattle), would also be classified as agricultural.
- Residential lands would be used for residential purposes.
- Commercial lands would be reserved for commercial purposes.
- Industrial lands would be used for industrial purposes.
The general idea is to try to keep as much land as possible classified in the top rankings so as to maintain as much stability as possible in the environment. Since environmental damage occurs with virtually every human interaction with the environment, often contributing to extirpations, extinctions or other longterm alterations which are often not noticed until long after the effects are difficult or impossible to reverse, this policy of attempting to keep as many parcels of land in a state as close to natural as possible, is perhaps the best policy for prevention and conservation of the natural world.0 Comments
Parties responsible for the pollution of an environment should be required to clean it up, pay someone else to clean it up, and/or to have purchased insurance that would cover at least some of the liabilities arising during such pollution events. The degree of cleanup required would vary according to the particular facts of each case, but generally, polluted environments should be required to be restored, as much as practical, to their condition before the pollution event.
Furthermore, a punitive penalty would be assessed which is a multiple of the total cost of cleaning and restoring the environment to its condition prior to the pollution event. However, this punitive penalty multiple would be based on the particular facts of the case, including the degree of negligence, cooperation with authorities, history of the company in similar matters, sensitivity of the environment suffering damage, and other relevant aspects. If the environment was deliberately polluted, the punitive penalty multiple applied would be significantly larger.
In all cases, if, as a result of damage due to the pollution, lands that were used for revenue purposes (including tourism) were no longer able to produce the same amount of earnings, the difference between the actual earnings and the projected earnings should be multiplied by a certain punitive multiple and paid to all parties affected for up to 25 years after the date of damage or contamination or for however long the land was projected to earn revenues, whichever financial cost is less.0 Comments
All chemicals (old or new) that are incorporated into any anthropogenic product must pass basic environmental health safety tests and be placed on a ‘clean’ list of approved chemicals. Of course, such a list would be graduated with chemicals being categorized according to their various environmental effects and regulated accordingly.
Such a list would be referred to by anyone else who is in the market for a new chemical to use in any other product and they would automatically be able to use any chemicals on such a ‘clean’ list without further regulatory approval.
The default government regulatory position should be for all new chemicals to automatically be placed on a ‘prohibited’ list until such chemicals have passed the proper human and environmental safety tests. The chemicals which have passed would then be placed on the ‘clean’ list, eligible for use.0 Comments
US military facilities and operations on both domestic and foreign lands anywhere in the world should be required to comply with all environmental laws that everybody else in the US private sector must obey. During wartime, any environmental regulations could be weakened if the military could prove that they would significantly inhibit the effectiveness of the military objectives. The only major exception to the compliance of environmental regulations during peacetime should be in the area of atmospheric emissions due to the inherent performance reduction effects that air pollution control equipment would have on aircraft and other mobile powerplants. However, fixed powerplants must abide by the normal air emission standards.
The US military should make every reasonable effort to abide by any more stringent environmental protection standards set by the jurisdictions in which they operate, either in other countries or within the various states of the United States, unless those regulations are unreasonable or significantly threaten military performance or readiness.
The United States should also be responsible for the cleanup of any intentional or accidental pollution at any of its facilities or sites of operation. Such cleanup operations should return the site, at a minimum, to within acceptable environmental standards as specified in domestic US environmental law or the law of the jurisdition in which it is operating, whichever is more stringent.
The United States should not hide behind protections offered by any statute of limitations rules or current ownership or property title disputed in order to avoid the responsibility of cleaning up any environmental messes for which it was clearly responsible at any time in the past.
The US military should not be obligated to cleanup any unintended pollution caused as a result of direct or indirect offensive or defensive military actions, but should attempt to make a good faith effort to minimize such environmental disruptions and rectify them if the costs are insignificant or minor.0 Comments
A pollutant or contaminant found within an environment should be defined as excessive, thus requiring action to reduce its concentration, only when its concentration in an area exceeds, by a certain multiple, its average concentration across its entire political jurisdiction (usually at the county level). Currently, many “maximum acceptable pollution concentration” regulations are based mainly upon the degree of harm such concentrations cause to biological organisms. Often, however, these limits are nearly the same or even lower than natural background levels. Depending on the distribution and nature of the pollutant, the type (i.e., size) of political jurisdictions used to construct an average would vary. Rarely would jurisdictions smaller than counties be used (cities, special districts, etc.) because they may just be too geographically small to calculate a reliable average of normal background pollutant levels. Counties may be the most appropriate jurisdiction to use because most land and watershed pollutants tend to be caused by point sources and remain within relatively small areas. Counties are also large enough to provide a statistically reliable sample for background pollution levels, but not so large that a geographically extensive sampling of pollution levels need to be mounted, at least for most pollutants, especially point source ones. However, widespread pollutants may require the use of state or perhaps even national averages to determine ‘normal’ background levels.
Generally, pollutants averaged over the predetermined geographic area should not require specific action to reduce it if its levels in all areas (within this predetermined geographic area) are at less than one standard deviation from normal. If an area has levels higher than one standard deviation, then specific action could be warranted to reduce the pollutant’s concentration in that location.
Pollutants defined as being ‘excessive’ in one jurisdiction could be reduced by increasing the penalty for each unit of that pollutant that is released within the jurisdiction. If it is found that the emission of a pollutant from one jurisdiction is causing ‘excessive’ readings in another, then the penalty per unit of that pollution should also be increased in the originating jurisdiction.0 Comments
Satellite owners should be required to remove their litter from space when it is no longer used. The owners of retired satellites and the generators of other space debris of any size larger than 1 centimeter (unless the debris was generated by accident) should be charged a space litter penalty based on the threat that such space junk may have on active space operations (which is a function of the debris’ orbital altitude and other orbital characteristics, size, and tracking difficulty). Generally, the minimum fee should be $1,000 per piece of debris. Such space litter fees should be charged quarterly starting with the quarter beginning after the one-year anniversary date of the object’s classification as litter.
Governments (overseen by an accepted international authority) should build a high-powered, pulsed laser debris ablation system that would consist of a series of high-altitude, ground-based laser facilities around the globe, including perhaps also space-based laser satellites. In conjunction with the financial penalty schedule stated above, all space debris would be consistently maintained to low enough levels to ensure an reliably minimum degree of risk to space operations.0 Comments
Excreting/exchanging of bodily material (fluids/solids) should be done in private. Some examples: going to the bathroom, passionate kisses, sexual intercourse, breastfeeding, spitting (on anything other than vegetation or surfaces not commonly walked on), etc.
It should be illegal to relieve oneself (urinate or defecate) in any place that is not specifically designed for such activities, unless it is an emergency and no facilities exist nearby. Regardless, relieving oneself without taking sufficient measures to conceal oneself from the view of others should constitute a crime punishable by $500.
Also, relieving oneself should be prohibited on all paved (sidewalks, roads, etc.) or maintained (grass, flowerbeds, etc.) grounds, unless sufficient measures were taken to adequately clean up the mess.
Leaving liquid bodily wastes behind in unapproved locations without an intention to clean it up within a reasonable period of time should be punishable by a $1,000 fine. Leaving solid bodily wastes behind without an intention to clean it up within a reasonable period of time should be punishable by a $2,000 fine.
In wilderness areas, the relieving of oneself should be allowed only at a distance of more than 10 meters ‘off the beaten path’ and only if solid wastes are sufficiently buried or otherwise covered up. Insufficiently treated or distant wastes would constitute a crime punishable by $250.0 Comments
Garbage/trash should be treated as private property, particularly when inside garbage containers, even when they are placed on public property, such as at curbside. Trespassing or digging through any type of garbage that is not one’s own or without the proper permission, even if the garbage is meant to be recycled, should be treated as burglary. Anything taken should be treated as theft.0 Comments
Local building codes should not force homebuilders to build homes with their front sides facing the street if the edge of the proposed home is 50 meters or more away from the property line of the next-door neighbor along the same street. This minimum distance requirement would allow non-uniform housing layouts to be less aesthetically taxing than if houses were right next to each other as in standard neighborhoods. It would also allow developers to take better advantage of solar energy and other environmental benefits as well as alleviating some of the frustrating restrictions associated with home design and building.0 Comments
All houses, apartment buildings, and businesses that have significant landscaping on their properties should be required to also have at least one external electrical outlet so that gardeners or homeowners could use such outlets to power electrical gardening equipment (mowers, edgers, blowers, etc.). This requirement would help make it a little more convenient to use electrical gardening equipment which in turn would help cut both air and noise pollution.0 Comments
The only permissible nuclear reactors should be reactors that are capable of sustaining a catastrophic and shattering destruction of the plant facilities, including the reactor core, such as by direct bombardment, without permanently damaging the environment. The main requirement is that the design should enable any pieces of nuclear material to be located and collected after such a catastrophe so that no considerable, lasting radioactivity is irretrievably left in the environment. The environment should be able to be restored to within 5 times its normal, pre-disaster background radiation levels within 1 year of a catastrophic event. Nuclear reactors which do not meet this requirement should be phased out or even actively removed within a time frame not exceeding 30 years.
The same criteria should apply to military reactors, such as those aboard ships and submarines. If anything, these reactors are unquestionably more likely to be catastrophically destroyed than civilian reactors due to their being primary military targets.
Two current reactor designs that appear sufficiently safe are the Modular High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor and the lead-cooled Integral Fast Breeder Reactor system with on-site reprocessing.
Nuclear reactors that do not meet the above safety standards, should not have any critical infrastructures sited on land which naturally sit below 100 feet above mean sea level to prevent against potential tsunamis-related disasters.0 Comments
Genetic engineering in plants and animals, especially small, rapidly-breeding animals (less than 12-month breeding cycles), should be heavily restricted and maybe even banned. Numerous safeguards should be used to prevent the new genetic material from escaping to the environment.
Human genetic engineering should be heavily restricted and, in many cases, banned. Engineering to prevent disease and other ailments would be far more permissible than engineering to develop certain traits to improve the average person.
Crops genetically engineered to produce their own pesticides or even herbicides should be banned. The long-term consequences of such manipulations are negative. It starts an arms race with nature that only makes it more expensive and difficult to achieve the same results in the future.0 Comments
Resource conservation or efficiency should not be a factor in determining which products or practices governments allow to be sold or used within their jurisdictions. The best, fairest and most logical way to enhance the preservation and conservation efforts for any resource is for the consumer price of that resource to rise. With resources priced higher, the markets will naturally tend to demand and buy appliances, tools, machines, and other equipment that more efficiently use that resource. The best first step to ‘naturally’ increase the cost of a resource, is to remove any subsidies such a resource receives. Governments should not dictate what kinds of appliances and equipment can be used based on their efficiency.
For example, home sellers should not be required to install low flow toilets as a precondition to selling the home. Neither should high efficiency lighting or the requirement to install skylights be required of anyone by governments. Mandatory fuel efficiency standards for vehicles should not be imposed on any automaker or consumer. If the price of the resource is set correctly, virtually all significant externalities associated with the use of that resource will be paid for by the consumer. If the consumption of a resource (or any product or service) is still deemed too high for either national security (like petroleum) or other reasons, a review of all the true costs of that good or service must be made and their reflection in the final cost must be ensured. If consumption is still deemed to be too high, then, and only then, should additional taxes on such a resource be imposed to further slow it’s consumption.
The flaring of natural gas should be charged a hefty tax to discourage its flaring and encourage its capture and selling.
The same principle could be applied to national parks and other protected lands. Entrance fees, user fees and other fees could be applied so that demand (and wear and tear) at such locations can be lessened.0 Comments
As an option of last resort, and in exchange for government approval for private industry (mining, timber, etc.) to virtually rape the land (complete topographic alteration), the holders of those lands must turn over permanent, unrestricted ownership of those lands to the government as soon as their private activities have ended. Such lands could then be protected by introduction into the National Park System or other government land management programs for conservation or preservation or could be used for whatever other purpose the government decides is beneficial.0 Comments
The best way to minimize the negative effects of dams on the environment is to not have them built in the first place, especially on the main stream. Dams built off the main stream for off stream water storage (and recreational uses), such as in secondary, tertiary and even smaller river tributaries and canyons within the watershed, would be far more acceptable by not disrupting the main stream environments. (The ideal alternative would be to suck water out of rivers when we need it, though this option would not provide us with a large enough capacity to instantly satisfy periods of high water demands, especially during the dry months, and would also too largely and too rapidly influence a river’s flow.)
Of course, placing dams offstream would require very large amounts of energy to pump water up for storage behind such dams. The energy required to store this water could be provided by excess generation from distributed wind and photovoltaic units connected to the electrical grid. Since these methods of electrical generation are relatively unreliable, but would, many times, produce much more energy than is needed at the time, this excess energy could be conveniently used to store water behind these dams.
Nevertheless, since water is used so inefficiently and since it is subsidized to such ridiculous degrees, the best water policy is to reduce the demand for water by reducing its subsidies, thus increasing the price to consumers, to more accurately reflect its true cost. This would reduce demand by several percentage points, at least, and lead to less of a need for water storage infrastructures.
Flood control is one of the most important services dams provide. Naturally, to serve this function most effectively, dams must be placed right in the main streams. However, such dams need not be filled with water in order to serve effectively as flood control tools. In fact, they would serve this purpose much better if they were kept empty until needed. Flood control dams could be built over the main streams with a tunnel right under the dams that allows the river to flow unimpeded through the bottom of the dam. Then, when required to prevent floods downstream, gates could be closed at the bottom of the dam to control the amount of water allowed through. Since the reservoir behind the dam would have been kept empty, rains of ‘Biblical proportions’ would probably still not cause fears of flooding downstream because the entire design capacity of the dam would need to be filled before problems downstream would occur. Of course, permanent industrial, commercial, or residential developments could not be allowed behind the dam because of this possibility. At least nice parks or wilderness areas could be set aside instead.0 Comments
Governments should be responsible for protecting and preserving rare natural landscapes or other unique land features, significant ancient archeological sites or historical artifacts and any worthwhile land feature or artifact well enough to provide them with security and protection from common dangers such as weather and vandalism.
Any item identified as potentially possessing any significant historical or scientific value should immediately be treated in such a way that would give priority to the gathering of information before it is removed, destroyed or otherwise compromised. Such items should be immediately protected from natural or anthropogenic damage or destruction. If the item is controversial or highly valued, or sacred to some group of people, then reasonable measures should be taken to satisfy any concerns, especially with respect to destructive research techniques, vandalism, theft, etc. However, the scientific gathering of information should not be compromised or waived. The preservation of the historical accuracy of past events or items should take priority over accessibility (even to the disabled) and everything else, except maybe safety.
Penalties For Intentional Destruction of Archeological/Historical Items
The penalties for the intentional destruction of any item of significant historical value should be the median estimated auction value plus a multiple of at least 10 times that amount. High multiples, even higher than 10, should be applied especially if such items were located within museums. The destruction of irreplaceable objects is a crime that not just affects the present, but affects all future generations. Furthermore, the loss of such objects makes it that much more difficult for current and future generations to reconstruct and understand the past, especially with artifacts that relate to the distant past. During periods of rioting or civil unrest, ‘shoot-to-kill’ orders should be given to protect any archaeological museums or other locations that house artifacts with significant historical value.0 Comments
Relatively large pests (generally plants or animals that are at least as large as mice) which cause significant environmental problems and upset the natural balance of an ecosystem, should be ascribed certain economic values, such as potential food values. An example would be rabbits and frogs in Australia. Rabbit shoes or frog recipes should be made up so that people have an incentive to go out into the wild and catch these creatures.
The penalties for people doing anything to defraud such a program by either feeding or farming individuals of the target population or doing anything other than capturing them from the wild should be a fine that is so severe that it would make the perpetrators wish that they had followed the rules.0 Comments
Moonlight, especially during clear nights with a full moon, should be utilized to partially or, maybe in some cases, fully offset artificial lighting. For example, every other street light could be shut off when the moonlight is strong enough to provide auxiliary or sufficient light.0 Comments
Garbage generators should be required to pay a fee for every pound (or other unit of weight) of garbage they generate. More specifically, each category of garbage should have a fee that generators are required to pay to have it collected. Some possible categories could be paper, plastics, metals (including aluminum), hazardous wastes (batteries, medicines, etc.), stones-bricks-concrete, food wastes, yard wastes, etc. Paying a fee for yard wastes would not only encourage people to recycle their yard waste again into their gardens but would also encourage them to dry out their yard wastes to make it lighter before they are picked up. There should also be a category called non-sorted wastes so that people are not forced to separate their wastes if they do not want to. However, this would be the category with among the highest fees to the generator (except for hazardous wastes, etc.) because of the need for the collector to sort and prepare this waste. Obviously, governments would need to establish a standardized set of categories so everyone knows what they are before such a system could be implemented. Collectors should inspect the waste stream at the point of collection so as to ensure an acceptable degree of purity of the categorized waste stream.
These fees could be paid every month, just like a utility bill. Furthermore, garbage generators could call and schedule their own garbage pickup either from the city or from whoever collects that kind of garbage. In fact, competition among several garbage collectors could result in the prices charged to the garbage generators to fluctuate according to market supply and demand. Possible payments to waste generators could even be made by waste collectors for waste materials that are really in demand, like aluminum, etc. The market prices (either the prices charged or the prices paid) for all categories of wastes should be determined by the free market.
If waste generators take their waste themselves to collection or processing centers, it would be natural that they would pay a discounted cost for disposing of that waste, or if the waste is relatively valuable, such as aluminum, they would be paid a premium because the waste collector did not need to bear the cost of collecting this waste. However, the natural markets should determine all elements of the price structure associated with this system of waste disposal.0 Comments
The practice of dumping unprocessed trash into landfills, the ocean, the atmosphere, or into any other open environment, without first extracting all economically recyclable materials including extracting energy through safe incineration, should be banned. Under no conditions should garbage that may pose a potential aesthetic, physical, chemical, or biological threat to the aesthetic quality and normal functioning of a natural environment be disposed of in that environment without first ensuring that measures are taken to mitigate virtually every possible threat so that the waste becomes environmentally inert.
The ultimate goal should be to find ways to recycle all wastes generated by humans back again into useful products. The requirement to make wastes completely inert before disposal in the environment would result in a considerable increase in such disposal costs. The benefits of increasing such costs for this type of disposal are many. First, efforts to recycle wastes would be more economically attractive and new markets for recycled wastes would emerge. Second, garbage generators would likely pressure their suppliers to make their products more recyclable as well as to minimize the use of packaging materials. Third, consumers may not be as willing to purchase lower quality goods which require more frequent disposal, thus encouraging producers to generate higher quality goods with longer lifetimes.0 Comments
Nuclear fuels should be manufactured, stored, used, recycled, and disposed under international supervision. The greatest economic benefits should be obtained from used nuclear fuels or nuclear wastes before they are permanently disposed. This would include the extraction and recycling of virtually all marketable radionuclides from nuclear wastes.
High level nuclear wastes which are not marketable should be required to be handled in two ways.
- First, wastes with half-lives longer than 100 years should be required to be transmuted, if practical, to isotopes with half-lives shorter than 100 years. Then these transmuted isotopes, as well as other radionuclide wastes with similar half-lives, would be stored at secured locations in such a way that would always allow inspection and maintenance personnel direct access to the waste storage containers. These waste containers would be held in this kind of storage for an amount of time necessary for the longest half-lived radionuclide which is stored in the container to go through four half-lives. Under these guidelines, 400 years would be the maximum amount of time nuclear wastes would spend in this kind of storage. After this amount of time has elapse, the nuclear waste would be only 6.25% as radioactive as the original waste. The waste can continue to be protected and monitored, if desired, but without needing such high levels of security.
- Second, radionuclides having half-lives longer than 100 years, and which cannot be practically transmuted to shorter lived isotopes, should be required to be disposed in a way that would not necessitate the provision of long term security against accidental or intentional human or environmental harm. Namely, these wastes should be taken off the planet and disposed in a way that would make human retrieval or sabotage impossible. These nuclear wastes should be launched into space in small packages using rail guns, laser launch systems or other similar ground-based launching technologies. These packages containing waste should be launched with enough energy and with properly equipped launch vehicles to place it immediately (without orbiting the earth) into a trajectory that, within a few years, would either intercept with the sun or would take the nuclear waste permanently out of the solar system. There should be no intentional fly-by the earth or gravity assists using the earth. If the nuclear waste could be rapidly crashed straight into the sun to achieve the deepest possible penetration, the intense solar energy would vaporize the waste and should effectively dilute it to the point that even if it were to escape from the sun via the solar wind, the pollution would probably not be scientifically detectable. Another possibility would be to crash these vehicles on one of the gas planets just so we receive confirmation that the wastes have been permanently disposed and are not continuing to wander somewhere. However, though these wastes would become incredibly diluted within these planets, this practice may potentially significantly contaminate these planets, interfering with and affecting the accuracy of future scientific investigations.
If the cost of launching small quantities of waste using ground-based launching systems are low enough and if the reliability of such systems are high enough, it may be both safer and more economical to dispose of more radioactive wastes in this manner rather than holding them under high security storage over multiple half-lives on this planet. For example, we could use the space disposal method to dispose of radionuclides with half-lives of 75 years, 50 years, 40 years or even less, depending on cost. Radionuclides with half-lives of less than 20 years do not present overwhelming Earth-based storage problems because they would decay to relatively safe levels within an average human lifespan.0 Comments
Medicines, batteries, motor oils, TVs, computers, monitors, fluorescent light bulbs, paints, pesticides and other hazardous wastes should be collected separately from all other waste streams. Businesses should be responsible for arranging their own proper hazardous waste collections. However, the collection of privately generated residential hazardous waste should either be collected by the government (by request of the generator when enough has been generated) or it should be a requirement of the generator to take the waste to an approved disposal location. For example, old medicines should be required to be accepted at any pharmacy that sells prescription medicines. Batteries should be required to be accepted by any location that sells batteries.
Deposits Paid Upon Purchase of Hazardous Waste
The ideal, economically pure way to fund such a program would be to have the generator pay for disposal at the moment of transfer from the generator into the disposal stream. However, a bit of knowledge about human nature indicates that a very significant number of people will choose to avoid such payments at the end of a product’s useful life and find other, namely incorrect ways for disposal. Therefore, it may be optimal to charge a deposit fee (as is done on many beverage containers) of a certain amount to cover all the costs for proper disposal (throughout the industry). The very, very great additional benefit of adopting this policy route would be that used batteries, for example, would now have a positive value at the end of their service life, meaning that there would would be an incentive for their extraction from the environment, as is the case with beverage containers today. Furthermore, there would be less resistance among both consumers and merchants to make this extra effort to deliver and accept old batteries because they would be able to collect some of the original deposit amount. Consumers would be allowed only a portion of their original deposit back so that merchants would be able to collect some of this deposit for themselves to enable this program to have the proper support. Perhaps there should be an option for consumers to be able to take their batteries directly to a hazardous waste processing site in order to receive more or all of their original deposit back.
An additional benefit of adopting this deposit-oriented approach is that the higher economic cost for each unit of hazardous material at the original point of sale would naturally reduce, at least somewhat, the demand, making this whole problem a little bit smaller.
This concept of charging a deposit for an item to prevent undesirable disposal down the line could be applied in other areas, as well. For example, cigarette butts may be another product that could be charged perhaps a 1 cent deposit (or more) on the butts, decreasing their improper disposal and definitely leading to an increased collection of butts from the roadways. Although it would be advisable to refrain from disrupting the natural economic order of things by imposing artificial (or improperly placed) price points that do not contribute to an accurate reflection of the true cost of the product or service, it can be convenient to do so. Sometimes, this convenience may be worth it because, as in this case for batteries, it may just not be feasible to increase the recycling rate otherwise. And since batteries are especially toxic, this ‘improper’ economic incentive may justify imposing this deposit.
As a last resort, perhaps each fire stations should be the default collection sites for household hazardous wastes. Of course, it would be ideal for people to take such wastes to a more appropriate locations as described above, but until such policies are in place, and to prevent its disposal in unauthorized ways, it would be beneficial to make it common knowledge to have all fire stations accept all such wastes.0 Comments
All raw sewage and other anthropogenic wastewaters should undergo tertiary treatment through either a sewage treatment plant, natural wetland filtration system, or through any other process that would ensure that water practically equivalent to what otherwise would exist in the natural environment is discharged from such treatment facilities. Such water should be filtered of all visible and invisible anthropogenic substances, including nitrates, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals (especially endocrine disruptors) before release back into the natural environment.
All urban and suburban water runoff (both dry season and storm runoff) should be filtered, at least to remove all visible anthropogenic litter, before being discharged into the free ecosystem. Preferably, such water should also be filtered of all less visible anthropogenic matter that still finds its way into the runoff, such as oils, heavy metals, nitrates, pesticides, herbicides, etc. Naturally, preventing such substances from getting into the water stream would be orders of magnitude easier than it is to clean it up afterwards.
Wastewater should be reclaimed and reused as much as is safe and practical before being sent to treatment facilities and/or before being released into the natural environment. However, safety is a major constraint towards the expanded use of wastewater due to the negative public health consequences of potential pathogenic transmission as well as the transmission of more virulent and drug-resistant pathogens that are often found in partially treated wastewater. If the costs and uses would justify such infrastructure investments, some areas zoned for large-scale industrial and irrigation uses should require the installation of separate wastewater piping infrastructures to supply each demand establishment within these zones with access to this non-potable, reclaimed water.
Water hydrants should not be supplied with reclaimed water because they are used mostly during emergencies, thus during times when people are not as easily able to avoid contact with such water, increasing their risk of exposure to pathogens.0 Comments
As a general rule, dispersant chemicals should only be applied to oil spills as a measure of last resort. First, every effort must be made to recover the oil from the environment before dispersants are used. Dispersants applied to the natural environment should be treated as a pollutant, even though it is intended to minimize the negative effects of another pollutant (oil), and its use, therefore, should be penalized with a fine for each unit of dispersant used. Dispersants merely disperse the oil throughout the water column making its ultimate recovery more difficult and threatening the ecosystems throughout the entire water column rather than merely threaten those of the surface and shorelines if dispersants were not used. Ideally, determinations should be made, ahead of time, on how to deal with various degrees of oil spills in specific environments so that when an accident does occur, time is not wasted in trying to figure out the right response.0 Comments
A sunken ship should belong to the company who owned it at the time of its sinking and should retain ownership through any future mergers or buyouts, unless it has sold its ownership rights to the wreck to another party, which it can do at any time after the sinking. However, the entity that owns the wreck should be required to pay a littering penalty based on the total estimated number of pounds of the wreck and cargo to the owner of the property in which the wreck lies (usually state, national, or international governments or the specific agency managing those waters). At the same time, an additional pollution tax based of the estimated amount of specified environmentally hazardous materials contained within the wreck, including ship and cargo, should be assessed. Interest on this total penalty amount should begin to accrue annually on the calendar year following the year of the wreck. Each year, beginning with the calendar year following the sinking, the entity owning the wreck should be required to pay a minimum of 10% of these original total penalty charges to the appropriate entities. Such payments could take place at any time within that calendar year, just as long as 10% is paid by December 31st of that year. Any entity purchasing or otherwise assuming ownership of the wreck should be required to continue with such payments, unless they have already been paid (which would occur after about 12 to 14 years (if the minimum 10% payments are made annually) or so because paying the accrued interest is not required until all the principle has been paid).
Entities who were the original owners of a shipwreck but not the land on which it is located, should be required to pay the proper landowner a fee of .1% of the original, pre-wrecked, estimated value of the ship and cargo every year, for infinity. The requirement to pay this fee could be permanently eliminated once the wreck’s owner has agree to relinquish ownership and all rights to benefit in anyway from any future activities related to the wreck, including salvaging, tourism, etc.
If for any reason, the owners do not exist, cannot be located or refuse to pay the necessary fees to the proper land-owner, then the country (or international government, such as the United Nations) in whose territorial waters the wreckage lies should become the sole owner of the wreck. The government exercising ownership should then be entitled to either salvage the wreck, protect it by declaring it a memorial, monument, etc., sell it, declare it public domain, or do with it what the majority of the people of that country would want done with the wreck. It also has the option to do nothing with the wreck other than just maintain a log of it and list it on a map.
Governments should insure that wrecks with unusually rich histories or potentially rich archeological data be protected and preserved for scientific study.0 Comments
All types of watercraft (boats, jet skis, etc.) should be required to direct all exhaust/pollution into the air and not into the water. Watercraft should be designed so that their normal operations would inject an insignificant amount of their pollution (less than 5% by weight) directly into the water.0 Comments
All frequently reoccurring noises (occurring at least twice a week) originating from any residential, commercial (including food cart bells or horns, ice cream truck music, etc.), government, public, or other property should not transmit noises to any other occupied residential property in excess of 10 decibels above average ambient noise levels during the nighttime hours between 12 PM and 6 AM. Exceptions to this rule would include vehicles traveling in a normal manner (without excessive acceleration) and within the posted speed limit. The maximum noise restrictions imposed for the hours between 10 PM and 7AM would be 15 decibels above ambient noise levels, as measured from the nearest residential property line, while 20 decibels would be the maximum limit during the hours between 8 PM and 7 AM.
During weekends and holidays all restricted times would be extended by one hour during the evenings. For New Year’s Eve, all restrictions would begin at 1 AM.
During all other times, noises infringing on residential properties should not exceed 25 decibels above ambient noise.
The above noises and decibel limits can be applied most easily to mechanical noises such as air conditioners, fans, pool pumps, etc., but also include musical instruments, televisions, radios, etc. However, any noises deemed unreasonably loud, disturbing, unnecessary, or annoying by a government official, even though they may fall within the decibel limits defined above, could qualify as noise pollution, subjecting the parties generating that noise to fines.
Noise infringements onto industrial properties would be restricted to a maximum of 65 decibels as measured from the loudest boundary line of the offending property. Noise restrictions onto commercial businesses (businesses in which customers come visit) would be restricted to 10 decibels above the restrictions existing for residential properties.
Special exemptions could be made on a temporary basis to allow more noise to legally infringe on other properties. However, all property owners and occupants affected would need to agree to the relaxed regulations for the proposed period of time (usually lasting some number of years). Perhaps willing property owners could financially (or otherwise) compensate the unwilling property owners or residents to encourage them to agree to a temporary relaxation of the rules.
These decibel restrictions do not apply to normal property maintenance operations occurring during normal working hours 8 AM to 7 PM, like operating motorized gardening equipment, construction noises, etc.
Every political jurisdiction should have enough personnel to handle the expected load of noise complaints so that an inspection officer could be sent out to every reported location where a violation is occurring within about 20 minutes of receiving the complaint, and take a decibel reading to determine if a violation is indeed occurring. Offenders should receive no warnings. Penalties, based on an average number of peak decibel events within, for example, a 5 or 10 minute period generated over the maximum limit, should be levied whenever there is an infraction, perhaps at the rate of $50 for every decibel over the maximum limit.
Plastic Wheel Noise
Large toys such as tricycles, play cars, trash cans, etc., and other items meant to operate on hard surfaces should not have wheels made out of plastic or any other material that makes a lot of noise when rolled over hard surfaces that may have a few grains of sand on it. Instead the wheels should be made or coated with rubber or some other material, or designed differently so that they roll quietly over hard surfaces.0 Comments
Helicopters and other aircraft should be prohibited from flying low over residential neighborhoods during nighttime hours, such as between 10 PM and 6 AM, except during emergencies or major news events. More precisely, aircraft should be prohibited from causing noises louder than a certain decibel level, such as 50 decibels, on the ground in residential neighborhoods during the restricted hours. Areas around airports could be zoned for higher noise levels, if required and approved through the normal channels.0 Comments
Following are some requirements for making car alarms much less annoying and more useful.
1. Audible car alarm owners should be charged an annual fee of perhaps $30 to discourage them from choosing to use this type of alarm system instead of other, less noisy, car security methods (such as keychain alarms).
2. The setting of car alarms should be done either quietly (such as visually by using lights) and/or audibly but without making noises louder than 40 decibels at a distance of 20 feet from any part of the vehicle.
3. Loud audible vehicle alarms should automatically be disabled if the proper key is used to open the door or trunk.
4. Vehicle alarm systems must be made to sound only if the vehicle is being damaged or broken in to.
5. Alarms should not be triggered due to sound waves (loud music, loud cars, low helicopters, etc.)
6. Alarms should not be triggered due to ground vibrations (heavy trucks, etc.)
7. Vehicle alarm systems should not sound during earthquakes (unless the vehicle is physically damaged because alarm systems cannot often distingush between earthquake-caused damage and human-caused damage).0 Comments
Honking the horns of cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships, etc., for no good reason should be illegal and subjected to a fine of at least $100 or even more depending on the situation and perhaps also on the estimated number of people that could have heard the sound of the horn. For example, honking to call someone who is inside a building, such as a house or apartment, or honking because the car in front of you didn’t respond within three seconds to a signal light that changed to green, or because the driver of the car ahead of you decided not to make a left turn during a gap in oncoming traffic that you thought he could have made it through, should all be illegal and fined. This rule should especially apply to bus drivers. Even accidental honking during ‘the wrong’ time (meaning when such a honk could have been interpreted as directed to someone) should be subjected to a fine so that people don’t just claim that they ‘accidentally’ honked the horn to get out of a fine.0 Comments
Buses and all other vehicles allowed to operate on public roads should be designed so that, as they accelerate or pass by pedestrians, especially those sitting at a bus stop or walking on a sidewalk or in vehicles next to the offending vehicle, such vehicles should not direct extremely loud engine noises, blow annoying amounts of exhaust, air, or road dust towards any location around the vehicle where pedestrians or other people may possibly be located.
All vehicles should be required to be designed so that their engines and exhaust systems emit no more than 100 decibels of noise (at a distance of three feet from all points around the vehicle) at speeds of up to 65 MPH and through all reasonable acceleration and braking procedures. Tire noises should also be considered.
Motorcycles should also follow these regulations so that they do not produce excessively loud and annoying noises.
The fines for violating these regulations should be at least equivalent to the fine for littering (because they are, in fact, littering the environment with noise).0 Comments
Littering should require a minimum punitive fine of $1,000. For litter items less than 1 centimeter in size in it’s longest dimension, the penalty should be $500. For litter items of unusual size or type or with a significant ‘yuck’ factor, like a wood plank or a pile of pet droppings, the penalty should be doubled to $2,000. For all littering violators, the estimated cost of cleaning up the litter should also be levied. Larger pieces of litter such as furniture, tires, or even bagged trash, etc, would require minimum fines of $$4,000 or higher depending on the actual volume and nature of the litter. Uncontained mounds of litter deposited by one person/party would be charged a fine for each item in that mound according the the schedule stated above. Accidental droppings or wind-blown escapes may be exempted or given a reduced penalty according to the specific circumstances of each case.
The littering of glass containers (perhaps limited to non-tempered glass?) should be subjected to a larger fine, such as double the normal amount, due to the public safety risks such broken glass poses, including the additional risk of flat tires for cars and bicycles. Perhaps catching and fining enough times the litterers of products which are not tempered (like some alcoholic bottles) will cause them to either migrate onto consuming products which do come in tempered bottles (in order to reduce potential fines) or to stop littering. Over time, perhaps consumer demand (for some products) will drive the makers of products to increase their use of tempered glass.
Putting the wrong kinds of trash into specific trash containers, especially putting garbage into yard-waste only containers, should also be treated as littering. The penalty should also be a minimum fine (ex. $1000) and a multiple of the estimated cost of cleaning it up.
Graffiti should also be treated as littering and subjected to a fine and punitive multiple that is largely proportional to its size or prominence. Graffiti whose largest dimension is less than 12 inches would be given the $1,000 fine. If its largest dimension is 2 feet, it would be given a $2,000 fine. If 4 feet, then $4,000; 10 feet, then $10,000.etc. In addition, the estimated cost of cleaning it up should be levied.
The wrongfulness of littering should be drilled continuously into the minds of every member of society through as many media outlets and other avenues as possible. This should be an important thrust of primary education. The $1,000 minimum standard penalty for littering should also be common knowledge.
Litter Collection Competitions
In an attempt to harness the competitive human spirit to help incentivize the hunt for litter to clean up litter from the environment, perhaps governments or even private organizations could sponsor litter collection drives where people would be paid based on how much litter they picked up from a given area. This system could be used for virtually any area – urban, suburban, rural, and even wilderness areas.
School children should be incentivized to collect litter around their campus. Not only would it save the more expensive time of the custodian from having to spend an hour a day doing this task, but it would allow children to earn some money doing so. Kids could be paid $1 per pound of litter collected. The specific rules would be written out and students would have had to have read them and agreed to them to prevent arguments about the details of the program and payments. Sufficient installation of surveillance cameras would be critical in the capturing of cheaters taking garbage out of trashcans and claiming it to be collected litter. Penalties for cheating should naturally be very severe.
However, there should be an emphasis on cleaning up litter pollution in scenic and unusual lands such as along desert roads and fields, mountain trails, ocean floors, Antarctica, and other unusual and tourist locations. Perhaps this could encourage the development of new technologies to clean up certain environments, like the ocean floor, more efficiently.
Government Funded Litter Collection
Perhaps the homeless or anyone else who wants could be hired to collect litter anywhere they want for the price of $1 per pound of anthropogenic litter that is deposited at an approved location. Hefty deductions would be made if such people bring in rocks, sand, water or anything else that is considered ‘natural’. Beverages other than water inside their containers would be considered anthropogenic and qualify as litter. People who bring in concrete chunks (so long as they themselves didn’t break off the concrete chunk), discarded furniture, shopping carts, mattresses or anything else that is made by humans and in a location where such items are not supposed to be should qualify as litter. Of course, some mechanism for ensuring that people do not go into trashcans and fraudulently produce their contents as evidence of them picking up litter needs to be implemented. Apart from imposing dramatic penalties for engaging in such fraud (equivalent to several times the expected earnings), a public awareness campaign could be launched informing and encouraging the public to provide evidence of such people engaging in such fraud. This way, litter would be ‘magically’ collected along highways, bike paths, street gutters, and countless other places.
During times of natural disasters, such as tornadoes or earthquakes when litter will naturally abound, this program should be suspended until the normal cleanup process has officially been completed.
Together with the hefty littering fines and enforcement stated above, once the bulk of litter has been collected, the price paid for gathering litter by the government could be raise to whatever amount the market will bare, such as $5 or $10 per pound.
To prevent the danger posed by falling live power lines during storms, vehicle crashes, and other events, all power lines should be buried underground. This would also dramatically improve the aesthetic environment.
For power lines that are still suspended, procedures should be in place to automatically shut off electrical power to the sections of the utility grid that experience failures such as fallen wires due to falling tree branches, toppled telephone poles, etc. Live wires should never exist accidentally on the ground.0 Comments
There should be a government agency responsible for creating and enforcing light pollution standards. This agency would have the authority to impose fees on the manufacturers of exterior lighting fixtures which leak light to the sky beyond an amount allowable under these regulations. This agency would also have the authority to require permits and impose fees on external lighting arrangements if they leak beyond a certain amount of light to the sky.
On a larger scale, this agency should have the ability to measure light pollution (during random clear nights) emanating from any parcel of land within its jurisdiction, whether it is residential, business, or public lands. Perhaps an image of a large area could be obtained and then divided up through computer algorithms to enable accurate readings from individual parcels of land. Several images should be obtained over several random dates and times. If the average amount of light pollution exceeds a certain limit, appropriate enforcement actions could then be taken. The greater the amount of light leaking from the parcel, the greater the monetary fine would be on an exponential scale.
During times of significant astronomical events (namely, heavy meteor showers), outdoor lighting should be reduced or suspended. For example, street lighting, nighttime outdoor sporting events at stadiums (should not be scheduled during such nights), park lighting, parking lot lights, billboards, and businesses emitting a large amount of light, like gas stations, car dealerships, restaurants, etc., should be reduced or suspended. Governments could take the leading role in preventing light pollution during such times by turning off street lights, park lights, flag lights, and any other unnecessary lighting which they control. Private residences and businesses should be encouraged to do what they can to turn off outdoor lighting and take other measures to reduce light pollution.
Perhaps, if electric metering becomes advanced enough, the price for electricity should temporarily increase during significant astronomical events.
If significant cloud cover were to exist during the estimated time of the astronomical event, then all regulations could be cancelled.
The garbage holds of all trash trucks should be leak proof or designed in such a way so that no liquids (or solids) from inside the garbage holds are allowed to leak onto the street. This would prevent the messes and stains that garbage trucks often leave on streets. This may also help reduce bad odors associated with such leaks.0 Comments
Trashcans and other trash or recycling containers should be prohibited from being placed on the streets (or in clear public view) prior to the beginning (midnight) of the day before the scheduled day for pick-up and they should be required to be taken in prior to the end (midnight) of the day after pick-up. In other words, trashcans should only be allowed on the street for a maximum of 72 hours, centered on the scheduled day for pick-up. Trashcans taken out before or left out after their prescribed times will subject their owners to littering fines due to their unaesthetic nature.0 Comments