Speaking of the petrochemical companies, an activist group to which I belong, "Beyond Plastics" has drawn to my attention a scientist who is promoting plastics as "green". Here is a link to a summary of his book: https://www.uc.edu/content/dam/refresh/cont-ed-62/olli/22-winter/plastics.pdf. It's offensive that he states environmentalists are getting their information from the web and spreading misinformation. He neglects the health risks of plastic in everything we eat, drink and breathe. His premise is "yes plastic is wasteful but so is everything". He overwhelms readers with "facts" since he is an expert. I do presentations and I like to keep abreast of climate information, which is why I value HEATED. I am trying to research his "peer reviewed data" myself. However, a respected journalist like Emily might be interested in taking up this cause. I don't think he deserves a counter argument of every point but if there is scientific research debunking just one of his talking points, it would be extremely helpful to those of us who do our best to educate our community on the need to take our climate crisis seriously. It would be much appreciated if you, Emily Atkin, or others could consider looking into this source. Thanks in advance.

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This is a good article and a focus on pollution is always worthwhile whatever the source.

Look we all including industry can always do better…but according to the EPA and other controlling bodies of which there are many in USMCA, per capita and per GDP we so far do not have a significant spike in incidents and accidents although its always an ongoing regulatory and operational goal to reduce the numbers and associated costs and impact on the environment.

We do see now some significant reshoring of industry as we undertake deglobalization and this statistically may skew future numbers, but if we measure correctly we should hope to see no real trend although incidents will occur in a system of industrial activity with so many nodes and pathways to make the essential products from raw material with safety and environmental hazard profiles. The media must do a better job of framing the situation and avoiding unfair sensationalism or they will loose the attention from the general public and industry as a whole.

Last time I checked far more people die and get hurt on the road and domestic violence and self induced drug use than from industrial accidents…. but I have not checked that data recently.

Outside the USMCA and the EU it’s a far worse situation on all measures and its safe to say we do have in the west enough controls and standards to meet in place. Also financial and judicial penalties and legislations on the generation of accidents and industrial waste in all forms is increasing which is good.

We had not included natural trace gases such as CO2 and methane as pollution although new legislation is attempting to drive that, although this is being reviewed, and is a separate discussion.

We need to separate the uses of fossil resources into two categories…. energy and materials.

For that used for energy sources (electricity and heating gases) this can eventually be reduced with alternative technologies with the best being nuclear and where possible hydro … forget wind and solar it’s the wrong direction and many articles about that. Hydrogen may have a role but it’s a long way off.. and we are going to be using fossil fuels for transportation for many more years as EVs are also a huge mistake as the environmental footprint will be far worse than existing albeit cleaned up fossil fuels.

Its also clear that NetZero is not going to happen as its clear it will impinge on prosperity and many recent news articles and here is a new article on that outlook.


Regarding the other use of fossil resources, to provide materials for our modern civilization, we must realize just how much we are married to fossil materials.

Although we may be able to reduce the burning of fossil fuels to power our transportation and heat our facilities, we will always need fossil fuel materials to “make things”. The biproducts of fossil fuels are essential for our modern lifestyle, such as transportation equipment, industrial equipment, pharmaceuticals, computers, buildings, furnishings, clothes, shoes, etc., etc.

A world without fossil-fuels and the associated bi products will put us back into the mid 19th century and will mean cutting down many trees for fuel, and the hunting and killing of animals for skins and other materials and will mean hardship for many. Contemplating a world without such materials is far from realistic or viable!

The best solution is

Stop NetZero and focus on climate adaption in a naturally warming planet.

Continue to clean up the use of fossil fuels in balance with prosperity.

Focus on the reduction on the USE of these resources… as conservation is a far better approach.

It will mean ….Stop throwing things away and make them last longer…. This is a huge culture shift and even just recycling is not the best solution and worst case it goes to landfill.

Reduce wasteful packaging in all forms and disposable products. Repair rather than replace. Perform better maintenance than a tear down. Improve the efficiency of all activities with LEAN practices.

This will mean retraining consumers and our providing industries.

We are over producing and over consuming for no reason

We have become a throw away world and super consumer’s and this has to stop.

Many articles on this form of cultural sustainability.

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The plastics created by plants, animals and fungi are food for something else living. So the idea of durable, fixable, reusable, recyclable items with low waste is better, but there will be leakage from this human cradle to cradle system, once we create it. So whatever substances that we use MUST not only be basically benign, but also biodegradable, and also fit into existing ecosystems. Then we can use them more abundantly and even profligately, because "Waste=Food." A great little documentary, btw, imho better than the book "Cradle to Cradle," written by one of the documentary's stars.

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Strictly speaking, ammonia is not a petrochemical as it has no carbon in it. It's mostly produced by the Haber process which involves the catalytic reduction of nitrogen by hydrogen. This process is widely used in the production of fertilizer. The hydrogen is often obtained by "reforming' of methane to give CO2 and hydrogen, though hydrogen can also be produced in a variety of other ways. I wouldn't refer to hydrogen as a "petrochemical" either. There is a lot of interest in hydrogen these days since combustion of hydrogen can produce the high temperatures needed for certain industrial processes like steel production. Hydrogen now comes in various "colors." Grey hydrogen is produced by reforming without capturing the CO2. Blue hydrogen is produced by reforming with capture of the CO2. Green hydrogen comes from electrolysis with electricity generated by renewable technology. Pink hydrogen is produced by electrolysis using electricity generated by nuclear power. Lastly, white hydrogen comes from geological sources, either naturally produced or by injecting hot water into geological formations. Legislation passed by the Biden administration is pushing hydrogen energy very hard with insufficient concerns over the method of generation.

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Some really cool research is happening in producing petrochemicals using CO2 as a source, so thank you for highlighting that

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My favourite is when people try to tell me how bad solar panels are for the planet and I just point to any one of these disasters.

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Thank you for this report. As someone who lives within several miles of a refinery and rail lines, you’ve given me a lot to think about and prepare for. I need to remind younger family members that their vote in the 2024 election matters, especially if they care about the environment and have taken the EPA and railroad safety for granted.

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Thanks as always for this excellent, thorough reporting. I will never stop being amazed at the lobbyists who claim that they should be exempt because regulations hurt profits and cause administrative burdens. Nowhere in our Constitution does it say that corporations have a right to inflict harm on communities.

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Just heard about another hazardous materials leak on the news in the Bay Area (Northern California). Ominous and no longer surprising that these things are happening just as I'm reading your very informative article about the recent rise in occurances.

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