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Our Environment

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” --- Mark Twain

"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison

“The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action.”  ---Joint Science Academies’ Statement:  Global Response to Climate Change, 2005

A mailbox chocked full of unsolicited paper material, advertisements, catalogs, postcards, coupons and miscellaneous mail, may not just intrude on your privacy, but it is also lends a hand to severe and potentially permanent environmental damage. The proliferation of unwanted junk mail produces millions of tons of paper waste for yearly delivery to our brimming landfills, causes significant losses to forests, soil and water, and contributes to the current global warming crisis that affects us now and may harm many generations to come. While junk mailers are driven by short-term profit, the rest of us are left to pay for, clean up, and suffer from this long term environmental disaster. Even beyond the long term habitat damage, hundreds of millions of our taxpayers’ dollars are spent each year cleaning up the enormous waste left behind by junk mail. By joining USjunkmail and reducing paper waste, you can make an individual contribution to help preserve our precious home called Earth and send a message to junk mailers that we respect our environment.  It is a simple action with tangible results, and you can show wasteful companies that you are environmentally conscious.

- From junk to trash to garbage to waste to pollution to global warming to climate change -

Global warming is real!

Arctic sea ice 1990

Arctic sea ice 1999         full details... Credit:  NOAA/NASA,

                   01/01/1990                                  01/01/1999

Global warming is an increase in the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and surface, especially a sustained increase causing climactic changes.  A consensus of the world’s scientific community has firmly concluded that global warming is a clear and present danger that, if left unchecked, will likely produce dire consequences for the Earth for this and generations to follow.  How does unwanted junk mail contribute to this looming current and future crisis?  Junk mail’s primary contributions to global warming stem from:  (1) the hundreds of millions of tons of unwanted paper junk mail which are disposed in landfills year after year, decade after decade, which emit large quantities of dangerous greenhouse gases, (2) pollutants from pulp and paper mills, including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which are emitted into the atmosphere and (3) the deforestation conducted each year which is necessary to produce the paper products used to manufacture unsolicited paper junk mail.  These junk mail related activities combine every year to produce greenhouse gas emissions which accumulate in the atmosphere causing increases in average world-wide land and sea temperatures---a process known as “global warming.”

“Global climate change needs global action now. The alarm bells ought to be ringing in every capital of the world.” ---John Gummer, British Environment Secretary

“Climate change is no longer a doomsday prophecy, it's a reality.: ---Astrid Heiberg, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Some solemn facts about the pulp/paper and junk mail industries may provide a good starting point:


The pulp and paper industry is the third largest polluting industry in North America and a major contributor to global warming.


The pulp and paper industry is considered one of the top five industrial sectors in terms of total greenhouse gas impact.


Each year, the pulp and paper industry is responsible for over 200 million tons of greenhouse emissions annually.

bullet The destruction of approximately 24 trees is required to make a single ton of paper.
bullet One tree alone absorbs one ton of carbon dioxide, ultimately preventing its emission into the atmosphere.
bullet More than 100 million trees’ worth of junk mail arrive in American mailboxes each year---the equivalent of deforesting the Rocky Mountain National Forest 4 times per year.
bullet A typical mailbox receives over 40 pounds of junk mail every year.
bullet Over 2/3 all of junk mail is not even recycled, often because of the composition of the junk mail inks and fibers.
bullet Some 28 billion gallons of fresh water are needed to produce the annual crop of junk mail.
bullet Paper and paperboard products comprise by far the single largest component of municipal solid waste (36%).
bullet Paper materials generate 81.9 million tons of solid waste annually.
bullet One tree alone absorbs one ton of carbon dioxide, preventing its emission into the atmosphere
bullet In 2005, the U.S. Postal Service delivered over 100 billion (100,000,000,000) pieces of paper junk mail.
bullet In 2005 alone, over 11 million pounds of paper junk mail was delivered across America.
bullet More than 1/2 of the world's timber is consumed by less than 1/4 of the world's population in the United States, Europe and Japan.
bullet Worldwide, industrialized countries consume more than twelve times more wood products per person than non-industrialized countries.
bullet The United States has less than five percent of the world's population, yet consumes more than 30% of the world's paper.
bullet Paper materials generate 81.9 million tons of municipal solid waste annually and that is rising with increased demand.
bullet Only 45% of paper products are recycled.
bullet Over 5.4 million tons of junk mail alone are generated to municipal solid waste each year.
bullet Junk mail creates 2.1 million tons more solid waste yearly than all bathroom tissue and paper products combined.
bullet Assuming a typical 2% response rate to paper junk mail---the remaining 98% of junk mail paper waste is dumped in our crowded landfills.
bullet An average of 44% of paper bulk mail is discarded unopened.
bullet Over 350,000 dump trucks and the necessary gas to fuel these vehicles are needed to haul away the non recycled junk mail each year.
bullet Over $320 million of taxpayer dollars are spent annually just to dispose of junk mail.

Global Warming Basics                                                                                                                        Glossary

Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise.”---Climate Change Science, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 2001

"What is now plain is that the emission of greenhouse gases . . . is causing global warming at a rate that began as significant, has become alarming and is simply unsustainable in the long-term. And by long-term I do not mean centuries ahead. I mean within the lifetime of my children certainly; and possibly within my own. And by unsustainable, I do not mean a phenomenon causing problems of adjustment. I mean a challenge so far-reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power, that it alters radically human existence."  ---Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great Britain

The earth is becoming profoundly warmer. The evidence of global warming has become overwhelming, and with each published study the need becomes even more urgent to take prompt and meaningful action to stave off further damage. The planet’s surface and ocean subsurface temperatures have risen dramatically in the past century with accelerated warming over the past few decades.  For example, the past decade was the warmest of the past 150 years, with the year 2005 being the hottest year on record.  The scientific consensus is that this relatively recent significant warming trend is largely the result of increased greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, which are emitted from human activities including industrial processes, fossil fuel combustion, land use changes, deforestation and waste landfills.  Unaddressed, climate change will have long term adverse impacts across the United States and around the world.  With unabated continued warming, we can expect extreme heat and drought, a decrease in arctic ice thickness and area, dangerous rising sea levels, limited water supplies, and higher-intensity tropical storms. At risk are the very habitability of our earth, the sustainability of our farms, forests, and fisheries, and the continued existence of our vital ecosystems.

Greenhouse Effect

To understand the mechanisms of global warming, it is necessary to examine the basics of what is known as the “greenhouse effect.”  Solar radiation from the sun passes through the earth’s atmosphere most of which is absorbed by the earth’s surface and some of which reflects off the surface back towards space.   The atmosphere is composed of several greenhouse gases (including water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide) which regulate the planet’s climate by absorbing and trapping some of the sun’s outgoing energy, retaining heat somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse.  Without this natural “greenhouse effect,” temperatures would be much lower; instead, the earth’s average temperature is 60 F higher than it would be without this greenhouse effect and allows for the abundance of life as we know it today.  

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased nearly 30%, methane concentrations have more than doubled, and nitrous oxide concentrations have risen by about 15%.  Why are greenhouse gas concentrations increasing?  Scientists generally believe that the combustion of fossil fuels and other human activities are the primary reason for the increased concentration of carbon dioxide. Plant respiration and the decomposition of organic matter release more than 10 times the CO2 released by human activities; but these releases have generally been in balance during the centuries leading up to the industrial revolution with carbon dioxide absorbed by terrestrial vegetation and the oceans. 

Not So Warming Quotes

 “We are about half a century away from being ecologically and economically bankrupt because of global warming.” ---Andrew Simms, Policy Director of the Climate Change Programme of the New Economics Foundation

“As you get more global warming, you should see an increase in the extremes of the hydrological cycle -- droughts and floods and heavy precipitation.” ---James E. Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies

"We won't have a society if we destroy the environment."
- Margaret Mead, distinguished anthropologist, an intellectual and a scientist.

“The climate system is being pushed hard enough that change will become obvious to the man in the street in the next decade.” ---James E. Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, quoted in Newsweek, 22 Jan 96

“It has become very difficult for anyone to argue that observed global warming is natural variability. We have good reason for being able to say that the world will be warmer by about a quarter of a degree in the next decade. It's the same reason we had 10 years ago when we said that the 1990s would be warmer than the 1980s: The planet is out of equilibrium.” ---James E. Hansen, chief of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies quoted in Audubon, Nov-Dec, '99

 “It is the sense of the scientific community that carbon dioxide from unrestrained combustion of fossil fuels potentially is the most important environmental issue facing mankind.”--- U.S. Department of Energy

“There is no debate among any statured scientists of what is happening. The only debate is the rate at which it is happening.” ---James McCarthy, Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Environment of the International Committee of Scientific Unions

“The United States, which has contributed most to creating the problem, has not set the example it ought in adopting the protocol or changing its behavior. It is past time for Washington's delegates to lead the world in saying that humankind cannot wait for certainty on every nuance of global warming before taking bold steps to reverse its all-too-evident course.” ---Editorial, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“The greenhouse crisis is the bill coming due for the Industrial Revolution. It's not an accident. It's the logical outcome of our world view - the idea that we can control the forces of nature, that we can have short-term expedient gains without paying for them, that there are no limits to exploitation of the environment, that we can produce and consume faster than nature's ability to replenish.” ---Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends

 “The world's got a pretty simple choice here.  It's between President Bush and our grandchildren.” ---Australian Senator Bob Brown

“We really don't have a policy [on climate change]. There's a lot of rhetoric and not a lot of action.” ---U.S. Colorado Representative Mark Udall

“Global temperatures in 2001 are expected to be 0.52°C (0.94°F) above the long-term (1880-2000) average, which places 2001 as the second warmest year on record. The only warmer year was 1998 in which a strong El Niño contributed to higher global temperatures. Land temperatures are projected to be 0.77°C (1.39°F) above average and ocean temperatures 0.41°C (0.74°F) above the 1880-2000 mean. This ranks them as 2nd and 3rd warmest on record respectively.” ---National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The perennial sea ice in the Arctic is melting faster than previously thought -- at a rate of 9 percent per decade. If these melting rates continue for a few more decades, the perennial sea ice will likely disappear entirely within this century, due to rising temperatures and interactions between ice, ocean and the atmosphere that accelerate the melting process.---NASA

“Perennial sea ice - the floating ice that remains year round near the Arctic Circle - could vanish entirely by the end of this century, warns a new study by researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The NASA study concludes that sea ice is now melting about nine percent faster than prior research had indicated, due to rising temperatures and interactions between ice, ocean and the atmosphere.” ---Cat Lazaroff,  Arctic Sea Ice May Vanish This Century  
Environment News Service

“In Alaska, year-round average temperatures have risen by 5 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1960s, and average winter temperatures soared 8 degrees in that period, according to the federal government. The entire world is expected to warm by 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, predict scientists at the International Panel on Climate Change. Last year was the hottest in Alaska history, and this past winter was the second warmest on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., which has found that Alaskan temperatures began to rise dramatically in 1976. This July, Anchorage recorded its second-highest temperature ever as tourists got suntans.”---Seth Borenstein, Washington Bureau, “The melting tip of the iceberg,” ---St. Paul Pioneer Press, 3 Aug 03

“Inuit elders and hunters who depend on the land say they are disturbed by what they are seeing swept in by the changes: deformed fish, caribou with bad livers, baby seals left by their mothers to starve. Just the other year, a robin appeared where no robin had been seen before. There is no word for robin in Inuktitut, the Inuit language… There is increasing evidence that the Arctic, this desert of snow, ice and killing cold wind, one of the most hostile and fragile places on Earth, is thawing. Glaciers are receding. Coastlines are eroding. Lakes are disappearing. Fall freezes are coming later. The winters are not as cold. Mosquitoes and beetles never seen before are appearing. The sky seems to be clapping as thunderstorms roll where it was once too cold for them.” ---DeNeen L. Brown,  Signs of Thaw in a Desert of Snow,  The Washington Post

Around the world, many penguin populations are declining, researchers say, and evidence is mounting that global warming, whether natural or human-induced, is a prime cause. Unless things change, they say, the outlook for some of these penguin species will be grim. Ten of the world's 17 penguin species are already listed as threatened or endangered. ---Carol Kaesuk Yoon, "Penguins in Trouble Worldwide," New York Times

"For anyone who has wondered how global warming and reduced sea ice will affect polar bears, the answer is simple -- they die.” --- Richard Steiner, a marine-biology professor at the University of Alaska.  

“The icecap atop Mount Kilimanjaro, which for thousands of years has floated like a cool beacon over the shimmering plain of Tanzania, is retreating at such a pace that it will disappear in less than 15 years, according to new studies. The vanishing of the seemingly perpetual snows of Kilimanjaro that inspired Ernest Hemingway, echoed by similar trends on ice-capped peaks from Peru to Tibet, is one of the clearest signs that a global warming trend in the last 50 years may have exceeded typical climate shifts and is at least partly caused by gases released by human activities, a variety of scientists say. Measurements taken over the last year on Kilimanjaro show that its glaciers are not only retreating but also rapidly thinning, with one spot having lost a yard of thickness since last February,” said Dr. Lonnie G. Thompson, a senior research scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center of Ohio State University. “Altogether, the mountain has lost 82 percent of the icecap it had when it was first carefully surveyed, in 1912.” ---The New York Times

The snow atop Pastoruri, one of the most beautiful peaks in the Andes and a big draw for mountaineers and skiers, could disappear along with many of Peru's glaciers in the next few years because of global warming, experts say. At 17,000 feet in the northern Andes, the glacier which covers famed Pastoruri has shrunk at a rate of 62 feet every year since 1980. Today it covers a surface area of 0.7 square miles, about 25 percent less than a quarter of a century ago.”  Pastoruri is one of 18 glacier-capped mountains in Peru suffering the effects of climate change, according Peru's National Environment Council, CONAM.

“The glaciers of Glacier National Park, like glaciers all over the world, are shrinking. Slowly, inch by inch, warming temperatures are melting them away. On any given day, or any given year, the changes are not dramatic. But over decades, the impact rising temperatures have had upon the park is truly awesome. If nothing is done to curb global warming, by the year 2030 Park scientists predict there may not be a single glacier left in Glacier National Park.”  Sierra Club

“According to scientists, surface melt on Greenland was the highest in recorded history - and extended to elevations previously untouched by melt - while the amount of Arctic sea ice also reached a record low. While some of the accelerated melting appears to be linked to natural atmospheric oscillations, human influence could not be ruled out, said the scientists… Greenland glacier and sea ice melt, combined with disappearing permafrost, the northern expansion of vegetation, and increased fresh water run-off present a "compelling case that something is going on," said Larry Hinzman, of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Measurements of the Greenland ice sheet taken from passive microwave satellite sensors show 685,000 square kilometres of melt, an area more than double that of 1992. ---Molly Bentley, “Record Ice Loss in Arctic,” BBC News

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy use are projected to increase at an average rate of 1.4 percent per year from 1,511 to 2,041 million metric tons carbon equivalent between 1999 and 2020. Projected emissions in 2020 are higher by 62 million metric tons carbon equivalent than in AEO2000, due mainly to higher projected economic growth. Higher projected growth in households, commercial floorspace, industrial output, and disposable income leads to higher forecasts for end-use demand and electricity generation. ---U.S. Department of Energy, 
Annual Energy Outlook 2001 With Projections to 2020

"Twenty percent of the earth's coral reefs, arguably the richest of all marine ecosystems, have been effectively destroyed today,"….. another 30 percent will become seriously depleted if no action is taken within the next 20-40 years, with climate change being a major factor for their loss," ---Carl Gustaf Lundin, World Conservation Union

"We recognize that climate change is a serious issue, … (w)e recognize that greenhouse gas emissions are one of the factors affecting climate change." ---Rex Tillerson, Chairman of Exxon Mobil

“Despite the many remaining uncertainties about the nature and the risks of the process (climate change), I believe that there is now sufficient evidence to support prudent precautionary action.”  ---Cor Herkströter, Senior Managing Director, Shell Oil

“The first temperature increases are expected to be confirmable beyond dispute in the 1990s, but there are some who believe that the signals of global warming and climate destruction are already manifesting themselves. They cite the fact that four of the last seven years are the hottest on record, that global average temperatures have increased by at least one-half a degree in the last half century, that a wide variety of circumstantial evidence - for example, summer and winter droughts, mid-ocean blooms of algae, death of Caribbean coral - is consistent with the trend of rising temperatures.” ---Senator Robert Stafford, Republican from Vermont, from a speech to the U.S. Senate, spring '88

“Both rich and poor nations have a common stake in policies that put the globe on a sustainable development path. The conflict is less between poor and rich countries than between the broad interests of people and the narrow interests of extractive industries. We need to find our way towards some kind of global regime that reduces emissions of the greenhouse gases, but well-off nations need to transfer the technology to make this possible, rather than viewing this shift as one more opportunity for private industry to profit.” ---Robert Kuttner in report to the United Nations

“At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both "the human environment" and the natural environment. It is about our human stewardship of God's creation and our responsibility to those who come after us.” ---U.S. Catholic Bishops, Global Climate Change:  A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, July 2001  

 "We are proud of the evangelical community's long-standing commitment to the sanctity of human life....Since 1995, there has been general agreement among those in the scientific community most seriously engaged with this issue that climate change is happening and is being caused mainly by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels. Evidence gathered since 1995 has only strengthened this conclusion…. Because all religious/moral claims about climate change are relevant only if climate change is real and is mainly human-induced, everything hinges on the scientific data. As evangelicals we have hesitated to speak on this issue until we could be more certain of the science of climate change, but the signatories now believe that the evidence demands action..."  ---Climate Change:  An Evangelical Call to Action, 2006

"(Due to global warming) rivers like the Indus and Ganges could see reduced flow……At the moment, they have a steady base flow from melting glaciers, but when those glacier flows are reduced, the rivers will become more flashy, with greater flows in the wet season and lower flows in the dry season.   That will be devastating, not only for people, but for the environment."   ---Jamie Pittock, executive director of the World Wildlife Fund

“The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of more than 2,500 scientists) has provided the world community with first class assessments of the soaring temperatures the world is facing, the devastating impacts of these rises and the ways in which we can try and avoid the worst effects of global warming. We now know climate change is real and the hand of humankind in this warming is becoming clearer and clearer.”---Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),

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