Disposable masks

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TheScientificHippy
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Disposable masks

Post by TheScientificHippy » Wed Aug 26, 2020 2:10 pm

Is there any way at all at coming close to working out if the cost to the environment increased consumption vs the lack of efficacy of cloth masks.
IE - Increase in 10 tonnes of carbon from masks will cost x number of lives in y number of years but will save z lives due to better transmission prevention.

Obviously it would not be an accurate number but might give a lose guide as to what to do.

Would need to know how much carbon goes into both types - how many uses you get out of a reusable mask - increased washing costs etc.

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Disposable masks

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Aug 26, 2020 3:52 pm

Cotton has quite a high carbon footprint (and a huge water footprint too). You have to use a cotton shopping bag about 130 times to make a carbon saving over disposable plastic ones, according to the UK Environment Agency https://stanfordmag.org/contents/paper- ... r-reusable.

Using scrap cotton would minimise those production costs, though.

The environmental impact of disposable plastic is more to do with direct plastic pollution, when it ends up in the countryside or the sea. Make sure it gets into a bin and that's less of an issue - disposable masks in developing countries that lack decent waste infrastructure would be more of a problem, as would their use in ship-based industries which seem to just chuck all their rubbish overboard.
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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Disposable masks

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Aug 26, 2020 3:56 pm

There's a deeper problem with the question though - even as a fairly committed "environmentalist" I'm not happy with the idea of comparing human lives to carbon savings. Saving lives in the pandemic should be the priority in this case - there's plenty of much bigger, easier climate problems to solve.

And let's not even get into the fact that as most people are net carbon emitters, lower mask efficiency would also deliver carbon savings.
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shpalman
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Re: Disposable masks

Post by shpalman » Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:10 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 3:56 pm
There's a deeper problem with the question though - even as a fairly committed "environmentalist" I'm not happy with the idea of comparing human lives to carbon savings...
... because the optimal solution is for there not to be humans.
molto tricky

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Disposable masks

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:34 pm

As long as people stop altering the atmosphere and altering huge swathes of habitat there's no reason the planet can't support projected populations of humans.

No people acting like humans have for the last few hundred years, definitely. But I don't think we need to go back, either. We have the knowledge and technology to solve the climate problem already - what we don't have are institutions prepared to prioritise it.

How we achieve that is a social science question. But I think the mindset of People = sh.t does a lot more harm than good, because it gets people feeling hopeless or upset rather than motivated.
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TheScientificHippy
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Re: Disposable masks

Post by TheScientificHippy » Wed Aug 26, 2020 5:21 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 3:56 pm
There's a deeper problem with the question though - even as a fairly committed "environmentalist" I'm not happy with the idea of comparing human lives to carbon savings. Saving lives in the pandemic should be the priority in this case - there's plenty of much bigger, easier climate problems to solve.

And let's not even get into the fact that as most people are net carbon emitters, lower mask efficiency would also deliver carbon savings.
I agree. In my head, and I thought in the question but I clearly forgot, I went the next step and was linking lives to climate change. So every 1 degree of temperature change costs x lives.

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bolo
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Re: Disposable masks

Post by bolo » Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:19 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:34 pm
But I think the mindset of People = sh.t does a lot more harm than good, because it gets people feeling hopeless or upset rather than motivated.
Or even worse, it gets people feeling like you should just be ignored. Like in the 1970s, when the Carter Administration's approach to lowering energy use was to tell people to lower their thermostats and be slightly less comfortable, which set energy efficiency back for years until it was rebranded as meaning better insulation and more efficient heat exchangers rather than personal sacrifice and discomfort.

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Sciolus
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Re: Disposable masks

Post by Sciolus » Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:30 pm

The greatest environmental effects will be via the effect on the economy. I'm not sure how that will go: More money = more consumption, but More money = more investment in abatement.

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Re: Disposable masks

Post by Millennie Al » Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:40 am

shpalman wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:10 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 3:56 pm
There's a deeper problem with the question though - even as a fairly committed "environmentalist" I'm not happy with the idea of comparing human lives to carbon savings...
... because the optimal solution is for there not to be humans.
Optimal with respect to what criterion?
Covid-19 - Don't catch it: don't spread it.

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