After my last couple of rather rant-y posts, I felt like giving some thumbs-up and kudos tonight, proving that there are some things to be thankful for.
Christmas was over more than a week ago, but I thought I’d like to highlight a special Santa …
That’s right, folks, it’s former President Barack Obama decked out in a fluffy red cap to surprise patients and pass out a few gifts on Christmas Day at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. The facility is the same one his wife, Michelle Obama, visited every holiday season during her time as first lady to read stories to patients. She sometimes came with one of the couple’s two daughters.This year, it was the 44th president’s turn. He walked the hospital halls with a giant red bag of goodies slung over his shoulder. He visited a hospital playroom and stepped inside patient rooms, to the delight of the children and teens inside. Dressed casually in a sweater and pair of jeans, Obama posed for selfies while handing out jigsaw puzzles, race cars and other gifts he and his staff collected recently.
He also recorded a video message that could be relayed for the people he couldn’t meet during his visit. Before he left, hospital staff members greeted the president with a rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Obama responded by thanking the crowd for their work during the holidays.
“At a time that obviously is tough for folks, and as the dad of two girls, I can only imagine, in that situation, to have nurses, staff and doctors and people who are caring for them, and looking after them, and listening to them and just there for them and holding their hands. That’s the most important thing there is. What a great reminder of what the holiday spirit is supposed to be all about.”
One could make a comparison to another who spent the day in a luxury resort and on a golf course, but I won’t go there.
Two thumbs up to Germany who will close all 84 of its coal power plants. The nation — one of the world’s largest consumers of coal — will rely on renewable energy instead. The announcement came earlier this year as Germany revealed its struggle to meet its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets. Coal accounted for 40% of Germany’s electricity at the start of the year.Coal is the EU’s biggest economy. Germany accounts for the lion’s share, responsible for around one-third of electricity-related CO2 emissions, according to Carbon Brief. It generates roughly half of the EU’s electricity from brown coal (lignite), which emits higher levels of CO2.
More than halfway into 2019, German coal production had fallen by a fifth, largely replaced by renewables such as wind farms and solar. Wind is on track to become the country’s largest source of electricity, surpassing environmentally-unfriendly lignite. Germany also pledged to close its 19 nuclear power plants since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Renewables will account for 65 to 80 percent of Germany’s electricity by 2040, officials say.
And more good news on the environmental front comes from Australia, where bans introduced by two major retailers, Coles and Woolworths last summer, resulted in an 80 percent reduction in the country’s overall use of single-use plastic bags.
Initially, some customers felt “bag rage” about having to BYO-bag or fork over 15 Australian cents (11 cents) to buy a reusable one. Woolworths execs blamed slumping sales on “customers adjusting” to the plastic bag ban. Coles even briefly backed down on the bag ban and caught a lot of flak from environmentally conscious shoppers for giving away reusable plastic bags.
But the good news is that it seems most Aussies haven’t found it too hard to adjust to the change—and that’s fantastic for our landfills, oceans and the greater environment, which have become dumping grounds for our plastic waste.
There has been a growing movement to ban or tax these bags. Around the world, at least 32 countries have bans in place, according to reusable bag company ReuseThisBag. The U.S. is obviously NOT one of the nations to ban single use plastic anything. Only two states, California and Hawaii, have bans on single-use plastic bags. A handful of others have either a tax or mandatory recycling, but on the federal level there is … nothing.A personal note here … thanks to the initiative of my environmentally conscientious granddaughter Miss Goose, I now use my own re-usable canvas bags to bring groceries home, and re-usable mesh bags for my produce rather than the store’s plastic bags. Most of the cashiers and baggers are upbeat about it, but on occasion I have had a surly clerk who acted as if I were intentionally making her life hard by bringing my own bags. Twice in the past few months, I have written to the management of my local Kroger store, asking what their plans are for replacing plastic bags with paper or some other biodegradable material, but have yet to receive any response. The U.S., it would seem, is far behine Australia and at least 31 other countries.
Well, that’s your good news for the month, and now I’m going back to my usual fare, complete with snarking, ranting, growling and grumbling. Have a happy Sunday!