10 misconceptions about the environment

10 misconceptions about the environment

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Organic better for health? The paper that decimates forests. Are GMOs harmful to the environment? Not that easy…

1) Paper decimating the forest

FALSE The paper industry uses only forest by-products for its production: (sawmill offcuts, branches, tops, etc.). In France, furniture and packaging absorb more than half of sawn hardwoods, and the building sector accounts for 60% of sawn softwood uses. In tropical countries, forests are first victims of agriculture (80% of the causes of deforestation), livestock, and demographic pressure. Each year, the equivalent of the area of ​​Spain disappears, for example in the Brazilian Amazon. Southeast Asia and Africa are also overexploited areas.

Learn more about recycling paper and cardboard

2) Bottled water is more ecological

FALSE Bottled water is not better for your health (some waters even have a mineral content that is not recommended for everyday consumption). It also has significant consequences for the environment: increased consumption of raw materials and energy for the manufacture of bottles, packaging, bottling, and transport for delivery to stores. Finally, plastic bottles generate 135 tonnes of waste per year in France.

Read more on packaging

3) The hole in the ozone layer is caused by greenhouse gases

FALSE In reality, this is not a "hole", but a drop in the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere, especially over the polar regions. This thinning is due to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), widely used in the manufacture of refrigerators, air conditioners, or even solvents. In contrast, CFCs are not greenhouse gases. These are therefore two very distinct phenomena

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Renewable energy will replace oil

True and false. Faced with the oil shortage and global warming, we will have to develop energy sources that do not emit greenhouse gases. At the same time, it will be necessary to practically double the production of energy in the world in the next 50 years. Knowing that today 80% of our energy is supplied by oil, gas and coal, renewable energies (wind, solar, etc.) will make a valuable but inevitably partial contribution due to their low productivity. To provide the massive amounts of electricity needed, it is difficult to see how to do without nuclear energy, which does not emit greenhouse gases. Thanks to new types of reactors, uranium reserves would make it possible to meet the world's electricity needs for several centuries. Afterwards, it's a question of political choice ...

Oil is the only responsible for the greenhouse effect

FALSE The Kyoto Protocol has designated the gases responsible for the greenhouse effect: water vapor, carbon dioxide or CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and hexafluoride. sulfur. If CO2 is responsible for more than 50% of the increase in all greenhouse gases, methane is important because its heat retention capacity is 21 times greater. Much of the methane in the atmosphere comes from livestock, rice paddies and landfills.

Learn more about the greenhouse effect

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GMOs are hazardous to health

TRUE and FALSE No study has shown any effect of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) on health and we remain rather in the dark. GMOs are the result of gene transfers, which naturally take place when crossing classic species. The main risk is that they have an allergenic effect. Another risk: GMOs resistant to herbicides and fungicides will also be more loaded with these substances since abundantly watered. Conversely, GMOs resistant to insects or parasites could be better for health than conventional plants since there would be less need to resort to pesticides. On the other hand, some researchers are working on GMOs enriched with vitamins or containing a vaccine intended for developing countries.

GMOs are harmful to the environment

TRUE and FALSE The main risk of GMOs is their dissemination to surrounding crops. This risk varies according to the plants and their mode of reproduction. On the other hand, we must distinguish several types of GMOs: transgenic soybeans resistant to weedkillers will lead to increased soil pollution since more product will be used. On the other hand, other research is likely to reduce pollution: for example plants resistant to insects. We should also mention INRA research for the production of trees without lignin, a fiber whose elimination in the manufacture of paper is very polluting.

Organic farming is better for your health

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FALSE Warning: organic food should not be confused with dietetic food: organic food will not make you lose weight! On the other hand, it does not present any major health benefit; studies have even shown that there were abnormally high concentrations of mycotoxins in apples from organic farming, which is not allowed to use fungicides (the dangerousness is however not proven, but it is necessary know that organic products keep less well and for a shorter time than traditional products). On the other hand, organic farming, which does not use fertilizers, contributes to the preservation of soil and groundwater. In short, buy organic for the environment and not for your health.

biodegradable plastic supermarket bags are a good solution

FALSE In recent years, supermarkets have been offering biodegradable bags. If the latter are indeed less polluting since they are produced from corn or potatoes, they do not constitute a sustainable solution. First, they are heavier than traditional materials, thus causing increased pollution during transport. More importantly, encouraging consumers to use disposable products is certainly not a sustainable policy.

Industry is the leading cause of pollution

TRUE and FALSE Of course, manufacturers are the first polluters, but we must not forget that their production is intended for consumers. And that at the end of the day, it's a classic story of supply and demand. Each French person is thus indirectly “responsible” for 3 tonnes of industrial waste per year. On the other hand, transport is, for example, the first emitter of greenhouse gases. Morality: let's ask ourselves more about our purchasing behavior and our daily life.

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