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Greed In the Name Of Green
To Worshipers of Consumption: Spending Won't Save the Earth
Monica Hesse, Washington Post
Congregation of the Church of the Holy Organic, let us buy.
Let us buy Anna Sova Luxury Organics Turkish towels, 900 grams per square meter, $58 apiece. Let us buy the eco-friendly 600-thread-count bed sheets, milled in Switzerland with U.S. cotton, $570 for queen-size.
Let us purge our closets of those sinful synthetics, purify ourselves in the flame of the soy candle at the altar of the immaculate Earth Weave rug, and let us buy, buy, buy until we are whipped into a beatific froth of free-range fulfillment.
And let us never consider the other organic option -- not buying -- because the new green consumer wants to consume, to be more celadon than emerald, in the right color family but muted, without all the hand-me-down baby clothes and out-of-date carpet.
(5 March 2008)
Cradle to cradle design (audio)
Ann Dornfeld, Environment Report
The people who make everyday items - from cars to chairs to cell phones - attractive and functional are called industrial designers. Now a new generation of industrial designers is learning how to create products that are environmentally friendly as well. That makes their jobs a bit more challenging.
(3 March 2008)
Media enable denier spin, part two
What if the MSM simply can't cover humanity's self-destruction?
Joseph Romm, Gristmill
... How can the traditional media cover a story that is almost "impossible to imagine"? I don't think they can. I'll be using a bunch of quotes, mostly from the NYT's Revkin, not because he is a bad reporter -- to the contrary, he is one of the best climate reporters -- but because now that he has a blog, he writes far more than any other journalist on this subject and shares his thinking. A new Revkin post, "The Never-Ending Story," underscores the media's central problem with this story:
I stayed up late examining the latest maneuver in the never-ending tussle between opponents of limits on greenhouse gases who are using holes in climate science as ammunition and those trying to raise public concern about a human influence on climate that an enormous body of research indicates, in the worst case, could greatly disrupt human affairs and ecosystems.
This sentence is not factually accurate (the boldface is mine). It would be much closer to accurate if the word "worst case" were replaced by "best case" or, as we'll see, "best case if the opponents of limits on GHGs fail and fail quickly." The worst case is beyond imagination. The word "holes" is misleading. And this isn't a "tussle" -- it is much closer to being a "struggle for the future of life as we know it." And all of us -- including Andy -- better pray that it ain't "never-ending. " Before elaborating, let me quote some more :
One of the unavoidable realities attending global warming -- a reality that makes it the perfect problem -- is that there is plenty of remaining uncertainty, even as the basics have grown ever firmer (my litany: more CO2 = warmer world = less ice = rising seas and lots of climate shifts).
Some skeptics have long tried to use the uncertainty as an excuse for maintaining the status quo. Campaigners for carbon dioxide curbs seem reluctant to acknowledge the gaps for fear that society will tune out. So the story migrates back to the edges: catastrophe, hoax. No doubt.
This last paragraph sums up the problem for the media. As an aside, I don't know what "gaps" or "holes" Revkin is talking about, but as I will try to make clear, they don't really exist in the sense that any typical reader would expect from the context.
The "story migrates back to the edges," not because that is inherent to the story, but because that is inherent to all modern media coverage of every big issue. Let me quote Newsweek editor Jon Meacham from last month:
I absolutely believe that the media is not ideologically driven, but conflict driven. If we have a bias it's not that people are socially liberal, fiscally conservative or vice versa. It is that we are engaged in the storytelling business. And if you tell the same story again and again and again - it's kind of boring.
The real story doesn't have much conflict: It is the growing scientific (and technological) understanding that if we don't sharply restrict greenhouse gas emissions soon, we face catastrophe -- that is the right word, the one Kolbert sticks in her title.
(6 March 2008)
The question: Paper or plastic?
Andrea Damewood, The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon)
Forget paper vs. plastic - just bag the bags.
To the surprise of some, Eugene’s eco-warriors aren’t leading the legions of cities, countries and retailers banning or taxing “enviro-enemy” number one: plastic bags.
No major local push to ban the bags has been made, according to recycling experts such as Sarah Grimm, because such measures don’t get to the root of the real problem - gross overuse.
“They shouldn’t be asking, ‘Paper or plastic?’e_SEnS” said Grimm, Lane County waste reduction specialist. “They should be asking, ‘Do you need a bag?’e_SEnS”
Canvas or other reusable bags - which are often durable enough to last several years - are really the ticket to eliminating the harmful impact that bags have on the environment, she said.
But, even Grimm and other area recyclers admit that it’s hard to always remember to carry canvas between the store, homes, cars and offices.
So, if you’re stuck in the supermarket with a load of groceries and no reusable bag, they say you should realize that toting your groceries in paper or plastic is going to carry about the same amount of environmental impact.
“I always say No. 1, you go for your own durable bag,” Grimm said. “No. 2, I would go for plastic as long as I need my garbage bags, and at that point I go for paper.”
The true harm comes from the greenhouse gases and other pollution caused in the bags’ creation, said Julie Daniel, executive director of BRING Recycling in Glenwood, who will buy only as much as she can carry in her hands if she forgets a reusable bag.
... Marine biologists reported last year that an island twice the size of Texas made up of 80 percent plastics, including bags, and weighing 3.5 million tons - dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” - is floating between San Francisco and Hawaii.
Paper bags biodegrade when discarded, he said, preventing them from forming their own aquatic continent.
(4 March 2008)
To me, the argument against plastics is the compelling one, because of their effect on the oceans. -BA