Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

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Urban Environmentalism

November 9, 2009

I was just turned on to The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs. As a transplanted New Yorker, I have particular affections for the urban solution to our environmental problem.

Pretty interesting stuff.

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Up, Up, and Away

October 27, 2009

David Owen argues here that New York is one of the eco-friendliest locations in the US. As a transplanted New Yorker, this sounds about right to me. Somehow my wife and I lived in a 650 square foot apartment for more than three years. Because we only shared one wall with the outside, much of our heat was shared with our neighbors. Our refrigerator was small. We went grocery shopping every day, only for what we needed. Waste was relatively minimal, as our trash bags had to be small enough to send down the chute. Plus, we didn’t drive, we didn’t have to water any lawns, we didn’t worry about destroying our natural surroundings.

Yet there is a somewhat strong argument against New York being the greenest city: ultimately, and there’s no hiding this, it is the belly of the consumer beast. Walk down any street and there are towering monoliths to money and consumerism. More than most towns — with the possible exception of Hollywood — New Yorkers control our popular culture. Don’t get me wrong, I  NY. I just wanna go on record that, while it’s probably true that any given New Yorker is greener than the average Ameri-bear, it’s not true that New York is a shining bastion of eco-hope.

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Oh, I Guess It’s Okay Then

October 20, 2009

Greenwire reports that a new study reveals how global warming could spur growth in Northwest forests.  Here’s a relevant clip:

Overall, forest productivity could increase about 7 percent annually in forests west of the Cascade Range and 20 percent in forests east of them under one scenario that researchers said largely reflects current trends of energy use, globalization and economic growth. However, the study did not take into account management practices, disease, insects and fire, which can affect productivity and could also be affected by climate change.

The study was published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management.

This is all interesting and important research, of course; and it’s very important to anyone interested in adaptation, mitigation, or remediation, but ultimately it’s a distraction from the wicked problem that characterizes climate change.  The problem with climate change isn’t that any given environment will be made better or worse, nor that the world as a whole will be made better or worse, but that as a collective of human beings, we’re doing something that’s making the world better or worse, and this something that we’re doing can’t be justified.  There’s much more to say on this issue, on the issue of justification, for instance, but I won’t do that here.  For now, let’s just say that focusing on whether it is all bad, only somewhat bad, or maybe even good, starts the entire conversation off on the wrong foot.

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Leveling Appalachia

October 17, 2009

Yale 360 has an interesting video on mountaintop removal in appalachia.  I’m still in the hinterland of Michigan, but will be returning to the grind on Monday.  Treehugger adds some commentary and context.

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Harnessing the Wind

October 8, 2009

MailI love this interview.  Jon Stewart interviews William Kamkwamba, a boy from Malawi who constructed his own windmill, in his backyard, from junk.  Click on the book to visit his website.

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How Much is a Tonne?

September 30, 2009

This article on urban metabolism paints a pretty brown picture of Denver, our nearby metropolis.  To wit:

The results, which will be published in the October 1st issue ofEnvironmental Science and Technology, showed that the total emissions of the ten chosen cities varied considerably, ranging from 4.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person in Barcelona to 21.5 tonnes in Denver.

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Twenty Percent Down

September 29, 2009

This has been pointed out before, and criticized elsewhere, but the new Kerry-Boxer bill to be introduced tomorrow makes some important modifications to Waxman-Markey.  Will it pass?  Hard to say.  Let’s hope so.  I’ll be going to Copenhagen in December, and it’d be nice to be there without having to avert my gaze.