One of the mantras frequently heard from environmentalists is "reduce, reuse, recycle." The combination of those three approaches is used because no single approach is suitable for every situation when reducing our environmental impact.
When political desires intercede, however, that simple truth gets forgotten.
As we honor the message of Dr. King, we should take the opportunity to break down barriers by making the world a little closer through trade. While the environmental community encourages us to buy from others in our own community, those whose culture and experiences are most like ours, we want to encourage you to enjoy the work, skill and craftsmanship of those in cultures unlike ours.
Over at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, which describes itself as "The Pioneer of Sustainable Business Education," the institute is committed to educating about the ways business can promote environmental sustainability. On its web page, BGIs purpose statement reads: "We believe that business—as society’s most influential institution—is a powerful force for social change."
After years of touting its commitment to meeting the carbon emissions reductions of the Kyoto Protocol, the City of Seattle is dismissing its failure to meet that target with a waive of the hand. Indeed, city staffers now echo exactly our critique of City Hall's carbon emissions reduction efforts.
In an interview with the Seattle Times published on Sunday, the head of Seattle's Office of Sustainability and the Environment offered this assessment of the Kyoto Protocol:
2011 was a big year for environmental news from Solyndra, to Climategate II, and the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline. Locally, we saw Seattle ban plastic bags, the state ban BPA even as a study from the EPA said there was almost no risk, the fight over coal terminals in Western Washington, more ethics questions about how the Puget Sound Partnership spends money, among other issues.
One photo, however, stands out as the photo of the year, demonstrating the promise and pitfalls of our current environmental policy.
...you think eating squirrels is good for the environment.
One growing element of environmental culture is the rise of the "locavore" movement – people who strive to eat only local food. Some take this quite seriously. In Portland a dispute over local food at a pig cook off ended in "at least two head buttings and a fist-fight" that sent "a renowned chef and the event's organizer to jail after one had been pepper-sprayed and the other shot with a taser."
If you want to be green and celebrate the holidays, the Washington State Department of Ecology, King County Solid Waste and environmentalists have some advice for you: give the gift of self-sacrifice this season.
The Department of Ecology, for example, offers this view of Christmas gift-giving, saying it is little more than "scrambling to perpetuate increasingly consumptive accumulation of 'stuff' to store and throw away."
That is the primary argument the Washington Conservation Voters, the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Environmental Priorities Coalition make in advocating for one of their 2012 "Environmental Priorities" - a proposal to ban "Tris" flame retardant compounds.
The Washington Toxics Coalition and the Washington Conservation Voters argue that the ban on Tris is necessary because:
One of the key tenets of environmental dogma is that buying locally produced food helps the environment. The fewer miles the food travels, they argue, the less energy used and the better it is for the environment. The King County "Ecoconsumer," a taxpayer-funded county employee, argued the case in the Seattle Times:
Why doesn't the environmental left turn to the creativity of the free market for solutions that reduce resource use, environmental impact and improve energy efficiency? Maybe because they don't understand, at a basic level, what the free market is.
Earlier this week, an article in the Seattle Times quoted Washington State Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant saying he was concerned that "new pollution" was undoing the cleanup of Commencement Bay in Tacoma. The new pollution, however, is not the toxic sediment being removed from the Bay. The article notes that the new "contaminants are called phthalates, used in piping, packaging, soft plastic toys and many other products."
For much of the past decade, elected officials in Washington State have been talking about the critical need to limit carbon emissions to reduce the impact of climate change. The Governor, former Seattle Mayor Nickels and others have even highlighted their "leadership" on the issue.
Information released recently from the Energy Information Administration, however, shows that Washington is anything but a leader when it comes to actual results.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has a particularly silly column today in the Seattle Times, proclaiming "That's right: Solar power is now cost-effective." His central claim, after he finishes attacking natural gas exploration, is that "we're just a few years from the point at which electricity from solar panels becomes cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal."
He doesn't provide a source for this dramatic claim, and with good reason: it simply isn't true.