Once again, environmental groups are encouraging you to turn off your lights tomorrow night at 8:30 as part of Earth Hour. Supporters understand this is a symbolic effort, so they don't make too many claims about how much energy will actually be saved. Earth Hour, however, ends up providing a nice contrast between the current green approach and the alternative provided by the free-market incentives to do more with less.
There could hardly be a more stark contrast between the ability of the free market to provide effective environmental solutions and the failure of politically dictated efforts than the difference between the Toyota Prius C and the Chevy Volt.
A new study showing that local climate plans fail to reduce carbon emissions is drawing some fire from the environmental left. I will write a separate blog about that study (which confirms much of what we've said in the past), but what interested me was this claim by K.C.
Last weekend, the motion picture version of Dr. Seuss’s book "The Lorax" hit the big screen and it sticks in large part to the original 1971 storyline. In "The Lorax," a businessman, the "Once-ler," moves into town, cuts down all the trees and destroys the forest, air and water in the process. A furry creature, the Lorax, appears and proclaims, “I speak for the trees” and scolds the Once-ler for being "crazed with greed."
Last week, Crosscut featured an interview with the Chair of the Puget Sound Partnership Martha Kongsgaard. Martha complains about the $1.7 million in cuts to the agency, saying "the enforcement and the effectiveness of what they do and how they carry out their work is really eroded."
The House Democrats' blog, "The Advance," offers this environmental statistic: "Over five million trees are cut down each year to print white pages directories." That led the caucus to title the blog post containing that statistic "Yellow Pages/White pages kill trees and that makes me cry."
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."