Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Betraying the Planet



So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This Woman is Redefining Public Transportation



Ask a friend to name a shared transportation option and he’ll probably mention that bus that rumbles past on the avenue or the commuter train that all the office jockeys pile into each weekday morning. But Robin Chase thinks the phrase is about to undergo a radical evolution. Almost ten years ago she founded car-sharing service Zip Car, which has proven a smashing success in urban areas across the country and is rumored to be going public next year. Now she’s put her visionary zeal behind GoLoco, a social networking site that encourage people to catch rides with each other (they take a 10 percent a fee if you choose to let them manage the financial arrangements.)

Thinking of your friends’ and neighbors’ cars as a personal transportation resource is the next wave in American mobility, Chase argues — an elegant response to rising costs, congestion and our existing road-heavy infrastructure.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Vermonters Free to Air Their Clean Laundry


Lyman Orton speaks on behalf of
the “Right to Dry” campaign at the
Statehouse in Montpelier, VT.

Middlebury, VT — Vermonters have long been known for their frugality, independence and common sense. More recently, residents have garnered a reputation for environmental consciousness and sustainability. All of these values have come to the fore in the “Right to Dry” provision recently passed by the Vermont legislature and spearheaded by Orton Family Foundation founder Lyman Orton.

Thanks to the new law, all residents in the State now have the right to dry their laundry on a clothesline—a right that, until last month, was prohibited by some condominium associations and housing complexes. Considering the significant energy consumption of a domestic dryer—which can account for more than 15 percent of a household’s energy bill—this simple measure has the potential to make a big impact.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

From a Failed Growth Economy to a Steady-State Economy


USSEE lecture, June 1, 2009
Herman E. Daly
School of Public Policy
University of Maryland

"So—if we can’t grow our way out of all problems, then maybe we should reconsider the logic and virtues of non-growth, the steady-state economy. Why this refusal by neoclassical economists both to face common sense, and to reconsider the ideas of the early Classical Economists?

I think the answer is distressingly simple. Without growth the only way to cure poverty is by sharing. But redistribution is anathema. Without growth to push the hoped for demographic transition, the only way to cure overpopulation is by population control. A second anathema. Without growth the only way to increase funds to invest in environmental repair is by reducing current consumption. Anathema number three. Three anathemas and you are damned—go to hell!"

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