We're all fairly familiar with the environmental and economic benefits of farmers markets -- they prevent food from traveling long distances, they keep money in the regional economy, they encourage organic farming, they keep land in the hands of local farmers and out of the hands of sprawly developers, etc. etc. But as I strolled around the Ballard farmers market today, I was most struck by the social benefits.
Two articles in the Washington Post jumped out at me this morning. Neither is explicitly "green," but both have important environmental implications. The first, "Insurers Retreat from Coasts, Katrina Losses May Force More Costs on Taxpayers," was front-page, above the fold -- even in my waffle-deprived state I couldn't miss it. What the story missed was any mention of the idea that perhaps the role of governments -- local, state, and national -- was not as an insurance backstop for development exposed to high risk of natural catastrophes, but as preventer of such development in the first place. Insurance policy is not my forte, and after reading the article I can't say which competing proposal would be better, but I'm sure a better policy than either would be preventing development in some these areas. Better policy, for sure, but more difficult politics ... And as Michael Grunwald makes clear in his "Pork by Any Other Name," in this day and age politics beats policy every time. To quote him, "Congress often seems to have devolved into a policy-free zone, where pork not only greases the wheels of legislation, but is the very purpose of legislation."
... you know journalism has problems. (Here's the video.)
On Thursday, Dave attended a press screening of An Inconvenient Truth, so expect a review of it soon. And on Tuesday, May 2nd, he'll be chatting with the star of the film, Al Gore. If you have any burning questions, just let Dave know. In related news, David Remnick of the The New Yorker published a glowing review of his own, in which he writes: "An Inconvenient Truth is not the most entertaining film of the year. But it might be the most important." Word.
China will host the 2008 Olympics, which are an expression of human nature, which is all about competition and status. The Olympics, in my humble opinion, are little more than a pissing match writ large. The Chinese will of course use this event to show the world how cool they are. One way they plan to impress visitors is to build things out of luxurious tropical hardwoods, like the rich, dark red Merbau tree, which grows in the jungles of Indonesia and Malaysia. From the Jarkarta Post: Experts forecast that China's drive to develop its infrastructure to host the Olympics will consume tens of millions of cubic meters of primary forestry products, including solid wood flooring.
Recently, contributor Deborah Schimberg had the chance to attend the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School in Oxford, England. She shares a few thoughts here. Should we see our contaminated and warring world as cause for despair, or as a call to action? Social entrepreneurs choose the second, and big-time business is getting on board. And of the 16 award-winners recently announced by the Skoll Foundation -- which was created by former eBay president Jeff Skoll -- several had a green bent. There was Jim Fruchterman of Benetech, who is working on several sector-changing businesses, among them a software program that will help conservation groups standardize data collection and management. And Mindy Lubber of Ceres, which helps shareholders pressure major corporations like Ford to adopt forward-looking policies. Another, Albina Ruiz of Ciudad Saludable, has worked to set up eco-enterprises in 20 cities in Peru. These folks are all addressing serious structural problems in the environmental sector with systematic, business-like methods.
Ever visit this website? According to Mary Mycio, author of Wormwood Forest, the photos of the Chernobyl area were taken during a regularly scheduled bus tour, not by a hot chick riding solo on a motorcycle. Mycio spent a great deal of time in the contaminated zones and actually talked to the driver of that same tour bus (who I will assume was telling the truth). I just finished reading her book and although there have already been several good posts on the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, I thought readers could stomach maybe one more.
You may have noticed that I can't bring myself to post about anything serious today. It's Friday, for chrissake, and the sun's finally out in Seattle. Instead, how about a stoopid poll. Vote below the fold.
Yesterday I took a few potshots at the Wired green issue. Now the glossy backlash continues, with a DailyKos diarist going postal on the Vanity Fair green issue: Every pathology of the overripe zenith of American hyperconsumerism and narcissism, proudly flaunted in one shiny, garishly overcoloured, borderline-porno, pretty-shiny-toxic package. What an experience. Bitchy is the new green!