Ethan Goffman

Ethan Goffman writes about environmental issues for a variety of publications, and is the author of Imagining Each Other: Blacks and Jews in Contemporary American Literature.

New museum exhibit shows visitors how to build green

Sometimes it feels tough to get through a day without despoiling the planet. The products most of us use come through a wasteful global production chain; discarding old stuff is cheaper than repairing it; and our energy supply is inefficient and hard on the earth. Making matters worse, most of this excess centers around the heartwarming center of our existence, the home: U.S. households are responsible for about a quarter of the country’s energy use. So what to do? A new exhibit at Washington, D.C.’s National Building Museum puts green living in the spotlight, providing inspiration for those who dare …

A plan to spruce up D.C.’s Anacostia River has some residents anxious

In the southeast corner of Washington, D.C., the capital of the most powerful nation in history, lies a polluted, neglected neighborhood known as Anacostia. Slated for a grand renewal project centered on the local river that gives it its name, the area stands at the juncture of poverty and opportunity. If plans move forward, it will one day be a showcase of urban design, with revitalized neighborhoods, verdant parks, rolling pedestrian and bicycle paths, and an occasional eagle soaring overhead — in other words, a paradise. Today, Anacostia is more of a nightmare. Capital improvements are coming to D.C.’s other …

Why we need a World Environment Organization

With climate change manifesting itself in the melting of Arctic glaciers and the drowning of small Pacific islands, in widespread species extinction, forest loss, desertification, and impending water shortages, the scope of environmental problems has changed. Long-term alteration of the earth’s climate is moving us into terra incognita that’s difficult or impossible to reverse. Recently, Hurricane Katrina provided a dreadful example of how human alterations multiply natural impacts. And this is only one of many escalating global environmental crises. As Jared Diamond puts it, “the only question is whether” the world’s environmental problems “will become resolved in pleasant ways of …

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