The NYT has an editorial today critiquing the "Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act" the Senate is set to debate today. The bill's stated purpose is to reduce fuel prices. But while the gulf may hold enough natural gas to affect the price of that commodity, the same cannot be said of oil. No matter where it looks, a country that consumes one-quarter of the world's oil supply while holding only 3 percent of the reserves will never be able to drill its way to lower oil prices, much less oil independence. There's some opposition within the Senate:
"With the continuing escalation of global fuel prices, many State DOTS are beginning to experience unprecedented construction cost increases." - USDOT Over the last year, the price of asphalt has gone through the roof, and it's hurting local road repairs and construction. I haven't seen much about this outside of local articles (examples here, here, and here). If oil prices keep their steady march upward, road repairs are going to become a ballooning problem for local communities and state governments. Some communities are already cutting back on paving projects, or are using less cover material to stretch resources further. But as one DOT rep stated, "With paving, you can't let it get ahead of you, or you're never going to catch up ... It may not hurt you in the short term, but we're going to need to get more money to pave in the future."
Lewis & Clark (the school, not the explorers) is putting on its annual Environmental Affairs Symposium, October 2-4. The theme this year is: "Beyond Environmentalism? Debating New Ideas and Strategies." Michael Shellenberger, of "Death of Environmentalism" infamy, will be there. I got an email inviting "college faculty, undergraduate students, and environmental professionals from the region" to propose a talk on one of six topics. Sounds like good fun if you're in the Portland area. More information follows ...
Environmental Building News has an article up on integrating biophilia into green building practices. Biophilia is a notion popularized by biologist E. O. Wilson. It describes humans' innate affiliation for the natural world. Biophilia attempts to define "the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life." The thrust of the article is that biophilia is an underdeveloped element of green building practices, but one that has significant potential benefits.
The United Nations Environment Program must have been listening to all the Grist chatter (here and here) about how to communicate environmental issues, because they have just launched the Creative Gallery on Sustainability Communications, described as the ...
NYT today reports on the rise? emergence? rediscovery? of geoengineering options to combat global warming. For me this stuff falls into the category of bad adaptation strategies; wait until we're really SOL and then spend gobs of money on big techy solutions that may not work, but look cool. There's plenty more critique to be had in the article itself.
I was reading the magazine section of the same Sunday NYT that David noted for its coverage of all things green, when I came across a six-page advertising section for "green properties" that left me shaking my head. (Sorry, not available online.) The title is prefaced by "luxury homes and estates," so I already know we're going to a place I'm not comfortable with. The tendency for green building coverage is to focus on lifestyle choices of the affluent or the extreme (examples here, here, and here), but that tendency is already well-trod, if painful, territory. What got me in this piece was something else. These high-rise condominiums, town homes and vacation houses are capturing the interest of luxury buyers and renters who seek to lower energy consumption and make more earth conscious choices. Now keep in mind that phrase: "earth conscious choices."
NYT ran the latest in their "energy challenge" series on Sunday: "The Cost of Coal" looks at China's coal use and resulting pollution problems. It starts off with a bleak portrait ... One of China's lesser-known exports is a dangerous brew of soot, toxic chemicals and climate-changing gases from the smokestacks of coal-burning power plants ... and moves on down from there.
The Guardian reported yesterday that "heads of some of Britain's biggest companies are meeting Tony Blair today to demand tougher targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions." What's this? Industry demanding that government set tougher targets? Has the metric system created a different economic system where business likes regulation?