Terry Tamminen

Terry Tamminen is the former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and is now a policy adviser and author. His latest book is Watercolors: How JJ the Whale Saved Us.

The Afghan Price

Earlier this year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke about discovering that truckloads of single-use plastic shopping bags imported into his war-torn nation were squandering precious resources of fuel while risking the lives of truck drivers as they passed through insurgent held territories. Recognizing the true cost of wasting scarce resources in a place with so few to begin with – – call it the Afghan Price of goods – – he led the effort to ban the use of those wasteful bags. He may want to measure the Afghan Price of a much bigger threat to his people next – …

Could EcoAds Keep the Lights on in Japan?

In 1950s science fiction movies, irradiated monsters would emerge from the sea to level Tokyo as horrified citizens flee. In 2011, as a sign I saw last week in Tokyo airport attests (see photo), Japan faces a real-world nuclear nightmare and the very daunting task of rebuilding cities and an entire nation’s energy grid. An innovative American ad campaign may be at least one way to slay the dragon and build a more sustainable future. Last week in San Francisco, SunPower Corporation put their advertising dollars to work to support a rooftop solar PV system at the Telegraph Hill Community …

Pollution

We spend $76.6 billion a year on health care for kids made sick by toxic chemicals and air pollution

America spends a staggering $76.6 billion every year to cover the health expenses of our children who get sick because of exposure to toxic chemicals and air pollution, according to a recent study by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. That figure includes the cost of medical care and the lost workdays of parents caring for their kids. The inestimable costs of exposure to things like lead in homes and soot in the air include children with severe learning impairment and chronic asthma, among many others. Enforcing pollution laws would reduce illness in kids and …

Earth Day Aftermath – – Hope or Despair?

On Earth Day last week, I saw a burger wrapper tossed from an old Buick and was stunned that anyone still thought it was OK to use our shared city habitat as a personal dumpster. Later that same day however, I saw a homeless man pick up a Styrofoam cup from the gutter and drop it in a trash can nearby, a tsk-tsk look clearly visible on his face. Trivial perhaps, but those two incidents exemplify both the despair and the hope that we will ever climb the “green” mountain ahead of us. The problems are obvious, from nuclear accidents …

Silver Buckshot

Wars in the Middle East and oil rig blowouts in the Gulf have given us gasoline in the range of $4 to $5/gallon. Growing concerns over asthma-inducing pollution from coal fired power plants, not to mention mercury pollution in food supplies and greenhouse gas emissions, have resulted in the termination of numerous coal projects and even the TVA announcing it would soon close eighteen existing coal facilities. The transition from digging carbon out of the ground and setting it on fire to make electricity or power our horseless carriages won’t die from a single technology. No silver bullets in cleantech, …

The China-Europe-America Smackdown

America, it could be worse. We could be Europe. I mean, we’re still mostly in the race with China – – in the past five years, they improved energy efficiency by nearly 20% and have a new five-year plan for another 20%. I say big deal – – the Empire State Building recently completed an energy efficiency upgrade and cut its consumption by nearly 40% after only nine months of remodeling. OK, so China is doing it with an entire country, but we did it with a really big building that was once featured in a Fay Wray movie. And …

We CAN Do Something About Tsunami Devastation

The ferocious tsunami that devastated Japan’s coast is a tragic reminder that we have an uneasy relationship with our oceans. While we can’t prevent earthquakes, we can minimize at least some of the damage from tsunamis on American shores by dealing with climate change and rising ocean levels now. March 20th marked the beginning of National Tsunami Awareness Week. We will continue to hear more about the tragedy in Japan and about which preparations worked or which ones didn’t. We will hear much more about awareness and warning systems. Those discussions also need to include the ongoing threat from a …

Don’t Mess With Mother Nature

A few weeks ago in Lamont, California, a fighting rooster killed a man, when the bird slashed him with the blades he had attached to its legs. A bizarre one-time oddity? No, just days earlier a man in India was also killed when his fighting rooster slashed his throat. Just what is Mother Nature trying to say?“In thousands of years of civilization, the conflict between humankind and Nature has never been as serious as it is today. The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s economic and …

WH Gig for Mubarak

White House climate policy czar Carol Browner recently left her post “to spend more time with her family” (political-speak for “thanks for playing, but don’t let the door hit you in the backside on your way out”). Given his 2008 campaign pledge to get Congress to deal with US carbon pollution and thereby support a global successor to the Kyoto climate change accord, I assume President Obama will now need to appoint a replacement who can push through what Ms. Browner could not. Let me be the first to nominate Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak is the perfect choice. He will soon …

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