Last week the Center for American Progress began a series called "It's Easy Being Green," meant to recognize the steps communities, individuals, and organizations are taking to transform our country's energy use. Last week's column featured a new kind of neighborhood:
The National Governors Association has linked up with “a team of Wal-Mart energy experts” to “green the capitols.” That’s fantastic — and I’m sure it will draw well-deserved huzzahs in certain green circles. (It’s touching to see Wal-Mart giving back some of what it has been siphoning off in state taxes!) But read a little deeper into the press release, and you see what the National Governors Association means by “green.” Turns out that when it comes to energy, the govs love some pretty dubious stuff. I’ll let Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell take it from here: [I]t’s clear that charting …
North Carolina’s Triangle — Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh — counts as the state’s economic, educational, and political engine. It’s also very quickly running out of water, parched by a severe drought. Are the area’s leaders doing anything constructive to respond to the situation? So far, the signs aren’t encouraging. I’ve been following the story in the excellent daily Raleigh News & Observer. On Monday, the N&O reported that Raleigh has exactly one agreement with another local entity to buy water in case of an emergency. The agreement is with Durham — and there’s a problem: Durham’s is perhaps the …
The percentage of 16-year-olds with a U.S. driver’s license has decreased sharply in the last decade, from 43.8 percent in 1998 to 29.8 percent in 2006. Rising insurance costs, expensive driver education, and an increase in indoor pastimes are more likely to be driving the trend than environmental awareness — and sure, most yoots still get around in four-wheeled transportation, chaffeured by parents and friends. But at the very least, we suspect that fewer kids with a license means fewer cars idling for hours while teens grope in the back.
Volker Weber provides a strong counterargument to my posts favoring public investment (very funny, if you are a certain kind of geek):
The British government is preparing a shortlist of sites for high-density, carbon-neutral eco-towns, but is coming under consistent protest from villagers who don’t want ‘em nearby. Many residents living near the proposed sites have concerns that, eco or not, new development will take over agricultural land, increase traffic, and burden local infrastructure. Says Mark Sullivan of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, “[Eco-towns] will never be self-sustaining, effective communities if they are sited in the wrong places.”
As rising energy prices and better urban planning push the affluent back to city centers, the poor and working class will be pushed out to the suburbs. Soon, we’ll see blight, crime, the drug trade, and other social pathologies where we have been accustomed to seeing the American Dream. “Inner city” and “outer suburb” will flip their cultural connotations. It will be confusing.
Mark your calendar for March 29, when cities around the world will switch off non-critical lights at 8:00 p.m. for an awareness-raising Earth Hour. At present, 24 cities — with a total population of some 30 million people — plan to participate in the energy-saving symbolism, from Toronto to Tel Aviv, Bangkok to Brisbane, Canberra to Copenhagen, and first Earth Hour participant Sydney to copycat event holder San Francisco. Thousands of individuals and businesses have also signed on to come to the dark side.