A refreshing change of pace: sensible policy

Imagine: charging polluters to encourage the others!

Sam Smith, publisher of the estimable e-letter The Progressive Review, is perhaps the ultimate pragmatic environmentalist, with a sharp eye for what works and a sharper ability to deflate the pompous and overly-self-loving. He is often the sole commenter picking up on policy proposals and practices that a less parochial media less obsessed with infotainment would be interested in -- such as the success of congestion charges in London's central district, implemented by Mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone (elected by IRV):

Integrated urbanism in Dongtan

Building the world’s largest eco-city

The May 2007 issue of Wired Magazine has a piece about the development of the world's largest eco-city, Dongtan, underway on the outskirts of Shanghai (as we reported in May of last year). The article focuses on Alejandro Gutierrez and his team from Arup (project info here). Recommended reading.

Brit's Eye View: Sustainable development turns 20

Happy birthday!

Peter Madden, chief executive of Forum for the Future, writes a monthly column for Gristmill on sustainability in the U.K. and Europe. "Sustainable development" is 20 years old this week. On April 27, 1987, after four years of deliberation, the World Commission on Environment and Development released its report. The inquiry -- also known as the Brundtland Commission -- was led by the prime minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland. I was at university then, and devoured the contents of the report, which was later published as the book Our Common Future. Here, at last, was someone tying together the environment and development agendas. The report had much to say, too, about the relationship between poverty and environmental degradation. And as a female leader, Brundtland was such an antidote to our own prime minister; she was pretty much everything Margaret Thatcher was not. The report gave us an enduring definition of sustainable development: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own need." So 20 years on, what is the legacy of sustainable development as a concept?

When will people on bikes be treated as well as smokers?

Bike racks in rain, smokers under cover

I am pissed. I just learned that my county would rather provide shelter from the weather for its employees who smoke (and drive up healthcare costs) than let those citizen-terrorists on bikes park out of the rain near the county building.

Canadian Sophia Rabliauskas fights to protect her First Nation territory

Sophia Rabliauskas. Photo: Goldman Environmental Prize. The boreal forests of Canada, which stretch across the midsection of the country, are blessed with abundant wildlife, pristine wetlands, and vast carbon-storage capacities. For Sophia Rabliauskas, these abundant forests are also home. She’s a member of the Poplar River First Nation, and she grew up in its traditional territory, a two-million-acre stretch of forest on the eastern side of Lake Winnipeg. She’s lived in the tiny, isolated Poplar River community for most of her life, and expects to retire there. But Poplar River’s territory is bordered by industrial logging and hydropower development, and …

Top 10 U.S. green buildings

The American Institute of Architects has put together a list of the top ten green buildings in the U.S. Here they are, in alphabetical order: EpiCenter, Artists for Humanity / Boston, MA Arrowstreet Inc. Global Ecology Research Center / Stanford, CA EHDD Architects Government Canyon Visitor Center / Helotes, TX Lake/Flato Architects Hawaii Gateway Energy Center / Kailua-Kona, HI Ferraro Choi and Associates Heifer International / Little Rock, AR Polk Stanley Rowland Curzon Porter Architects, Ltd. Sidwell Friends Middle School / Washington, DC Kieran Timberlake Associates Wayne L. Morse U.S. Courthouse / Eugene, OR Morphosis & DLR Group Whitney Water …

High-speed rail transit in the Midwest

It can be done

ModeShift has an intriguing post on a proposed regional high-speed rail transit system for the Midwest. Here’s the wow bit: In essence, for the same cost as building less than 120 miles of new Interstate freeway, the Midwest could design, construct, and operate a 21st Century passenger rail network that would make the region’s transportation system competitive with that of western Europe. Moreover, the feasibility study predicted that the system would generate so much passenger traffic, over 10 million riders a year, that annual revenue by 2014 ($528 million) would exceed the operating and maintenance expense ($453 million). Old-school public …

Wondertoys and change avoidance

The seductive lure of toys that promise solutions without change

Reading about the sunken tidal turbines -- which seem interesting -- I got an overwhelming feeling of "here we go again." Why is it that people who know that "eat the foods you love and lose weight without exercise!" is hokum can't resist spending hours and hours hyping and being hyped about technotoys that promise "abundant low-cost clean energy that lets you lose carbon without reducing consumption!"

Giuliani v. Bloomberg

Who’s the biggest fattest liberal?

Over at National Review, Deroy Murdock is eager to assure his fellow right-wingers that Rudolph Giuliani is no liberal! What’s his evidence? Why, when he was mayor Giuliani doused the city with toxic insecticide! He built dirty power plants in poor parts of town! He privatized the management of Central Park! No liberal would ever do that stuff, right? Meanwhile, current NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg just unveiled a visionary plan to make NYC the “the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city,” with traffic congestion charges, transit improvements, more public spaces, lots of new trees, and more. Guess that sinks his hopes …

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