Readers talk back about eco-friendly cities, eco-friendly clothes, and more
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels definitely deserves props for pulling cities together in common cause to achieve the Kyoto Protocol. However, Nickels has a huge blind spot in his own city: actually reducing production of greenhouse gases. His investment in highways is taking Seattle in the opposite direction.
Compare Seattle to Portland: The Oregonian reported this month that Portland’s emissions have already dropped to just below 1990 levels, and attributes their success to an array of reasons including “creation of two more light-rail lines and a 75 percent growth in public transit since 1990.”
Nickels intends to “cut greenhouse-gas emissions in many ways, ranging from planting trees to relying more on solar, wind, and nuclear power.” Trees are great, but where is the discussion of reducing car dependence?
The mayor’s commitment rings hollow in light of where he is spending public money. If Seattle is going to reduce emissions, elected officials have to have the courage to invest in getting people out of their cars.
Re: Jail Spin
As an enviro and prison activist, I wanted to thank you for your interview with Khaleaph Luis and Prince Serna from the Prison Moratorium Project. It is very important to understand the connections between social justice and environmental justice, and this interview is a great step on that path. The interview is also a real link in the kind of progressive unity so many of us are looking for (to judge by what else I read in Grist).
The organization I lead, Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, has been focused on environmental issues for a long time, promoting green building and natural building. We recently added social justice to our focus, and last year we launched a campaign to have architects boycott designing prisons. Thanks again for helping bring the multiple issues we care about together. It is all connected.
San Francisco, Calif.
Re: Jail Spin
This was perhaps the worst article on the environment that I have ever read. It obviously was written by a woman with an agenda against white American males. With articles such as this, it is no wonder the environmental movement has such trouble attracting and/or keeping people.
Tarpon Springs, Fla.
Re: Buy or Beware
Michelle Nijhuis has the right to like or dislike our book Green Living: The E Magazine Handbook for Living Lightly on the Earth, but I have to take issue with some of her more off-the-wall points. She actually writes that by locating the transportation and energy chapters near the end of the book after the section on natural health we are implying “that getting a massage is at least as important as riding a bike to work.” How does the chapter order indicate that, exactly? Readers browse; there’s a table of contents and an index.
Do we give short shrift to bikes? Hardly. The transportation chapter is nearly 10,000 words on every aspect of planet-friendly cars, public transportation, and bicycle activism. The energy chapter offers 20 pages of information about energy use and its impact on the earth, with page after page of useful suggestions for reducing consumption.
Similarly, Nijhuis criticizes our citation of what she calls “high-end sources” for natural-fiber clothing. But this clothing obviously costs more to produce, especially if workers are paid a living wage. Add in upscale designers and the prices really go up. Ask Bono and his wife Ali Hewson about this; the organic cotton, fairly traded T-shirts from their Edun line start at $55. We’d like to see the prices come down too, and we applaud companies like American Apparel (cited on page 71) that sell sweatshop-free U.S.-made organic cotton T-shirts for $15. Blaming us for the high prices some companies charge seems rather unfair. If we missed an affordable source for natural-fiber clothing in our extensive listings, maybe Ms. Nijhuis can clue us in.
And it’s ludicrous to say that we ignore thrift shopping (“But what about buying some cuteness at the local thrift store once in a while?”) when we include an entire chapter on recycling and reuse. She’d find copious information on reuse on page 296, and contacts for the Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries right there on pages 300-301. But that’s near the end of the book; perhaps she didn’t read that far.
Editor, E/The Environmental Magazine
Re: Esprit de Gore
Thank you for publishing the article on Al Gore and his mission to combat global warming. It took my high-school son doing his research project on alternative energy to wake up our whole family. We were Republicans, but now believe that global warming due to fossil fuels is the most pressing issue facing the planet. Bush and company, oilmen to the last, are steering our energy policy into the Dark Ages with their commitment to fossil fuel. I am sorry I didn’t vote for Al Gore the last time around.
Umbra was asked about products “made in the USA” using environmentally sensitive fabrics. Not much of Patagonia is made in the U.S., and American Apparel only has a limited number of styles in organic cotton. I should think Grist would have many more sources than what’s been listed.
How about doing a better promotion for some of the smaller business? There are many of us trying to be environmentally and socially responsible that could use the free publicity.
I must object to Umbra’s mention of the retailer Romp. It’s hard for me to see how eco-friendly and ethical the company is when almost every one of the models in the “collection” section of its website is wearing fur.
I want to commend Umbra on her advice to the woman who wanted to know what career she should pursue with her master’s in environmental science. I work as an adviser/career counselor and she offers very sage advice. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the saying “do what you love.” I tell my students — and everyone I know — to do that all the time. It’s the only way to be completely happy in your career.
I have to totally disagree with Umbra’s Pollyannaish advice in her last column concerning what to do to make a living with a graduate degree and an interest in environmental work. I graduated with an M.S. in environmental studies from the University of Oregon 10 years ago, and my life has been a hell of short-term contracts and other assorted difficulties. That “follow your bliss” stuff is a bunch of crap without several major caveats.
Re: String Theory
We went with Umbra’s clothesline advice and saved $15 on our first month’s electric bill.
Please let the editors of “The Soul of Environmentalism” know that I am totally in agreement with their views. I believe that the issue of social justice is one with the issue of environmental justice, and I applaud their essay for pointing this out. Thank you for offering a place for their views!
I don’t believe we should be so quick to kick the “Bushies” because they are advocating aquaculture. Asking the world to stop eating seafood just will not work; we absolutely must look to stewardship of our resources so that we can “farm” them in a symbiotic relationship of man and nature. These techniques can be used (the right way) and nature can prosper. It’s about time everyone stopped carping at each other and tearing each other down and worked on finding good, solid ways to answer all interests with initiatives that are stewardship-oriented.
Re: Arid Extra Dry
Your news briefs usually provide an appropriately critical eye to new reports, particularly when they appear to benefit industry rather than the public. That’s why we were surprised when we read your news brief on desertification, reporting on the recommendations of the U.N. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which included “sustainable” solutions such as fish farming.
Nothing about fish farming is sustainable; rather, it will pollute our oceans, force local fishing communities out of business, and may impact consumers’ health because they eat lower quality fish that have been pumped full of chemicals and antibiotics to increase production and prevent disease.
Field Director, Aquaculture Campaign