Keith Hunt - Questions Answered on Climate Change Restitution of All

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The Pros and Cons to combat it


From the book "More Good News" by David Suzuki and Holly Dressel



.....Today human activity is generating more than twice as much
carbon dioxide as the biosphere can absorb, thereby elevating its
concentration in the atmosphere above preindustrial levels by
more than a third, as well as acidifying all the oceans (carbon
dioxide combines with water to form carbonic acid). Despite
recent attempts to control CO2 emissions, they're continuing to
rise at the rate of more than 5 percent per decade and are
responsible for about 6o percent of global warming. According to
climatologist Andrew Weaver, bubbles of air trapped in successive
annual layers of Antarctic ice reveal that "Our level of
atmospheric carbon dioxide is now substantially higher than at
any time" during the previous 800,000 years. All fossil fuels
raise carbon dioxide levels, but some are worse than others. Coal
generates the most carbon dioxide per unit of energy, making it
the "dirtiest" fuel. Petroleum pollutes the atmosphere 20 percent
less than coal, and natural gas is the "cleanest" fossil fuel,
putting out 40 percent fewer pollutants than coal.
     Carbon dioxide is not the only gas we need to be concerned
about. Methane is an even more potent greenhouse gas, and we
generate lots of it in our huge garbage dumps and landfill sites,
in rice paddies, and in the flatulence of our domesticated
ruminants, like sheep and dairy cattle. Vast, previously
sequestered deposits of methane in now-melting permafrost in the
Arctic or in rotting plants flooded by big dams are adding to the
proportion of that gas in the air as the present global warming
trend continues. Nitrogen oxides emitted by cars and used as
fertilizers in industrial farming have also become a very
significant source of greenhouse gases. Entirely new groups of
greenhouse gases, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCS) and other
halocarbons, created by the chemical industry for use in
refrigeration and aerosol sprays, have a warming potential that
can be as much as 24,000 times as powerful as carbon dioxide per
unit of volume.
     Currently transportation alone accounts for some 40 percent
of all our energy use; that's partly because the number of cars
is growing faster than the human population-worldwide, more than
ten times faster. And instead of saving our trees to absorb all
that carbon dioxide, we're cutting them down to make into
disposable packaging that we use briefly then toss into
carbon-exhaling landfills and incinerators. Every gallon of
gasoline, when burned, creates more than 2o pounds of CO2, an
amount that would take a large tree about a year to absorb. It
becomes mind numbing to compute the amount of gas we burn in our
cars and the number of trees it would take to absorb that waste.
When we consider the role of carbon dioxide and other gases in
global warning, the crux of the climate change crisis becomes
inescapably clear: we have been generating more greenhouse gases
by burning fossil fuels, while diminishing our ability to remove
them from the atmosphere, as we cut down trees and destroy other
carbon sinks that could absorb that carbon dioxide.

     Obviously we don't want so much carbon dioxide in our
atmosphere that the planet starts resembling Venus. Evidence from
recent probes suggests that Mars once had an atmosphere
conceivably able to support life, so losing a functional
atmosphere isn't an unthinkable danger, even in our own tiny
solar system. We are in a predicament. On the one hand, there is
our balanced atmosphere, without which most life cannot survive
more than a few minutes. On the other, there is the entire
fossil-fueled economic system humans have built over the past
three centuries. If we are going to survive, the former has to
outweigh the latter, and we are going to need to replace fossil


     Tides, geothermal, wind, solar-each of these new energy
sources has its drawbacks, but this fact should force a true
knowledge revolution: we should never again trust single answers
or single resources. It should give us great hope that no single
energy source can be "the answer" that fossil fuels seemed to be
in the First Industrial Revolution, since a diversity of small
solutions is one of the key signals that a system may be
sustainable. As well, energy sources more dependent on natural
cycles, such as tides, force people to act locally and to manage
that way as well. Iceland, with its cold climate and lack of
arable land, would be crazy to ignore its wealth of geothermal
energy and try to grow biofuels; North Dakota might possibly
produce second-generation biofuels, but it would be better off
looking into wind. Wave and tide power might be one way Indonesia
could relieve the pressure on its forests, while solar is the
obvious answer for dry, sunny places like Egypt or central China.
Rather than rely on the fossil fuel monoculture that has led to
wars, political destabilization, and massive corruption, we will
have to develop a new polyculture of energy sources. The energy
from most of these, thankfully, will be too little in quantity or
too difficult to transmit to interest a big player. That alone
should eliminate some of the scale problems any new technology
might carry and should also help control the economic and
environmental destabilization we're now experiencing.

     We now have the technology to balance human needs with those
of natural systems and are beginning to learn the methodology.
Whether or not we achieve this aim obviously has a great deal to
do with social values, economic anxieties, and political will.
Although national legislation and global treaties with
enforceable targets for carbon emissions are vital to this
survival effort, the players coming up with the best solutions
are not politicians, huge corporations, and economists. A
remarkable number of solutions are coming from small
municipalities, independent entrepreneurs, social collectives,
and aboriginal or traditional societies. As with everything else
sustainable, many answers as to how people will have the energy
sources to help large populations survive economically-and retain
a planet with a functional atmosphere-are coming from the bottom


     What we are doing with energy is adding another cash crop.

     Dan Juhl, community wind farm pioneer


     If we think of wind energy leaders, we think of Germany,
Denmark, and maybe California, none of them known for howling
winds. However, these places do have enlightened governments and
citizens actively looking for ways to cut fossil fuel use. Today
more obvious candidates in the wind energy sweepstakes are taking
advantage of what such friendly government policies have
pioneered, and acres of giant windmills are marching across the
horizons of upstate New York and great plains states like Texas,
Iowa, and Minnesota, not to mention Mongolia and Alaska, where
ceaseless winds blow.
     Right now in the new energy production center of
southwestern Minnesota, rows of huge propellers hum with the
power of an atmospheric energy resource that up until recently
was viewed as more of a misery than a help. Farmer Marty Espenson
says, "I hated the wind. It blows your hat off; it blows the seed
corn bags across the field... you can't spray, it's too windy...
But I like the wind now." Espenson and his wife, Patty, are among
the first local farmers in Minnesota to profit from this
renewable resource. They're coowners, with eleven others, of the
Bingham Lake Wind Farm, and they made their rather daunting
initial borrowed investment back in a single year, by taking
control of what is essentially a free resource. They've used the
returns to stay on their land.
     Dan Juhl, the wind entrepreneur whose nearby sixteen-yearold
Woodstock Wind Farm inspired the Espensons, helped set up their
cooperative and now travels the state helping other struggling
farmers set up more wind co-ops. Along with his original
10-megawatt-producing farm, Juhl has assisted locals with the
complex work of getting suitable land and then dealing with banks
and equity agents to leverage loans. He's helped create 130
megawatts of community wind farms over the last few years. Some
farmers only want a couple of these machines so that, like their
German counterparts, they can supplement and diversify their
smallholdings with the new cash crop of wind energy. Others have
suitable acreage that they can combine with neighbors to form
larger farms.
     Wind power is like any other technology. It can have very
good or very bad effects on communities and their natural
systems. When wind farms are small, locally owned ventures that
respond to the needs of the long-term residents, they tend to be
good; after all, these machines consume no fuel to operate, and
the electricity they produce is entirely emission free. Fossil
fuels and other materials are consumed and emitted in the process
of manufacturing windmills, but the structures more or less pay
for themselves within a year or so through their long-term clean
habits. Still, we have to remember to weigh every installation
and use carefully. Using windmills that rotate more slowly is
mitigating damage to migrating birds, while moving the turbines
to carefully chosen sites is helping to protect migrating bats, a
species in alarming decline. And even though the global power
potential of this resource is projected to be much greater than
the entire energy needs of the planet, it's not going to be
feasible or desirable to cover all our rural, offshore, and
wilderness areas, however delightfully windy, with humming,
rotating blades. There are undoubtedly other natural system
downsides we haven't noticed yet to go along with objections to
their appearance and the noise windmills make. People living near
them (presumably other living things are affected as well) report
nausea, headaches, depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness so
often that the complaint has been named "wind turbine syndrome."
     These concerns aside, wind power could go a very long way
toward solving some of this planet's biggest and scariest
atmospheric and weather problems, especially if wind farms are
funded through equity banks, government subsidies, and tax breaks
that favor co-ops and community-based owners. We see this in the
way Juhl helped his Minnesota neighbors navigate the intricacies
of funding machines that cost $2 million apiece, setting local
families up with the big investors who are in a position to apply
for the government's complex tax credit schemes, so the providers
of the land base this energy source needs can get in on its
economic benefits.
     Minnesota now leads the U.S. and Canada with its Hermann
Scheer model of "indigenous power," and in a clear illustration
that the groups really on the margins of energy supplies will
embrace the best solutions first, India has shot up to being the
fourthlargest producer of wind power in the world, producing 3
percent of the subcontinent's electricity from its free air.
India's largest turbine manufacturer, Suzlon, has opened its
first U.S. factory in Pipestone, Minnesota, near the Espensons'
wind farm. Today the manufacture of rotor blades for windmills is
providing three hundred long-term, highly paid, skilled jobs, and
in any community, let alone a rural one, that's a whole new lease
on the future.


     India is not the only emerging country becoming a leader in
energy entrepreneurship, however. China's wind power is growing
faster than any other country's. Chinese leaders doubled their
wind power goals for 2010 after reaching earlier goals three
years ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, in the U.S., once a leader in
a technology that became moribund during the George W. Bush
years, people are getting back on the wind power bandwagon. The
fact that wind power generation in the U.S. increased by almost
40 percent between 2006 to 2007 shows the possibilities are huge,
and at the rate it's developing now in China, that country could
bypass the U.S. in total production in the next few years. Given
its alarming new consumption of cars, this is the most hopeful
news of all.


Ocean power functions in basically the same way as hydropower...
but rather than coming from river flow, this water power comes
from the movement of the currents, tides and waves.

Global Warming for Dummies

Geothermal energy... [is] a very large non-carbon-based energy
resource and has the potential to be a significant contributor to
the energy needs of this country.

M. Nafi Toksoz, professor of geophysics at MIT

     Tides and waves, unlike wind, are inexorable and extremely
predictable. All this energy and movement is something engineers
understand in principle how to harness, using upside-down
windmills or gates and turbines, and they even know how to store
it. So why isn't there more ocean energy available? It's mostly a
capital investment problem; the technology has lacked sufficient
subsidies and government help. It's also what's called a "tenure"
problem. It's not always clear who owns the oceans, especially if
a fishery or other seaside industry is already in place. In many
areas just getting the permits to start placing buoys and
turbines can take years. The mechanical problems are challenging,
too. Nasty and damaging as wind can be, oceans are worse. Storms
destroy structures; saltwater corrodes; dragging cables and
shifting anchors can tear up benthic fauna, the base of the food
chain; and the marine power installations can disrupt migratory
patterns of species like whales, birds, fish, and seals.
     Although most of the ideas for marine power are still at the
testing or construction stage, one of the world's first
commercial wave farms did open off Portugal in 2008. Cornwall is
developing a "Wave Hub" with a variety of wave energy converters
floating offshore to connect up to 40 megawatts to the grid."
Another operating wave farm in the world is off the coast of
Australia and uses "CETO" technology, which is a simple piston
pump attached to the seafloor with a float tethered to it. Waves
cause the float to rise and fall, and the pressurized water that
results is piped to an onshore facility to drive generators. Not
only is this the most elegantly simple design so far, it may (or,
of course, may not) eventually prove to be one of the best. It's
less likely to be damaged by storms and will not mar a beautiful
seashore or attract birds or seals to their doom. However, if it
ever became too popular we would have to think about what great
numbers of pistons and cables would do to seafloor, where the
entire food chain begins.


     Another energy source with huge potential is geothermal -
and it comes from our interior sun, the molten core of Planet
Earth. The magma flowing under our feet is 1,000 degrees Celsius
(1,800 degrees Fahrenheit), more than twice as hot as the surface
of Venus. It's more accessible in some places than others. The
Philippines generates 17 percent of their electricity using
geothermal energy and there's a lot of potential for the U.S.,
Latin America, Indonesia, and East Africa as well. New Zealand
has thirteen plants and at least a hundred more possible energy
plant locations, but although a few are locally owned by the
Maori, others have been overdeveloped already or have high
noxious gas content and other drawbacks.
     So there are limitations, even in a planetary hotspot like
Iceland, where the crust overlying the magma is thin and you can
pump heat up very easily." As Robert Zierenberg of the University
of California at Davis notes, "Icelanders have taken as much as
they can from their geothermal resource." Such areas do not
produce indefinitely, either. The biggest geothermal development
in the world, The Geysers in northern California, which provides
over half of San Francisco's power, has begun to decline because
"it was overproduced." It literally ran out of steam. Because of
that experience, and for fear of depleting these unusual places
where people have always marveled at the bubbling mud pots and
steamy hot springs, many environmentalists have fought geothermal
projects proposed for Hawaii and near Yellowstone.
     Geothermal heating can also be based on heat pumps that take
advantage of the difference between temperatures above and below
ground, a gradient that is the same the world over. Heating
systems now common in Canada work like a refrigerator in reverse,
heating buildings by pumping antifreeze-type liquids through a
closed loop under the ground. This is another technology with a
heavy initial capital investment that does eventually pay the
investor back. However, with the present lack of good incentives
in North America, payback can take fifteen or twenty years.
Estimates on exactly how much energy all geothermal sources could
provide range wildly, from the International Energy Agency's
estimate of only 85 gigawatts-that is, not even 1 percent of
humanity's current needs-to a 2006 MIT report claiming that the
world's total resources, with technological improvements, could
generate 100 percent of what we're using now for several
millennia to come." Violently diverging statistics like that are
a feature of technologies still in development, because they
don't yet have many big operational sites that can be assessed.
So although the potential for geothermal power might be huge, we
must remember that everything on this planet is finite, and the
use of this energy is limited by many factors. Vents that once
conducted dry steam can collapse, and wet steam reservoirs can
run out of water. "Deep well" technology would bypass these
problems by drilling hundreds of feet into the Earth's crust to
"mine heat" from superheated magma. But like deep wells driven
into aquifers, this idea sounds as though it could contain
surprises. There are already observations that current
installations can cause earthquakes, albeit small ones. Given
Newton's third law of motion, "For every action there is an equal
and opposite reaction," or the first law of thermodynamics, the
fact that "energy cannot be created but can only change forms,"
drilling under the Earth's crust to extract heat could quite
possibly be harmful to that crust or to us.

     Kevin Rafferty, formerly of the Geo-Heat Center at the
Oregon Institute of Technology, predicts that "geothermal is
unlikely to be the single answer to our energy security any more
than wind, solar, conservation, or fossil fuels will be. It
should be part of a mix of strategies. And like every technology
in this mix, geothermal will have to be carefully regulated. Most
current geothermal sites are in fragile wilderness areas. The
roads needed to access geothermal energy can disrupt habitat, and
the steam that pours out of geothermal plants can be "heavily
laced with high levels of salts and sulfur compounds... toxic to
aquatic wildlife." If that sounds minor, remember it's the
wildlife on this planet, down to the smallest biota, that creates
the atmosphere in the first place. And although geothermal energy
is emission free and enormously better than coal, oil, and gas,
we can't afford to put all our precious eggs in just one basket.
To put that another way, if it's too big to fail, it's too big to


O Aten, ordainer of life... thou hast assigned to every one his
place, providing the daily food... thou hast made millions of
forms from thy Oneness--cities, towns, villages, roads and
river... O Living Aten.

Hymn to Aten, God of the Sun, c. 1370 BC


     If we did want to rely on one basket of energy, it would be
filled by the sun. Using the sun for energy has a history dating
back millennia. What we now call passive solar buildings were
developed by Pueblo villagers in the ancient American southwest,
by the Inca and the Maya, the Greeks and the Romans, and by
kingdoms all around West Africa. This technique was refined by
Hindu and then Muslim architects, who used the minarets of
mosques as solar chimneys. A log house built only two centuries
ago in Eastern Canada would have been oriented to catch every
single ray of sun in winter, with western sheds blocking winter
winds and upper windows welcoming summer breezes. Only when
fossil fuels became so cheap did builders begin to blithely
ignore ways to maximize the warming and cooling qualities of the
sun's two major products: heat and wind. Builders today are
finding that they must quickly relearn how to harness these two
     Whether in an active form - shining on a photovoltaic cell
or a parabolic trough that converts heat to energy, or passively
warming a building through large windowpanes-energy from the sun
is, without a doubt, the renewable source that is the most
promising, most basic, and least polluting of all. Really big
solar installations covering many acres, like Planta Solar 10, a
huge tower near Seville, Spain, could have deleterious effects on
desert habitat if not carefully sited and monitored. But the most
common solar technologies are usually no more than a few black
panels on existing roofs or small industrial installations that
can be placed in unused corners, even where old, dirty factories
used to be.
     Despite the technical, subsidy, and funding issues they
still face, small solar installations don't mar the skyline, kill
bats, make noise, or interfere with fisheries. Solar panel
manufacture creates some serious chemical pollution problems, and
that certainly has to be addressed. But beyond that thorn, solar
energy is close to perfect. Yet of all the green technologies, it
remains among the least developed, because governments still do
not provide enough subsidies to offset the high capital costs of
manufacture and installation; in fact, less than 2 percent of the
subsidies the U.S. doles out to fossil fuel producers goes to all
renewable energy sources put together! So solar-the ultimate
power source that created fossil fuels in the first place-cannot
compete, so long as every gallon of gas or oil that we burn is
largely paid for by tax dollars.
     In Germany the Geosol solar plant in the eastern part of the
country is a good example of how easily solar can shine with some
intelligent tax incentives, even in Germany's drizzly, gloomy
climate. Geosol's 33,500 solar panels produce no noise. They're
so easy to operate that the plant's only employees are one
manager and two guard dogs. The plant sits on 37 acres of what
was a major dumping ground for East Germany's notoriously
polluting coal industry. Like so many of the poisonous wastelands
fossil fuel use has created, the site has been unusable for
agriculture or housing; now it's producing squeaky clean power.
Even on a rainy day Geosol operates at 25 to 50 percent capacity,
proving that such power sources do not have to be built only in
Nevada or Mexico. The Germans have managed to build this
capital-intensive plant and six others as part of their goal of 3
percent solar power by 2020. How did they find the money? Once
again, it's Scheer's Law. As the Washington Post puts it, "The
old-line utility companies [have had] to subsidize the solar
upstarts by buying their electricity at marked-up rates that make
it easy for the newcomers to turn a profit."
     Solar power use is slowly increasing all over the world.
Besides big plants that can provide up to ten thousand homes with
power, there are hundreds of more modest collector stations that
just supply lighting or hot water to individual schools or
apartment complexes in Japan, China, India, the U.S., Canada, and
even West Africa and Mongolia. Solar has been absolutely booming
in China for the past few years; 1,100 solar panels were
installed on the stadium used for the 2008 Summer Olympics, and
solar-powered streetlights now illuminate many Beijing suburbs.
The 2008 economic downturn affected all alternative energy
industries, because manufacturers of wind, tidal, and solar
equipment weren't able to get their hands on bank loans to expand
operations or finish projects. This reaction could not only
postpone the vital move toward solar and other alternative energy
sources; it could also force small, independent, and local
companies into the hands of big utilities, who have a better
chance of getting money from the banks. And that, as we've
learned through hundreds of examples of large, distant owner
mismanagement, is definitely not the way to go.
     In China, however, even the economic downturn is unlikely to
cool the domestic market for solar power. China has 30 million
people-the entire population of Canada-who still live without any
electricity in rural areas, where the mountainous terrain makes
stringing wires impractical. Now that they can no longer depend
so heavily on exports of manufactured goods to the rest of the
world, China will have to use solar (and wind) power to grow as a
country, even more so now that they're beginning to see the
downsides of hydropower. Predictions are that 180 megawatts of
solar powerwhich is huge-will have to be set up in China's rural
areas. That alone will probably make China the solar power leader
of the world.
     There are many exciting new uses for the cheapest energy
source of all-like canopied parking lots that soak up the sun
through solar panels and then feed this power to the electric or
hybrid cars parked below. The reasons such undoubtedly workable
ideas remain mostly in the development stage are, as usual,
economic and political. As long as oil, natural gas, and even
ethanol are heavily subsidized and therefore cheaper, the far
cleaner and more promising technologies of the old god Aten will
not be taken up by the great powers. Fortunately, in the absence
of a Scheer's Law for the whole world, millions of small players
are stepping up to the plate and finding real climate change


Solutions are not coming from Washington - they are coming from
mayors and their cities.

Manny Diaz, Mayor of Miami 2001-2009

     The basic problem of how to fund alternative energy projects
was summarized by Amory Lovins, one of the world's most respected
energy innovators, in a 20o8 interview. "We have obsolete rules
that favor big over small, supply over efficiency, and incumbents
over new market entrants... De-subsidizing the whole energy
sector would be a wonderful advance to level the playing field
but also to let renewables in. The barriers that renewables and
efficiency measures face come less from our living in a
capitalist market economy and more from not taking market
economics seriously, not following our own principles [of fair
competition]." When it comes to letting in the really efficient
players-small, local wind, sun, or geothermal co-ops and
companies-Lovins has become cynical. " I think the important
policies need to happen at a state rather than a federal level.
With modest exceptions, our federal energy policy is really a
large trough arranged by the hogs for their convenience."
     When national energy policies became moribund in North
America during the Bush/Harper decade, an unexpected group
suddenly emerged into a position of leadership. States like
California, and provinces like British Columbia and Quebec,
illustrated Lovins's point and started to take matters into their
own hands. They quickly began to outperform federal agencies in
terms of serious carbon reduction policies. At the same time, a
groundswell of even smaller players-municipalities-ignored both
state and federal foot-dragging and started to make waves (as
well as windmills and solar panels) for their regions. The Mayors
Climate Protection Center, founded by the United States
Conference of Mayors in 2005, has surpassed even state and
provincial initiatives and is now leading change on the
administrative level across North America.
     Seattle's mayor Greg Nickels, the current president of the
Conference of Mayors, cut his municipality's greenhouse gas
emissions to 40 percent of 1990 levels and says they're just
getting started. Chicago has vowed to become the greenest city in
the country in this century, a tall order for the old Midwestern
nexus of the steel and oil refining industries. This is a city
that takes warming seriously; hundreds of people died in a heat
wave in 1995, and Chicago's average temperature has risen 2.6
degrees since 198o. Its program aims for 8o percent reductions
from 1990 levels, has already built more green roofs than any
city on the continent, and promises a go percent reduction of
solid wastes, more solar and wind use, and a major expansion of
the transit system. It's also bringing energy codes for buildings
"up to international levels." Rebecca Stanfield, a senior energy
advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, reported that
Chicago's work is not greenwashing but is "very specific" and
"broken down into achievable sections."
     The spirited group of mayors bent on such innovations
started off with just 141 members but within two years had
swelled to well over a thousand. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
met with them in 2008 to pick their brains about green jobs,
which the coalition estimates already keep over 700,000 people
employed and could be greatly expanded. Their mandate is not only
to get their own houses in order, with carbon emission
reductions, efficiency measures, and more green space, but also
to lobby their state and federal counterparts to "meet or beat
the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the
U.S. in the Kyoto Protocol."
     The Conference of Mayors is ahead of the curve on being
suspicious of quick fixes as well. In June 2008 they adopted a
resolution to ban Alberta tar sands heavy oil from their
purchases and also to be wary of agricultural biofuels. That
resolution calls for "the creation of guidelines and purchasing
standards to help mayors understand the greenhouse gas emissions
of the fuels they purchase through their entire lifecycle, from
production through consumption." Mayor Kitty Piercy of Eugene,
Oregon, said of Alberta's heavy oil, "We don't want to spend
taxpayer dollars on fuels that make global warming worse."
Thousands of cities (including some of the biggest on the
continent) represent a very big market to have opted out of
Canada's tar sands products. The resolution will also help
inhibit development of other "dirty oil" sites in Russia,.
Venezuela, and the U.S. itself. 
     There is now a Mayors' Hemispheric Forum as well, where
David Miller, mayor of Toronto, was invited to speak; that's
because he's the chair of an even bigger climate change coalition
of the world's major urban centers, the coo Cities Climate
Leadership Group. From Athens, Houston, and Berlin to Beijing,
Bangkok, and Addis Ababa; from Cairo, Delhi and Hong Kong to
Buenos Aires, Caracas, and London, city governments are making it
clear that a whole new way of talking about environmental action
has opened up. These unlikely political allies are becoming the
wave of the future, possibly because municipalities are the
expression of democratic government at its most basic level. At
any rate, they're the ones bypassing the usual diplomatic
protocols, where only nation-states are allowed to talk to one
another, and where long-standing grievances keep leaders from
doing even that. These municipal groups are the ones coming up
with standards, goals, and increasingly binding agreements in the
current crisis. As they say on their website, "The battle to
prevent catastrophic climate change will be won or lost in our
     It's very clear to coo members that to shrink humanity's
carbon footprint, all cities must strive to be more like the
European ones tourists so enjoy. Urban dwellers must be brought
closer together, in denser groups that need fewer resources,
especially in terms of transportation. They'll need to eat local
food raised without chemical inputs; that means big greenbelts to
protect their water, air, and local food sources. The citizens
should be given good reasons to get outside and walk and get to
know one another so that population density is enjoyable and
there are alternatives to energy-based pastimes.
     Every year the U.S. Conference of Mayors gives members
awards for "City Livability." In 2008 Louisville, Kentucky, was a
winner for its mayor's "Healthy Hometown Program," a long-term
effort to "encourage and support physical activity, healthy
eating, and lifestyles," which included hosting popular "worksite
wellness conferences." These are humble but sustained efforts to
help people enjoy life where they are, in the here and now-so
that they don't have to jump into a car or a plane or plug into
an energy-fueled fantasy world to feel good. The municipal attack
on climate change has so many built-in sustainable qualities it
almost makes one glad it took the feds and the big movers so long
to get on board. Right now the locals and the little guys are way
out in front in terms of organization and creative solutions. And
history has shown they're the ones closest to reality, who also
have the most staying power.


When the ill effects of leaded gasoline became clear, Malaysia
simply taxed it, creating an immediate, nation-wide shift to
unleaded gas.

Editorial, Ottawa Citizen

     All levels of government use tax policies to reward an
activity they're trying to encourage and to discourage less
desirable activities. So citizens are taxed for smoking, fined
for speeding, and given tax breaks for developing land or
building industries. However, governments net most of their
revenue by taxing personal incomes, personal property, company
payrolls, and retail sales; and they also tax urban buildings on
the basis of their size as well as their condition. Turns out
that by doing so, they're levying fines against socially
beneficial actions, such as employing more people and keeping
buildings in good repair. If they were to do the opposite - that
is, tax practices that are socially or ecologically destructive -
not only would they send clear messages to polluters and greedy
business interests, but they'd also be rewarding altered
     The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
represents thirty of the world's richest nations, producing
two-thirds of the world's goods and services. Even though this
organization is one of the most outspoken proponents of the
benefits of economic globalization, back in 2001 it strongly
recommended a coordinated program to remove environmentally
damaging subsidies and introduce green taxes, "to prevent
irreversible damage to our environment over the next twenty
years." The OECD's own computer simulations demonstrated that
removing subsidies in OECD nations, imposing an energy tax linked
to the carbon content of fuels, and taxing all chemicals could
result in a 15 percent reduction in anticipated carbon dioxide
emissions by 2020. The economic costs of this radical change?
Almost negligible-less than 1 percent of the member countries'
GDP in 2020.
     British Columbia's new carbon tax, at $15 a ton, is dwarfed
by Sweden's, at $120, which is well above the Kyoto target. The
usual excuse in Canada and the U.S. for not signing on to such
agree ments is that it will cost too much. But Sweden's economy
is booming, having grown 44 percent since they introduced this
tax, which goes to fund many other programs. Even when modest
costs are incurred as people turn away from fossil fuels, they
can be recouped simply by gradually removing all the incentives
and subsidies currently enjoyed by the gas and oil industry and
reapplying them as rewards to sustainable technologies. The
citizen won't be paying higher taxes and businesses will
benefit-albeit in a different and, as it happens, much more
profitable way. What most people don't realize, especially
considering the way we talk about minerals such as oil and gold,
is that taking things out from under the Earth's crust not only
poisons us and all living things-it's a losing economic
     All minerals are finite and will eventually be depleted,
even from the most ample deposits. The mining, chemical, and oil
companies certainly know this, because they've begged for, and
received, massive "depletion" tax breaks and subsidies to enable
them to "stay in business." In the United States mining of even
outlawed toxic minerals like asbestos receives a special income
tax deduction called the "percentage depletion allowance." All
investments in oil and gas enjoy a "passive loss" tax shelter in
Canada as well. Solid waste incinerators release tons of toxics
into the air, but their construction is often financed with bonds
that are exempt from federal income tax." These subsidies could
be switched over to modern, energy-efficient technologies that do
not currently enjoy any such advantages. Citizens everywhere have
to call their governments on providing perverse subsidies that
might become the death of us all-after all, when it comes down to
it, we need an atmosphere on this planet a lot more than we need
these outdated heavy industries. Fortunately there are some
excellent policy alternatives already coming into play.
     Cap and trade, a method to control carbon emissions and
gradually fund the inevitable shift to renewables, is used in a
variety of forms worldwide. Although common, it's a controversial
method and involves equally controversial "emissions trading." A
government sets an overall emission target or "cap" on certain
industrial wastes, then companies are granted allowances or
credits to emit these pollutants, after which they have to pay
for the privilege. Payments go directly to the government, or are
given to any industry that pollutes less than the cap. In theory,
the buyer of credits is paying for polluting, while the seller is
being rewarded for reducing their emissions below the cap."

     The Kyoto Protocol was essentially a cap-and-trade system,
with countries agreeing to meet certain caps in a set amount of
time or pay a forfeit. The key, of course, is the price of the
credits and how they are allocated. When they were given to
national utilities in Europe for free, electricity charges
actually went up because of a complicated market reaction, and
some companies made windfall profits, all without reducing any of
their emissions! Credits need to be publicly auctioned so that
there's less opportunity for price fixing and manipulation. The
cap-the limit on how much carbon dioxide you are allowed to
produce-also has to be reset every few years, always downward.
Not only is this system good for the atmosphere, but it provides
steady tax revenues; a typical rate for the U.S. would be $20
billion to $3o billion a year, which would help pay off all those
bank bailouts. However, this money should first go toward an
earned income tax credit to adjust for the admittedly regressive
effect of the cap-and-trade method of taxing. Otherwise, it
penalizes poorer people disproportionately, as more expensive
fuel is still a necessity and takes a larger bite out of small
     The real point is that governments need to levy taxes of
some kind that make spewing carbon more expensive, whether that
goal is achieved directly or through cap and trade. There are
lots of other mechanisms that will help, like raising
fuel-efficiency standards (seen as cheaper and more acceptable to
consumers), as well as using those subsidies that used to go to
fossil fuels to gradually build up alternatives.
Business-friendly conservatives like Republican congressman Bob
Inglis and Arthur Laffer, who used to sit on Ronald Reagan's
Economic Policy Advisory Board, have gone so far as to say that a
"simple carbon tax coupled with an equal, offsetting reduction in
income or payroll taxes" could, as Tyler Hamilton paraphrases,
"lay the foundation for a dynamic U.S. energy security policy
both Republicans and Democrats could support." Which puts them
firmly in bed with the likes of Al Gore.


Kerosene, you are burning, it's gone. Only remaining the smoke
and ashes. But solar energy you get it every day, again and
again. This is called renewable. It's unlimited resources.

Dipal Chandra Barua

....When it comes to phasing out fossil fuel use in
transportation, the good news is that we have many options,
largely because the automobile is probably the most massively
subsidized technology in human history. United States taxpayers
are subsidizing drivers to the tune of at least $30o billion a
year! As authors James MacKenzie, Roger Dower, and Donald Chen
point out, "Motorists today do not directly pay anything close to
the full costs of their driving decisions. However steep the
bills for cars, insurance, automobile maintenance, and gasoline
may seem to drivers, federal and state policies spare them many
other costs. The net effect of these policies is to make driving
seem cheaper than it really is and to encourage the excessive use
of automobiles and trucks ."  We all pay the costs of traffic
congestion, lost time, lower worker productivity, and increased
maintenance. On average only a little over half of what we spend
on roads every year is covered by gas taxes and user fees. The
rest is paid by people who may not even have a car. Getting rid
of these perverse subsidies gradually, as many states and
municipalities are doing, while immediately investing those funds
in better forms of public transport, means that phasing out car
use could be economically painless.


     Germany shows how a different set of subsidies work. Train
travel is subsidized by taxpayers there. This support has enabled
German light and heavy rail to be seamlessly connected at shared
stations so that people can move from tram to bus to subway to
intercity trains with extreme ease. All trains have racks for
bicycles and large packages, even lockers to store things in the
stations. A German citizen can get around a typical city on a
rail pass costing about US $50 a month. It enables the holder to
use four systems: the U-trains or classic subways; their
connecting buses; the S-trains that run between cities; and in
some cities, Berlin for one, charming electric trams as well.
Fast, efficient, reasonably priced train service like that is
ubiquitous in Europe. Here in North America, we're busily tearing
up our rail beds and giving away rights-of-way just at the moment
when it's vital to be expanding every type of train. It's a
disgrace that neither the United States nor Canada has anything
remotely like Europe's superefficient, high-speed service; Spain
has had trains like the Talgo, which outclasses anything we own,
for half a century now. Germany is a very small country compared
with Canada, of course, and can afford to provide rail transport
to its entire territory; but Canada and the U.S. could, at the
very least, set up rail service in their big megalopolis areas.
The Windsor-Toronto-OttawaMontreal corridor and the
Montreal-Boston-Halifax loop could so easily have high-speed,
comfortable train service, saving the lion's share of personal
and business car and air travel every year. So could the corridor
stretching from San Francisco up to Seattle and Vancouver.
Rearranging subsidies and new green taxes could push those
annoying new beggars, transportation giants like G M and Ford,
into investing in trains. Trains can provide mass transportation
that offers everyone options. Most importantly, they can be
adapted to be almost completely nonpolluting.


     Small efforts like these have to mount up to make a real
differJ ence, and there are some places where they can mount up
fast. Most people have heard of the microcredit movement started
by Muhammad Yunus, who   on the Nobel Prize for it in 2006.
Thirty years earlier, this middle-class university professor,
tired of the terrible poverty around him in his native Bangladesh
and despairing of government and international efforts to
alleviate it, made loans of $27 each to forty-two impoverished
women so that they could start small businesses. Today he
presides over the single most successful community finance bank
in history, the Grameen Bank, which disburses $60 million to $70
million every month to a total of 7 million borrowers. This bank,
unlike mainstream ones these days, is entirely self-sufficient.
No government or private aid comes to Grameen, which employs
23,000 people. It continues to expand, with between forty and
sixty new branches opening every month. No wonder. Unlike the big
financial banks and mortgage lenders, Grameen enjoys a 99 percent
repayment rate and doesn't have to pay its top executives
     That level of success doesn't seem to have been enough for
Yunus, so in 1996 he founded Grameen Shakti (which means "force
of power flowing through") and set off to convince destitute
rural Bangladeshis that they could afford clean, nonpolluting
power in their homes. Grameen Shakti sells a 20-watt system that
uses solar panels to power one compact-fluorescent lightbulb and
three L E D bulbs, interior light sources that are much safer
than burnin    xpensive  kerosene-which emits smoke and puts
people at risk of catastrophic fires in their thatched huts. The
buyer makes a small down payment and buys the little panel system
over the next three years. The hardest part is convincing people
they really can afford solar electricity. But Grameen understands
that the way to talk to households is through the women, so it
sends women vendors and technicians to sell and install its
products. Yunus says, "Not even 1 percent of the borrowers in
conventional banks are women; she is given to believe she is
nobody." Of course, it is these nobodies who run each home and
who see to all the necessities: food, clothes, schoolbooks for
the children, and light to read them by. Three thousand new
systems are being sold every month, hundreds of thousands of
solar panels spreading across the country and into India.


     Another venture, the Grameen Technology Center, trains women
to provide technical installation and upkeep of the solar panels,
along with methods to transform the ever-present cow dung of
Bangladesh villages into biogas. One owner of a large poultry
farm produces enough biogas from her thousand chickens to supply
not only her own cooking needs but also those of four neighbors
and a commercial tea stall. The tea vendor, instead of spending
3,000 taka (about US $50) a month for kerosene, is spending only
700 taka (US $12), while reducing his carbon footprint. Because
Yunus has intimate knowledge of the knife's edge of poverty these
people live on, he knows this is the best place to get huge
returns on every dollar. He bubbles with high social as well as
environmental hopes. By saving this money, which to us is such a
small amount, he explains, "a family can improve their home, send
another child to school," even save up to pay for a dowry without
mortgaging their future to a money-lender. "You are not only
working for yourself, but you are saving the environment, you are
saving money, you are saving the future!"
     Ultimately, the way to judge the true economic as well as
environmental viability of an industry is to imagine if it could
be profitable if governments removed all subsidies. Could the
largest number of people make a decent living over the long term
in the transport industry if they were building and maintaining
mass instead of individual transit? Quite probably. If we
subtracted the real losses from clear-cutting the boreal forest
and tearing up its soil for tar sands oil, could Canadians make
as much building solar tower systems? Oh yes, and no doubt with
lighter hearts.
     Ironically, nearly all of the polluting industries that
contribute most to climate change-oil, industrial farming,
chemical, and transport-have been unprofitable for years and have
had to be propped up by laws, subsidies, and wars. Green economic
activities like small fisheries, organic farming, or community
wind farms have managed to survive and grow-even if just
barely-usually entirely unaided and often despite huge obstacles.
Their ability even to survive clearly demonstrates that their
practices are more sustainable. Most of the sustainable
businesses we discuss in this book have been forced by the
current industrial paradigm to operate on a very unequal playing
field, where their direct competitors are massively subsidized
and many laws intentionally work against them. Until
double-dividend green taxes and other government help are more
widespread, the only way new technologies like solar or wind
power can really get going is if we level that playing field.

     To quickly deal with the nuclear industry, which has wrapped
itself in the green cloak of "no carbon emissions" and is
attempting to stage a comeback: it's an expensive, dangerous, and
resourcehampered nonstarter. First of all, every initial stage of
nuclear production produces huge amounts of carbon emissions,
except for the final fission. So like big hydro, it's not really
clean. Uranium enrichment requires halogens, greenhouse gases
that can be up to ten thousand times more potent than the carbon
dioxide they are supposed to reduce. Although nuclear power has
been used to fuel France's relatively low-emission lifestyle, the
price even for the French has been high: constant discharges into
their own waters and the English Channel, mountains of
radioactive waste badly stored with no plans for the future. But
the real clincher against nuclear energy is the limits on future
expansion simply because uranium ore has become a very rare and
expensive commodity. Like fossil fuels, nuclear fuel is finite,
and that fact, as we should have learned, creates serious
problems if we base our economies on it! Renewables are
sustainable in fundamental ways nuclear power can never match....


     A more promising biofuel technology involves growing algae
in self-contained silos that get heat and nutrients from
industry. The idea is to take polluted water full of nitrates-say
runoff from an industrial farm-and use it to grow local algae
species that thrive in polluted water. This is a very interesting
form of biomimicry. The Redhawk Power Station in the Sonoran
desert of Arizona is already equipped with greenhouses that grow
algae nourished on its carbon dioxide wastes. Although very
small, algae are "the fastest-growing plants on earth... the most
adaptable, and... the richest in highenergy oils ideal for making
biodiesel." " They are also ,the most efficient converters of
carbon dioxide to oxygen and biomass." 3 In early experiments at
MIT, Isaac Berzin, a chemical engineer and cofounder of GreenFuel
Technologies, the company working with the Arizona Public Service
at Redhawk, used algae to cut the university's cogeneration
plant's carbon dioxide emissions by about 70 percent and its
nitrogen oxide by 85 percent. However, we have yet to see any
working systems that demonstrate if these systems would
ultimately put less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Other
companies are trying to genetically engineer algae to express the
traits they're looking for, but Ray Hobbs of the Arizona Public
Service says, "Given the dangers of unleashing a GMO (genetically
modified organism) that adaptable and prolific... with twenty
thousand [natural] species to choose from, why would you need to
engineer a new one?"


     Like the biotech approach of growing algae, many fancy,
hightech fuel solutions depend on sketchy developing technologies
that we already know might end up being fully as dangerous to
life on Earth as nuclear power or burning fossil fuels. For
example, the wonderful, wafer-thin, paint-on materials that could
make solar panels more common are largely created by using
nanoparticles. Although nanotechnology shows great promise, it is
still in its infancy." The microscopic creations of nanotech
could infect organisms and damage tissue and organs or interact
with natural microorganisms in ways we do not yet understand. If
history has taught us nothing else, it's that uncritical
enthusiasm for new technologies without concomitant suspicion and
careful study can get us into trouble.
     When DDT was first developed, the researchers at Monsanto   
and Dow didn't know about biomagnification, the process that
carries toxins up the food chain. When bombs were dropped on
Japan, even Einstein hadn't imagined there could be radioactive
fallout, electromagnetic pulses, or nuclear winter. The primary
way to deal with a problem that is basic to scientific inquiry is
to follow the "precautionary principle," an international
guideline adopted by the UN that demands that new technologies
prove they won't do harm, rather than leaving their victims to
prove the reverse later on. All researchers need to become more
proactive about possible adverse effects and operate under the
behest of independent monitoring agencies that have the power to
suppress new technologies when necessary. So far regulators have
been leaving that policing up to the producers, whose profits
depend on their product's continuance, regardless of possible
dangers. Legislation needs to be put in place before a technology
is commercialized. Once people start investing on a mass scale,
it's much harder to back away.


     Many of the advanced technologies for alternatives to fossil
fuel use, like breaking down the cellulosic waste of potential
biofuels, depend on genetically engineered (GE) enzymes,
bacteria, and viruses. Although some regulation on genetically
engineered organisms exists, legislation governing their creation
and release is still in its infancy and is regularly breached.
One day, one of the many reported contaminations of our food
crops and food products - by experimentally grown genes that
express medicines or pesticides, for example - will cause very
permanent damage, if not to a few unlucky individuals, then more
catastrophically, to entire plant or bacterial genomes. Already
most of the historic landraces of Mexican corn have been
contaminated with GE varieties, which means we can never go back
to the source of this food plant to find disease resistance or
other innate qualities. GE technology also continues to operate
within a huge cloud of coercion and corruption. The industry is
so politically influential that the U.S., in February 2009, was
the first country in the world to announce it would tolerate the
contamination of food crops with unauthorized GMOS," some of
which could be pharmaceutical and have unknown effects on human
health. This is an admission of failure in terms of our efforts
to anticipate and control technological dangers and a good
illustration of how careful we have to be as we become
increasingly technologically adept.
     If the crisis shaking every natural system on the planet is
to be brought under control, it will not be through solutions
that help the atmosphere but threaten another fundamental
ecosystem service.

     Just because a technology is exciting doesn't mean it might
not be dangerous. We are only beginning to reassess what kind of
energy we should use in place of the fossils we dig out of the
ground. Even if we manage to choose safe technologies that get
proper investment, we can't predict which will be truly
sustainable innovations. Batteries are undoubtedly going to be a
critical area, and hydrogen fuel cells still offer potential,
despite their failure to deliver so far. Solar power is largely
good news. Wind and geothermal power are good news if locally
managed and restricted. And biofuel from algae and tidal power
are worth serious study, although we don't yet know how much or
how quickly they can be scaled up enough to make a difference. It
will take many years of research before we can find some of these
things out. Meanwhile, the challenge is to reduce emissions right
now. So what's the best answer to that?


Number of [U.S.] jobs created by spending $1 billion on:

Defense:       8,555
Health care:   10,779
Education:     17,687
Mass transit:  19,795

"The Page That Counts," Yes! Magazine 


     The most sustainable, most predictable, safest, and easiest
way to  slow climate change is to cut the production of carbon
dioxide in the first place. This is termed "energy efficiency,"
"energy conservation," or "nega-watts" and is supported by almost
every climate change spokesperson, researcher, NGO, and activist
in this field,  from international government agencies like
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the G8, and the OECD
to public experts like Bill McKibben, Elizabeth May, and George
Monbiot. Andrew  Fanara of the U.S. EPA says, "it's the cheapest,
cleanest, fastest way to act," and will be "the 'bridge fuel' we
must build on and must invest in."
     As journalist Paul Roberts puts it, "Saving energy is almost
always cheaper than making it," however clever or clean the new
source. It's also much more economical to invest in the
conservation process. From a social point of view, this shouldn't
be so hard to do. A 2007 BBC World Service poll of over twenty
thousand people from twenty-three countries found that huge
majorities of those people, from a low of 6o percent in India to
a high of almost go in China (with the U.S. at a respectable 78
percent), favor taxes to develop clean energy and to discourage
the use of fossil fuels. Even higher numbers, especially in the
First World, were "ready to make significant changes to the way
they live to reduce climate impact." It looks as though we have
only five or six years left to get programs online to address the
most serious problem in human history. But that demonstration of
mass willingness to get to work is the key to success, as well as
a reminder of how far behind the curve most governments and
international institutions and treaty negotiations are.
     Just stopping simple leakage and waste would save nearly 50
percent and sometimes more of the energy we use to heat water in
old tanks, warm badly insulated buildings, or power needlessly
heavy cars and trucks. That's what we could gain even without
introducing better, lighter cars and more insulated, sun-friendly
buildings. But energy is not just being wasted by inefficiency
and profligacy; it's being wasted on unnecessary toys and
luxuries. We will have to learn to do without the chaotic,
product-oriented life common in industrialized countries-being
transported everywhere by engines and continuously plugged in to
entertainment devices so that we need never experience a single
moment of boredom. By 202o electronic gadgets like iPods, cell
phones, and computers will shoot past cars and trucks as the
commodity using up the highest amount of finite energy resources.
They seem so self-contained and clean, but their components come
out of the Earth and generally cannot be reabsorbed. They all
ultimately depend on electrical energy, currently mostly
generated by burning fossil fuels, to make their pictures and
music. Some companies are taking initiatives to try to solve this
problem; for example, Apple has recently released a recyclable
MacBook shell that uses a quarter of the power to run and none of
the usual mercury in the manufacture. But the current endless
proliferation of new gadgets whose manufacturers accept no
responsibility for their own waste stream-that is, who dump their
environmental costs on society-is not going to be a viable way to
     Climate change confronts us with the need to see the whole
picture-the interconnections and interdependence of all parts of
the biosphere, from soil biota to ourselves. Shahid Naeem, a
celebrated biodiversity researcher, writes, "Earth formed at just
the right time, at just the right distance from the Sun, and with
just the right kind of axial tilt to generate seasons, with just
the right kind of moon." Earth was also bombarded with just the
right kind of comets to deliver the elements to form water and
the other necessities of life, along with the right kind of
gravitational force to enable the thin skin of our atmosphere to
insulate us like a blanket. Naeem goes on to say that the real
purpose of human life on this planet is "stewardship... to ensure
the proper biogeochemical functioning of the biosphere."
     Humanity used to know, and needs to learn again, how to live
within the planet's inescapable geo- and biochemical boundaries.
But we don't have to feel limited when we do so. Many of the
changes in the way we live will involve valuing and enjoying what
we already have, rather than yearning for what we don't. For
example, preserving all the precious carbon sinks we have left,
including peat bogs, prairies, forests, and wetlands, is an
absolute survival necessity. This activity does not involve
trying desperately to get something back-although some of that
work lies ahead-but simply stopping practices of deforestation,
burning and flooding, massive clearing to grow oil palm, soy, or
beef monocultures, or just those little increments of paving over
yet another local forest or wetland for urban or commercial
     Every effort to preserve a wetland or a local habitat, buy
pieces of Amazonian rain forest, or fight encroachments on parks
leads to good news. There will be more good news when governments
meet and then go beyond their existing commitments to put certain
amounts of their territory (generally around 15 percent) under
protection. It will multiply again when more of them pass
legislation rewarding farmers who don't destroy forests,
wetlands, or woodlots with tax breaks that will make saving a
beaver pond or a wooded area economically viable. It's pure
self-interest for rich countries to tie their international aid
to support that will enable countries still rich in forests,
coral reefs, or tundra, like Ecuador, Siberia, and Indonesia, to
protect the entire world's supply of air and water. There is good
news in the fact that as a species we're finally addressing the
state of the planet's oceans and talking about how to protect
what's left of its atmosphere- and climate-generating biota.

     This stream of good news will continue for individuals
engaged in this process. As the people who try to reduce, reuse,
and recycle will tell you, living this way is simply better. It's
more fun to contribute to life than to destroy it. Millions
already know about sustainable solutions to the overriding
problems we face and are encouraging others to make a difference:
get a hybrid or a fuel-efficient car; take the bus or ride a
bike; energetically support light rail and all kinds of trains;
trade up to efficient appliances, especially your refrigerator;
eat organic and local as much as possible; buy local and support
all forms of businesses that cut down on size and transport; use
those curly lightbulbs, turn down the thermostat, stay away from
plastic bags and containers, recycle, reuse-and refrain from
using in the first place.

     The reason we've heard that "reduce, reuse, and recycle"
refrain for years now is that such an approach provides the
biggest, fastest, and best bang for the buck. The biggest because
consumers are signaling to markets that they won't support nasty
products or processes and will support green products, as the
vast increase in interest in public transport, organic food, and
fair-trade lumber demonstrates. The fastest because this approach
is as immediate as anyone's next meal or trip to the hardware
store. And the best because people gain unexpected benefits, like
getting fitter and making new friends that happen, when they,
supposedly selflessly, give up eating so much meat, start walking
to work, or join with their neighbors to save a wetland. Those
already doing these things will tell you that their actions
didn't turn out to be so selfless after all. Most of the truly
effective ways to stop climate change are the simplest and most
enjoyable. Their double dividend is the better society we build
along the way.




Keith Hunt

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