Thursday, February 28, 2008

Carbon Footprint

The New Yorker had a recent article on carbon footprints - how our consumer choices affect the amount of carbon we put into the environment. It is an interesting and often counterintuitive article. Would you expect that a bottle of wine from Bordeaux cost less in carbon than one from California? (Shipping by ship is very efficient; shipping overland is not) Or that it is way more carbon-efficient, in England, to buy roses from Kenya rather than Holland? (Don't have to heat the greenhouses in Kenya) Or that apples from New Zealand may have a smaller carbon footprint than apples from New York?

A couple of things are very clear. Drinking bottled water, rather than regular water, is ridiculous, carbon-footprint-wise. Insulating our houses, better windows, and efficient furnaces probably matter more than where our food comes from. And the most important thing we can do as a planet is to stop cutting down our rainforests.


In January Dave Norris became Mayor and I took over the Citizen's Committee on Environmental Sustainability (CCoES). I think I got the better end of the deal.

In its first year the Committee - made up of smart, knowledgeable people from the City, County and University - made some solid recommendations. Increase City recycling rate to 50% (ambitious goal!). Establish an anti-idling policy for City vehicles. Give a tax break for energy efficiency improvements. Begin a public education campaign.

But we need to take these ideas - being green and being efficient - from things the City can do to what we all can do. Residents and businesses, rich and poor, young and old, we all need to embrace sustainability.

One idea I would like to pursue is a speakers bureau: creating presentations on recycling, saving energy, stormwater, etc., that could be given to neighborhood associations, church groups, boy and girl scouts, or whoever.

Have skills in powerpoint, and conveying information to various groups? Let me know and we'll put you to work...