10/31/2007 11:41:38 AM
Male-dominated governments have been destroying the planet for too long, and now women need to clean up the mess. Women already control the majority of the shopping decisions, and now they just need to buy the right foods, shoes, and handbags to save the world from global warming.
A greener tomorrow will consist of “women driving the domestic agenda and men thinking they are doing the real work with dams and treaties,” Simon Fanshawe, writing for the UK-based eco-magazine Green Futures. This is good news for men like me (and Mr. Fanshawe) because that means women will do the work for us, while we can sit back watching football, drinking beer, and doing other stereotypical guy stuff.
The problem with this mode of thinking is that climate change is everyone’s problem. Fanshawe points out, “All the UK’s best-known eco campaigns are dominated by men.” This is a problem. But the solution shouldn’t be to make the environment a women’s issue. They should be equal partners, right?
It reminds me of a quote by Henry Kissinger:
“Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes. There's just too much fraternizing with the enemy.”
10/23/2007 9:09:11 PM
Individually wrapped candies, plastic monster masks, and toxic Halloween makeup are haunting nightmares for the environmentally conscious. To minimize eco-fright while still participating in ghoulish shenanigans, the Toronto weekly NOW recommends straying from toxic vinyl costumes. Truly environmentally friendly outfit options are slim (sounds like a market in need of tapping), but you could always concoct your own with organic fabrics. You could also arrange for a pre-Halloween pep party by swapping costumes and accessories from previous seasons. You can even brew up face paint without the parabens and petroleum found in many cosmetics. And a look back into Utne Reader's archives reveals some helpful tidbits on how to green the sweet morsels of trick-or-treating.
Halloween is just the beginning of the lineup of holidays heading our way. Check out "Dreaming of a Greener Holiday" from Natural Home's upcoming Nov/Dec issue.
Their "Thinking Outside the Tree" suggestions having me considering the aesthetics of a homemade driftwood tree. —Anna Cynar
10/23/2007 2:02:31 PM
The struggle to stop global warming has suffered a major setback. Again. But this time it's the Brits' fault. The UK government, which had previously set ambitious plans to cut its reliance on nonrenewable energy, is already scheming to wriggle out of its commitment in the next couple of days. From the Guardian:
Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show that [prime minister] Gordon Brown will be advised today that the target Tony Blair signed up to this year for 20 percent of all European energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 is expensive and faces "severe practical difficulties."
The news doesn't bode well for the worldwide environmental movement. If a country whose people clearly support environmentally friendly policies can't get its act together to switch to renewable energy, then the United States, China, and other massive polluters with powerful contingents that don't even believe in global warming are just that much less likely to green up. —Brendan Mackie
10/19/2007 12:00:00 AM
In Utne Reader’s latest issue, I tried to convince homeowners, builders, and buyers to get over their fear of the “green premium”—the price-tag hike for taking the eco-friendly path—and plunge into the green housing market. I argued that we could take a tip from corporate America, which has already realized that green buildings aren’t just better for the planet, they’re better for the people in them (happier, healthier employees) and they’re better for the bottom line (energy efficiency = big cost savings).
Then I read Environmental Building News
’ latest issue, which points out that our work is far from done when it comes to minimizing the environmental toll of our jobs. The September edition of this newsletter from the hyper-informed folks at BuildingGreen Inc. tallies the eco-footprint of American commuters. “Commuting by office workers accounts for 30 percent more energy than the [average office] building itself uses,” write Alex Wilson and Rachel Navaro. When you look at newer energy-efficient developments, that gap widens to 140 percent. The authors make a compelling case for green building professionals (and their clients) to place a greater emphasis on location and access to public transportation when it comes judging a project’s environmental credentials. Because an office can only be so green if you have to burn an hour’s worth of gas inching through exurbia to get there. —Hannah Lobel
10/18/2007 12:00:00 AM
The August issue of Américas (not available online) reports that since 1991, Pedals for Progress has shipped 108,906 used bicycles to poor communities across the world, and the bikes are making a huge difference. With every shipment, the organization sends 400 bikes to nonprofit groups, which then sell them at affordable prices to people who would normally spend bus fare getting to their jobs. The bicyclists save money, stay healthy, and take it easy on the environment while getting to work. Plus, those 400 new bikes create the need for a bike shop, which generates stable jobs in the area. By selling the bikes at a fraction of their cost, Pedals for Progess covers its shipping expenses. About 74 percent of the bikes have gone to Latin American countries, and according to a 1997 study in Nicaragua, households with bicycles saw their income rise an average of 14 percent with the transportation savings and side businesses such as delivery.
If you’ve got a bicycle to donate, check out the group’s bike collection schedule for an area near you, or sponsor one yourself. Pedals for Progress has also begun to collect used sewing machines to send along with the bikes. —Julie Dolan
10/17/2007 12:00:00 AM
In crucifix-festooned Latin America, it helps to get the Catholics on board if you want to accomplish anything. So it’s encouraging to read in Sierra that “growing number of Catholic clergy throughout Latin America have come to see protection of the land and water as God’s work, their duty to the region’s 500 million Catholics.” With her exploration of the “liberation ecology” movement, Sierra senior writer Marilyn Berlin Snell offers a glimpse of green hope south of the border. —Keith Goetzman
10/16/2007 12:00:00 AM
Actually, Bjorn Lomborg never really went away. Armed with his labyrinthine economic models, the Danish statistician is a frequent go-to commentator for media outlets seeking some “balance” in their global warming coverage. He gladly obliges them by trash-talking the Kyoto Protocol, pointing out that polar bears will be just fine when the ice caps melt, and serving up other mathematically derived opinions that cut against conventional environmental wisdom. Lomborg has written a new book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, that’s landed him choice coverage in sympathetic outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Lest anyone else be too inclined to take him seriously, it’s worth remembering that Lomborg’s sketchy science has been pretty soundly thrashed by Scientific American, Grist, and famed biologist E.O. Wilson, who called his first book “a sordid mess.” —Keith Goetzman.
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