Saturday, April 11, 2009

Don't 'rinky-dink around the margins' of climate change

Aubrey Cohen reviews “Getting Green Done” in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Auden Schendler is blowing a metaphorical raspberry at the kind of hybrid-driving, plastic bag-banning environmentalists for which Seattle is known. "The problem is, too many Americans are saying: 'I've got my Prius and that's all I need to do,'" Schendler, the executive director of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Co., said during a luncheon in downtown Seattle Friday.

Then, from Schendler's new book, "Getting Green Done," there's this commentary on a Colorado group's effort to eliminate plastic bags in grocery stores. "The polar ice caps are melting, and the Midwest in the spring of 2008 experienced flooding consistent with 20 years of climate modeling; Denver was experiencing record drought, with only three inches of rain through July 2008; and Grand Junction was about to break a record for consecutive days over 90 degrees. And we're banning plastic bags," he wrote. "To quote John McEnroe: 'You have got to be kidding me!'"

…We need to cut our carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050, he said. "That's insane. It means changing everything we do," he said, adding, later: "You can't rinky-dink around the margins of this issue."

Real change comes from companies like Wal-Mart, which gave compact-fluorescent bulbs prominent shelf space, set a goal to sell 100 million of them in 2007 and more than met that objective, Schendler said. "That would be the equivalent of unplugging two coal-fired power plants."

Ford Motor Co., on the other hand, built a green truck plant with a green roof, Schendler noted. "Here's the problem. Ford makes cars, and the cars suck from an environmental perspective and an energy efficiency perspective."

What's really needed is government action, but that's been stalled by an industry PR campaign that has usurped the tobacco playbook, continually questioning established science, Schendler said. "We, as Americans, should feel so stupid for being slimed a second time by the exact same tactics."….

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