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Solutions & sustainability - Apr 29

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Pedal to save the planet, speaker says

Mea Andrews, Missoulian
Bicycles have already changed the world once, and they could do it again, says the director of the country's largest bicycling organization.

If everyone replaced half of their short-distance auto trips with a bike or their feet, the country would save more than 20 billion gallons of gas a year, and hundreds of billions of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

“You can't carry a whole soccer team on a bike,” says Jim Sayer, director of the Missoula-based Adventure Cycling. “But you can carry a lot of stuff.”

As part of the 2006 Bike Walk Bus Week, Sayer on Thursday gave a slide show on “How Bicycling Can Help Save the World (and Missoula),” a pictorial history of biking and some of the environmental challenges that face the United States and the world.

In their early days, bikes brought affordable transportation to the masses. Suddenly, people of modest means could travel outside their neighborhood, taking jobs away from home and shopping in more than one location, he said.

Bikes are even credited with freeing women from cumbersome hoops and undergarments, he said.

Now, with global warming and pollution such worldwide concerns, and with gasoline supplies dwindling and costs skyrocketing, the bike could save the planet again, he said.

Bikes also could help address an American epidemic: obesity.

“I call it carbos and carbon,” he says...
(28 April 2006)
Related: Riding a Bicycle Can Save the World (New West Network)


Wired cheerleading

David Roberts, Gristmill
The latest issue of Wired -- the "green issue," now de rigueur in the magazine world -- has Al Gore on the cover, and the story on his "resurrection" is fantastic. It's one of the best things I've read on his post-2000 activities.

Some of the rest of the issue, however, is irritating -- nothing so much so as this risible chart by Josh Rosenblum, a rating of various environmental groups based on a set of scientific criteria known as How Much They Agree With Josh Rosenblum. The more green groups collaborate with private industries and support (as far as I can tell, any) high-tech responses to environmental problems, the closer they come to Wired true north. Any tension with business, or reservations about nuclear power or coal gasification ... well hell, that's just hippie.
(27 April 2006)


Pretty People Prefer Priuses

Jerome a Paris, Daily Kos
After alienating the poor with my savage attacks on them via the gas tax, I thought I'd go for another target today, the Greens - at least as they are seen by Mad Ave.

Actually, this comes from DeAnander, our frontpager in hiding at the European Tribune, which drops gems in comments deep, deep in threads. So come and find out about "Pretty People" and "Greens Who Dress Nicely"...

Out of curiosity to see what the clueless MSM were saying about peak oil and climate change I not only grabbed the PO issue of Am Prospect (which I dismissed contemptuously in an earlier thread for its touching, childlike faith in corn ethanol and Barack Obama) but also the seizure-inducing "Green Issue" of Vanity Fair -- a most aptly named mag if you actually remember the novel. VF is -- how to describe -- Hollywood Confidential meets Elle, or something like that. Am Prospect looks soberly realistic by comparison. And yet... for actual pages of relevant minatory content, VF might just win.

So, in the VF Green issue, the inside front page foldout (premiere spot) is a performance/luxury 'cute ute' ad. Ads continue for page after page of 4-colour offset (using toxic heavy-metal inks no doubt, on virgin dioxin-bleached claycoat): SUVs, perfumes, cosmetics, luxury handbags, more exotic cosmetics priced about the same as gold by troy weight, travel ads, gold jewellery, more travel ads, etc. Most of the affluent world's maximally destructive habits lavishly represented and promoted, before you ever get to any actual content. My ironometer is pegged already.

Now the articles, most of which boil down to "Pretty People Prefer Priuses," "Some Greens Dress Nicely and are Good Looking," and variations on these themes.

Plenty of snarky, snide, vicious little jabs at Birkenstocks, lentils, tie dye, tree hugging, and any critique of capitalism -- just so yesterday, m'dear. Trying to make it clear that Pretty Wealthy People Green-ness is a whole new, fashionable, stylish and above all upper-crusty thing, not some dreary shtick about, you know, serious ideas discussed by nonphotogenic vegetarian anoraks who drive old cars or godforbid ride a bike. Token third world activist -- just one -- Wangari Maathai. Everyone else seems white and 80 percent male. Feature pages: nifty expensive gifts to buy that are green or pseudo-green -- how to Keep Consuming Pointlessly with a Clear Conscience.

However, I give the editor his due -- in among all this incitement to grand mal he ran two excellent, lengthy, substantive feature articles: one on MTR (mountain top removal) coal mining in Appalachia, one on projected rises in sea levels. Both are excellent -- fact filled and chewy -- and I will try to scan some of the graphics to share. The mag as a whole though had about the same effect on me as the corpse of a diseased rat. I kinda don't even like touching it :-) Every pathology of the overripe zenith of American hyperconsumerism and narcissism, proudly flaunted in one shiny, garishly overcoloured, borderline-porno, pretty-shiny-toxic package. What an experience. What does it do to the brain to ingest one of these every month? Gotta drink some electrolytes, I'm in culture shock...
(28 April 2006)

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