Don, I agree with you philosophically and much of what you say can be implemented practically too. My approach on this story, however, was guided by the knowledge that on any pertinent time frame, we have to assume that most of the buildings people will be living and working in will be buildings that exist now, not the better ones we can certainly build, including along plans you outline. That was why I focused on retrofitting -- that and the fact that the 90x50 plan is largely based on simply using less by insulating better, and doesn't require any engineering know-how we don't already have. But thanks for your comments.
To folks who want to know where the fireflies are -- well, first, you'll now need to wait till next year to see them, as their peak season is over. (It's basically in June.) And understandably, if just one location is identified for viewing, there's some concern about tons of people flocking there to see the flies and overburdening the woods; the insects, as I say in the story, seem to be prevalent throughout the forest area, even in some backyards. However, this one site seems especially good. While the location is likely to be common knowledge soon enough, I'm reluctant to post it here. But if you email me at email@example.com, I'll give you directions.
Jackie Dempsey of Squonk Opera just got back to me with a brief description of GO Roadshow. Here it is:
"GO Roadshow will be a chamber-rock celebration that moves from park to school to festival to neighborhood, a free street spectacle aboard a monster truck. This show-making machine will be retrofitted with truck-horn calliope, a wall made of rotors and a spinning grand piano – played while it wheels around! We want to make a post-rock weinermobile- a rolling ruckus that opens up like a mechanical blossom to make street life vibrant, a place where people can build a community of the imagination. Video will be projected on a rotor screen made of movement itself, on the environment and on a blimp floating above- a giant inverted string puppet that will have a mouth that opens in a call to celebration. "
I’ve heard so far from a couple readers about this column, both suggesting that while polystyrene packing materials are not widely recyclable, various shipping establishments will accept them for reuse. (And as you recall, in the reduce-reuse-recycle hierarchy, reuse is preferable to recycling.)
Well, one of the suggestions checks out and the other doesn’t. One reader says he saves up his foam peanuts and takes them to “Kinko’s or some other … shipper.” But I called Fedex Kinko’s office and the guy there said that the company no longer use polystyrene peanuts. He added that used polystyrene peanuts are “not considered an approved packing material” because they can lose their protective ability (presumably from getting squished.) Fedex, he said, packs shipments in “recycled plastic.”
However, a reader’s call suggesting that UPS accepts used packing materials checks out — partially. The serviceperson at the office I called said that some UPS outlets accept foam peanuts and “any bubble-like plastic,” including bubble wrap. But she said that if you want to unload your packing materials, check with the store first because each is individually owned, and not every one has the same policy.
The same, of course, likely applies to other shippers.
Sorry for the errors noted above and thanks to readers for catching them. They have been fixed.
I was just trolling back through this article i wrote more than four years ago and was surprised to find that it had generated three comments, all within the past year and a half. Ever since i wrote it, I've been living with a lot of the issues that researching this article raised for me. It's all gotten only more relevant. If anything, we're outstripping our resources, and living less sustainably than ever, all the rhetoric and greenwashing notwithstanding. Did anybody else just notice that two prominent scientists, including the guy who eradicated smallpox, just predicted the human race would be extinct inside of a century?
I think the best way the U.S. (as the biggest per capita consumer and the second-biggest absolute consumer) can influence what "other countries" do is to lead by example. This will involve everything from individual efforts to reduce emissions to state-level initiatives, but in the end federal action is needed if we're to get the reductions at scale. I think cap and trade, however, is a weak solution that will make the "traders" lots of money but mightn't bring emissions down that much.
Lately, though, I've been thinking not about individual policies but about the mindset out of which those policies grow. Until society has a fundamentally different relationship with nature -- until we have an economics that prioritizes not raw "growth" but instead the health of the natural world on which our human economy depends utterly, for instance -- I doubt we're going to make many very good decisions about food and fuel or everything else. Such a change, of course, is probably a taller order still.
But thanks for reading and commenting.
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