The Senate is in a position to pass a climate change bill aimed at the energy industry. There are some things that were changed through much of the politicking going on, and it is unsure whether the bill would be successful at doing much in the way of reducing emissions.
Here are a few opinions:
Whichever method is chosen, something should be done soon. If cap-and-trade policy is less effective than taxing carbon, then we will find out and should be flexible to adapt our policy.
We WILL NOT get things right the first time around! We cannot expect to! Policy should not be written and left stagnant anyway! But we can’t afford to argue back and forth about which policy will work better. That would take way too long to make anything happen.
We are missing the point by debating over what type of policy would work better. We should be open and flexible while ensuring that whatever policy is implemented is as strong as it can be, predicts any abuses, and doesn’t have any loopholes.
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According to EarthPortal.org, 2009 is the “Year of Science.”
May is the month of Sustainability and the Environment!
In the introduction of this e-book, they authors introduce a term, “sustainomics,” which they define as “a transdisciplinary, integrative, comprehensive, balanced, heuristic and practical framework for making development more sustainable.”
In particular, I’m interested in how development has been affecting mangroves. These habitats are some of the least appreciated in the world, even though they are extremely important as storm buffers. Mangroves often get converted into shrimp farms, or other economic activities. It would be interesting to see if the authors of the blog on this website have an opinion on whether “sustainomics” is feasible in the case of mangroves.
I am skeptical whether the creation of a new term will have any real meaning or results. Some may say that “sustainable development” is somewhat of an oxymoron. I might agree to some extent, but only because it may not be possible with the state of the world as it is.
A friend recently asked me my opinion on petitions for legislative action. You know, those pesky emails and junk mail that say “Action needed now!” or “[Insert terrible event here] will happen if you don’t do this!” Or just the plea for help to solve something by simply signing a petition for some legislation.
Let me ask you the question:
Do you think these types of petitions are effective? Or are they a big waste of time and energy?
Use the comment box below to post your opinion!
Generally, I don’t think they work. It is hard for them to work, especially when these efforts would be going up against lobbyists who have tons of money. A lot of the time the money wins out.
It isn’t always ineffective though. I think these things are helpful to let politicians know what issues the public is concerned with. But it doesn’t necessarily pressure them to take action as much as lobbying does.
I worked for a month or so with NYPIRG, and what they did was they collected money from people as “memberships” for the organization and whatever campaign they were working on. (They recently were working on the Bigger Better Bottle Bill, which I posted about yesterday. They finally “won” this campaign after many years of advocacy.)
Also there is the issue of validity, as in, are these signatures actual people or are they made up? It is hard to prove that, besides leaving an email address or mailing address, which could be made up anyway. (Remember the voter registration controversies?) So I think people may question the truthfulness of the counts.
I think these types of things have some value in generating awareness and exposure, but they are not the most effective in terms of producing results. It might be better to directly contact your Representatives or Congresspeople and let them know what you think are important issues. A personal letter is definitely more sincere than a signature, but we all know how lazy people can be!
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There are few things to cover today that I have been meaning to talk about!
I recently read this blog on the New York Times website about President Obama’s recent speech to the National Academy of Sciences.
The author of the blog entry makes an interesting point that Obama is encouraging creativity, over consumerism. I think that is an especially important perspective to take on a lot of our problems. People are deathly afraid of changing their lifestyle, but if framed in the light that they can creatively contribute to society, consuming less can make sense while not damaging our very high standard of living.
Which brings me to the Bigger Better Bottle Bill in New York State. (It is almost a reality! It recently passed in Albany.) This bill has been bouncing around for years, and has never had the right amount of momentum to get passed, which is a shame because the Returnable Container Act that is in place is over 25 years old. The update to the Act would allow more types of beverage containers to be redeemed for 5 cents, or more like in Michigan where it is 10 cents.
The redemption rate hovers above 70% in New York state, whereas in Michigan it is 95% or higher. Note that this is not the same as recycling rate, just the redemption of beverage containers that have a deposit on them. (For more info on how deposits work, check out http://www.bottlebill.org/. Also check out a piece I posted earlier on recycling.)
In 1982 when the Returnable Container Act was passed, the majority of beverages were sodas and beer (both being carbonated). Since then, the types of beverages sold have grown exponentially to include juices, sports drinks, and water.
Going back to what President Obama said, we could creatively pass policy that will promote consuming less. We could be actively reforming old and outdated policy that no longer is adequate or effective for today’s society.
While I agree that young people should be encouraged “to be makers of things, no just consumers of things,” I think this motto can be applied much more widely than just in the sciences. Fresh, creative thinking and innovation should be driving forces in every field!
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A discussion about vertical farming and some of its environmental implications
(Portions of the quoted text have been edited from the raw transcript.)
Vertical farming has been brought into the forefront recently, with a spot in the film FUEL, articles in TIME, Scientific American, as well as others in the past 6 months. What this concept entails is growing food in a controlled indoor environment in vertical structures that could be built in cities, urban centers, and as annexes to new buildings being constructed. Plants can be grown hydroponically, and even some livestock can be raised. The technology is there, as is most of the ecological understanding.
The man behind this concept is Dickson Despommier, Ph.D., a professor of medical ecology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. He is the kind of guy who gives away copies of The Lorax to spread love for the environment. He even keeps extra copies of them on his shelf in his office at Columbia’s Medical Campus. I visited him at this office, which, by the way, has a great view of the Hudson River. When asked how this vertical farming idea developed, Despommier tells the story about how the idea came out of a somewhat failed class project investigating rooftop gardening in New York City.
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