This Week in TreeHugger: Bill Clinton Riffs on Emissions during a Slow Climate Week, Plus Brad On Green Building, Byrne On the Cycling-Dog Poop Connection, and Urine on Your Tomatoes
Treehuggers were all over the map this week: Brian Merchant sat down with Bill Clinton on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative, while Matthew McDermott had breakfast with IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri. On the other end of the spectrum, we contemplated picking up dog poop and the virtues of peeing on our plants (see below).
In the photo department, a few Treehuggers checked in on PARK(ing) Day around the country, Jacob Gordon checked out the sustainable offerings on view at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
After sitting in on a series of somewhat windy grassroots events, speeches at the U.N. Summit on Climate Change (including a promising but vague one by China), film openings and demonstrations, Matthew McDermott wonders if Climate Week was little more than a gigantic exercise in expectation management.
Expectations may be a bit lower this week as the Senate dives into the climate bill. Not lowering expectations is Nicholas Stern, who wants to get past talking about percentage reductions in carbon dioxide output and start measuring carbon cuts in the more important unit of gigatons.
To lower that number, we often think of making power generation and transport more efficient, but Michael Graham Richard points us to a new EPA study that indicates there's much CO2 to be saved by waste reduction and recycling. If we did what they recommend, we could cut U.S. CO2 emissions by about 354 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. That's a big "if" of course.
Hoping to avoid the mistakes of compact florescent lightbulbs (the color! the delay!), the Environmental Protection Agency has launched a $10 million contest to find a 60-watt bulb equivalent that only uses 10 watts of electricity. It must also last 25 times as long as a normal lightbulb (roughly 25,000 hours) and be at least 75 percent produced in the United States. Ten million dollars sounds like a lot, but consider the greater benefits of such a lightbulb: national savings of an estimated 5.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year and enough energy to power 17.4 million homes.
As Apple threw a lifecycle analysis of its products on its website, Jacob Gordon interviews the deputy editor of Newsweek about the magazine's recent (and controversial) list of America's greenest companies.
John Laumer explains why the U.S. Green Building Council's new labeling idea may not be such a good idea: apart from the political obstacles and the implications for neighborhood development, the labels would likely either be too vague or too specific, and quickly lose their impact. Perhaps more crucial for the future of green building, writes Brian Merchant: Brad Pitt
What Pitt may be to green building, David Byrne may be to cycling. The Talking Head knows that shifting attitudes towards cyclists-and attitudes about good behavior in general-are inevitable and infectious, and he cites New Yorkers relationship with dog poop as an example.
While we're on that topic: we knew that peeing in public is generally good for the environment, and doing it in the shower can help save the rainforest. But it's also good for tomatoes (just don't pee on your neighbors' patch). In fact, urine's one of the best kept secrets of gardening.
In a speed test of 18 different types of transport, covering a distance of about 10 kilometers (more than six miles) during rush hour in Sao Paulo, the winner will be-you guessed it-cyclists. As Paula Alvarado reports, they reached their destination faster than a helicopter. The cyclists, a runner, a bus, and a skater all took less time than the car, which took a nerve-racking 82 minutes.