Last summer, oil prices were sky-rocketing and we were all thinking about downgrading our cars and taking more public transportation.
Last month, we had "Earth Hour" where everybody was supposed to shut off their lights on Sunday night. Let's be honest, none of us is willing to live without electricity. But it is useful to reflect on how many items you have plugged in around your house.
Today, it's Earth Day. What are you doing to celebrate?
As normal, "Politics and Place" is focusing on public transportation and recent train stories in the paper. Will we have commuter rail? Will we have more efficient buses? Maybe Luke-y will announce a new initiative today at his Market Square event?
"Green is Good" proclaims itself the green news of Pittsburgh and is my favorite blog to read for local green news. At the world-wide level, treehugger is the end-all-be-all. Any others?
Lastly, there's the new "Carbon Caps = Hard Hats" agenda being endorsed by US Steel. Yes, US Steel is advertising for carbon caps. Why? Because they (and many others) are starting to realize that taking care of our earth can be friendly to our wallets as well.
If there's one thing I've learned about environmentalism in the last 10 years, it's that it has to be profitable to be accepted by the mainstream public. You will always have hippies out there buying hybrid vehicles and biking to work 5 miles uphill each way, but for the rest of us, there needs to be an incentive to put in the extra effort - from corporations to families. For too long the incentives at the federal level have been for buying a bigger house or having more kids or buying a gas-guzzling vehicle. With Obama at the helm of the nation, the incentives appear to be drifting towards train travel and energy-efficient windows.
Personally, I've given up driving a car this month. Not because I'm sacrificing but because I'm in Peru and it's easier (and a lot cheaper) to not have a car. It's been oddly very liberating walking or taking public transportation everywhere I need to go, but that's because the cities of Peru make it stupid simple. There are cabs everywhere, frequent buses, and most of the shopping and nightlife is centered in a small area. Maybe because they've never had government incentives for sprawl? Can we turn back time in the USA? Can we progress towards a country of train-travel and central business districts and responsible utilities usage? And will Peru ever adopt serious emissions standards so their plentiful taxis aren't choking me to death? Today is the day to dream about it.