Posts Tagged ‘greenwashing’

Sierra Club wants big changes in Schwarzenegger-originated West Coast cap and trade … and other green shoots

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

* From the L.A. Times:

“The Sierra Club of California, the state’s oldest and largest environmental group, called on Gov. Jerry Brown this week to substantially rewrite the cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger considered to be his greatest legacy.

…  Among the club’s complaints: industrial plants would be allowed to avoid curbing their own pollution by purchasing offsets from out of state, and possibly foreign-nation projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions in other ways. “Excessive reliance on offsets could open up loopholes that undermine the very purposes of California’s AB 32 cap on emissions,” the letter said. “Curbing global warming will require a fundamental transformation of our energy economy, a task that cannot be outsourced to other countries.

“Requiring California’s largest polluters to reduce their own emissions will spur technological advances that can be exported to the rest of the world, bringing green jobs to the Golden State. If polluters are allowed to outsource their emissions reductions to other sectors and jurisdictions, the clean-energy revolution will be delayed,” the club declared … ”

We agree!

* Also from the Times:

Two of Southern California’s busiest general aviation airports were thumped as major lead polluters in a finger pointing exercise that wends all the way to the beginnings of L.A. smog in the 1940s.

“The Center for Environmental Health on Tuesday announced impending legal action against more than 40 suppliers of aviation fuel containing lead, often used in piston-powered aircraft engines, at California airports.

The Oakland-based group blames ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell, AvFuel Corp. and 38 other suppliers for water and air pollution around 25 airports in California, including Van Nuys Airport, Long Beach/Daugherty Field and LAX.

“The oil and aviation industries need to know Californians will not tolerate lead pollution that threatens our health and healthy environments,” Michael Green, executive director of CEH, said in a statement. “We expect the industries to take immediate action to eliminate pollution that endangers children and families who live, work and play near airports across the state.”

Van Nuys, which handles a lot of civil aviation using piston-engine aircraft, had the highest levels of lead emissions among 3,413 airports nationwide, according to EPA …”

* We recently wrote about how a Washington was shocked and alarmed during a recent visit to still air-polluted Los Angeles. Well, the good old Northwest has a toxic problem of their own, and their getting out the sealants and protective boots and taking it to the asphalt produced with disease-causing industrial waste in it.  As MSNBC reported:

“Washington state has become the first in the nation to ban toxic asphalt sealants made from cancer-causing industrial waste that have been spread over vast swaths of the nation’s cities and suburbs.

The toxic ingredients in coal tar-based sealants are turning up in ordinary house dust as well as in streams, lakes and other waterways at levels that concern government researchers. The chemicals have been found in driveways at concentrations that could require treatment by moon-suited environmental technicians if detected at similar levels at a toxic-waste cleanup site. The sealants are also applied on playgrounds and parking lots …”

One way or another, either directly or tangentially, all these issues are explosed in our book, Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles.

Our mad green world – a mini tour behind the velvet ropes

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

* From the New York Times story: The U.S. armed forces beginning to weam themselves from good old petroleum.

“… Last week, a Marine company from California arrived in the rugged outback of Helmand Province bearing novel equipment: portable solar panels that fold up into boxes; energy-conserving lights; solar tent shields that provide shade and electricity; solar chargers for computers and communications equipment …”

* When green advertising becomes greenwashing. From an MSNBC piece,

” … Aiming to clear up confusion for consumers about what various terms mean, the Federal Trade Commission has revised its guidelines for making claims about so-called “eco-friendly” products. The proposed new version of the agency’s Green Guides was released Wednesday, with recommendations for when to use words like “degradable” and “carbon offset,” in advertisements and packaging, and warnings about using certifications and seals of approval that send misleading messages …”

* From the law of unintended consequences file, wind turbines may be sleek and nifty and economical if you live in a high-wind, high-energy-cost area, but they aren’t doing your neighbors’ or your own eardrums much good. New York Times piece:

“… Now, the Lindgrens, along with a dozen or so neighbors living less than a mile from the $15 million wind facility here, say the industrial whoosh-and-whoop of the 123-foot blades is making life in this otherwise tranquil corner of the island unbearable.

They are among a small but growing number of families and homeowners across the country who say they have learned the hard way that wind power — a clean alternative to electricity from fossil fuels — is not without emissions of its own.

Lawsuits and complaints about turbine noise, vibrations and subsequent lost property value have cropped up in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, among other states. In one case in DeKalb County, Ill., at least 38 families have sued to have 100 turbines removed from a wind farm there. A judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case in June.

Like the Lindgrens, many of the people complaining the loudest are reluctant converts to the antiwind movement …”

On Earth Day, here’s my 2-cents on California’s false status as solar kingpin. In truth, the idea hasn’t caught on with homeowners, and all the rebates and rhetoric can’t obscure the depressing numbers. If this is true green, in the sense of mass acceptance, then we’re color blind out here on the West Coast. From the New York Times “room for debate” roundtable

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Here’s the tease to my Op-Ed on the subject.

“Californians: meet your sun. Or, rather, remember it.

Despite living in America’s premier green state, most of the state’s homeowners continue to rebuff solar power as a way to shrink their electricity bills, and simply plug into their local public utility much as their parents did.

The numbers paint the apathetic picture. Out of 7.7-million single family homes statewide, only about 50,000 have roof-mounted photovoltaic cells. In Los Angeles, the nation’s eighth sunniest city, only 1,627 homes boast solar hookups …”

There’s a lot more to say, and I will, but for now, I encourage you to read the opposing viewpoints and reader commentaries.

Right now, to reiterate, no matter California’s “status” as the greenest of greens, a meager 1 out of 154 homeowners currently use solar power. Does that sound like consumer acceptance to you? I fear we may learn how catastrophic this is as the environment continues to degrade and we experience an earthquake, terrorist attack or other awful event that knocks out power plants and leaves people with no way to electrify their lives and meet their needs until the juice is back on (and yeah, I know you need a fuel cell).

Anyway, here’s the link and I hope it proves a little thought-provoking. Just don’t buy into labels. Buy into the numbers and the big picture.

Happy Earth Day: do we have a lot to compute.

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Class: pay attention!

* Excellent perspective on the phoniness and promise of Earth Day from the Washington Post. Link.

* California Solar Initiative: billions on the line, millions of lives potentially at stake, and yet most are in the dark. For your enlightenment, link up. California: meet Spain. Link to New York Times story on their solar-lifestyle.

*Boeing scientists use organic remedies to remove toxins at Santa Susana Field Laboratory site. Enough said with the L.A. Daily News headline. Link.

*When it comes to long distance running, L.A.’s toxically perfumed air give local athletes that competitive edge. Coughing will knock you off that medal stand. See the L.A. Marathon. Link to L.A. Times blog.

* An EPA man of substance: where was this guy when I was reporting on chromium, et al? Link from the Patt Morrison radio show on KPCC.

* Now this is a real-mini, but will the Third World embrace it in the name of post-climate change and unglamorous function. At least GM is trying, which is better than wallowing in bankruptcy blues. Link to MSNBC story.

* A couple of morsels on California’s climate law, which right now is anything but orderly. L.A. Times story on opponents pouring in money for initiative to delay the climate-change-fighting legislation. Link. On the same subject of global warming, here’s what the California Air Resources Board projects will be the economic benefits of the bill. Link to L.A. Times piece.

Eco-fascism in America. When the Super Bowl ad features it, you know the culture is bathing in it. A guilty pleasure video. Hey, you drinking that coffee in a styrofoam cup? You have the right to remain silent and politically incorrect.

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

For what it’s worth, distinguishing smart environmentalism from phony or compelled enviromentalism are about as different as smog and carbon dioxide. There are digital forests built around this subject, but I tripped across an interesting site called Crunchy Chicken, whose blogger had a thoughtful post on the subject.

“We all know them – they are the environmentalists who make everyone feel inadequate. The ones who push the issues so hard it turns off everyone else, even other environmentalists. They are the die-hards who set the bar so high that people don’t even bother listening to what they have to say anymore because they accept no compromise and make you feel inferior to boot.

So, how does an environmentalist get their message across and educate others while at the same time seeming reasonable and open-minded? Well, for starters, leading by example is the best approach. You can lecture people all you want about any given issue, but the end result is generally raising people’s hackles. Nobody likes to be attacked or criticized for their choices.

As we head into the holidays, it is likely that we’ll be interacting with a lot more friends, family and co-workers and the topics of saving money and the environment are sure to come up. When they do, use it as an opportunity to educate people with some easy to digest facts and offer up what you do to mitigate your impact.

Wait for their lead to offer more information. You will find that if you throw out a few ideas or facts about a topic, people are generally interested in learning more and they get excited if they feel like they are part of the process, rather than approaching it with a series of “you shoulds” or some long-winded response.

When I’m in a mixed group, I’m oftentimes reluctant to spew too much information for fear of overwhelming people. In addition, the possible result of coming off as too stern is offense at one end and boredom at the other …”

For the entire post, click here.