Go Ahead, it’s your Earth Day

It’s kind of a silly holiday to our minds, especially when the New York Times – of all the things it could report – concentrates on the fact that at 40, Earth Day has reached its middle age and is focusing on making a profit.

“This ridiculous perverted marketing has cheapened the concept of what is really green,” said Denis Hayes, who was national coordinator of the first Earth Day and is returning to organize this year’s activities in Washington. “It is tragic.”

Do us a favor. Keep away from the tribal drum circles, forget about the Earth Day Brand green plushie tree-frogs, and don’t feel deliriously enthusiastic that PepsiCo is installing recycling kiosks around Manhattan for its plastic bottles. We’ve now got an Atlantic plastic vortex to compete with the Pacific version.

No, what we want you to do this Earth Day is rummage in your sock drawer, get your loose change together, and invest in something like wind turbines. That’s the economics of Earth Day we want to see.

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“Newsflash”

I was traveling via Los Angeles International Airport — LAX — last week. Walking through its faded, cramped domestic terminal, I got the feeling of a place that once thought of itself as modern but has had one too many face-lifts and simply can’t hide the wrinkles anymore. In some ways, LAX is us. We are the United States of Deferred Maintenance.

Why is Thomas Friedman absolutely, completely, the last person to understand anything?

It’s trash time in Taipei!

You’d never think daily chores would say something about a culture. I mean, everybody takes out their trash the same way, right?

Nuh-uh. In Taipei, the typical trudge to the curb is a neighborhood affair – a mini-party of sorts!

Julia Ross explains,

Taiwanese friends tell me that 10 years ago, their capital’s sidewalks were drowning in rotting garbage. You’d never know it today, thanks to the introduction of a per-bag trash-collection fee to discourage consumption, a charge for plastic bags at supermarkets and the rigorous recycling policy now in effect. These changes created an infinitely cleaner city. Even more impressive, they fueled a sense of civic responsibility in a place where democracy is still taking root. Just as the Taiwanese invest in their young representative government, they invest in a clean environment. There’s a palpable appreciation for hard-won progress. Read more…

Draft Text Released

Richard Black writes for the BBC,

Rich countries are being asked to raise their pledges on tackling climate change under a draft text of a possible final deal at the Copenhagen summit.

Documents prepared by the summit’s chairmen call on developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25-45% from 1990 levels by 2020.

Analyses suggest that current pledges add up to about 18%.

The document leaves open the exact target for limiting temperature rise, amid disputes between various blocs.

Small island states and poorer nations of Africa and Latin America have called for the document to endorse the target of keeping the temperature rise since pre-industrial times below 1.5C (2.7F).

This is below the figure of 2C (3.6F), which was endorsed by the G8 and major developing economies in July, and implies the need for drastic emission cuts.

An analysis by the UK Met Office, released at this meeting, showed that meeting 1.5C would be “almost impossible” to meet without implementing measures to take carbon dioxide out of the air.

The temperature figures are listed as alternatives in the draft documents.

Work in progress

The texts are a long way short of constituting a final outcome document, as they leave open some of the most difficult points of the negotiations so far, including the legal form of any new agreement.

read more at the BBC