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April 20, 2014
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Mixed Greens

A big step backwards

New York State’s (NYS) new energy plan starts off with an overview, “Shaping the Future of Energy,” which expresses admirable aspirations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and move to renewable energy generation. The bad news comes in Volume II, which outlines the plan’s specifics in 618 pages of statistics and predictions.  Read more

Engineering a win-win

All around New York State, municipal entities are working out ways to secure the benefits of solar electricity to power their facilities. Onondaga County is installing a solar array at the county’s wastewater management facility. Seneca County will soon power its law enforcement center with solar, and the Schodack Central School District is installing solar panels at four buildings and creating a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) academic instruction program around the installation and operation of the arrays.  Read more

Hearts and minds needed

We humans seem to be attracted to either/or choices, what formal logic calls a dichotomy. This can lead to silly questions like “are you a cat person or a dog person?” Actually, that example is a false dichotomy, because the two things contrasted are not mutually exclusive: it is perfectly possible to love both cats and dogs.  Read more

Let the sun shine

Solar energy is booming across the country and around the world, because it is increasingly affordable, productive and reliable. Utilities in California and Colorado that only recently were considering building natural gas-powered generating plants have announced they will use solar instead, because it’s cheaper.  Read more

The season of hope

I want to share some early Christmas gifts in the form of hopeful news on the sustainability front.  Read more

Great expectations

The crisp autumn air conjures up the delicious expectancy that characterized the months of November and December in my childhood. I recall my parents cooking the ritual Thanksgiving dishes, unchanged from year to year by family decree. These pleasures were followed by a flurry of activities—the Christmas tree, the food, school pageants, fruitcake baking and, of course, shopping. The extravagant department store displays made shopping an occasion that far outweighed the significance of what we bought.  Read more

A disgraceful tale from the Land of Plenty

One in two American children will be on the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at some time in their lives; one in four goes to bed hungry every night. In 1980 there were 200 food banks in the U.S.; today there are 40,000. Fifty million Americans live in a state of “food insecurity”—undernourished and unsure where their next meal is coming from.  Read more

Trash Talk

I’ve been a little obsessed with garbage over the past few months. Oh, I am a dedicated composter and I recycle, avoid single-serve plastic bottles and reuse glass jars and bottles for food storage and pickling. I repair and repurpose things and try to make them last. But recently, I opened an informational door that brought it all into a more global perspective. Here’s what I learned from the 2012 report “Unfinished Business: The Case for Extended Producer Responsibility for Post-Consumer Packaging,” published by the non-profit As You Sow (www.asyousow.org).  Read more

Late bloomers and early adaptors

Years ago I came across some provocative comments by Kirk Vardenoe, the noted American art historian. I was struck by his observation that throughout the 19th century, Denmark and Sweden were considerably behind the curve in industrial development. Vardenoe’s insight was that this was actually an advantage, because the delay gave them time to observe, prepare and avoid some of the worst negative effects of industrialization.  Read more

Creating Community

Two new local projects illustrate the extraordinary dedication and creativity of my fellow citizens.  Read more