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July 28, 2014
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editorial

Welcome to the sustainability revolution


That means that any solution is going to have to start at the grass roots: households, businesses and municipalities changing their behaviors with regard to what and how much they buy, their energy sources, where their food comes from, how they landscape their properties, how they handle their refuse and more. That’s what Sullivan County’s Climate Smart Communities Pledge, and its initiative to formulate and pursue a climate action plan, is all about—and making it happen is the task of the recently formed Sullivan County Climate Action Plan Advisory Panel.

It’s a big job, and there are two major obstacles. The first is despair. To try to hold back the catastrophe of climate change one county at a time, when the whole planet is at stake, is daunting to say the least. But start a movement, enlist the counties one by one, and pretty soon you have a country, and then a world. Instead of falling victim to hopelessness, Sullivan County has the opportunity to become a leader in a great change.

The second obstacle is the myth that environmentally sound practices are economically unsound. But history suggests that it is precisely in the great periods of transformation from one way of doing things to a radically different one, like the industrial revolution or the cyber-revolution of the late 20th century, that the greatest economic opportunities occur.

It’s time for a sustainability revolution. New ways of building, growing and distributing food, new transportation paradigms, manufacturing cycles that take items from cradle to grave and back again—all are opportunities for rates of investment, employment and growth far beyond the dreams of the overly mature, fossil fuel-driven paradigms. For just one example: there are framing techniques for housing that actually reduce costs, using five to 10% less board feet of lumber and 30% fewer pieces—but also save energy by allowing more space and deeper cavities for insulation. Hard to sell? A study on the housing market in Seattle shows that environmentally certified new homes there sell for 8.5% more per square foot in 22% less time. And green energy can serve as a bigger job driver than traditional sectors (riverreporteronline.com/editorial/16/2011/07/26/beginning-conversation). Locally, Green Jobs - Green New York is showing the way.