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Energy-intensive food

We hope you’re not already bored by media coverage of global warming, because it’s a topic that is going to be with us for awhile--as in “geologic time”. Energy, environment, population, food, individually and together, will be on the front burner from now on.We wrote, recently, that buying locally grown food would reduce your carbon footprint. Below, from an interview with Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, some discussion of just how energy-intensive agriculture has become.McNally: Our current way of feeding ourselves in America is unsustainable. Everything on our plates ... Read more

Give the people what they want

Atlanta is widely recognized as one of America's best examples of sprawl - but are home buyers really getting what they want? No, according to a new study by Georgia Tech. The study is the subject of this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, Study: Demand for Walkable Communities Unmet (PDF).Builders of expansive suburban subdivisions may say they're just satisfying market demand, but the market isn't satisfied at all, the study says. Instead, there is a significant, unmet demand for developments that make it easier to walk from place to place. "In all, about a third of metro Atlantans living in conventional ... Read more

Straub Lecture

Environmental Changes and Human Well-Being: Information and HopePresented by Dr. Jane LubchencoThursday, February 22, 2007, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Salem Public Library’s Loucks AuditoriumThe path-breaking Millennium Ecosystem Assessment synthesizes scientific knowledge about the ways in which people benefit from “ecosystem services” such as water and air purification, climate regulation, the provision of seafood and crops, the protection of coastlines from storm damage, and places to enjoy nature. Professor Jane Lubchenco will discuss the state of ecosystem services and the innovative approaches being used to retain critical services while meeting the needs of current and future generations. A lead author ... Read more

Complete and compact neighborhoods

Here are a couple related items that demonstrate the great work being done by Sightline Institute (formerly Northwest Environment Watch), a Seattle-based think tank founded in 1993 by Alan Durning. First, from Sightline’s “Daily Score” blog, a post about new research that shows kids grow up healthier in walkable neighborhoods.That item links to this item from Sightline’s sustainability toolkit, “Build Complete, Compact Communities:”Growing in well-planned neighborhoods improves our health and economy, saves our time and farmland, strengthens our communities, and conserves our natural areas. Poorly planned growth wastes all those things.Building complete, compact communities—the opposite of poorly planned sprawl—yields ... Read more

The IPCC Report: How bad is it, Doc?

Our one and only planet is big, 25,000 miles around, but it has just a tiny little layer of atmosphere. From downtown Salem it’s about the same distance up to outer space as it is sideways to Silverton. Hence, the atmosphere can only take so much human burning. We do a lot of burning. It causes a greenhouse effect and traps heat.That’s right, it’s us people, almost for sure, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report #4 “Summary for Policy Makers” that was released the other day.Almost no doubt that people are the cause, so let’s ... Read more
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