It's that familiar sound when spring has arrived in the U.S. It's the chug-chug of the power lawnmower, the whirring of the weed-whacker, and the chemical trucks pulling up to deliver the "fix" to your drug-addicted lawn. It has been a spring ritual for a good 50 years. ( see Turf Terror, November and December 2005 articles).
The encouraging news of course is that this spring obscenity is slowly changing. We're becoming more and more reluctant to dump huge quantities of pesticides and fertilizers on our lawns as well as pouring gallons of water over it, in order to create some artificially induced dreamscape. More and more Americans are coming to realize they can't continue to support this environmental disaster.
The province of Quebec in Canada has now implemented the most stringent standards in North America for lawn-care products. Some 210-lawn products, containing toxic chemicals, are banned. Products that contain 2,4-D are off the market, bringing Canada in line with other countries like Sweden and Denmark. It's time to push these standards throughout all of North America and start living in the twenty-first century.
Regular gasoline in the U.S. is inching above $3.00 a gallon. Americans are "getting angry," politicians are getting worried or seeing it as an opportunity to oust their opponents. But do we really get it yet?
I frequently drive by a coffee shop in the morning in a relatively affluent area. It clearly is popular because the parking spaces are always full as well as along the side of the street. What is most striking is the number of new SUVs parked there. Will these people feel it when gas prices reach $5.00 a gallon--$6.00? I don't know. But I do not think any reality will sink in for the overwhelming majority of Americans until prices rise to at least $4.00 (regular of course) and stay there.
The recent fuel efficiency standards for vehicles that the fools running America recently implemented are hardly worth the time of day. It might have been a "start" ten years ago. It's not now. Progress is telling the automotive industry it's not voluntary or optional, and it's not when it's convenient. And, it is the U.S. that has to take the lead; we have the greatest number of vehicles clogging up the roads and we're the main polluter on this planet. It's worthwhile when we're setting a GOAL of 100 hundred miles to the gallon.
The Ceres investor coalition not long ago analyzed some 100 major companies, in the U.S. and overseas, as to how effectively they're dealing with global warming. For example, in the oil and gas sector, according to Ceres, BP is a "leader" and (not surprisingly) ExxonMobil is a "laggard." But overall, Ceres states the electric power and oil companies are "largely dismissing" the global warming issue. For that matter entire sectors of the economy have not begun to develop clear strategies. The report is entitled Corporate Governance and Climate Change: Making the Connection. While finding out where our money is being invested is important, we can also begin--in the U.S.--tossing out the political errand boys and girls in the November elections. Yeah, you can make a difference.
Last, but certainly not least, don't let any snake-oil car salesman tell you to buy the car because it's got "hybrid technology." According to Jamie Lincoln Kitman, a bureau chief for Automobile Magazine, in a recent New York Times article, there's the good hybrid and maybe not so good hybrids. For example, Kitman points out that, while the Toyota Prius really does get 40 or more miles to the gallon, it's only when you're just driving around town. On the Interstate it stinks. In this case it becomes--where do you do most of your driving? Being environmentally responsible doesn't mean being an uncritical buyer. Yes, the hybrid may be right for you.
May every day be Earth Day.