Global Problems, Local Answers

Via WorldChanging, NYT columnist Nicholas Krisof highlights Portland, OR’s efforts to addres global warming at the local level. The results?

Newly released data show that Portland, America’s environmental laboratory, has achieved stunning reductions in carbon emissions. It has reduced emissions below the levels of 1990, the benchmark for the Kyoto accord, while booming economically.

What’s more, officials in Portland insist that the campaign to cut carbon emissions has entailed no significant economic price, and on the contrary has brought the city huge benefits: less tax money spent on energy, more convenient transportation, a greener city, and expertise in energy efficiency that is helping local businesses win contracts worldwide.

“People have looked at it the wrong way, as a drain,” said Mayor Tom Potter, who himself drives a Prius hybrid. “Actually it’s something that attracts people. … It’s economical; it makes sense in dollars.”

So do we still need nuclear power, Nick?

Not to be outdone, Aspen, CO, will hold a conference “to show how the Roaring Fork Valley and other parts of the country are reducing emissions and decreasing dependence on fossil fuels.” Randy Udall, director of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency in Pitkin County, notes

“You can argue that no single action is sufficient. That’s true, but that’s a recipe for paralysis,…”

Udall, who is among the conference speakers, makes a convincing argument for why individual action is important in the battle to ease global warming.

The typical American family pumps 45,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air each year, according to Udall. That’s enough to fill two Goodyear blimps.

Over a lifetime, the average Baby Boomer in America will produce 1 million pounds of greenhouse gases, Udall said. One-half of that amount will still be around 100 years from now.

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One comment
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