Friday, December 14, 2007

Guilty Holidays


The season of excess continues, the billboards of Santa gleefully chugging Coke is a nice reminder of that fact.

A fellow classmate at BGI passed on this article from the NYTimes, Guilty Green?; does buying a green Barney's handbag make you less of a polluting American? Do organic jeans shipped from Malaysia "cost" less than regular ones from Mexico? Can we really consume our way to a green Utopian state of collective consumption and closing the loop...probably not.

Related? Scientists: Global warming could kill coral reefs by 2050. So, you read this article and what does it tell you? Not much. The Starbuck's coffee you bought as a gift for Aunt Beru will help kill the coral reefs? Maybe. Seriously, I am a concerned citizen about the global climate and community, I read about the new CO2 emissions standards, pending legislation, what it means for energy, heck I'm going to a "green MBA" program, but what does losing the world's coral reefs really mean to the guy working to make ends meet at the local hardware store or the over stretched suburbanites on two incomes with 2.5 hour commutes both ways? I am NOT getting into judgments on any lifestyles or life choices, just trying to get comfortable with current reality. Whew!

I read it, felt depressed, made some leaps and superficial connections to loss of fish stocks and biodiversity which can undermine local and international economies, lead to attempts at industrial solutions and perhaps cause a global meltdown in sea life and even a lower absorption of gases from the atmosphere and since everything follows the laws of thermodynamics (entropy) and degrades into chaos...the atmosphere will simply blow away with the solar wind when the magnetic field shifts after the last fish dies...! That was some pent up doom-and-gloom energy.

Is the ultimate in guiltless activity the use of a biodegradable coffin (from NYTimes Magazine)? Is there an LCA that compares the different methods of burial to see which one really is the best? What if it turned out that the "greenest" way is cremation? Would all the hippies (corporate or otherwise) pick that method? I bet there are regulations that vary from city-to-city and cemetery-to-cemetery regarding burial standards. I remember hearing from a friend that embalming fluids are hazardous waste (how true this is, I do not know) hence the requirement for concrete vaults the coffins are entombed in. I find it interesting that we can pollute after were dead and gone.

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