Ask the experts on Earth Day: What ever happened to.....

first earth day
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All the kids were doing it, Earth Day was a very big deal once. There were a lot of issues that used to be important to the green movement, that have gone the way of Earth Day. Last year, Mat and Mike asked around, trying to find out where the music died, and where it was still playing in the background. Here is what they found:

We're facing serious resource constraints in a number of key areas, what's the most critical of these and what's the biggest factor in creating that scarcity?

Janet Larsen of the Earth Policy Institute answered:

"With our human population expanding and resource consumption growing even faster, we are close to hitting the wall in a number of arenas—fresh water, oil reserves, minerals like phosphorous for fertilizer, oceanic fisheries, and nature’s ability to absorb climate-altering carbon dioxide, among others. But the scarcest resource of all is time.

More: Ask the Experts: What's the Greatest Resource Scarcity We Now Face?

With the abundant geothermal potential of the United States, what are the biggest barriers to tapping into that renewable energy source?

Leslie Blodgett, Editor-in-Chief of Geothermal Energy Weekly answers:

"As with other renewable energy technologies in the United States, growth in geothermal energy production is affected by the uncertainty over how long current federal policies will continue to support new development.

More: Ask the Experts: Why Hasn't the US Tapped Into Its Geothermal Power Potential More?

It seems like everybody who knows the Cradle-to-Cradle principles thinks they're brilliant, yet adoption of the methodology and design philosophy seems slow. What is holding it back? Can we expect a breakthrough in the near future?

William McDonough, architect, author and award-winning sustainable development consultant, answers:

"It’s been exciting to watch people around the world recognize what Dr. Michael Braungart and I have been putting forward as the Cradle to Cradle® concept—a new way of thinking about human activity on Earth. We have been working developing and articulating this together for two decades. We wrote The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability in 1992 and Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things was published in 2002.

More: Ask the Experts: Why Hasn't Cradle-to-Cradle Design Caught On Yet?

Why is the U.S. so different from Europe when it comes to bike culture and is it something that we can change?

Elizabeth Press from Streetfilms answers:

"The U.S. differs from Europe so much because we have indulged in our car addictions much longer than most European countries have. Look at a place like the Netherlands. We can all agree that they are super bike friendly. But they don't have perfect weather for biking year-round. So, how did they get this way?

More: Ask the Experts: Why Is US Bike Culture So Different From Europe's?

Allergies seem to be much more prevalent now than ever before. Are we making progress on figuring out what is going on and fixing the problem?

Robyn O'Brien from The AllergyKids Foundation answers:

"The landscape of childhood has changed. In the last several years, we have seen jaw-dropping increases in the rates of allergies, autism, ADHD and asthma, earning these conditions the nickname “the 4 As” and our children the title, “Generation Rx.”

More: Ask the Experts: What's Being Done To Combat Rising Allergy Rates in Kids?

A few years ago organic cotton and other eco-friendly textiles were getting all the headlines, but not so much now. Why is that?

Scott Mackinlay Hahn of Loomstate answers:

"A few years ago (pre-recession) organic cotton and 'eco friendly' textiles were marginally getting headlines, and indeed there was a wave of 'green fashion' be touted the next big thing. That was an important time because it set the tone for critical work and industry collaboration occurring now.

More: Ask the Experts: Why Don't We Hear About Organic Cotton Like We Used To?

What's the biggest factor preventing more companies developing ethical sourcing policies for their ingredients?

Ben Packard from Starbucks answers:

"In my mind, the biggest factor holding companies back is the misunderstanding that it's not just the right thing to do, it's the right thing to do for business success. This is a fundamental change companies must embrace.

More: Ask the Experts: Why Don't More Companies Use Ethically-Sourced Ingredients?

Many environmentalists have little love for first generation ethanol and for years we've been promised that the next generation of biofuels, made from waste cellulose, but we have yet to see it replace corn ethanol. Why is cellulosic ethanol moving so slowly?

Matt Merritt of POET answers,

"Five years ago Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, telling energy entrepreneurs that the market would be ready by 2010 for cellulosic ethanol if the business community could provide it. 2010 came and went with no significant volumes produced, and people began talking about how cellulosic ethanol was moving “slowly.”

More: Ask the Experts: Where's All The Cellulosic Ethanol We've Been Promised?

Nuclear weapons used to be a top concern of the environmental movement, but aren't talked about much anymore as a green issue. What's changed and how do you feel about that?

Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence magazine for the past 40 years and long-time anti-nuclear activist, answers:

"Fifty years ago I made a peace pilgrimage from New Delhi to Moscow, Paris, London, and Washington DC. At that time these were the four nuclear capitals. I went by walking, 8000 miles, without any money. I was deeply committed, passionately involved and engaged in the anti-nuclear movement. Now we have India, Pakistan, Israel with nuclear weapons. North Korea is also joining. There are suspicions about other countries as well. This is not a very happy state of affairs.

More: Ask the Experts: Where's the Green Outrage Over Nuclear Weapons?

See all our Earth Day coverage here.

Ask the experts on Earth Day: What ever happened to.....
We look at how the issues have changed over the years, why the issues that drove the green movement don't anymore