At a Heritage architecture convention this weekend, much of the talk was about the environment. One speaker discussed climate change, and the steps we had to take to stop it, and ended with the question " I Drive a Prius. What Are You Doing?"
At the home in which I was staying, there was a magazine with an ad for a company peddling solar gear, with an image of a guy happily holding his car keys in front of a suburban house with a big photoelectric panel on the roof, I think implying that if you invest in solar you can make enough money to go buy yourself a new gas-guzzling convertible.
And I really have to wonder, what do people think sustainability is all about.
Over at the Green Workplace, Jodi Williams describes another conference where planners show a new development in Colorado. She writes:
The new development was billed as being net zero - the community and community planners were clamouring for it! Super energy-efficient, beautiful new design, yay, let's do it!!!
We looked at the plan. Net zero or no, this development was full of unsustainable characteristics. First, and perhaps most importantly, it was out in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, so you're net zero while you're at home...but what about driving 5 miles to the nearest town, or 15 miles to the nearest small city (and Wal-Mart)? .... Maybe I'll go to my neighbour house. Nope, not happening either since the neighbourhood is a series of disconnected cul de sacs.
Great bike sticker from Microcosm publishing
Has the needle really moved so little in the last few years? That an "environmentalist" can seriously think that his driving a Prius is so significant that it is his wow closer? That the reward for putting solar panels on your roof is a new convertible? That a "net-zero" development doesn't have to include the gas you need to get a quart of milk?
We are all going to have to work a lot harder to move that needle, if this is what environmentalists, green energy companies and green planners think.