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Carnival of the Green #116!


Hi, everyone, and welcome to Carnival of the Green #116, the latest in a weekly digest of environmentalism-themed posts from around the Web. Here at the EcoLibertarian, we try to find solutions to environmental problems by persuasion and, where that’s not enough, by market mechanisms that are as unintrusive as can be.I’m your host, David Reevely, taking over ringmaster duties from The Greener Side, where Carnival of the Green#115 was ably hosted last week. For more on the carnival concept, and to sign up yourself, check out the first carnival posts at TreeHugger, where they started the whole thing.

Lots of good stuff here. Let’s get started. I’ve saved my favourite for the end.

First through the gate (actually, last through last week’s gate, so she came first in the new race before there even was one) is Lynn of OrganicMania, struggling with the ethics of forcing her perfectly innocent kindergartener to make green valentines instead of giving out wasteful commercial ones.

Did I want him to grow up with a complex about Valentines Day? Flash forward twenty years. “Sorry, darling,” he would tell his fiancée, “I never celebrate Valentines Day because I hate it. I think it’s because as a kid my mother made me make these queer ‘green Valentines’ when all the other boys got to hand out Hot Wheel Valentines. Now I hate Valentines.” His fiancée would sob, break up the relationship, and there would go my future grandkids!

Next, Tao Oliveto of The Tao of Change meditates on the joys of collecting his own food and sharing the bounty through a community farm:

When I was loaded up, I found myself reluctant to drive away. Something drew me in to this scene on this cold, sunny day. I can only imagine it was life itself.

I know the farmer who raises and milks the animals who give me milk to drink and feeds the chickens whose eggs I eat. I now know the animals themselves. I know a whole lot more than I used to.

JP Davidson of Green Deals Daily offers up a video review of some stuff in a bottle called Eco Touch, which purports to help you wash your car while using a heck of a lot less water and dumping a lot less gunk down the storm sewers. He gives it 8.5 out of 10.

Too much of that stuff gets in the water supply, and it’ll start worrying “MamaBird” of SurelyYouNest, whose curiosity about what endocrine disruptors and hormone-mimicking chemicals in the river are doing to her children led her to actual research. The good news, says biology professor Alan Kolok of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, is that city tapwater isn’t much to worry about … but be careful where you swim.

DrK: Your drinking water is most likely safe. In fact, with governmental regulations for drinking water, the water that you get out of the tap is probably better for you than the water that you could drink out of a plastic bottle! Buy a Brita filter (these are fairly cheap) and keep filtered tap water in your fridge, if you are still concerned (this is what my family does).

Sewage effluent will not be a direct problem for your children providing you are vigilent about where they swim (in Connecticut, when I grew up, I used to swim at a beach near a river that drained the town dump! I wouldn’t let my children swim there today), and also where your fresh seafood comes from.If you fish or enjoy other local seafood, make sure that you eat in moderation and that it comes from clean environments

Betsy Teutsch of Money Changes Things, meanwhile, finds herself a home improvement that appeals both to her — a detail-oriented type who figures if she takes care of the small things, they’ll add up a big help for the planet — and her husband — a bottom-line guy who’ll throw money at a problem if it’ll make a difference, but doesn’t want to be bothered with hard work for little reward. The solution: an innovative home capacitor that cuts their energy use.

Fortunately you don’t need to know what one is to benefit from its installation, but as I understand, you draw more electricity than you can use. A capicitor minimizes this loss by 15-30%. The technology has been available for factories for a long time, but recent advances have made them suitable for the home market. Joe and Joe Jr. installed one yesterday. They attached a watt meter thingy on the electrical panel, and when they plugged in the capacitor, a small box mounted near the electrical panel, you could see the number plummet. Wow!

You can’t get cheaper than free, and Joe of EcoJoes (“Green thinking for the average joe”) likes that about ECover washing-up liquid.

Once you’ve got some of that, you’ll need something to scrub the dirty dishes with, and Jenn Sturiale at Tiny Choices would like to help.

I’ve been using Scotch-Brite Dobie scrubbing sponges for my whole life, practically. I grew up using them, and everyone in my family still uses them. In fact one of my sisters-in-law once said something along the lines of, “What’s up with you Sturiales and the Dobie?” which I thought was really funny. But I guess we all use it because it’s really really good at what it does– it cleans dishes like nobody’s business. I’m never left with crusted-on anything, it never scratches, and it lasts for months (which is more than I can say for most alternatives I’ve tried). So, yes, love. And my family are not the only ones who feel this way–read the reviews! and watch the video review! and the other video review! (C’mon, do you love your sponge so much that you would actually review it?) Well, I just kind of realized that this thing is in no way green, as it’s “a urethane sponge encased in plastic,” and it just seems like the kind of thing that’s easy to replace with some kind of more eco option

“David” of The Good Human could do with some free stuff, if he’s hoping to keep buying the prodigious quantity of shoes he likes to collect. I’m kidding: he says he only owns six pairs, and I suspect I have as many. But he’s struggling with the balance of indulging his passion and trying to avoid waste.

Now, I don’t have that many other articles of clothing, so is it OK to own this many pairs of shoes? I don’t know, but if I had to choose, I would definitely choose more shoes over more t-shirts. But trying to buy only “eco-friendly” shoes can be difficult. How about you? When you go shopping, do you try to buy eco-conscious goods? Do you have an addiction to a certain article of clothing?

You might have caught wind of last week’s long and fascinating discussion at EconLog about which is worse for the planet — an SUV or a pet dog. The consensus seems to have settled on the idea that the SUV is worse, but the people who make this product called Skooperbox are trying to improve the ratio. Is their dog-doo-collecting product any good? Go find out at Life Googles.

Assembling her own digest, Elizabeth of Go Green Travel Green has 45 tips from 35 sources on the environmental and lifehackerish advantages of travelling light.

Enough with the stuff, time for some environmentalist theory. MJ Solaro of Brave New Leaf offers up a concise explanation of what a cap-and-trade system is for carbon-dioxide emissions, with pictures. It’s a very excellent primer, if you’ve been stymied or decided to put off understanding the idea till later.

There are concerns over the complexity of the cap-and-trade systems. The programs will force difficult accounting practices on business, and difficult oversight on government to ensure that businesses are reporting their carbon emissions accurately. Still, out of all possible carbon taxes and programs designed to cutback emissions, US businesses would rather adopt this type of program than any other, because it makes it possible to balance environment and economic concerns.

To be honest, I find the artwork Tracy Stokes blogs on at EcoStreet this week a little busy and I don’t think I’d want it in my home, but it’s undeniably striking and if art’s supposed to provoke a reaction, it certainly does. Stokes’s reflection on the work of Cynthia Korzekwa does, too.

[While in the west many housewives have lost the crafts of their ancestors, Cynthia has brought back to life the spirit of the housewife creating works of art for her home, from what she has at her disposal. And by recycling the junk that would otherwise just end up being trucked to the nearest landfill, and evolving it into this new (and yet old) art, housewives can play an important role in protecting the planet.

Over at, Tim Fowler looks into how an energy-intensive industry that’s threatened by climate change, namely the ski business, is trying to help itself out, particularly in his corner of the world.

There are certainly companies that are more or less environmentally responsible than the examples in this article. I am encouraged that some companies in the snow sports industry are working to address global warming. I encourage you to patronize the companies and resorts that are moving towards sustainability. We can also make suggestions to those companies that aren’t moving quickly towards environmental responsibility. After all, no one who loves the snow wants global warming.

Also in New Mexico, oddly enough, “marigolds2” takes up the environmentalist cause in electoral politics in this U.S. election year, commenting on Tom Udall’s campaign for the Senate and checking out congressional candidates’ environmental records.

While national attention is riveted on the three ring circus of the race for presidential nominees, we all need to focus some steady attention on congressional candidates who will turn both House and Senate into legislative bodies that will work with a Democratic president to change this ship of state’s direction. I’m convinced that in Tom Udall I have found a local candidate for whom I can happily volunteer my time and effort in this election cycle.

Building to a crescendo, there’s Beth Terry’s post at Fake Plastic Fish — where Beth writes about plastic, what it’s doing to the oceans, and how we might stop it — considering the many ways “better” is the enemy of the good. In this case, how even though a recycling program might seem to excuse needless consumption of Clif Bars, it’s better than not having a recycling program at all.

I get so worked up about finding the absolute best solution to problems that I forget there are also good solutions that aren’t necessarily the best but might head us in the right direction. Various shades of green. Terracycle is definitely doing a service by keeping plastic bottles, juice boxes, yogurt containers, and now wrappers here at home where we can take some responsibility for our own waste instead of shipping it to Asia. And yet even Clif Bar admits that the Wrapper Brigade is not the best solution.

My favourite post of the week, one that made me see an old problem in a new way, is about fish. We’re overfishing, ocean conservationist Mark Powell writes at blogfish, but people who want to stop it are relying much too much on guilt and not enough on promoting the appealing alternatives.

OK, so we do try to conserve by defeating human desires. But are there some examples of working with desire to conserve? How about ecotourism or festivals that celebrate rivers or slow food? Some parts of conservation focus on fun, but many conservation purists attack ecotourism as harmful exploitation and say festivals just allow people to feel good without doing anything significant.

Can we find a way to elevate the role of desire in conservation? Yes, we can work with human desires instead of fighting against them.

Next Monday, I’m handing off to Confessions of a Closet Environmentalist. Go look!

When fact’s at odds with theory, your theory has a problem

Jim Manzi, guestblogging at The Daily Dish while Andrew Sullivan is away, niftily summarizes the whole premise of this blog. He’s talking about the vast galaxy of nonsense that is Intelligent Design “theory, but it applies just as surely to virtually any other kind of science where observable facts are at odds with the magical world that some (inaccurately) self-described conservatives wish they lived in:

The debate about evolution is a great example of the kind of sucker play that often ensnares conservatives.  Frequently, conservatives are confronted with the assertion that scientific finding X implies political or moral conclusion Y with which they vehemently disagree.  Obvious examples include (X = the Modern Synthesis of Evolutionary biology, Y = atheism) and (X = increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 will lead to some increase in global temperatures, Y = we must implement a global regulatory and tax system to radically reduce carbon emissions).  Those conservatives with access to the biggest megaphones have recently developed the habit of responding to this by challenging the scientific finding X.  The same sorry spectacle of cranks, gibberish and the resulting alienation of scientists and those who respect the practical benefits of science (i.e., pretty much the whole population of the modern world) then ensues.

In general, it would be far wiser to challenge the assertion that X implies Y.

Welcome, Daily Dish readers

… and thanks, Andrew, for the link. I don’t know that we’re a group. We’re just me, really. But I do what I can.

If you’re interested in efforts to turn the idea of clean air and water as a property right into actual workable policies, please do follow along here. And for more, a few of my favourite related blogs are:

Anyway, welcome. Hope you’ll stick around.

Moving house

Blogsilence till the ol’ head’s above water again. Shouldn’t be more than a few days.

Involuntary pause

So much to write about — the open Northwest Passage, the Ontario Green party platform, more fussing about carbon taxes — but no time whatsoever in which to do it.

Back soon. Promise.

Time to fool around with themes

Does EcoLibertarian look funny this evening?

I assure you: It’s not you, it’s me. Thanks for your patience.

Update: I think that’s it. Any opinions? (Complaints, particularly?)

A pause

Just as I’ve built up a good head of steam and the numbers are on a marked upward trend, I’m going to take a couple of weeks off writing.


But I’m pretty sure it’s the right thing to do. You only get married once, after all. Inshallah.

Comments are all being held for moderation while I’m away, so you can write, but they won’t go up till I’m back paying attention here again. That should be on or about August 20.

In the meantime, why not subscribe to the EcoLibertarian RSS feed, so that you don’t have to keep coming back to check whether I’m posting again? Just click here.

Anyway, be back soon.

(Photo credit:Lover’s tree,” Flickr/robennals.)