With 2010 coming to a close, I want to pause to thank all those who helped make State of the World 2010 and its 14 translations a big success, and to reflect on 10 amazing moments from the year.
Numbers swirl around climate change.
The relative silence isn’t hard to understand. Population is almost always awkward to talk about. It’s fraught with sensitivity about who has how many children and whether that is anyone else’s business. It’s freighted with sexuality, contraception, abortion, immigration, gender bias, and other buttons too hot to press into conversation. Yet two aspects of population’s connection to climate change cry out for greater attention—and conversation.
Miami, Florida, recently approved construction of two 50-story electronic billboards designed to market the wares of the consumer society. Forget Times Square, these two towers, if built, would become leading symbols of consumerism and bombard people with ever more encouragement to buy, buy, buy. In fact, it feels like something right out of The Lord of the Rings, but instead of the Towers Orthanc and Mordor, we’re building the Towers of Mindblank and Buymore.
Recently, facing a serious budget deficit, the U.S. Postal Service proposed increasing its delivery rates. But the newly-created Affordable Mail Alliance (AMA) has announced its opposition to raising rates. Why? Because that’ll cost the alliance more to bombard Americans with their billions of pieces of junk mail. I say let’s raise the rates on junk mail, effectively taxing this ecologically destructive form of spamming. Not only will mail recipients and America’s environment benefit but the Postal Service will be able to balance its budget on the backs of the junk mail industry. Sounds like a perfect solution to me.
Good news! The Story of Stuff Project has come out with a new video—this time targeting cosmetics. And better news: the cosmetics industry called it a biased “shockumentary,” which must mean it hit too close to home and they’re concerned it might influence the political debate. Hopefully the industry’s fears will come true and the video will help people push for better regulation on cosmetics while taking off some of the toxic products they currently smear on their bodies.
Eventually, the Global Consumer Economy will self-destruct, as all Ponzi schemes do. But before then, there’s still plenty of room for growth (as long as new joiners don’t ask too many questions). This is especially true in rapidly developing countries like Brazil. In fact, Brazil seems like a great place to grow the consumer dream, whether in the country’s urban jungles or the deepest reaches of the Amazon forests.
There’s a budding trend in the coffee market: coffee made from beans that have worked their way through the bowels of a civet. If unchecked, this could lead to a whole new type of factory farm, the CoCAFO. But acting now might prevent this from ever brewing….
Erik Assadourian of Worldwatch Institute debates with James Taylor of the Heartland Institute about whether to ban plastic bags. Can you guess which Erik took?
Yes, we must hold the corporations that made the mess in the Gulf accountable, but we also have to take some of the blame ourselves. Our consumer lifestyles are at the root of our ever-growing need for oil, so consider taking one of these five steps in dramatically reducing your impact, and culpability for future oil spills.
As I travel around Europe to launch State of the World 2010, I’ve done a lot of schlepping from airport to metro station to bus [...]
While visiting Spain, Erik is questioned about State of the World 2010 at the US Embassy….
Watching the new documentary Garbage Dreams, I found myself struck more by the stark lack of discussion of “where does all this garbage come from?” than all the garbage itself.
Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo debate what is at the root of the modern food crisis: The nature of animals’ reproductive patterns, or failings in human systems?
New York City landlords are starting to ban smoking in their apartment buildings, further raising the barrier to the activity and possibly helping to reduce city smoking rates even more.
New Climate Thought on the importance of Transforming Cultures posted at http://en.cop15.dk/thoughts. Take a look, then add your own thought….
I went to the National Mall last Sunday to find a small, functional, solar house–one that I’d enjoy living in. Instead I found giant studio apartments with beds descending from the ceiling on cables and other strange designs that were cool–in a Star Trek kind of way–but not so helpful in promoting the idea that people can live comfortably in an 800 square foot home.
A battle is being waged over how we wipe our behinds. Who will win?
The upcoming documentary, Earth Days, details the rise of the modern US environmental movement, and then its weakening over the 80s and 90s, challenging viewers to help the movement rise up once again if we are to “save the planet.”
MIT researchers have concluded that an accelerated rise in temperatures is foreseen without significant policy action. These scientific findings have significant policy implications.
A tribute to Thomas Berry, who spoke about the state of the human-Earth relationship,
Home is a film about our planet, with the fate of its future resting in the hands of humanity.