Exploring Complex Eco-Conundrums

Whether it’s over nuclear energy or biodegradable tableware, environmentalists are known to quibble quite a bit amongst themselves. Such disagreements, though, are often helpful, teasing out the complexities of eco-issues, big or small. Here are three articles that examine the tough questions posed by the green economy, renewable power and organic food to let you in on the nitty gritties of the topics:

Drive less to save the environment — but support your economy by buying a new car?

In The New Yorker, Tom Bachtell looks at some tough challenges in our effort to stimulate the economy while saving the environment: “If doubling the cost of gas gives drivers an environmentally valuable incentive to drive less … then doubling the efficiency of cars makes that incentive disappear. Getting more miles to the gallon is of no benefit to the environment if it leads to an increase in driving — and the response of drivers to decreases in the cost of driving is to drive more.”

Create transmission lines for solar and wind power — that’ll mainly sell coal power?

At Salon.com, Katharine Mieszkowski notes that transmission lines created to carry solar and wind energy could be used mostly coal power. “The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline … would start right near the largest coal-fired power plant in West Virginia. Yet advertisements promoting the new proposed line pitch it as a conduit for wind power, complete with video of windmills spinning in the sky. ”

Buy organic fair trade products — from huge multinational corporations that mostly profit from monoculture farming, unhealthy weird foods, and unfair trade practices? Philip H. Howard, professor at Michigan State University, put together charts showing how the organic food industry’s structured. Yes, Kraft owns Back to Nature — and many big bad companies are launching their own organic food lines. What's an environmentalist to eat?


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