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Archive for January 3rd, 2009

img_1917We are all environmentalists. Or are we?

This week I saw a news clip about the new “green” Bible, published in an environmentally friendly fashion and highlighting environmental themes. The piece intimated there was some backlash about the edition (without actually quoting anyone upset by it), something about end-timers who think the earth isn’t worth preserving because it’s all going to burn anyway. That attitude by Christians has always bothered me, because it’s pretty clear that from a believer’s perspective, one of our purposes is to be good stewards of the earth, and for that matter, good stewards of anything we have.

Beyond that, environmentalism always seems to get muddied up. If not religion, it’s politics. Japan, however, is a basically conservative country, with very strong environmental laws. Tokyo banned diesel engines. Water conservation is at a premium. Maybe its because there is less land to go around, or maybe it’s because the Japanese value the collective society while we Americans focus more on individual rights.

One of the coolest things I’ve seen there – so cool that I had my aunt pose with her washing machine – is that even in high-end condos, washing machines are hooked up to use leftover bath water for washing clothes (also check out her great sweatshirt). Talk about conservation!

The EPA has a great blog, Greenversations, where they ask a question each week to get people thinking and interacting on conservation issues. Agency Web manager Jeffrey Levy (@levj413) does a great job of using other tools to steer people to the site. Greenversations is just on example of how we can use Web 2.0 to move the collective conciousness towards conversation. Let’s talk about it.

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img_1911What would get you on transit and out of your car? Or if you’re already there, what would get you to give up your car? If you’re reading here, I can imagine you are likely already a mass transit user, or at least open to the idea. However, I know I’m far, far from the point of giving up my car, and not just because I have small children.

Driving is also a factor of where we live. I am able to easily take rail to work, and do. Going to visit my folks, on the other hand, requires quite a trek by car, one I don’t think is even served by bus.

In Tokyo, where my in-laws are, I can not only run around the city on an intracate web of trains and subways, I’m able to go sightseeing and hiking right off the rail lines. There, the train is usually the fastest way from one point to another, and it’s actually cheaper to fly than ride to some desinations because of that. Around train stations, there often far more bike parking stations than auto garages.

In the San Francisco, Bay Area, where I live, transit is generally patchy and often unreliable due to lack of dedicated routes. BART, the key commuter rail system, is actually considering a congestion surcharge to reduce peak ridership, if you can believe that. We have a long way to go.

So tell me what you think about transit, from rail to bus to taxi. What are the positives and the pitfalls? And what is the future?

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