Today’s transcontinental head of lettuce, grown in California but eaten in Washington, D.C., is emblematic of our dysfunctional food economy. For every calorie of food energy this lettuce provides, roughly 35 calories of fossil fuel energy will have been burned to grow, harvest, process and ship it. Compare this to 60 years ago when one calorie of fossil fuel produced roughly two and a half calories of food. From the standpoints of energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness, we would be better off drinking the oil.
• Plant lettuce in a window box. Lettuce that you grow yourself does not have to be transported from farm to grocer to home, burning fuel. A home garden can be as simple as a window box and as elaborate as a carefully designed urban plot. (kitchengardeners.org)
In the charming but apocalyptic movie WALL•E, Disney-Pixar spins the story of a cute robot set against a grim backdrop of a future Earth dominated by trash and pollution, uninhabitable for plants, animals or people.
From Christians in Hawaii to Buddhists in Connecticut, and from Jews in New York to Muslims in Wisconsin, people of all walks of faith are finding a myriad of ways to care for the environment, states a first-of-its-kind report from the Sierra Club.
The Church of England is telling its members, yes, let there be light—just not so much of it.
Reversing an eight-year campaign to brighten up the evenings, the church has come up with new guidelines backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams urging parishes to cut back on the use of outdoor floodlights, in the interest of reducing their carbon footprint.
Hammarby Sjostad used to be an industrial brownfield, toxic and unpopulated. It was slated to become part of the Olympic Village in 2004; the bid failed, but the momentum for a new neighborhood was enormous, and a town was built. It was designed to be an ecological gem, a place where the average person would live half again as lightly as the average Swede, who is already among the most ecologically minded citizens of the developed world.
As Bill McKibben explains in this issue, people love the Tuscany region of Italy because of its comprehensibility. From a hilltop you can see vineyards and olive groves in their entirety, and you can trace the course of rivers. And you can see where much of your food comes from.
For the last couple of years our church community has been burrowing a path through the dense brush of our land. We’ve not been in a hurry; we don’t even know for certain where the path is going. We’ve tried to be as gentle as possible, avoiding more permanent plants and taking the direction that nature seems to be offering.