The sudden, hideous explosion of oil in the Gulf of Mexico is the latest reminder of who we really are. By we, I mean:British Petroleum: Broken Pipe? Bigtime Pollution?Our government: The Bush administration's constant deregulation is a factor, but Barack Obama avoids offending the big oil and coal companies. We as in us: Every politician in America notices that Americans scream any time the price of oil begins to rise.
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.
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.
On the southern shore of Lake Superior, rugged edges of deep green forest merge with cliffs of sandstone and million-year-old granite to mark a remote corner of the Upper Peninsula that economists often call America’s “second Appalachia.” For those who live here, it has become a battleground between an international mining company and a patchwork coalition of residents, fisherfolk, church leaders, environmentalists and an Indian tribe.