Monday, May 30, 2005

Hitting the Highways --- What? Me Worry?

Memorial Day has consistently provided American families the time to hit the road and enjoy a three-day weekend in the wilderness, a national park, at the beach or visiting family on the Jersey shore. With gas prices where they are (arm or a leg a gallon) the question is, will Americans take to the road this holiday weekend in the midst of the highest nominal gas prices ever recorded during a national holiday? The CS Monitor says "Yes." A record 37 million will get behind the wheel and many will opt to rent a car rather than take to the air with Delta, USAir or Southwest. Even more impressive is the recent predicted rise in driving by 2.2% nationwide. Why are Americans still paying such inordinate costs for fuel? Cato Institute's Jerry Taylor says its because over the last few decades average salary in the US has risen right along with gas prices. Others say its because they are willing to skimp on other expenses like eating out, accomadations and in-between costs like taxis and airport limos. Whatever the reason, it seems Americans will never be able to let go of the car society. Lets hope we memorialize our fallen heroes with more than a drive to the beach in the future.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Norton Goes Solar

Finally, a star who is using his star power to create sustainable power (ooof..that was a mouthful). Edward Norton appears in an fantastic interview with Grist Magazine spelling out his solar project for low-income families in LA. His organization (that he actively runs on his own) Solar Neighbors is helping to outfit hundreds of families in the LA region with solar rooftops that will save families hundreds of dollars per year in electric bills. Norton has a strong environmental history. His father worked as the public policy head for the Wilderness Society and now is managing the Yunnan Great Rivers project in China for the Nature Conservancy. His brother is a river guide in Idaho and serves on the board of Idaho Rivers United working to save salmon habitat and help the species recover in Idaho. And his sister got her grad degree from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in environmental policy.

Norton also hosted a 4-part series on PBS called "Strange Days on Planet Earth" that I caught. Check it out if you can.

One of my fave quotes from the interview...

"It confounds me to see [the Bush administration] put forth completely bankrupt policies, even as Republican national-security analysts are stepping forward and saying energy conservation has got to be a part of our national security plan. Even as a fellow Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is proposing the most aggressive solar development and incentive program in the history of the United States. Even as the United States is getting its ass kicked by the Japanese and the Germans, who are beginning to dominate clean-technology industries. Even as billions of dollars and many thousands of lives are being spent to fight oil regimes in the Middle East. It's truly a national tragedy."