California has become the first state in the nation to ban major retail stores from providing single-use carryout plastic bags to their customers. The new legislation similarly prohibits stores from selling or distributing recycled paper bags unless the store makes such bags available for purchase for no less than 10 cents per bag. The new law, […]
David Mitchell's Masterpiece Provides a Perfect Epigraph -- and Epitaph -- for Environmentalism
A few weeks ago, I finished reading David Mitchell’s magnificent Cloud Atlas, a few months after seeing the still-excellent but-not-as-magnificent movie based upon it. The novel comprises a series of linked stories ranging from the mid-19th century to a post-apocalyptic future 300 years in the future. And that last story, profound and heartbreaking, tells us […]
There are big differences between states, but this really is a national epidemic.
State of Obesity, a joint project of the Trust for America’s Future and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has released a fascinating report about adult obesity. There are large national disparities. The obesity rate is over 35% in West Virginia and Mississippi, but only 21% in Colorado. Despite these disparities, obesity rates have grown everywhere since 1990, […]
Electric vehicle pioneer to announce its siting decision today
Some California environmentalists may be celebrating now that Tesla has apparently decided to build its $5 billion “gigafactory” in Nevada instead of California. Lawmakers here had toyed with the idea of weakening the state’s signature environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), to help expedite review on the factory and therefore encourage Tesla to […]
The grassy Quad is emblematic of university life. But its days may be numbered.
When I picture a university, I immediately envision the quad: an area of grass and trees surrounded by campus buildings, like the photo from one of America’s oldest universities accompanying this post. But those beautiful lawns may need to go. That would be a bit sad, and not just because the students could lose a place to […]
It's here, and it needs to be addressed
For environmental and economic reasons, we want jobs and people to move back to our cities. People living in cities pollute less because they don’t drive as much and tend to live in smaller homes. Economically, they can save a lot of money on transportation and energy costs, while thriving neighborhoods can create cultural and […]
California Improves an Already-Powerful Environmental Justice Analytical Tool
A year ago, I wrote about an important environmental justice initiative pioneered by the California Environmental Protection Agency and its subsidiary entity, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. That 2013 initiative, titled CalEnviroScreen, divided up the State of California by zip code, applied 11 environmental health and pollution factors, assessed each of the state’s […]
Lessons for making urban spaces great from the celebrated entrepreneur
Steve Jobs died in 2011, but his life experience, as related by biographer Walter Isaacson, offers some important lessons for today’s transit and urban development practitioners. I just finished reading the biography and was struck — like many others — by what a notoriously awful person he was to those around him. Part of the […]
Is It Possible To Have A Holiday Without Going Shopping?
The first e-mail in my inbox this morning was from a regional pharmacy chain, advertising “Great Earth Day Savings!” That seemed to me to be a little ironic: celebrate by the planet by consuming as much as you can! It isn’t alone. Just Google “Earth Day Shopping” and you’ll get hundreds of hits. Now, obviously, […]
It's Time to End the Wasteful Practice of Irrigating California's Residential Landscaping With Fresh Water
What a difference a drought makes. Once upon a time, a fundamental attribute of home ownership in California and the American West was an expansive, verdant lawn surrounding private homes, townhouses and apartment complexes. Indeed, some communities have historically imposed permit conditions or adopted local ordinances mandating the inclusion and maintenance of lush, healthy lawns […]