Sunday, April 13, 2008

Environmental Sustainability and Economic Sustainability

Here's a good article by John Quiggin on how reducing greenhouse gas emissions needn't mean economic collapse. He notes how the "Deep Green" environmental pessimists and "Deep Brown" polluters are both arguing that there is inevitably a "fundamental conflict" between the environment and the economy. Quiggin says this notion is false, and I agree. I've seen this in my own work reviewing Environmental Impact Reports for the City of L.A.; there are actually a lot of things developers can do to make their projects more energy-efficient and thus environmentally sustainable that really don't add a whole lot to the cost of the project.

Check out the U.S. Green Building Council for some examples of what I'm talking about and note that they're not some fringe group; we're seeing a lot of projects these days that are aiming for LEED certification or its equivalent. Big utilities are investing in alternative energy: locally, Southern California Edison recently announced a 500-MW solar thermal energy project as well as a 250-MW solar roof project, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is building massive wind farms. Compact fluorescent bulbs are becoming quite common; we bought a couple of packs a while ago at Costco and have been gradually replacing all the lighting in our apartment. And of course, it's not like the cost of these things is going into a black hole; not only does it lead to lower operating costs for buildings, but the investment in alternative energy is feeding innovation. Check out some of these new flexible solar panels; the days of solar power being a clunky eyesore with a big initial outlay are in the past.

Also, it's nice to see a blogger (Quiggin) actually respond to the comments in his posts.

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