Thursday, February 12, 2009

Driving Toward Sustainability

The Bay Area's transportation sector delivers some 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air annually. Auto emissions are, at once, driving global warming and assaulting public health on a number of fronts. But most of the pollution involved – into the air from the car – is not from the tail pipe, it's from the mining and the manufacturing associated with the car.

Former oil industry analyst-turned activist, Jan Lundberg of Culture Change says that the kinds of amelioration being talked about and offered are woefully inadequate: "We should just get rid of car dependency."

Dan Sperling, founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies, and a board member of the California Air Resources Board, will address what he says are the needed changes at The Commonwealth Club of California tonight. According to Sperling, by 2020, the number of cars on the planet will double to 2 billion. He says that big changes need to be made to our cars, fuels and personal habits. This is especially challenging if we're going to rein in our bloated carbon footprint enough to achieve a return to 350 parts per million, as urged by Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and End of Nature.

Michael Gelobter helped develop the nation's only peer-reviewed carbon calculator, will address the issue at this year's Compostmodern design conference for environmentalists.

"A lot of our relationship with climate change and fossil fuels has to do with the built environment, the designed environment – our cities, buildings, schools and the way we design our day-to-day interactions with products," Gelobter told me. "All of those include assumptions about energy use, where we get the energy and the form that energy comes in." Even though he's a climate strategist, Galopter is optimistic and sees great opportunity in the future.

Can we break the cycle of "shock and trance?" Join energy expert Sperling at The Commonwealth Club as he reveals what is at stake if we refuse to move quickly, and what opportunities exist if we act now.


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