The Dilettante's 2 “Green” Cents

As a producer/correspondent for the Planet
Green show the G Word, I blog on the Planet Green site. Here’s what I wrote in my most recent entry:

I know, I know, this will shock most of you, but I don’t claim to be an expert on much of what I cover on G Word. In fact, the best part of my job on G Word is meeting people from all areas of endeavor and checking out what they’re doing from an almost child-like point of view. From Lisa Gautier’s ambitious dreams for making compost-able toxic waste clean-up mats from human hair, to Auden Schendler and company’s massive overhaul of Aspen/Snowmass ski resorts, what constantly blows my mind is how far along many people and companies have come toward making our impact on the planet a little kinder. But the real excitement begins when I begin to imagine what our lives would be like if all of these more efficient technologies and systems happening across the planet, spread worldwide and became standard operating procedure? And then I realize that this is already the case. Quietly, while bad news makes headlines, the world around us is being transformed, one good idea at a time.

Sure, it’s an uphill climb. But just the other day, I was standing on line at Apple (yes, waiting to buy my new iPhone) when I struck up a conversation with a man named Lance A Williams. Lance, besides being an avid reader of crime fiction, is also the executive director of Los Angels Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. And we got to talking about the state of “green” building both here in Los Angeles and across the US. He happily informed me that “green” building—with an eye toward LEED certification—now accounts for about 10% of the building market, and is steadily on the rise. He also told me that even costly green retro-fits of existing structures is proving to make good economic sense over just a few years. Now, 10% may not sound like much, but this is actually astonishing, given that just 5 years ago the percentage was essentially a niche market at best. Without a doubt, cleaner and more efficient ways of doing things is becoming mainstream.

And this is just one arena. In the world of fuels, companies like Coskata are just one of many dedicated to finding economically viable, highly efficient fuel sources from unlikely places. 20 years ago, if anyone had publicly suggested that a pile of garbage might one-day make an efficient, affordable source of ethanol, he or she would most likely be chilling in a padded cell. But, just as it becomes clear that crop based ethanols are simply a bad idea, companies like Coskata are finding radically more viable means for making ethanol- nearly 70% more efficient- thanks to the discovery of rare microbes and a whole lot of smart science.

But that by no means implies every “green” idea out there is a good one. I’m well aware that a percentage of what we examine may never take the world by storm, end global warming or even make it out of the garage. What I hope we do on G Word is give people and, more importantly, possibilities, exposure. Good ideas, like most things, thrive with a little sunlight.

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