Friday, December 25, 2009

Trees For Rent!

If anyone else is looking to lower their carbon footprint this (well at this point, next) holiday season then The Living Christmas Company may spark your interest. Instead of cutting down a tree and discarding it after a two or three week stay in your living room, the guys at Living Christmas Co. will deliver a potted tree of the desired size and species to your doorstep and come back to collect it at the end of the holiday season.

According to this New York Times article, company founder and landscape architect Scott Martin was unnerved by the sight of abandoned trees lying about after Christmas in his hometown of Los Angeles. Now he and his coworkers (mostly laid-off architect friends) don Santa hats, elf ears, and reindeer antlers and deliver trees all across LA. In only two years of operation, The Living Christmas Company has increased its inventory from a handful of trial customers last year to over 400 this season, and they had hoped to finish with around 500.

The carbon savings from this service are pretty obvious: instead of uprooting carbon-sequestering trees, Martin and his colleagues allow them to keep growing, continuing their life cycle (somewhere William McDonough is cheering). In fact, families who become attached to their trees are allowed to label them and welcome them back to their homes the following year.

Don't live in LA and don't have a tree rental service in your area? No problem. Try doing what my family did last year: we bought a small 3 or 4 foot potted tree and planted it in our backyard after the holiday.

What could be a better way to honor the spirit of Christmas than by celebrating nature instead of taking a little piece of it?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Have We No Shame?

The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen was rocked earlier today by a document known as the "Danish text." The document, apparently drafted by the so-called "circle of commitment" (including the UK, the US, and Denmark) centralizes climate power among rich countries and strips the UN of authority in future climate negotiations. Read the full text here.

John Vidal describes what is at stake in this Guardian article:

The agreement, leaked to the Guardian, is a departure from the Kyoto Protocol's principle that rich nations, which have emitted the bulk of the CO2, should take on firm and binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, while poorer nations were not compelled to act. The draft hands effective control of climate change finance to the World Bank; would abandon the Kyoto protocol – the only legally binding treaty that the world has on emissions reductions; and would make any money to help poor countries adapt to climate change dependent on them taking a range of actions.

Developing nations were understandably outraged by not only the implications of this measure but also the secretive fashion in which it was drafted. And in case you are wondering how passionate these countries are about fair and equitable treatment, African nations staged a walkout earlier this year at a climate conference in Barcelona citing a lack of emissions commitments from developed nations.

For me the Danish text is particularly alarming (not to mention damaging to the image and success of the conference in general), because it is such a bold departure from the collaborative essence I believed these talks to value and promote. There is too much riding on this conference to allow these blatant and ill-founded digressions to occur. The mentality embodied in this text is a direct threat to the political and environmental stability of our world. It remains to be seen how this will effect the negotiations moving forward, but if this selfishness and short-sightedness exhibited in this document is not checked at the door during the next week and a half of the climate negotiations, we are all in a hell of a lot of trouble...