“But Will the Planet Notice”

So, you take your own reusable bags to the grocery store instead of using plastic. You shop at the farmers markets, eating as much local food as possible. You drive a hybrid car and try to walk and bicycle as much as possible. You forego air conditioning, sweating through  the summer and turn down your heat in the winter. You replaced all of your lightbulbs with CFLs.

Does anyone notice? Does it make a difference? And can doing the right things even be counter-productive?

That is the premise behind Gernot Wagner’s recent book “But Will the Planet Notice? How Smart Economics Can Save the World.” Wagner is an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund and has a PhD in Political Economy and Government fron Harvard.

You still have time to read the book and come to Sustainable Cortland’s Soup and Sustenance Winter Reading Series. Wagner’s book will be discussed on Thursday, March 29 at 6 pm at the Beard Bldg. (9 Main Street in downtown Cortland). Join us for some great food and great conversation. Everyone is welcome.

Here are some choice quotes specifically about transportation issues which is just one part of the book:

“Gas taxes are an obvious first step to decrease pollution. Add ten cents to the price of a gallon of gas and watch carbon emissions decrease by around 1.5 percent, more over time as consumers take more radical steps like moving closer to work.”

“A heavy dose of government policy helped the rise of the car all along the way: from the building of interstate highways to navy ships patrolling the Persian Gulf and even more direct subsidies for oil drilling. When General Motors bought up streetcars and converted them into buses through a wholly owned subsidiary, it effectively destroyed mass transit in over forty cities throughout the United States between the 1930s and the 1950s.”

Wagner lives in Manhattan and doesn’t own a car or have a driver’s license – “So, rather than grandstand about my sacrifice, I’ll say what most New Yorkers say: I don’t own a car, because it’s too damn hard (and expensive) to find a parking space. Now we’re on to something.”

“Driving is too cheap for reasons other than subsidized gas. It’s too cheap because of subsidized driving. Free roads, free parking, and a free infrastructure geared toward the car all contribute to America’s car culture. Of course, it’s only free for the one doing the driving. We all pay for the consequences with our tax dollars, lungs, and lives.”

Just a sample – lots to chew on here.




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