July 11, 2007

It’s Not Easy Being Green

If some aspects of “green” marketing and technology sometimes sound too good to be true, that’s because they are.

Kansas rushed E10, an ethanol/gasoline blend, into gas stations after its ozone levels violated the Clean Air Act. But officials are having second thoughts after learning about how much ethanol contributes to ozone and other smog-forming emissions, according to the Kansas City Star.

They are even looking for a way to cut back on sales of ethanol during peak ozone pollution days.

Critics of the practice of carbon offsets found fault with Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts, which were claimed to be “carbon neutral” due to investments in renewable energy.

But environmental groups say carbon offsetting creates an excuse to pollute rather than an attitude shift, and can lead to more destruction by causing native trees to be cut down just so they can be replaced.

Customers concerned about reducing their footprint on the Earth may be glad to see a new generation of food products in Europe that account for their own carbon production.

The products, such as a “carbon zero” wine produced in New Zealand, tell shoppers about how much carbon was used to grow, ferment, bottle and ship the wine — but they don’t include the effects of transporting the product to stores, or the carbon generated by the stores themselves.

Energy auditors say a more realistic measure would focus on fossil fuel energy, and call for a better-regulated, more transparent measurement system.

Even when it’s required of them, going green isn’t always possible for businesses — such as the dry cleaning industry in California.

San Francisco’s dry cleaners must begin using a non-toxic, silicone-based solvent and buy new, greener machines by 2010 or face closure — but most can’t afford to spend up to $100,000 to do it.

Sources:

“Going green: Environmental policies strain Chinese dry cleaners”
Sing Tao Daily, July 7, 2007

“Emission-lowering schemes could be bad for the planet”
Scotsman (U.K.), July 7, 2007

“Trading on being carbon neutral”
New Zealand Herald, July 7, 2007

“Missouri law requires ethanol, but that means more ozone”
Kansas City Star, July 6, 2007

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