Volume 77 / Number 47 - April 23 - 29, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Green thoughts

Tuesday’s weather was simply beautiful, which was appropriate, since it was Earth Day.

Earth Day represents an opportunity to reflect on the local level and beyond about green initiatives in our neighborhoods, our country and our world. These creative ideas and programs are making our communities more environmentally sustainable, energy efficient, less polluted and more habitable for all forms of life.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg has carved out an impressive green legacy, most prominently in his sweeping PlaNYC 2030. The cornerstone of this environmental plan — which was announced at last year’s Earth Day — was, of course, congestion pricing. Sadly, congestion pricing failed due to a lack of will in Albany. But the plan could still revive in some form, which we wholeheartedly hope happens. Traffic pricing would immensely improve the city’s air quality, overall environment and livability, while generating greatly needed revenue for mass transit.

Other parts of the mayor’s plan are moving full-steam ahead, such as planting 1 million new trees over the next decade under a public-private partnership — which will create better air and a greener environment in an immediately tangible manner.

Green-building guidelines, another part of PlaNYC, are increasingly being incorporated in new developments.

A few years ago, we thought Bloomberg’s legacy on bicycling was going to be the Police Department’s heavy-handed enforcement against Critical Mass. But it’s clear from the many miles of new bike lanes that have been painted, that the city really is committed to improving cycling for commuters and recreational riders alike. Making the city more bike friendly is another step in the right direction on both the environment and health.

Word has it that a new, protected bike lane, similar to the one on Ninth Ave. in Chelsea is slated for Grand St.; we’d like to see more of these protected lanes.

Also locally, it’s encouraging to observe that many of our stores are hitching their wagons to the green movement, from offering nonpolluting products to pledging proceeds from sales on Earth Day for environmental causes. And thanks to a new law passed by the City Council, large supermarkets such as Whole Foods Market are now encouraging recycling of plastic bags and offering patrons reusable shopping bags.

Sadly, the Bush administration has been a disaster on the environment. The administration has done nothing eco-positive over the last seven years. Bush finally only fairly recently admitted global warming might exist.

We need a Democratic administration to lead our country in a new, sensible, green direction. We’re encouraged by Barack Obama’s saying he would rely on Al Gore as an environmental adviser and possibly give him a position in his administration. It’s time for the U.S. to sign onto an agreement of the caliber of the Kyoto Protocol and get with the rest of the planet in terms of making it livable for us and those who will follow.

We’ve wasted enough resources. There’s no time left to waste to address global warming and our planet’s future.

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