Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22nd, this year and we should all stop and think about what we’re doing in our daily lives to help stop climate change. Maybe it’s just synchronicity, but it seems that since Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received the Nobel Peace Prize, mainstream media has finally embraced what environmentalists, scientists and yes, preservationists, have known for a long time – that climate change is being caused by our actions. No longer does every article present the opposing view as potentially valid - that climate change has not been caused or impacted by human actions. I walked into Barnes & Noble the other day and the “green” table was more prominently placed at the entrance than either the new fiction or nonfiction tables, and had more books on it too. I have begun making a practice of collecting every “green issue” of every magazine, and saving any article I see. And with this new validity, journals and magazines are assigning their best and most seasoned writers to the green articles. I also re-read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring on a recent cross-continental flight. A paperback re-issue was prominently displayed in a Denver airport book shop encouraging both me and the customer ahead of me to buy it. Below is my very subjective view of some good journalism on the topic I’ve recently read in no particular order, all of which got me thinking about how to make my life greener.
Time Magazine, April 28, 2008
3rd Annual “Special Environment Issue”
With a cover where they’ve replaced their trademark red border with a green one, and reinterpreted the famous Iwo Jima raising of the flag photo with an image of soldiers raising a tree, Time boldly describes their view of “How To Win the War on Global Warming”. This magazine (and Michael Specter’s article in The New Yorker) has the best description of cap and trade I have read. I am no economist, but after reading both Time and The New Yorker I feel I can now explain why this concept is crucial to improving our world. The entire issue can be downloaded. In addition, the online issue has some interesting links including the top 15 green websites to help you green your life. This section alone kept me busy with websites I hadn’t yet seen for an entire afternoon. Even if the articles in this issue weren’t so good, it would be worth it just for these links.
The New Yorker, February 25, 2008
“Big Foot” by Michael Specter
I’ve been a fan of Michael Specter’s journalism for quite some time, and I have to say that I am in love with this article. I quote it profusely in every speech I give and if you only have time to read one of the articles or magazines I mention here, read this one. Best description of the challenges of life cycle analysis that I have read anywhere. And his description of cap and trade was the first I had read which made it easy for me to understand. My favorite quote is “Possessing an excessive carbon footprint is rapidly becoming the modern equivalent of wearing a scarlet letter.” And “Personal choices cannot do enough, no matter how virtuous. It will also take laws and money. It will take political will.”
Vanity Fair Magazine, May 2008
Third Annual Green Issue
Okay, so I haven’t quite figured out why Madonna is on the cover of the “Green Issue” but since both she and I are closer now to 50 than 40, and if it sells more magazines, then more power to them (and her!). Robert Kennedy’s essay, “The Next President’s First Task, A Manifesto” compares the end of the slave trade to tackling the end of global warming. It’s not complicated, it just requires political will. Two articles about oil in the Arctic confirm the urgency of Kennedy’s call for the federal development of renewable energies. This entire issue can also be downloaded. And like Time’s green issue, there is a special online-only section, this one on the 50 best green resources – books, DVDs and even poetry. Don’t miss the “Eco-Man’s Library”!
National Geographic’s Green Guide Magazine, The Inaugural Issue, March 2008
According to their website this new magazine is “Written for general consumers, not for enviromaniacs, Green Guide is chock-full of simple, useful ideas, broken down into achievable steps that make "going green" a gradual and affordable process rather than an all-or-nothing plunge.” And like Sunset magazine below, it has some of the easiest to follow recommendations for every-day living. I particularly liked the articles on greener cosmetics and toxic chemicals in your house. I have already been referring to the toxic chemicals article to improve the housekeeping standards at our historic sites. While you can view the magazine cover online, you need to subscribe to get full access to all the articles.
Sunset Magazine, The Green Issue, March 2008 (Northwest edition)
Of my recommendations today, this is the most populist, but with recommendations for green travel, best seafood choice, and best green furnishings that are readily found (such as at Crate & Barrel), this may be the magazine I pick up most often in my non-architecture life. And find out why Portland, OR is consistently ranked the top green city in the country.
Preservation Magazine, The Green Issue, January-February 2008
And don't forget our very own "Green Issue". You can download all of it online. Read why historic preservation and existing buildings are key to improving climate change.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.
Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at email@example.com.