Fwd: Incurable Optimist Sees Progress

Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:22:21 -0500

Forwarded message:
Subj: Incurable Optimist Sees Progress
Date: 96-06-28 03:14:17 EDT
From: RonRecycle
To: CRRA,KiviLeroux,DHardy CBM,N2itiv
To: dnswma@northcoast.com,RicAnthony
To: 6500KAI@ucsbuxa.ucsb.edu
CC: RSchwei65,mff@igc.apc.org,Suzischw
CC: jennie.alvernaz@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
CC: RonRecycle,rgbest@ix.netcom

I just spent last weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico with a friend who works for
the Nature Conservancy there, and she has been feeling a bit depressed about
the current state of affairs. After a "single-shot Grande Mocha
Cappucino", I mentioned to her that I actually see much progress(Hey, I would
have said this without the coffee anyway)

1- The air quality in Los Angeles is better than it has been in three
decades. OK, it still sucks, but hey it is better!! First, leaded gasolines
were banned, then oxygenated fuels were required during peak smog times, and
now reformulated fuels are required. Add this to much better fuel economy
since 60's and air is much better.

2- I understand San Fransisco has decided it no longer wants the freeway that
blocks the view of the bay, and makes it too easy for people to drive into
the city instead of taking BART, so they will TAKE IT DOWN!!! I have never
heard of someone taking a freeway DOWN!! They will replace it with a large,
multilaned landscaped boulevard, making the docks and bay less cut off from
the downtown.

3- The City of Los Angeles and the US Army Corps of Engineers has decided to
put the Los Angeles River BACK!! As most of you know, California "rivers"
have become concrete "flood control" channels, and have lost all possibility
of remaining havens for wildlife that they once were. But the Corps has come
to the conclusion that we can "have our cake and eat it" since they think the
new plan will actually help even more than the current concrete channels
which all funnell all the water immediately towards the ocean at exactly the
same time, instead of slowing it and letting some sink into the ground.
Bike trails, native plants and wildflowers will be introduced to the river
bed. Some concrete will be broken up and left in place, and much will be
recycled, as aggregate is the next big recycling wave as gravel is in
increasingly short supply locally.

4-After hearing the above, my friend said "Well they are DISMANTLING A DAM in
the Pacific Northwest that is no longer considered necessary" And salmon
will benefit greatly. Now I have not yet heard of this---taking
a dam apart!

POINT IS, it is not a hopeless battle, and there are major accomplishments
and a rethinking of what is "best" in some very unusual quarters. Someone
e-mailed me recently on my "crusade" to end virgin paper subsidies
questioning whether it is worth putting much effort into, to which I reply:
the portion of subsidies going DIRECTLY to paper and paperboard is $580
million per year federally, and $23 million a year in Califonia only. The
last time I looked, paper is the biggest component of household waste.
Staples office supply stores now carry 100% recycled paper made only from
newspapers and magazines (my "manifesto" was written on it at conference).
Now what if Clinton were to say: "We are going to launch a $6 BILLION dollar
effort to stimulate paper mills to convert to making recycled paper for ten
years at $600 million per year" WE CAN DO THIS NOW AT NO COST TO THE US
yet, phase out the subsidy by 10% per year until no more exists in 2007, and
give one-half of this to the mills using wastepaper. This way, we get
deficit reduction of $300 million per year, and a $300 million per year
stimulus to conversion of mills to accomodate more recycled paper. Or give
it to curbside programs that take mixed waste paper in the form of a
"processing fee" to make it more economical for them to take it.

BOTTOM LINE: MUCH progress to be proud of, MUCH work to be done. Let's not
defeat ourselves before we even start.