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Will the Real Green Please Stand Up?

We began writing our Green Article series for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that the issue of what is Green is complex and often confusing. So in the mail today arrives the latest, bright ORANGE issue of WIRED magazine claiming that everyting we know about Green is wrong! Thanks guys.

The truth is that they aren't really slaying the sacred cows, but pointing out the downside of some choices one makes when deciding what is green; every decision we make has a trade-off. The article takes the, admittedly controversial, viewpoint that reducing our carbon footprint is THE most important action for us to take. The points they make, however, each also include their own tradeoffs.

Let's take, for example, "A/C is OK". The implied conclusion to their point is that we should all move to the south/southwest where we don't have to heat our homes in the winter (those in the high desert might disagree!). Those of you who live in such an area know that the drought issue, which is historically speaking is not yet severe, is a huge problem. It raises the issue of measuring the carbon cost of piping all that water to the desert. While the article doesn't touch on that aspect, though I hope the author at least considered it.

Whether he did or not, the example shows in extremis that each choice we make has tradeoffs. They need to be carefully considered, based on the best available research at the time, before coming to a decision. We hope, though our series of Green articles, to help you make better decisions, or at the very least, point you to good, research-based sources of information to help you make better decisions. If you are interested in our series, please use the signup box on the right to subscribe.

(5/21 - edited to clarify sentence regarding the Southwest drought issue)

A/C is OK?

Jason, I agree with you that "green" choices all include trade-offs (what in life doesn't?). But I don't quite understand WIRED's vote for A/C (air conditioning?) being OK. Are they proposing that our move to the southwest would be best because even though we need to use A/C in the summer to survive, we save more energy and release less carbon into the atmosphere overall because we save so much by not needing heat in the winter?

Perhaps our modern world has evolved into a complex semi-artificial ecosystem that optimizes low near-term costs for survival and maximum convenience that are not so green. We've traded that off for global warming and a lot of long-term natural ecosystem threats that we are just beginning to understand. I have a strong feeling people are not so great at that trade-off.

I agree with WIRED's vote for

I agree with WIRED's vote for air conditioning being safe because air conditioning gives off less carbon dioxide than heat. This concludes that A/C is safer than heat. Also, nobody has to live in a cold climate. They can choose to live in a warm climate by living in an area that is warm at all times. Thanks, supreme buy

I also find the air

I also find the air conditioning thing a bit confusing. I lived in Vegas for 3 years, and I can tell you that the AC bill went way up in Summer, and all that energy must have carbon foot print ramificaionts.

also, it does get cold in the winter, and we did use the heater there. I recal the temps being in the 40's, and you need heat at that temp. I don't see how you can save money on gas and minimize foot print.

Because of all the artificial means of stabilizing the environment, it gets pretty costly and not the best use of resources....

thanks, Matt @ cheap books onine

It is necessary to use energy of the sun.

It is the most harmless energy. I have bought solar batteries, they completely provide with energy my laptop. A unique minus - it is expensive (. I live on Altai in mountains with an electricity here problems.

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