In 1989, New York had one of the better recycling programs in the country. In 2002, in a woefully backward-thinking move, Bloomberg cancelled glass and plastic recycling in order to balance the books. He partially reinstated recycling in 2003, but the nascent eco-friendly habits of New Yorkers sustained heavy damages. More recently, Bloomberg has vowed to veto an electronic recycling bill passed by the city council over concerns it places a financial burden on businesses. Electronic waste currently contributes 40% of the lead in our environment, alongside other seriously toxic and carcinogenic substances. The bill has been redrawn, with penalties intact for consumers but not for the companies that profit from e-waste.
They really do bring good things to life. Between 1947 and 1977, GE dumped 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River (to refresh, PCBs cause thyroid disease, cognitive and immune system disorders). The rate of contamination remains so high in the Hudson that fish caught there are virtually inedible. GE has had big problems with nearly all the solutions the EPA has come up with and has fought every step of the way. Now, 31 years after they stopped dumping their toxins, we are only in the design stages of Phase 1.
Besides the noise and air pollution, and the inevitable terrestrial pollution from sloshing gas at jet fueling stations, also directs all its chemical runoffs into Jamaica Bay, a National Wildlife Refuge. Currently the Department of Environmental Conservation is attempting to work with them regarding the highly toxic anti-freeze they employ. Good luck.
One is more than enough. Seriously. One child is more than you — or any of us — need. There are waaay too many people around here as it is. Especially the kid-sized kinds of people who play with plastic crap and become expert little consumers by age six. (A single American consumes 32 times the resources of someone living in the Third World.) So if you insist on having a little biped of your own to dress up and play old Pavement records to, the least you could do is adopt.
Dear New Yorker who supports idling, double-parked, bike-hitting trucks by forking over money for the luxury of not having to take time out of your very important day to walk to the market to buy food: Why don’t we just float boxes of produce down the street on rivers of oil?
It’s fine to cash in on the healthy, wholesome food movement, but it might be nice to do without giving drinks a “boost” of the known carcinogen Styrene by using only Styrofoam cups (which damages the human reproductive system, among other things). Oh, and Styrofoam still doesn’t biodegrade.
BRUCE RATNER & FRANK GEHRY
Yeah, Atlantic Yards again. But, consider: the thousands of idling engines clogging up Atlantic Avenue every rush hour as a result of the area’s increased population density, and the fact that no one pushing for the project has bothered to advocate for improved mass transit infrastructure at the already overtaxed Atlantic Center subway and railway stop. And partly it’s a sin of omission: this is the biggest and most visible new development in NYC in who knows how long — it coulda been an unrivaled opportunity to show how far urban planning has come in terms of awareness of issues of sustainability and environmental responsibility… turns out, not so much. Ratner, of course, is just doing what ungodly wealthy developers do, but what’s Gehry’s excuse? Could it be that the world’s most famous living architect is so desperate to make his mark in NYC that he’s willing to abandon his profession’s tradition of forward thinking for the sake of a slanty skyscraper?
While green developer Durst is to be lauded for bringing environmentally responsible architecture into the mainstream via his Conde Nast Building, he has failed to understand that green development means city development. Mr. Durst has been pegged to build a 1,000-unit subdivision in Dutchess County (two hours north of the city) that would essentially double the size of the existing town and usher in the full-scale suburbanization of the Hudson Valley. No amount of recycled materials and low-energy streetlights can balance the impact of adding thousands of commuters to an already disastrously car-centric approach to living. The suburbs aren’t sustainable — let’s not build more.
Do you remember the Exxon Valdez, the Alaskan oil spill with all the pictures of cuddly river otters covered with petroleum? Well, ExxonMobil has outdone itself with an environmental disaster in Brooklyn that’s three times larger, by some estimates. The E.P.A. reports that between 17 and 30 million gallons of “oil and oil products” are oozing underneath Greenpoint and Newtown Creek. The oil giant is defending itself against at least three lawsuits, but none of them have gone to trial. Its case in the court of public opinion is also moving slowly. With the company’s record profits, ExxonMobil has largely escaped corporate media scrutiny. To which we say, “booo” and “hiss.”