The home bike mechanic’s toolbox
Welcome to The Portland Outsider, the new free quarterly magazine that’s all about homesteading, health, and the urban outdoors. It’s for the bike commuter who raises chickens, the bird watcher who cans tomatoes, the gardener who’s training for a 5k. It’s a magazine for those striving for the sustainable urban lifestyle. It’s about Portlanders sharing ideas and strategies with Portlanders. It’s about helping you live a more self sufficient, healthier and more engaged life. You can find copies all over town. Take a look and tell us what you think.
IT’S ALWAYS HELPFUL to understand the other side’s point of view. When it comes to critics of environmentalism it can be hard to put yourself in their shoes. Critics of carbon-emission limits argue that kind of regulation can’t exist alongside a thriving economy. Honestly, when faced with the devastation of climate change, economic growth drops on my list of priorities. It’s not that I don’t understand the point—prosperity has its place—but it seems awfully myopic.
But there is an interesting shift afoot in the environmental and scientific community that attempts to quantify the benefits of a clean environment, to put it in economic terms. One of the biggest efforts is being undertaken by the Nature Conservancy and its new leader, former Goldman Sachs partner Mark Tercek. The group, most widely known for buying up land and protecting it, is now reaching out to polluters and showing them the economic benefits of cleaning up their ways and helping them implement new equipment and update procedures. It’s an interesting and—among old school conservationists—controversial move.
Along the same lines, a new study has given firm footing to argue for the economic benefit of trees, and an urban forest like Forest Park especially. In the journal Environmental Pollution, forester Dave Nowak and his team reported that trees prevented 850 deaths and 670,000 acute respiratory problems in the United States in 2010. They removed a whopping 17 tons of pollution that year. Furthermore, per-tree pollution removal is highest in urban areas, where population and pollution is higher.
Factoring in health and other environmental benefits, Nowak and his team put the total monetary value of U.S. trees at $86 billion per year.
Put that in your exhaust pipe and smoke it!
I have a tendency toward despair when it comes to the fate of our environment. Sometimes I simply can’t look at another headline about global warming. I find the effort to put environmental benefits into economic terms a positive. We obviously need to speak the language of detractors. And while some of us might see an inherent value in trees outside their raw benefit to people, it’s nice to have a common language to speak with opponents.
Editor & Publisher
The Portland Outsider