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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

A Deep, Abiding "Green"

By Susan Bush
07:24AM / Friday, March 30, 2007

Green: More than a color [Photo by Sue Bush]
Commentary

There were a few raised eyebrows at the Country Home magazine designation of Pittsfield as a Top 25 Green City in the country. The letters "GE" and "PCB" were floated about in some conversations.

In a telephone interview with the magazine's Managing Editor Grant Fairchild, iberkshires learned that the magazine conducted its' search for green communities without "pre-conceived notions" and with the help of a group known as "Sperling's Best." The idea of being named a "green community" in a national magazine was well-received, Fairchild said, and he noted that the magazine had received much publicity for its' first-ever green 'zine.

And there are many facets of Pittsfield that do support a green community life-style, which was the point of the article. The city does host state park and forest land, the Center for Ecological Technology is sited there, and Mayor James Ruberto's ownership of a Prius and the city's strong interest in becoming a bicycle-friendly community tell the tale of a growing social consciousness, a stewardship.

Perhaps, a lesson learned.

Always Greener On The Other Side

The Berkshire region is rich with green endeavors and entities; there are rural lands foundations, community groups, environmental groups, sanctuaries for birds and butterflies, a 10-mile bicycle trail, and bicycle trail advocates.

The grass-roots is definitely greener in the Berkshires.

A Paler Shade of Green

And yet the state, the region, and communities are facing environmental challenge, as described in a 2006 State of the Environment report researched and assembled by the Environmental League of Massachusetts.

The opening pages of the report share the findings in a simple but precise language "The sky isn't falling. But it's getting warmer. There are still open fields and wetlands in Massachusetts. Just fewer than before. We're recycling more of our trash. But we're generating even more of it."

Hmmmm....to quote my favorite frog, "It's not easy being green."

Of the 20 indicators examined for the report, three of them - drinking water quality, ground-level ozone and air quality, and green buildings - were assigned a "good" rating.

Locally, green buildings are a source of pride and include places such as the North Adams Public Library and the Williamstown Elementary School. These are two excellent examples of a green approach to bricks and mortar; the school was built new from the ground up and the library was a massive rehabilitation project. Green, as we see, is versatile.

A "toxics" category generated a "fair" rating from the ELM, as did a "hazardous waste sites" a "water quantity" component and a "wetlands" category. And evaluations of arenas including mercury, environmental justice, land conservation,surface water quality water safety at beaches and greenhouse gas emissions all resulted in a "poor" rating.

It All Ties Together

So many environmental/ecological issues are caused or affected by global warming. My advice to those who remain adamant that "global warming" is a myth: Give it up. Global warming is not a clever term for a made-up phenomenon. Get those hard heads out of the sand before those exposed skyward-pointing butts deliver a good lesson the tough way.

The report explained its' premise quite clearly: "These indicators are grouped according to whether they relate principally to the environment and public health, the environment as it affects the state's economy, the environment as an aspect of our quality of life or the environment as reflected in the health of natural systems.

The report does provide charts and text that describe measures that could generate turnaround. Some of the steps are very much community-rooted, others require state actions and a significant number call for change at the federal level.

To quote Rachel Payne during an interview about her publicly presented global warming initiative,"We know it won't come from President Bush."

But the changes do have to come from somewhere. And according to the ELM report authors, [a pretty impressive list of 'who's who' in the arena of environmental expertise], "reversing the decline in our environment is possible."

We Know

Wa--a--a-y down deep inside, we all know that the Earth is changing, that we are the culprits, and that the planet we hand to our grandchildren will not be peppered with clear lakes, clear skies, or clear air unless we take some immediate action. We know we need to walk more and drive less. We know we need to put a much greater effort into recycling, regardless of cost. For reasons too numerous to list, we know we must generate a significant switch from fossil fuels to other fuels and energy sources, regardless of what happens to Exxon Mobil's bottom line.

I mean really, what's the gas pump done for you lately?

When we fail to initiate environmental safeguards and protections, we ARE putting a price tag on future generations.

And we are selling them pretty cheap.

So rather than snicker and snipe when a national magazine lists one of our local Berkshire communities as a "green living" area, embrace it. Build on it. Take the damn green ball and run with it.

The planet you save may be your own.
Your Comments
Post Comment
So Andrew, what are your other investments? Big Tobacco?
from: J.D.on: 03-30 00:00:00-2007

Great journalism. I too was curious about how Pittsfield earned this honor, and now I know. A pleasure to read. Thank you!
from: wendyon: 03-30 00:00:00-2007

for those who do not believ global warming is a myth, do your research... dont believe what gore and the rest of his buddies tell you without doing the research for both sides.
from: andrewon: 03-30 00:00:00-2007

Excellent writing, excellent subject
from: Philon: 03-30 00:00:00-2007


 
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