Environmentalism is an important topic, not just during Earth Month — celebrated on April 22nd — but any day of the year. When the subject is how to take care of the planet, there are many strategies — and controversies — about how it should be done, and whether it should be done at the expense of more human and economic concerns. Whether you’re facing a debate about the costs and benefits of recycling, or a paper on the benefits of renewable, green energy, it’s important to get the facts about environmental solutions. Does carbon emissions trading really have an impact on air pollution? What are the best ways to make strides with energy efficiency and energy conservation? And just what is sustainable development? In honor of April’s Earth Month, we at Questia are sharing five environmental resources for free reading, so you can get the most current information on top solutions in the environmental field.
Planning for Sustainability: Creating Livable, Equitable, and Ecological Communities by Stephen M. Wheeler
In this book, published in 2004, Wheeler argues that existing patterns of urbanization are unsustainable in the long run. Current development practices consume enormous amounts of land and resources, damage local ecosystems, produce pollutants, create huge inequalities between groups of people, and undermine local community and quality of life. Unfortunately, planning has itself led to many unsustainable development practices. Planning for Sustainability presents a straightforward, systematic analysis of how more sustainable cities and towns can be brought about. It does so in a highly readable manner that considers in turn each scale of planning: international, national, regional, municipal, neighborhood, site and building. In the process it illustrates how sustainability initiatives at these different levels interrelate and how an overall framework can be developed for more livable communities.
In this November 2012 article, published in the Vanderbilt Law Review, Outka outlines the too-slow transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, particularly in the United States. The author posits that the current legal system in the United States supports the continued use of fossil fuels, and explains how the relationship between renewable energy and law has long been contradictory and confusing. To clarify the issue, Outka breaks down law barriers into two basic categories: efforts to keep new laws that would support renewable energy from being passed and existing law that supports the pre-renewable energy era; Outka then focuses on the latter, concluding that this outdated energy policy has outlived its usefulness.
Revisiting Recyling by Janna Palliser
This November 2011 article from Science Scope breaks down the process of recycling, featuring data on the steps that go into recycling, data about what Americans throw away, and the benefits that come with recycling. Writing for everyday citizens rather than scientists, Palliser emphasizes the benefits of curbside recycling programs, and looks at community laws in places such as Nantucket and San Francisco that have reduced landfill waste in dramatic ways. Reuse of items and composting as additional ways to reduce landfill waste are also discussed.
Analyzing Carbon Emissions Trading: A Potential Cost Efficient Mechanism to Reduce Carbon Emissions by: Jonathan Donehower
As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, interest in emissions trading programs has also spiked. In his winter 2008 Environmental Law article, Donehower discusses the Kyoto Protocol’s flexible mechanism of carbon emissions trading, and considers whether these are an environmentally effective and cost-efficient way to reduce greenhouse gasses. The Kyoto Protocol mandated a reduction in carbon emissions that would be expensive for most nations to meet; he discusses the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme and the Chicago Climate Exchange as examples of how carbon emission trading might be able to reduce some of the costs associated with the pre-2012 Kyoto Protocol guidelines.
This 2012 article from the Vanderbilt Law Review is also concerned with cutting down greenhouse gas emissions, but focuses on reducing energy demand. Sachs argues that the most efficient way to reduce the use of energy is to create technologies that are more energy efficient. He recommends promoting the creation of such technology through legal means, such as energy taxes, tax credits for efficient appliances, increased research and development from the government, and direct energy regulation. Though the last is the most intrusive, and denies consumer choices, Sachs argues that it is the most effective, and that the regulation strategy is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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