With back-to-school-sales in full zenith, you know that Terrible Traffic Tuesday can’t be far away.
Not familiar with Terrible Traffic Tuesday? In urban areas like Washington, DC where I live, that’s what AAA calls the Tuesday after Labor Day. With people on vacation and the kids out of school, the summer months lull commuters and suburbanites into thinking that maybe traffic really isn’t that bad after all; maybe roadways are actually getting less crowded. Guess again.
Then comes Terrible Traffic Tuesday, when everyone is finally back at work and the kids are back in school. That’s when we realize that, if anything, the roads are even more congested than they were last year on Terrible Traffic Tuesday. That’s when we should also stop and think for a minute about the high costs — economic, environmental and diminished quality of life — of the car-based culture we’ve created for ourselves here in the U.S. and could just as well chose to change.
With the average car now costing close to $9,000 per year to own and operate, the average American is spending more than one day every week just to earn the money to pay of that car, which is primarily used to get to and from their job…which they need…to pay for their car. The average American commutes about sixteen miles each way to his/her job, and in the process in urban areas spends more than forty hours every year sitting absolutely motionless in traffic (Upside: Plenty of quality time to think about all of this).
If you lived close enough to your job to walk to work and used your car only for non-commuting purposes, over the course of a forty-year career you could take what you saved and have a nice little nest egg of more than $500,000 at retirement (including compounded interest at 5% annually).
Rather than just complaining about the horrendous traffic on Terrible Traffic Tuesday, let’s go the extra mile, so to speak, and start doing something about it. Here’s what you can do:
* Have your kids walk, bicycle, or at least take the bus to school. An estimated 30% of workday traffic is now generated by parents driving their children to/from school. Afraid of the risks? Don’t be: Read this recent article from the Chicago Tribune and go to this website to learn how to make walking to school the safe, healthy, eco-friendly activity it used to be here in the U.S.
* Remember that we need to build more — much more — reliable, practical, cost effective public transportation in the U.S. Go to this website and send a message to your elected officials to support a strong public transportation agenda.
In January of 2006, Americans were horrified to learn ABC’s World News Tonight anchorman Bob Woodruff suffered grave injuries from a roadside Iraqi bomb. His severe brain trauma forced doctors to put the award-winning journalist into a medically induced coma for a month; shrapnel was lodged in his face, neck and back, and his skull was shattered. No one could say whether the 44-year-old father of four would walk or talk again.
Three years earlier, another high-profile media personality (and Woodruff’s close pal), 39-year-old NBC news correspondent David Bloom, died from a pulmonary embolism during the initial Iraq invasion. Of course Bloom’s death was mourned, but by the time Woodruff was injured, Americans were decidedly mixed about being in Iraq and distressed over the thousands of wounded and dead soldiers. For many, Woodruff’s plight became personal. “He put a face on the injured,” Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told the New York Times, calling Woodruff “the most visible wounded person in this war.”
For months Woodruff defied expectations and fought his way back from extensive neuro-damage. A little over a year later, he was back on ABC News, reporting about his recovery and profiling soldiers with traumatic brain injuries. The only remnant of Woodruff’s multiple injuries is mild aphasia, occasional difficulty finding the appropriate word. But that hasn’t stopped the intrepid newsman from tackling the global climate change battle.
Besides continuing as an anchor for ABC News, last year Woodruff launched “Focus Earth,” a weekly series on the 24/7 eco network Planet Green. “I tried for so many years to do more stories on climate change,” Woodruff tells The Daily Green. “It hasn’t been an easy topic to get on the news, but now you’re seeing a huge outpouring of these stories.” The eco-warrior continues: “I covered wars for so many years, but what happened to me means I’m still doing the international reporting, which I’m addicted to, but just not in war zones. Now it’s environmental reporting.”
And this new beat hasn’t cramped Woodruff’s travel itinerary. When we talked, he’d just returned from Indonesia, where he covered a story about garbage dumping in the oceans and deforestation. Just this past year, he trekked to Kenya, the Galapagos Islands, the Arctic and all across the United States, including West Virginia’s coal country and his hometown Detroit. “Because of the Internet and media, we are now connected more closely than ever before,” Woodruff says.
The Daily Green: What would you consider the big eco stories right now?
Bob Woodruff: The water issue, for sure. And deforestation. I just returned from Indonesia where we saw huge issues of this, and this leads to more endangered species. Also over-fishing. I went up to Alaska not long ago and we could see actual changes in the fish population between Alaska and Russia. Russia is passing very close to our border because they have a shortage of fish in their waters. And everyone from scientists to the Coast Guard is seeing how temperature change in the ocean impacts sea life.
City Dirt is a brilliant urban gardening blog. The founder will be publishing the book A Little Piece of Earth this coming winter. Don’t wait to start planting some seeds now and have fun experimenting with growing food in small spaces. It is truly possible!
Posted: 2009-08-17 14:57:50Author:Lucille Chi
“Our homes embrace the principles of eco-friendliness and cost-effectiveness, without sacrificing beauty. We can ensure that each dwelling achieves a gold or platinum LEED rating, depending on the particular finishes, building systems, and site design an owner chooses.” ~ Michelle Kaufmann Designs
Each Glidehouse home is solar ready with other renewable energy system options possible such as geothermal, wind generator or hybrid systems. Designed for clean, simple living. The Glidehouse is built in a factory, using the most modern and environmentally friendly building methods and materials.
Some eco features of the Glidehouse include:
Posted: 2009-08-12 17:35:04Author:Lucille Chi