Turning down the A/C

I was in Washington DC recently and will be there again soon. It's a wonderful city. There's much talk about the subjects I care about, excellent ethnic food, and people are remarkably friendly: everywhere I went I got into conversation with someone, even in the reception area at the Brookings Institute. But it is a city of air-conditioning. In the Berkshires, where I live, only stores and restaurants and new mansions have A/C. Why, I wonder, do people want to live in buildings colder in the summer than in the [...]

July 31st, 2006|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Hang your clothes out (or in) to dry

The energy crisis has become such a prominent subject in our house that I've had to ask that it not be brought up at meals--though this evening Tom did start talking about it over dessert (a cream cheese tart, by the way, topped with white currants from our garden and black raspberries from Taft Farms). Tom often makes me think afresh. "If you think about it, oil is a kind of soil. So we're pumping another country's soil into our cars." He said that China was well aware of the [...]

July 8th, 2006|Categories: Oddments|Tags: |

First jobs of spring

Two important things accomplished today: Two garden beds prepped and planted--thanks to Tom and Rachel, who have taken to lecturing me on global warming and the wastefulness of grainfed meat--with Asian salad and stir-fry greensand a mix of early radishes,* arugula, and some chicory seed we brought from Italy two years ago. I highly recommend all these things for ease, and taste. If you're new to gardening, there are few simpler things that to sprinkle seeds like these across a bed, rake in lightly, and leave to grow. We could [...]

April 1st, 2006|Categories: Oddments|Tags: , , |

Cooling the planet

I've neglected this site--though I'm blogging away at Berkshire Publishing--but that's going to change soon. We're in the process of setting up a larger, interactive site related to my next environmental book, which is going to focus on cooling the planet. I'll be looking for contributing writers and regional experts in different parts of the world, so if you come across this and are interested in participating, please drop me a note.

January 5th, 2006|Categories: Oddments|Tags: |

Will we join them? Or will they join us?

While I'm feeling guilty about air travel, I guess the oil companies are feeling twinges of guilt, too. At least that's what you would think, at the airport or reading the major financial papers. Chevron, Shell, and BP (British Petroleum) are all engaged in 'peak oil' PR, and it's simply amazing to see. Greenwashing, according to critics at, but it seems to me that if oil companies are splashing statistics across the walls of airports the situation is grave enough that lots of people can be persuaded that we [...]

October 18th, 2005|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Traveling light

I do a lot of traveling, more than ever before, and I'm increasingly conscious of the impact of our excessive mobility is. I'm not sure just what to do about it, but there are certainly a few days we can do immediately. First, we should wake up to the impact of trips by car and especially aeroplane, and we should not make them carelessly, or just because it's what everyone else does (fly to Florida in March). How many times have you heard people say, "I needed a vacation from [...]

October 9th, 2005|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |