Going Green

April 22, 2009 12:46:10 PM PDT
I remember my first Earth Day. And I'm not embarrassed -- although perhaps I should be -- to say that I remember it mostly because of what I ate.

It wasn't the teach-ins on my college campus about overpopulation (that was a huge issue back in 1970), or chemical pollution of farmland, or air pollution. No, it was because this was my first experience with brown rice and vegetables.

Hadn't had it before, but it became a staple of my diet for years to come -- not because it tasted so great, although at times it could, but mostly because it was cheap.

We've come a long way in the 39 years since the first Earth Day. But alas only some of what's happened has been very good for the earth.

I know there are some people who poo-poo the notion that global warming -- oh, sorry, I mean "climate change" -- is real and that humans are responsible. I know one person who thinks that way, and he's an otherwise brilliant guy. But he just doesn't buy it.

My friend notwithstanding, most scientists are now firmly in the camp that we are indeed responsible for this global... er... climate change. What can we do about it? That's the big question.

Lessening our carbon footprint is one way. Taking public transportation instead of driving our cars. Recycling. Using less energy.

I'm a convert to solar energy; we put it on our home, and two of our neighbors are now installing it. But the young family next door isn't -- because, even with all the financial incentives -- from the utility company, the feds and the state -- installing solar still requires a hefty capital investment to get free electricity from the sun. And until some entity -- a utility or the government -- steps in and offers low-or-no-interest loans to people who don't have the initial investment, solar and geothermal and similar energy-smart methods will remain unaffordable to most people.

To his credit, Mayor Bloomberg has made a greener New York City one of his top priorities. Today he offered another initiative -- designed to make buildings energy efficient. Buildings, it turns out, account for 80% of New York's carbon emissions, and use $15 billion per year in energy.

There are some fascinating proposals -- and we'll explore them, and the rest of Earth Day, 2009, tonight at 11. We also invite you to submit your tips for going Green by CLICKING HERE.

Also at 11, why in the world would the FAA want to keep secret information on collisions between birds and airplanes? It's a question the NTSB and the Secretary of Transportation are also asking; in fact, Secretary Ray LaHood says he will overrule the FAA's plan to keep it all under wraps. The public, LaHood told The Washington Post, has a right to the information. Our investigative reporter Jim Hoffer has been looking into the increasing number of bird strikes -- especially relevant to us since birds flew into the engines of a U.S. Airways flight and forced it to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River.

The question remains: Why would the FAA oppose disclosure? Turns out some at the FAA believe that making the information public would discourage airlines from reporting bird strikes. Twisted logic, I know - but that was the FAA's thinking.

There was also a big Supreme Court ruling today - although it got little attention. The Court, with just a five-member majority, limiting the power of police to search someone's car after an arrest. It's a long-standing police practice, but the court today said these warrantless car searches would authorize "myriad unconstitutional searches."

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Jessica Taff (in for Scott Clark) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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