Hype or Heart?
Environmentalism is hot. Here’s to those who practice what they preach.
Our planet is somewhere around 5 billion years old. The simplest organisms—the algae we’re descended from—arose here about 4 billion years ago under a confluence of circumstances that, arguably, may be unique in all of time and space. If the earth’s orbit varied by just a few miles, for instance, there would be no life.
We hominids have existed for only 8 million years, and we inhabit a range of less than 10,000 feet on a paper-thin crust of rock in a wisp of vapors. That’s a hair’s breadth of protection between the heat of earth’s core and the cold of space.
Our life is a miracle—and a fragile one at that.
Hence this issue. We applaud the local businesses and individuals who are working passionately to make Delaware a healthier, more pleasant, more beautiful place to live. We thought you should know about them, as well as some of our biggest pollution problems and efforts to correct them. Scattered throughout these pages, you’ll find many suggestions of painless lifestyle changes that will help.
At Delaware Today, we, too, are working to reduce our environmental impact. Every issue is printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. And unlike 95 percent of all magazines, our paper contains some post-consumer content. None of the raw materials originates in old-growth forests or rainforests.
In order to reduce the impact of milling, our paper supplier, NewPage Corporation, uses the organic byproducts of pulping to supply 60 percent of its power. That is considered a climate-neutral practice. A perfect process? No. But it’s a start.
Delaware Today has never devoted an entire issue to one subject, but we feel strongly that lower-impact living simply makes sense. We’re not here to preach. We’re not here to debate ethics or moral issues. We won’t pick apart the implementation of wind power, for instance, because we see the wisdom of it and other alternative energy sources. We simply hope to point the way for those who are interested.
We start from a truth that seems to be self-evident: The health of the planet is essential to human health. Protecting it simply makes sense.
A Glossary for Greenhorns
Green: Characterized by a concern for the environment. Also a description of efforts to reduce our carbon footprints.
Carbon footprint: A measure of environmental impact in units of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of, among other things, burning fossil fuels.
Greenhouse gas: Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere, thus trapping heat. They include carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons—even water vapor.
Fossil fuels: Oil, coal and natural gases, which result from the decay of ancient plant and animal matter. Burning such non-renewable fuels is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Non-renewable: When it's gone, it’s gone. Think fossil fuels.
Carbon offsets: Reduction of carbon emissions via alternative sources of energy, such as solar or wind, and by practices that convert carbon dioxide, such as reforestation.
Carbon credits: Tradable shares in an investment fund for schemes to reduce carbon emissions and for employing sustainable practices.
Sustainable: A way of managing ecological support systems and climate that is consistent and healthy over time. A movement in forestry, agriculture and energy.
Organic food, natural food: Certified organic food meets the standards of the National Organic Standards Board. It can’t be produced with synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, antibiotics or growth hormones, nor can it be genetically engineered or irradiated. “Natural” is a food industry term that means food has been minimally processed and is free of preservatives.
LEED certification: The U.S. Green Building Council rewards buildings for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, meaning buildings have a low environmental impact.