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Web Letter

In their piece--which sometimes drips with sarcasm, ("Eco-conscious families are turning up with two, three, many Priuses, so every member of the family can help save the planet.") Mander and Cavanagh launch into an attack on why buying new Prius' are ecologically terrible for the planet.

In a devestating critique of the Mander/Cavanagh piece, the Sierra Club destroys many of their arguments.

And what according to Mander and Cavanagh should people do for "greener" transportation needs? I quote: "In environmental terms, the best choice is not the new hybrid or any new car, but a good used car. Or no car at all." Say again? We should encourage people to drive gas-guzzling, air-polluting and global-warming-increasing used cars rather than other forms of transport, such as electric mass transit or bikes or even walkable cities? What kind of snake oil is this that these two are peddling?

Note also that the Mander/Cavanagh article claims to be concerned with economic inequality and want socially equitable programs in tandem with what they call "powering down" for sustainability. Yet how the debt reduction Mander and Cavanagh call for as a primary anti-poverty program will solve internal maldistribution of wealth and the poverty of nations is not known. Instead, this approach of downsizing the economy will very likely fall most heavily and severely on the working poor, the poor and, in this country, people of color and women.

Michael Givel

Norman, OK

Dec 15 2007 - 11:41am

Web Letter

As one of the founders of Cooler, I have to agree with most of what Mander and Cavanagh say in this piece. Shopping is not the the way out of the crisis. Shopping, as we do it now, is part of the crisis.

But trading goods for money has been part of existence for a long time. What Cooler does is start to repair the fabric of commerce by connecting the purchases you make to knowledge of and a solution for their negative impact on climate.

We actually do what this article celebrates, life-cycle analysis, on every purchase. Our tools are even better for localized consumption. Then companies pay to invest not in trees but renewable energy projects in the US that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, real-time, today. Finally, people who shop with Cooler and collaboration with activists like Jerry and John make it profitable for companies to reduce the global warming impact of the goods we buy everyday.

Given how slowly governments are reacting to the crisis, and given that consumer goods and services account for 40 percent of household greenhouse gas emissions, I think we need to do our best to shape the consumer marketplace for good and not abandon it to "pure" market forces. That's what is all about, and that's how shopping smarter can help solve the climate crisis.

Michel Gelobter

Richmond, CA

Sep 18 2007 - 11:32pm