Friday, June 10, 2005


Fouling the Environment, One Yard at a Time

Sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference. Think lawnmowers and air pollution. A single lawnmower, according to a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, emits as much pollution in an hour as 50 cars driving 20 miles. There's a very effective fix available: requiring that such low-horsepower machines be fitted with a catalytic converter, which can reduce harmful emissions by 75 percent.

But once again, cozy relationships between government officials and industry magnates is preventing (or at least forestalling) progress. This time the person sacrificing our clean air for the sake of corporate profit -- didn't they used to call that graft and corruption? -- is Sen. Christopher Bond of Missouri, whose state is home (as you may have guessed) to two Briggs and Stratton plants.

So thanks to Bond, important and much-needed restrictions on air pollution will be delayed another six months while the government spends $650,000 for a study ("Lawnmower Smog Rule Delayed"). Funny, that's been exactly the tactic taken by the Bush administration regarding greenhouse gas emissions in general: Call for "study" after "study," and avoid doing anything helpful for the environment. In the meantime, if you have a yard, you might try doing what I do: Use an electric mower (with no emissions at all). Better yet, but not exactly easy, is to use a hand-powered mower -- while turning up the pressure on elected officials to change policies that effect us all.

All yards should be turned grass-free -- then we wouldn't need lawnmowers, with all their pollutants, nor would we need to water them. (Let alone all the chemicals that so many suburbanites pour into their watersheds, in the form of insecticides, pesticides, fertilizer, etc.)

(Note: This comment was mainly a test to see if the response mechanism works.)
Electric Mowers are not emission free. It is just that the emission is at the power plant rather than the machine itself
That's true. A small step in that regard: Our local power company offers the opportunity to purchase wind-generated power. It's more expensive -- currently over 9 cents per kwh, but there's no emissions. Obviously, that's largely symbolic at this stage, but when and if more and more people do it, shifts can be made to such clean power sources at the macro level.
I love my grass-free garden! It was also designed to be more colorful and visually interesting than a lawn. We live in the desert and it uses little water. How many people really enjoy sheperding that lawn mower around anyway???
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