Green Politics: Politicizing Science

The Feb. 21 2012 Rutgers Environmental Stewards‘ lecture on “The Limits of Science” was given by Dr. Jan Zientek from Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

It was utterly, completely fascinating. We discussed what science is, what it isn’t, how it is defined by scientists and how it gets used by politicians and everyone else on the way to becoming environmental policy.

Here are his 2010 lecture slides. I’ll update them once this week’s 2012 lecture slides are posted.

With these new ideas in my head, I was especially interested in this news piece about the uncomfortable position faced by Republican climate scientists. Rock, meet hard place.

Via Insideclimatenews, by way of EnviropoliticsBlog:

Republicans don’t want to hear from scientists on climate

Inside Climate News reports today that a number of prominent U.S. climate scientists who identify themselves as Republican say their attempts in recent years to educate the GOP leadership on the scientific evidence of man-made climate change have been futile. Now, many have given up trying and the few who continue notice very little change after speaking with politicians and their aides.

In my opinion, just because you stop listening to the truth, doesn’t stop it from being true.

Green Business: The Tiger or the Toilet Paper

Everyone poops. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about toilet paper. Specifically, 100% recycled toilet paper.

Three TP posts came across my desk this morning:

1. From Treehugger.com, a new WWF report on how U.S. consumer buying decisions are reducing habitat for critically endangered Indonesian tigers.  Read it.

2. Find out about Moka, a new 100% post-consumer non-bleached toilet paper that speaks to the forward-looking “dark green” consumer who thinks that “Beige is the New Green.”  Plus, the WSJ’s take on the trend.

3.Via EnvironmentalLeader.com major retailers including Kmart and Krogers are dropping products that originate from the tigers’ habitat.  WWF is urging retailers to monitor and audit their supply chains from forest to tree to pulp to paper…and onto supermarket shelves.

(Before we go any farther, let me be clear. I’m all for toilet paper. Just better toilet paper.)

We all know that non-recycled paper comes from trees. A lot of trees. We’ve gotten comfortable with recycled paper products like copy paper and grocery bags. But toilet paper? Now you’re getting personal.

Exactly. It’s personal, in the best sense of backing up our values with our dollars. That’s the ideal. Here in the the real post-recession world, purchasing decisions are also made on whether an item is easy, cheap and good. So let’s take a look.

Easy? Yes. One hundred percent recycled toilet paper is readily available from leading brands like Marcal at Wal-Mart, all major supermarkets, Staples and bulk shopping clubs.

Cheap? A fellow traveler did the math. She argues heavily for the less-is-more strategy, but even if you are a profligate TP-er, the difference in price does not rise to the level of break the bank.

Good? This one comes down to personal preference. We all have our bottom-lines but new 100% recycled products are light-years better than a decade ago. NRDC has a helpful chart to evaluate recycled paper choices.

Buying recycled toilet paper is not going to grow new tiger habitat overnight, but small actions by many add up. Go buy it.

And if you told your kids that it’s between stripey tigers or snowy-white TP, I’d bet on the tigers every time.