Thursday, May 29, 2008

L.A. Is A Green City

Relatively speaking, that is.
A recent study ranking Los Angeles as the second-greenest city in the U.S. comes across as counter-intuitive to the average Angeleno who breathes its world-famous smog on a daily basis. What of the smell, the coughs, the stingy eyes, the recurrent health warnings?

Yet, according to the study, which comes from reputed think thank The Brookings Institution, "the Los Angeles metropolitan area emits less planet-warming carbon per capita than any big city except Honolulu, at least by some criteria," the LAT reports. Heck, we're even greener than those New Yorkers who revel in dismissing our polluted sprawl. But let's not get too cocky here. As the LAT notes, the study omits key criteria, including emissions from industries, commercial buildings and local roads, out-of-county commutes, and the fact that half the city's electricity comes from coal plants. Oops.

"The data is fuzzy," admits a Brookings representative. So what's the point? Political timing, says the LAT: "Next week, the U.S. Senate is expected to take up legislation to limit carbon emissions nationwide. Its provisions are highly controversial, and Brookings wants aggressive measures to encourage climate-friendly cities," thus turning California into a poster child for "overall carbon-saving plans, including a stringent state building code and strict utility pricing rules for energy conservation."

That a city like L.A. could even be ranked "second greenest" shows how far behind the U.S. is in terms of environmental protection. Therein lies one key merit of Brookings' "fuzzy" study.
photo via Google Images/