Saturday, January 2, 2010

A new day. A new year. A new decade.

Last week columnist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman dubbed the past decade the “Big Zero” and declined to bid it a fond farewell. Few would dispute that it was not the best decade. For many of us last year was not the best of years. But I look back at 2009 and note some hopeful signs.

We have a new president. His words are taken seriously by the citizens of the world.

On October 24, people in nearly 200 nations united to call for action on climate change in Copenhagen, the result of an amazing organizing effort by visionary Bill McKibben and his group The day’s activities made headlines around the globe, including the front page of the New York Times. No binding treaty was signed in Copenhagen in December, but our president and other world leaders came together to acknowledge the existence of global warming and to announce some dramatic steps to stem the rise of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, including establishment of a $100 billion climate fund to address the climate change needs of developing nations.

At home in the US, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act extended many consumer tax incentives originally introduced in 2005, including home energy efficiency improvement tax credits. And many, including my family, took advantage of them. We sealed leaks with rope caulk and installed two storm doors. Friends did windows. The credits last through the end of 2010, so adding insulation will probably be up next. I am hoping the makers of the very Green denim insulation will offer a choice with a higher R value.

All over the country people swapped incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents. Federal rules will be phasing out the incandescent energy hogs between 2012 and 2014, so why wait for the inevitable when we can all be saving energy? Even more efficient ways of home lighting may soon be in our future.

Even in the midst of this recession, in many ways life in the City of New Haven is looking up. With the help of Yale’s Urban Resources Initiative and the hard work of spirited volunteers, parks continued to be reclaimed, new ones continued to pop up, and trees were planted.

There were many breakthroughs on the transportation front. You can now walk or ride your bike all the way from downtown New Haven to Cheshire on the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail (over 14 miles). The bike racks on the city buses are being used with greater frequency. The zip car came to town. After decades of talk, commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield, MA (with connecting service to Bradley International Airport) has been included in the CT DOT Master Transportation Plan.

And single stream recycling should be instituted in all New Haven neighborhoods by the end of the Spring.

With so much good on the horizon, “Let’s all pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work”* in this new year.

I spent the first day of 2010 in the organizing mode — sorting, cleaning, getting ready. I made soup. My New Year’s resolution — to waste less and do more. I’ll keep you posted on how that does.

Happy new decade!

*President Barack Obama, Inaugural address, January 20, 2009


  1. It is important that we continue to carry messages of Hope. I want to thank you for sharing your vision. Let us work together in 2010!

  2. Thanks Elaine. I can't imagine how you could do more! Best, Cordalie