New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Porthole to the Future

November 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

New Ships Aim Toward Brighter Horizons

by Jan Lundberg

The young man sat on the pebbly beach, looked out over shades of turquoise framed by pine-studded points of sunlit land, and said to himself, “This is the place to be.”

The next minute he noticed around him a couple of cigaret butts and bits of degraded plastic, and wondered aloud, “How can anyone harm nature?”  Then in a matter of seconds he questioned who the hell he was to point a finger at any polluters, when he had taken a jet plane and used a car to get to this almost unspoiled spot.  It was great to be in the Aegean instead of back in the States, but what was the worth of running around the globe trying to spice things up for a more meaningful life? (more…)

Ending Bikelash

June 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Support for Bicycling Surges Nationwide

by Jay Walljasper

Former New York mayor Ed Koch envisioned bicycles as vehicles for the future. In 1980, he created experimental bike lanes on 6th Green lane picand 7th avenues in Manhattan where riders were protected from speeding traffic by asphalt barriers. It was unlike anything most Americans had ever seen, and some people roared their disapproval. Within weeks, the bike lanes were gone.

Twenty-seven years later, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan saw the growing ranks of bicyclists on the streets as a key component of 21st-century transportation, and began building protected bike lanes in Manhattan and Brooklyn. They had studied the success of similar projects in Copenhagen and the Netherlands, noting how to make projects more efficient and aesthetically pleasing. (more…)

Walking Revolution

April 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

A Path to Health and Wellbeing Is Right Under Our Feet

by Jay Walljasper

The next big healthcare breakthrough — which could cut rates of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s by at least 40 percent and save Americans $100 billion a year — comes from a place you’d least expect. On your block. At the park. Everywhere.

So what’s this amazing treatment, which also happens to be easy, enjoyable and virtually free? It’s as simple as taking a walk.

“Walking is like medicine for my patients,” says Dr. Bob Sallis — a Kaiser Permanente family practitioner from Fontana, California—describing the connection between how much time his patients spend walking and their overall health. “If walking was a pill or surgical procedure, it would be on 60 Minutes.”

“Being physically active is one of the most important things people of all ages can do for their health,” explains Joan Dorn of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She notes that walking ranks #1 as Americans’ favorite physical activity, and that doing it for as little as 30 minutes is one way to achieve significant health benefits. (more…)

Bike Commuting

April 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

One of the Best Ways to Stay Healthy…

by Jay Walljasper

It’s always a pleasure when scientific studies confirm your own long-held opinions, especially when what you think flies in the face of all conventional wisdom.

For instance, who knew that chocolate éclairs and triple fudge caramel brownies actually contain fewer calories than a 12-ounce glass of skim milk? Or that every $1,000 you spend on lavish vacations before the age of 65 will, over the long run, provide you with more retirement income than if you’d stashed that same $1,000 in a 401k?

Well, to be honest, I made up the fact about the éclairs. And the one about vacations, too.

But here’s bona fide scholarly research that excites me in the same way: Biking for transportation appears more helpful in losing weight and promoting health than working out at the gym. (more…)

Lethal Artificial Surfaces

February 07, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

Countering a Pervasive, Abominable Disgrace

by Jan Lundberg

The artificial environment hasn’t yet been questioned by environmentalists. They accept it pretty much as is — they and it are wedded to the notions of progress, science, and “Better living through chemistry” (Dupont’s old slogan appropriated by acid-head Imagehippies). When a grassroots wing of the environmental movement went after road building and pavement (tarmac) two decades ago, it was quite fringy for mainstream enviros. Then when we went after plastics a decade ago, this too was considered “out there,” and kept low on the list of concerns for the average campaigner.

Fortunately, both plastics and endless road building — and even depaving — are by now familiar issues that are at least visible. However, they address the uncomfortable and almost taboo problem of lifestyle. Cars, the petroleum infrastructure (e.g., plastics and lubricants in vast quantities) and economic growth have not been fully challenged by environmentalists. Western Civilization is based on never-ending expansion — at best a questionable idea — yet, some of our finest minds such as NASA’s James Hansen uphold the legacy of civilization as the main reason to stop sea-level rise. (more…)

Put It Behind Us

December 31, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

New Year’s Resolutions for a More Simplified and Peaceful Life

by Jan Lundberg

To put behind us the “con$umerist relationship” that we have with nature, we can do something new that may be radically traditional. Judge for yourself whether if done widely, it might inspire to move us faster toward a paradigm of actual sustainability. Maybe it’s something like this new set of alternative New Year’s resolutions. Some of them happen to be gift options too. Let the fun and peaceful rebellion begin, starting with a solstice party.

Humans did evolve by spending many a millennium in “the Garden” — pre-civilized living without the antithesis of nature, i.e., the city. It is obvious we now need to bring back our intimate relationship with the Earth before it is too late. It this all sounds too familiar or boring, what about being a little subversive, eh? It’s simple: (more…)

Bicycling Means Business

November 13, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Cities Discover Good Biking Attracts Jobs and Talent

by Jay Walljasper

“Biking is definitely part of our strategy to attract and retain businesses in order to compete in a mobile world,” says Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak as we pedal across the Mississippi river on a bike-and-pedestrian bridge. “We want young talent to come here and stay. And good biking is one of the least expensive ways to send that message.”

“I was having dinner with a creative director that a local firm was eager to hire for a key post,” Rybak adds.  “He was an American living in Europe, and we spent most of the evening talking about the importance of biking and walking to the life of a city. He took the job.”

Minneapolis has invested heavily in biking — creating a network of off-street trails criss-crossing the city, adding 180 miles of bike lanes to city streets, launching one of the country’s first bikeshare programs, and creating protected lanes to separate people on bikes from motor traffic — which is why it lands near the top of lists ranking America’s best bike cities.

“We moved from the suburbs to downtown Minneapolis to allow our employees to take advantage of the area’s many trails and to put the office in a more convenient location for commuting by pedal or foot,” explained Christine Fruechte, CEO of large advertising firm Colle + McVoy, in a newspaper op-ed. “Our employees are healthier, happier and more productive. We are attracting some of the best talents in the industry.” (more…)