Public ecological policy is less driven by science or need, in my opinion, than by political will and public perception. This has led to the rise of a new class of Pharisee, named by someone smarter than I the ‘political ecologist.’ Our local Politicologists, as I shall call them, have given us Built Green , a program whereby homes can be certified as ‘green’ based on the number of “sustainable” products used to construct the home. This in turn has begat the concept of the 4,900 square foot ‘green’ home (MORE sustainable products!) and even a luxurious subdivision of ‘Green’ mansions, torched by the Earth Liberation Front and then rebuilt–thereby using even more building products. Brilliant. Not too long ago there was an effusive article in the local paper about a
couple who tore down their 1930’s bungalow and built an ‘eco-modern’ home in its place, because they wanted to live more ‘Green.’ Just FYI: the old-growth trees used to build the bungalow were already dead. Using ‘eco-products’ to build the new home just created empty shelf space at the lumber yard that will need to be filled with more building products. When I built my own home, the contractor asked me if I wanted it certified Built-Green or LEED; I told him I wasn’t going to market it, I was going to live in it; that to me, ‘sustainability’ means the long-term costs of living there be as low as possible. Neither Built-Green nor LEED ratings account for the sustainability impact of product replacement schedules or operational cost of home ownership. Instead of building a rigorously- and expensively sourced and certified ‘Eco’ home, I have a rigorously- and just slightly more expensively (well offset by many affordable choices in fixture and finish) constructed ‘sustainable’ home: one that will have a greatly lessened need for product replacement over its life, and one with drastically reduced lifetime energy and resource demands as well.
But I had no say in the Mitigation Plan. The Politicologists and the the Mitigation
Planner who drove this bus chose the plants from a list and directed their planting (at my expense), and the result–rows of twiggy scrub on 5 foot centers, what would one day be massive trees planted short feet from the home–might have been ‘Green’ in THEIR view, but sustainable? Better than 75% of the plants were dead within six months, because no attention whatsoever was paid to site hydrology, soils assesment, wildlife pressures, or even the exposures of sunlight and shade. ‘Green’ and eco-friendly, maybe, but as different from sustainable as patent leather from pig iron. Demonstrable failure on the part of the Planner and the Plan, and my belief that no government entity can force you to pay a third party for anything (don’t believe me? Seems like the Attorneys General of a number of states think so, too) have led me down my current path of Mitigation Plan Rebellion. While this rebellion undoubtably makes me far more attractive to the ladies and some of the fellas, it also puts me at risk: of losing my $5,000 Survival Bond and other possible penalties, of giving wild offense to the Politicologists and other eco-nosepunchers, of putting my do-over in danger of a do-over, and of course, permanent damage to my back.
NEXT, Part Three: green, or ‘Green?’ Nature and the Native vs. non-Native plant debate