Monday, January 19, 2009

Greenest Inauguration Ever?

The Presidential Inauguration Committee is hoping that the estimated 2 million people who come to see Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday will do like good hikers everywhere do: leave Washington, D.C., as clean as they found it.

Thousands of people have volunteered to lend a hand in what is being touted as the "greenest inauguration in history," and for many of them that will mean picking up trash, recyclables and even horse manure along the Mall in Washington after Obama takes the oath of office.

But critics say the committee's attempt to be environmentally friendly is nothing more than political posturing and basic good behaviour. Furthermore, they say, if Hollywood stars and bigwigs really cared about the environment, they'd choose not to come to Washington at all. Rather than generate tons of emissions in their private jets and gas-guzzling SUVs, they'd have a better chance of saving the Earth if they just stayed home.

The Institute for Liberty, a conservative think tank, estimated recently that the millions of people coming to the inauguration will generate a half-billion pounds of carbon dioxide — 260 million pounds from the 600 private jets that will come to Washington, and another 260 million pounds from personal vehicles. It says the pollution amounts to more than 575 million pounds of CO2, which would take the average U.S. household 57,598 years to produce. The institute did not say how it derived its figures, which are debatable. But the bottom line is undeniable: the more people who fly or drive to Washington for the inauguration, the more fuel that is consumed and the more emissions that are dispersed.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee plans to have 100 of its 18,000 volunteers sweeping the parade area to collect trash and recyclables. Metallic heat sheets that are being made available for parade participants who suffer the effects of the cold weather will be donated afterward to the homeless. And volunteers will follow parade horses -- picking up what they leave behind so it can be sold to a local farm.

The National Parks Service and the Trust for the National Mall are also providing recycling cans up and down the mall -- along with about 5,000 portable toilets -- for the millions who attend.

For the big day tomorrow and the future – Good Luck President Obama!! :)

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