* * *Amert Construction of Madison is doing some good green work in Sioux Falls. They donated some time and effort to pour the slab for the straw bale shed that will be built as part of the Plain Green Conference next week. (The City of Madison still hasn't gotten back to Amerts on their plan to build wind turbines to greet folks coming to Madison on Highway 34. The city's answer should be heck yeah! But the city is discussing its new wind ordinances tonight... which include a proposed prohibition on small wind producers selling their clean electricity to anyone and cutting into the city's monopoly. Hey, what kind of communism is that?)
* * *Operation Free veterans aren't the only military folks gung ho about green. The United States Armed Forces are recognizing the connection between resource conservation and national security. The Army has cut water use at permanent bases worldwide by 31% since 2004 and energy use per square foot by 10%. They've spent $100 million on spray foam insulation to reduce losses from air conditioning on tents in Iraq and Afghanistan (wait a minute: air conditioning... in tents?). That insulation investment pays for itself in 90 days. The Pentagon is spending $2.7 billion this year on energy efficiency. And before you shout solar panels are for sissies, not Marines, consider: using less fuel means fewer trips for military fuel trucks, which means fewer targets for insurgents and roadside bombs... which means more soldiers making it home with two good legs on which to run to their kids. (Go ahead, Bob: tell me the whole United States military is a bunch of gullible socialist dupes. Better yet, tell the soldiers you know.)
* * *This editorial notes how a push for urban agriculture could solve a wealth of environmental woes. Consider that 40% of the energy used in agriculture goes to making fertilizers and pesticides. Sure, those chemicals help you get larger yields, but at the expense of flavor and nutrition. Urban organic farmer K. Rashid Nuri notes with pride the growing number of city folks getting away from that addiction to chemicals and quantity by "growing crops on vacant lots, in abandoned fields, in greenhouses, on balconies, by schools, in prison yards, in nursing homes and in countless other creative and engaging places." He notes numerous benefits to urban agriculture: "economic savings, environmental improvement, lifestyle enhancement, increased exercise and family and community bonding." City folks growing rooftop rutabagas may not look quite like Jefferson's yeoman farmer, but when 4 out of 5 Americans live in town, urban farming is a practical way to, as Nuri urges us, "reclaim our agricultural heritage."