In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?
The Truth is out there…so we’re told.
In Episode 21, Patrick and William looked at recyclable materials used by the foodservice industry and how using them may or may not map onto our goal of living a “Green lifestyle”. This week, our special agents look at a subject that is top of mind this time of year: TAXES. We as taxpaying citizens wonder how those tax dollars are used to promote Green concepts and initiatives…
WILLIAM: I’m depressed today, Agent Cuccaro, really depressed. Can you offer some Green thoughts to lift my spirits?
PATRICK: What has you feeling blue instead of Green today, Agent Neal? It isn’t “Tax Day”, is it?
WILLIAM: Well actually, yes, taxes are never much fun, but necessary. It’s how my tax dollars are being squandered that really gets to me. Particularly when it comes to the environment. True, there are tax-funded programs that are helping Green initiatives, but they seem to disappear as quickly as they become law!
PATRICK: You must be referring to the electric car issue as an example, correct? Can you believe that the State Senate of Georgia has ended a tax break for citizens purchasing electric cars while keeping similar breaks in place for businesses. In the very last minutes of legislative sessions, the Georgia House and Senate passed House Bill 170, which effectively ends the handsome benefits to new electric car purchasers. In addition, they tacked on a new $200 annual “license fee”, which is equivalent to the fees required for large SUVs.
WILLIAM: Wasn’t the original bill intended to help fund the state’s backlog of road projects, and doesn’t building new roads cause more driving, more traffic, and, therefore, more air pollution?
PATRICK: Probably not, Agent N. It’s a chicken and egg thing. But just as building new schools does not “cause” more students or studying, building roads probably does not “cause” more drivers or traffic.
Both schools and roads, like other public infrastructure and housing, are built to accommodate an ever growing population and economy. But despite gains in population and vehicle miles traveled, the nation’s air quality has actually improved as a result of improved focus on efficient road systems, efficient engines and of course many other technologies designed to help off-set pollutants—specifically, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) statistics between 1970 and 2002, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 73 percent, nitrous oxides (NOx) by 41 percent, particulate matter (PM) by 50 percent, and carbon monoxide (CO) by 62 percent. NOx and VOCs are precursors to ozone deterioration and associated with Greenhouse gasses and climate change. As levels of VOCs and NOx continue to decrease, so will ozone and Greenhouse gases.
But the science points to many other ways we can reduce gas-powered emissions. Road improvements are helpful, but not nearly as much as reductions in single-occupant gas-powered vehicles.
For example, have you ever really investigated other parts of the globe that have successfully reduced emissions and done so in consistent measurable form? In almost every situation, the real help came from well-designed and well-used public transportation systems.
PATRICK: Most of the significant environmental advancements are a direct result of tax dollars spent on non-fossil fuel transportation systems. Imagine if each one of those cities you mentioned was inhabited solely by car-driving commuters? Not only would the streets be more clogged, but so would our lungs.
WILLIAM: Speaking of lungs, I recently ran across this little tid-bit in my investigations. Did you know that according to the World Trade Organization 2013 statistics New Delhi has the worst air quality in the world? Factors include not only transportation emissions, but construction, industrial emissions, dust created by unpaved roads, and even population as contributing elements. New Delhi is on top, followed closely by Doha in Qatar; Kabul, Afghanistan; Dhaka in Bangladesh; and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
PATRICK: Note the absence of developed transportation systems?
WILLIAM: I sure do and it just makes me want to focus on more solutions at home.
PATRICK: At home in the US, Travel + Leisure Magazine compiled an excellent list of America’s Greenest Cities. They were ranked by taking into account everything from pedestrian travel and great restaurants to alternative power sources and recycling programs. Published in the April 1, 2015 “Green Travel” section, there were highlights from a lot of fantastic initiatives these cities used to positively impact the quality of life for their taxpayers.
WILLIAM: Like everything else, it starts local and spreads nationally and hopefully around the globe. For those of us who genuinely care about the ecology and quality of life, we know that paying attention to local tax dollars spent in an environmentally sensitive manner is the responsibility of each and every taxpayer.
PATRICK: Well said, Agent Neal. Are you feeling better now that we have “talked it out” a bit? Am I as helpful as your therapist? Or shall I say, any of your therapists?
WILLIAM: Take it easy there, Agent Cuccaro! My best therapist is our special agent readership! And yes, I do feel better having some more facts under my belt. But now I am off in a rush!
PATRICK: Where are you headed now, Agent Neal?
WILLIAM: I’m headed out to the “Don’t Sit in Your Car and Idle” rally down at the local post office. As the taxpayers line up around the post office block tonight and tomorrow, my team of Green ambassadors will be talking to them about how to positively influence their local politicians to be more GREEN!
PATRICK: Don’t call me for bail money when the Feds round you up for trespassing!
WILLIAM: Not to worry. We have plenty of donuts and coffee for the coppers! They love us!
To be continued…
Do you make your Green voice heard at the polls? Do you drive an electric or hybrid car? Are you using part of your tax refund to do something Green? Please share with us in the Comments section below…we’d like to hear your thoughts on the topic!
Join us next time when we’ll take a look at “green space” and how environmental factors affect our ability to play, recreate and exercise. But don’t worry too much…there’s good news, too!
NOTE: Our special agents are going undercover for some in-depth investigations and will be back in two weeks.
This week’s 3Rs…
REVEALED: Georgia Commute Options
REVERED: Atlanta Bike Share