Ally Alan Durning, over at Northwest Environment Watch's Cascadia Scorecard reminds us that a number of important solutions are starting to gain measurable impact in the Pacifici Northwest:
"Im speaking of budding trends toward a durable way of life in Cascadia. The region reached the vicinity of 1 percent on a number of heartening, if incipient, measures during the past twelve months."
Now, one percent may not seem like much, but the first percent or two -- like the first million -- are often the hardest. Getting one percent of anyone to do anything is a sign that there is at least hope of reaching a tipping point soon. Innovation diffusion always starts with small numbers. As Alan says, "In less arcane terms, that means the next step after 1 percent may not be 2 percent but 10 percent. So let's hope 2005 is the year of 10 percent."
So what trends bode well?
Here's Alan's list:
"In British Columbias Fraser Basinthe heart of agriculture in western Canadathere are now almost 100 certified organic farms, as the Fraser Basin Council reports (pdf, page 5). Thats 1 percent of all basin farms. Organic isnt the alpha and omega of environmental responsibility... but its something.
"The area of Cascadias forestland managed under the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council has risen steeply since the late 1990s. It hit 1.8 million acres in 2004 after the announcement of Potlatchs certifying its Idaho lands. Thats roughly 1 percent of the regions forestland.
"The green building movement surged in 2004, drawing a lot of media attention along the way. ... Reliable figures on total buildings (thousands!) under construction are hard to come by, but my guesstimate suggest the LEED segment is at least in the ballpark of 1 percent of new construction. And LEED has yet to issue guidelines for the vast residential building market.
"Wind power now provides about 1 percent of electricity in the Northwest states. Virtually all this power has come online since 2000.
"The regions (mostly new) voluntary green power purchasing programs are growing nicely: they recently saturated 1 percent of the market...
"Hybrids, especially the Toyota Prius, are hot commodities, moving so fast from dealers lots that waiting lists run to months. They remain a tiny fraction of the regions fleet, but I bet theyve exceeded the 1 percent mark, as a share of new vehicles sold."
These and other bright green solutions are nearing critical mass. 2005 may prove to be the year when sustainable prosperity goes white hot.