In an earlier post, I lamented the difficulty of accurately assessing the true environmental cost of most things, and how tricky that made choosing between options when faced with decisions such as paper or plastic, real or fake Christmas tree, new hybrid car or existing relatively-good mileage vehicle, organic or conventional mattress, and so on.
This week's New Yorker has a very interesting article taking on the challenges of that broad view. Big Foot (a reference to the carbon footprint), by Michael Specter, is available online, and worth a read.
He starts out looking at various companies' efforts to green up, dives into the heart of food miles, points out how carbon shouldn't be the only part of an environmental calculation, offers some surprising examples in which products imported from far away are lower impact than those produced closer by (for instance, wine from California versus from Bordeaux and roses from Holland versus Kenya), and explores the world of carbon emissions exchange markets. I haven't yet finished the article, but right now he's writing about how one of the most effective things we could possibly to is to slow or stop deforestation in Brazil and Indonesia.
It's a good read, and one that, three-quarters of the way through the article, I recommend highly. Now I'm off to finish reading.