The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Mr. President, Where Is Your Sustainability Czar?

November 4th, 2009 · 4 Comments · Posted in Sustainability

I remember using a rake

I remember using a rake

It’s that time of year when scenes like this unfold in our neighborhood here in the nation’s capitol: a National Park Service employee pushing leaves around the sidewalk with the most polluting device known to man–a gas-powered leaf blower.

Does anybody else remember when we did this with a broom and rake?

How do we expect nations to come together on global warming if we can’t even get a grip on the simplest, everyday acts of polluting?

Since the man in the photo is an employee of the federal government, I have a proposal for our president, Barack Obama. It’s time to establish a federal bureau of sustainability. I see this as a cabinet-level agency that would review every activity of the federal government and evaluate it on the basis of whether it is sustainable or not, then make recommendations on how the vast federal machine can reduce its carbon footprint.

First to go, obviously, would be the ridiculous federal subsidies of the corn ethanol industry. Ethanol production not only spews huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, but drives up worldwide food prices. Really, do people need to starve so that Americans can pour corn into their gas tanks and contribute to the melting of the polar ice caps?

You laugh. But jurisdictions all over the country have been creating their own sustainability offices, looking for ways they can trim waste, cut energy use, treat the planet more kindly. It’s high time our federal government followed their example and appointed a sustainability czar.

Don’t you think that would be the perfect job for Al Gore? I can see him now, finally putting an end to the silly wrangling over which mode of agriculture–organics, or the kind that relies on chemical fertilizers and pesticides–is best for the planet in the long run. Care to wager where he’d come out on that one?

He could also require that Dick Cheney’s files of classified documents be shredded and turned into free compost for gardners.

Think of all the savings to be made in the military budget by simply declaring warfare “unsustainable.”

And he could finally put a stop to the infernal noise generated by all those leaf blowers.

Say yes to a sustainability czar, Mr. President, and make it brooms and rakes for everyone!

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  • Melissa

    Don’t expect much. Considering Obama’s latest “Big Ag” nominations, we are still headed down the same path. Let’s see who are the latest cast of characters:

    Islam Siddiqui, VP of science and regulatory affairs at CropLife (THE lobbying association for the pesticide/GMO industry). A former registered lobbyist, Siddiqui has been nominated to the critical post of U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator. This position will enable him to keep pushing chemical pesticides, inappropriate biotechnologies, and unfair trade arrangements on nations that do not want and can least afford them.

    Roger Beachy — long-time head of Monsanto’s defacto nonprofit research arm — has been installed as director of the USDA’s newly created National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This office comes with a $500 million budget, and therein control over the U.S. ag research agenda for years to come.

    **borrowed from

    There is so much to say about this, Siddiqui the lobbyist and much more, but I just don’t have the energy anymore. What does one expect when our president comes from the corn belt heavily sbusidised himself by big ag?

    I’m not sure how long it will take people to wake up and realize they were sold a bill of goods.

  • Pattie

    I have to say I love this idea, Ed. Inf act, I’m surprised it hasn’t already happened, considering that almost every major corporation and many, many cities, counties and states have a sustainability focus by now.

  • Ed Bruske

    Melissa, I know. This is not exactly what we expected. Looks like we’ll have to continue the revolution from the ground up.

    Pattie, that exactly is my reaction. Why don’t we have a sustainability czar already? Seems like local government is leading the way on this issue.

  • Melissa


    You are completely correct, everything has to happen on a local level. This not only goes for eating, but change. It first has to happen at your own kitchen table. You then share your food and resources with friends and family. I just converted my 3rd friend over to bulk meat buying (I should sell deep freezers!). They are now hooked, not only the economical way of eating clean beef, but believe and know that they are feeding their families food for that heal their bodies.

    All of these issues that effect our communities need to be handled at a local level, be it education, crime, drugs, or keeping families together and emotionally healthy. A centralized government can only make a small dent in these issues, it is up to us to educate our community and be a gentle encouraging model for our friends and family, who can then spread the goodness.