Ed Begley, Jr., resident Rockstar of the Hollywood Green Movement, spoke at last Tuesday's Venice Beach Bioneers ("Revolution from the Heart of Nature" www.bioneers.org) meeting held at the Electric Lodge, presented by Sara Nichols and Barbara Bosson.
Ed is fresh from launching his new book, Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life, which has recently meant daily TV interviews and press junkets. He admits he is in a much different mode from the 90s when he still had the luxury of riding his bicycle pretty much wherever he needed to go, and has even capitulated to having to take a plane to make most of his meetings and press appearances these days. "I buy a Terrapass to mitigate my airplane flight carbon footprint," he is quick to add.
Begley has nearly 4 decades' worth of carefully crafted Green Mottos, including the catchy, "There're many tools in the toolshed," a phrase he freely peppers his speech with to advocate versatility, open-mindedness and flexibility when approaching living a green lifestyle.
Begley championed a number of themes. Here are some of the highlights:
• Don't just do something. Stop. Stand there. Find your center. Find your quiet time. Everyone is doing so much all the time. Take some time for yourself. Be careful not to burn out.
• Everyone can afford to be green. I started off doing the cheap and easy green things - such as riding a bicycle - and that saved me money. I hadn't counted on that. Then I kept on. Eventually I invested in a wind turbine, and that made me money. So those who say 'I can't afford to be green like you rich movie stars,' it's just not true.
• I've found I have something just as good as a lot of money. I don't need a lot of money. We can do things now that can make us real-time prosperous, really prosperous in the sense of more time with our families - NOT More Stuff. (www.thestoryofstuff.com) Begley referenced the "voluntary simplicity movement" and joked that, "I've never seen a Hearse with a luggage rack on top." www.lowimpactliving.com
• I don't want to be seen with a water bottle now. We have to stop using plastic.
• On Katrina: New Orleans is what cities are going to look like if we take away Nature's speed bumps.
• Buy recycled. Support recycled as much as possible, meaning go the whole distance. Complete the circle. www.itsrecycled.com, www.bioconverter.com
• We are proving we can do it. There's a mountain of environmental issues, but we're halfway up that mountain. The argument that these eco-improvements will cost 'trillions of dollars' is baloney. Eco-improvements invariably create jobs. We need to transition people into Green Collar jobs.
• On electric cars: You can make electrons on the roof of your house. I do it. My electric car has about an 80 mile range. For most folks that's good enough for a day's transportation needs. This is how I rank modes of transport: 1. Walking 2. Bicycling 3.Public Transport 4. Electric car (distant 4th).
• On the issue of Fuel, Begley offered up his friendly sense of humor again: "Let me be psychic here for a moment - Energy costs are going to go up." When questioned about the link of bio-fuel crops to the present spike in food crop prices, Begley stated his long-standing position: You can make bio-fuels but NOT from RAW CORN. Make it from corn stalks, from cellulose, switch grass or corn agwaste. Even Bush is saying this, for goodness' sake!"
Rock on, Ed!
Here's what Grist has to say on the link between Biofuel crops and the spike in food prices:
"A lot of people are wondering what the hell is going on with food prices. The price of bulk rice on global markets has tripled since the start of the year."
One of the reasons for the surge in food prices is Biofuel crop diversion.
"Biofuel. Few serious people deny that U.S. and European biofuel mandates, ramped up dramatically over the past year, are contributing to the surge in food prices. The International Grain Council reports that grain (mainly corn) diverted to biofuel jumped 44 percent between 2006 and 2007. This surge in demand affects more than the price of corn. When farmers scramble to plant corn to cash in on the ethanol boom, they plant less of other stuff like soy and even wheat, putting upward pressure on their prices. Massive U.S. plantings of corn have also contributed to sharp spikes in fertilizer and GMO seed prices as well as corn-belt land rents, dramatically raising the cost of farming.
"The International Food Policy Research Institute reckons that the biofuel boom accounts for between a quarter and a third of the run-up in prices over the last three years."