Three recent events of which to take note. Each of them signals a step in the right direction, so be not discouraged if the pace seems yet inadequate.
First, the great state of California has initiated a plan to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Authority is granted to the California Air Resources Board, which should help get things rolling quickly and effectively. The declared intent, besides reducing the state's own emissions, is to serve as a model for other states and, perhaps, the nation.
Next, an official representative of the USA -- Ambassador Paula Dobriansky -- announced at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, that the country will cut its emissions by at least 50% by 2050. The statement generated only tepid applause, as all in the room knew the target was much too unambitious, but compared to where the Bush administration was as of the Bali conference ...
Finally, Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America, has imposed a nickel tax (not deposit) on disposable water bottles sold within city limits, plus banned the sale and distribution of bottled water on city property. One interesting side-note is that the ban on sales is accompanied by an initiative to make sure that tap water -- drinking fountains and places to refill reusable bottles -- are adequately available in city facilities. That's a thought which hadn't occurred to me, but which I intend to push at Greenback. All of our major buildings (I think) have some drinking fountains, but they can be hard to find, the performance (pressure, temperature) is inconsistent at best, and many are not physically conducive to the act of refilling a bottle. (It's not impossible, but it's hardly easy.) If we want students and employees to refill and reuse, we need to make that an easy thing to do. Anybody got any experience with similar plumbing retrofits that they'd care to share?