President Obama’s ‘Green’ Inauguration?

Travel Blog  •  Joanna Kakissis  •  01.16.09 | 1:10 PM ET

Photo by tifotter (Creative Commons).

Depends on what “green”—that “it” word with the elastic definition—means. The event will no doubt leave a giant carbon footprint, since there will be lots of flying and driving to get the estimated four million people expected to attend the 44th president’s swearing-in to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20. But if green means less wasteful, then those organizing the Inauguration of Barack Obama and veep Joe Biden are taking a few thoughtful and symbolic steps. For one, Obama will be the first president in history to take the oath of office on a carpet made out of recycled material. The Inauguration committee has also recruited 6,000 volunteers to gather recycling along the National Mall and parade route, is offering electronic versions of media guides (less printing), and even plans to gather the manure from the event’s horses for a nearby farm.

I expect there will also be some eco-schmoozing at the two green Inaugural balls, where the country’s top environmentalists are expected. Al Gore will headline an invitation-only affair the night before the Inauguration at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and Wyclef Jean hosts a ball at the Andrew W. Mellon auditorium the day of the big event. Expect solar-powered data centers, organic spreads, locally grown flower arrangements, lots of recycling and hopefully some interpretative dancing for the planet (with YouTube video provided for those of us not invited or stranded in some other part of the country/world).

A note to the green or green-wannabe glitterati: No embarrassing the rest of us (and the cause) by driving to the Obamathon in SUVs.

Joanna Kakissis's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, among other publications. A contributor to the World Hum blog, she's currently a Ted Scripps fellow in environmental journalism at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

4 Comments for President Obama’s ‘Green’ Inauguration?

Ling 01.17.09 | 10:00 AM ET

575 million pounds of CO2, give or take a few million here or there. That’s what the inauguration is going to cost the environment. Wonder how much money you’d have to spend to buy carbon credits to leave a zero carbon footprint. Maybe someone should ask the Obama campaign to pay for it.

Grizzly Bear Mom 01.17.09 | 4:55 PM ET

Same thoughts here.  What about a VIRTUAL inauguration?  No traveling, freezing and lines. I’m cold sitting inside this weekend in the DC area.  Are we seeing the same old same old even before he’s inaugurated?

Dash RIPROCK III 01.17.09 | 11:31 PM ET

Al Gore has predicted that global warming will result in the northern polar ice cap being gone in five years.  View the vid, tell your friends, and don’t let anyone forget.  Gore has started his credibility countdown timer ticking and he must be forced to admit he was wrong once the time has passed.
Click on the pic of Big Al holding up five fingers.

Gennaro 01.18.09 | 11:06 PM ET

Most of the green stuff is going to be symbolic. Still important, but symbolic. There needs to be structural changes in order to make significant green moves forward. These changes will require major changes in energy.

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