The big news yesterday was that Obama kept his campaign promise and moved forward with plans to drill for oil in off the country’s coasts. This news was largely met with celebratory tones and running commentary on the great compromiser skills of the U.S. president. What received less play were two stories about the climate change debate. The Associated Press reports here that the scientists embroiled in the “climategate” email scandal have been cleared of any wrongdoing by a British parliamentary panel. Meanwhile, The Huffington Post covered a new Greenpeace report that followed the money – nearly $50 million since 1997 – paid by Koch Industries to finance a campaign of climate change denial.
What do these developments mean for the climate change debate?
OK, so, we learn investigators found no evidence that UK climate scientists have “cooked the books” to make global warming look worse than it is; news that underscores that climate change is not just real, it’s going to get very bad unless we do something and the time for action is quickly slipping by. On the same day this report comes out, we get a peak inside the “climate denial machine” and its a view into a well-oiled, well-financed campaign paid by corporate interests that stand to lose a lot if our politician were ever to act to reign in runaway global warming. But Koch, Exxon and other denial financiers apparently aren’t in any immediate danger. (See story news item one.)
It used to be “the Black Broadway.”
Washington D.C.’s U Street N.W. neighborhood has long been considered an African-American cultural epicenter. Duke EllingtonDuke EllingtonDuke Ellington, Pearl BaileyPearl BaileyPearl Bailey and Sarah Vaughn were among the legendary performers, who played at a string of nightclubs and theaters along the thoroughfare.
That’s ancient history now. One year after the country first African American president moved into that big White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington’s half-century status as a predominantly black city appears to be nearing its end.
Read the rest of this post on Allvoices.com
Hello Greendistrict readers! Happy New Year to all!
It’s a good ten days into the new year and about time I return from extended holiday hiatus. I’m kicking off 2010 with a few adjustments to my blogging habits: nixing the daily Green Lines sustainability roundup, for starters. It’s just too time consuming to compile that stuff. Besides, truly compelling stories don’t appear everyday. Instead, I’m going to focus on writing more substantive blog posts and make the Green Lines roundup a weekly feature filled with the most noteworthy and new reporting of the previous seven days. To get started, here are a few stories that caught my eye:
CBS News reported on vulnerabilities in the nation’s food supply.
Finally someone wrote a story on the brewing battle over biodiesel made from trees – or lumber scraps, that is. The Washington Post had a piece today about complaints from the lumber industry that the congressionally induced boom in fuel made from “woody biomass” could put cabinet makers and other producers of “composite wood” products out of business. The story, however, makes no mention of the growing environmental concerns. To learn why the federal Biomass Crop Assistance Program is a bad idea from a sustainability standpoint you have to go elsewhere.
The greening of the U.S. House of Representatives: “The House saved almost 75,000 pounds of waste from landfills and cut nearly 400,000 pounds of carbon emissions last year through a new program to make the chamber’s offices more energy efficient,” according to Roll Call.
Mountaintop removal mining is causing vast and permanent environmental destruction, exposing people to serious health consequences such as birth defects, and should be banned, according to a new study discussed in this story in The Guardian.
“A federal jury awarded more than $100 million to 10 workers who claimed they were injured in 2007 when a toxic substance was released at BP’s Texas City plant,” The New York Times reports. Company officials reportedly expressed outrage though it’s hard to say why they were surprised since federal investigators came to the same conclusion as the jury. The company spends more on its “Beyond Petroleum” ad campaign depicting itself as a “green corporation” than it will be shelling out to the injured workers, which seems another reason to take the executive exclamations with a grain of salt.
The White House “regulatory czar” is pushing to nix the E.P.A.’s plans for tougher rules on coal ash, according to this story in the Wall Street Journal.
Here’s a scary piece on India‘s water mafias.
Los Angeles Times has a travel piece on the “endangered paradise” of the Maldives islands, which is expected to be underwater if the world continues to dither on global warming.
Book Report: I just finished reading “Bitter Chocolate, The Dark Side of The World’s Most Seductive Sweet” by Canadian journalist Carol Off. It’s a harrowing but fascinating and well-researched tale of human rights abuses in the cocoa fields where chocolate’s main ingredient is grown. But be warned: The stories of children working Ivory Coast in slave-like conditions may dampen your appetite for chocolate, as it did mine – or at least for chocolate not stamped with a “fair trade” label.
In honor of the meager accord reached last week at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen – which even the New York Times called less meaningful than even the least ambitions expectations bandied about before the conference – I am reposting a link to this video with William Rees, a professor at the University of British Columbia, who came up with the concept of the Ecological Footprint. Rees offers a compelling argument about why we humans are failing to act more aggressively in our own self-interest to beat back global warming. He made the remarks at the GreenAccord conference in Italy a few weeks ago.
“We have the science to deal with the global warming problem and we’ve had it for some time. So the question is: what is it about the nature of our species that we are intelligent enough to know we have a problem but we are not capable of organizing socially in order to solve this problem?” –William Rees.
To hear more, check out the video by Alex Savulescu
It’s deja vu all over again!
The UN climate summit began in Copenhagen this morning, at a time when the global public has begun (again) to doubt that climate change exists and that we’re the cause.
A couple of years ago it seemed debate had finally been put to rest by the vast majority of the world’s scientists, who insisted quite convincingly that the warming was unequivocal. But it’s funny how quickly we forget.
Public belief in global warming had already been slipping even before hackers stole thousands of embarrassing emails from one of the world’s foremost climate research centers. In the most damning exchanges, scientists talked about suppressing evidence that didn’t support the warming theory and manipulating the peer review process. The scandal, which struck like a high-magnitude earthquake in November, has shaken out aftershocks ever since.
The New York Times has just filed this curtainraiser from Copenhagen detailing the damage to diplomatic efforts getting underway today. Many had hoped the talks would lead to an international political agreement on fighting global warming but the prospects have been complicated by a new wave of climate change denial, set off (to continue the metaphor) like a tsunami by the stolen email scandal.
Italian climate scientist Antonio Navarra, who was not caught up in the scandal but knows the scientists involved, defended his colleagues at GreenAccord a couple of weeks ago by basically saying people are people. In private emails, like private conversations, people may use strong words but that doesn’t make it criminal, said Navarro, who is director the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
He went on to say that proof that the climate is changing is so convincing because it does not come from a single source or institution but from many sources and research centers.
“There is no single proof that is proving climate change,” he said. “We have an enormous number of contingency facts that are creating a picture that in itself is very convincing.”
A top Obama official quoted in today’s NY Times story makes much the same case:
“There will remain after the dust settles in this controversy a very strong scientific consensus on key characteristics of the problem,” John Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser, told a Congressional hearing last week. “Global climate is changing in highly unusual ways compared to long experienced and expected natural variations.”
Where does that leave us this week? Trapped in deja vu all over again?
With the UN climate summit getting underway in Copenhagen tomorrow, the web is a buzz in stories about the talks and whether they could yield an international action plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions and head off more global warming. Here are a few highlights:
UK newspaper, The Telegraph, has a nifty climate change timeline that stretches all the way back to 1824, when a French physicist described “the greenhouse effect” for the first time.
Though expectations remain low for a meaningful accord, President Obama has changed his travel plans and will now be on hand for the critical negotiations that could led to an international agreement on cutting the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean an accord in the offing. The Associated Press is reporting: “Twenty congressional Republicans, including the top House GOP leadership, sent a letter to the president Friday expressing their ‘grave concern’ that the U.S. delegation might commit to mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”
Copenhagen officials are gearing up to crack down on protesters converging on the city. Among those planning to march Dec. 12 are Apa and Dawa Sherpa, the Nepalese mountaineers and activists, who talked about global warming’s threat to the Himalayas at GreenAccord last month. Hopefully, they will stay safe and out of the pens Copenhagen law enforcers have installed to hold arrested activists.
Some experts say its too late to head off at least some climate change. If you agree, you might want ot check out Washington Post on what the Dutch are doing to adapt to climate change and a future with higher sea levels and storm surges.
Let them eat kelp! Speaking of adaptation, the Los Angeles Times has a story on a couple of kelp farmers in Maine who are trying to revolutionize the American diet with seaweed. The stuff, which they sell to Whole Foods Market, among other places, is good for you and good for the environment. Kelp grows fast without need of fresh water, fertilizer – or land, for that matter. It also cleans the ocean, sopping up excess nutrients and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The story suggests we may all one day be eating more ocean veggies. So far, however, the aquatic farmers struggle to overcome the “yuck” factor.
This trend doesn’t seem to have hit DC yet, at least I haven’t seen many clothes hanging in my neighborhood, but people around the country are apparently fighting for their rights to clothesline.
The Streetsblog Capitol Hill picks up an AP story about how a majority of Americans recognize that they could play a role in helping the environment but don’t usually back up the talk with actions. Hmmm, the same thing could be said of world leaders.
A London exhibition of giant tropical tree stumps dramatizes rainforest deforestation. Check out the story and photo on the Guardian site.
The Washington Post reports from Indonesia on “A CLIMATE THREAT, RISING FROM THE SOIL”
DC Metrocentric gives an update on Penrose Square in Arlington, a rare example of an older suburban shopping center being revamped as a denser urban village with a pedestrian friendly mix of shops and housing.
The financially troubled Allegro apartments in Columbia Heights sold for $77.5 million, DC Metrocentric also reports.
We Love DC offers its five favorite bike routes.
DC nonprofits say they are seeing more demand and less moolah to carry out those services, Washington Business Journal reports on the survey.
Columbia Heights residents are meeting Saturday to discuss plans to bring a farmer’s market back to the neighborhood.