Blog Archives

GMOs + CAFOs attemp a makeover

Photo by Graham Boyle

Check out the GMO corn-fish car built by members of Washington’s intrepid artist/activist collective DC51. These local talents supply the visuals for a wide variety of environmental and human rights marches here in the nation’s capital. Usually, they silkscreen posters, banners and the occasional limited edition T-shirt. This repurposed sedan takes art-for-the-revolution to a new level. But the car is not just cute; It’s meant call attention to concerns about farmed fish raised on GMO corn.  It’s also road worthy. The corn-fish navigated the interstate highway system last month to attend a New York City protest of genetically modified organisms such as lab-altered corn and soybeans used not just to feed the fishes but in so many of the foods we find in the supermarket.

My new blog post on the E Magazine site discusses current efforts to makeover GMOs and frankenfish, among other parts of our industrial food system. here’s an excerpt:

October is proving a busy month for the country’s old guard food industries. After a decade of books and documentaries exposing the more unsavory aspects of how our food is produced, Big Ag and consumer brand companies are striking back with campaigns aimed at quelling the country’s growing disaffection with CAFO-raised beef, fake “fruit” snacks and sugary cereals.

In Washington, D.C., in recent weeks, members of the food and advertising industries urged Congress to dump a planned update to federal nutritional guidelines on foods marketed to kids. The draft rules, announced last April
 by the Interagency Working Group, made up of representatives from the Food and drug Administration, Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are aimed at combating child obesity.

Read the rest of this post on the E site.

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Hot Air at Copenhagen

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

GreenLines: The Holidays by Bike Edition

via We Love DC

The folks over at DC Department of Environment are advertising a “spring special.” OK, so they seem a little confused about the seasons. But it’s still a good deal: For $50 you not only get a new tree, but the city will arrange to have it planted on your property. For details, click here.

The District Department of Transportation, meanwhile, is calling for suggestions on how to improve the city for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and mass transit users. There is a public meeting tonight from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the Franklin D. Reeves Center at 2000 14th Street, NW. Or you could call Ledesma Smith-Mathis at (202) 671-2317.

The neighborhood blogs have been abuzz about the news that DC may soon be allowed to set up a medical marijuana program. So you may have already heard the news that congressional negotiators greenlighted a budget bill this week that would sweep away ban established by Congress in 1998. Well, this Washington Times story does its best to stamp out the buzz.

DC’s Green Building Act is up for a revision. The Washington Business Journal says it’s no big overhaul. Is that true? Does anyone know if there were be more than minor word changes? Please share with the group.

Miles Grant takes on Sarah Palin.

See the holiday lights by bike, says We Love DC. (I guess it’s one way to cut down on the emissions.)

In the many weeks since “stolen emails-gate” began, you (like me) may have wondered what had happened to the 99.9 percent of climate scientists said to agree global warming is real and really human-made. Here’s some news on the subject from the Associated Press.

Check out this “best of YouTube” videos from the Copenhagen climate conference, courtesy of The Guardian.

Copenhagen Climate Talks Kick Off amid Global Skepticism

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?

Today’s Greenlines: Clotheslines, Bike Paths, Farmers Markets, London Deforestation + More

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.

Yale’s e360: Environmental Outlook Worse But People Just Don’t Care

The Yale School of Forestry site e360 has this juxtaposition of stories up now:

It reports: “Emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels soared by 41 percent from 1990 to 2008 and have jumped 29 percent since 2000, according to one of the most comprehensive studies to date of global carbon emissions.” At the current rate, the authors predict the globe will warm 9 to 11 degrees by the century’s end, much faster than scientists say it can handle without unimaginable climate changes.

The site is also featuring an op ed titled “Apocalypse Fatigue: Losing
the Public on Climate Change,” by the controversial duo Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger.

Scary stuff, especially in combination.

A Watch Pot by Ed Stein

 

Tim Hermach forwarded me this Ed Stein cartoon. What do you think: Will Congress pass some form of climate bill this year?