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Democracy Now Show Today on Big Greens Standing in the Way of Climate Progress

The buzz created by Johann Hari’s hard-hitting article, The Wrong Kind of Green,  in The Nation magazine is finally generating some much needed attention for the outrageous behavior of some of our leading environmental groups. This morning, Amy Goodman of Democracy now interviewed Johann and me about Big Green groups such as Conservation International, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, and The Nature Conservancy – that are endorsing the climate policies sponsored by their corporate donors and allies in Washington. There is just no getting around the fact that the proposals backed by these groups will do little to head off runaway climate change. As Hari pointed out this morning, some of these policies will actually encourage more logging in tropical rainforests, despite ample evidence that we need those trees standing to sop up climate changing greenhouse gases.

Hari was very effective exposing these false solutions but left things on an optimistic note by mentioning the creative nonviolence campaigns climate activists have unfurled in the UK. I wish there had been more time so that I could have mentioned that the real grassroots of US enviornmentalism – not the big national groups that have been coopted by Washington’s deal making mentality and corporate donations – are also experiencing an encouraging growth spirt.

In doing some research for a magazine article and possibly a new book, I’ve been talking to activists all over the country in the last few weeks.  Julia “Judy” Bonds, who has been fighting mountaintop removal coal mining in her Appalachian community for a dozen years, says “you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.” In the last five years, she says a movement has begun to take shape and it’s just a matter of time before it sparks change. She likened the tense standoff between coal miners and mountaintop removal foes like herself to the bloody civil rights struggle started in Selma, Alabama in 1963 that  was widely credited with helping pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Author Bill McKibbon is calling for people to take to the streets and join the 350.org civil disobedience campaign he launched. Tim DeChristopher, the guy who threw a wrench in the Dec. 2008 Bureau of Land Management auction of oil and gas leases on public lands, says we have to throw ourselves into the machine that’s threatening our existence.  McKibbon, DeChristopher, Julia “Butterfly” Hill, Mike Rosselle and many other activists have set up small radical groups that are all advocating that people – the average citizens like you and me – take to the streets to demand that President Obama and other lawmakers address global warming.

Considering how little we protest today, it’s hard to image the country will rise up and demand environmental sustainability. But they are doing it in the United Kingdom, so why not here? And if we don’t, who will? Bonds says her activism has shown her that politicians don’t lead, they merely follow the will of the people. It’s time for the people to take their fate into their own hands, she says.

Greenlines: Public Schools May Get Better Lunches + Goethermal Power – But Not Both

Miles Grant reports that the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment board has endorsed a plan for installing geothermal power at the new Wakefield High School.

There is a cross-post on DC Food For All and The Slow Cook l has an update on the DC Council’s Healthy Schools bill that would improve the food served in the city’s public schools.

Here’s a good reason to move into the city: The Washington Post reports that the controversial new Inter-county connector will be the region’s most expensive highway, costing more than six bucks each way.

Much excitement is brewing about DC’s new streetcars though the cars won’t be operational for a while – maybe not until 2012. Still here’s a post by DC MUD and another from WTOP.

Barry Farm (Re)Mixed recommends the documentary FOOD, Inc. I agree with the Urban Architect; the movie is worth a view. Here’s a review I posted to the Washington City Paper site after the premier at the E Street Cinema last spring.

From here, it’s hard to tell just how badly things are going at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Get a load of these two conflicting headlines, one from the New York Times, the other from The Guardian:

Obama Presses China for Accountability on Climate

Barack Obama’s speech disappoints and fuels frustration at Copenhagen

On that note, I wish you well this pre-holiday Friday. Bundle up, there’s a storm coming!

Greenlines: Climate Talks on the Rocks, Monsanto Bad, DC School Lunches Better + 5 Fab Bikes

The Slow Cook asks: Does DC’s sweeping new  legislation on healthy school lunches go far enough?

The Washington Post reports that UN climate talks were temporarily suspended this morning after a block of developing countries walked out. But Miles Grant says the death of the Copenhagen talks have been greatly exaggerated. Here’s a link to his “brief note on bullshit,” which doesn’t directly relate to the Post story but provides some context to last weeks climate saga.

The Associated Press breaks a story of Monsanto’s business practices. “Confidential contracts detailing Monsanto Co.’s business practices reveal how the world’s biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and protecting its dominance over the multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops, an Associated Press investigation has found.” Read more.

Tree Hugger pixFinally, from Tree Hugger: “5 Fab Bike Solutions Seen On The Streets At COP-15”

Enjoy! And, don’t be spinning your wheels today!

GreenLines: Trans-continental Climate Talks Edition!

Wikipedia photo

In Copenhagen, climate negotiations move closer to an accord as the talks head toward the half-way mark, the Washington Post reports.

In Washington, a delegation of area schoolchildren gave a presentation on climate change to youth delegates in Copenhagen via a live feed at a federal building downtown.

The director of one of the world’s biggest cycling events, the Giro d’Italia, met with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty yesterday to discuss plans for Washington to host the start of the 2012 race, the New York Times reports.

Meanwhile, Fenty‘s fraternity brothers – the ones who won the parks & recreation contracts – were called to defend themselves yesterday and insisted their ties to the city administration had nothing to do with their success. Sheesh!

The Park View blog posts on the city’s tree planting plans.

Greater Goods just put out its December newsletter. It’s a bit out of date, listing some events that already took place. But it’s in time to advertise a couple of workshops on “greening” your holiday season including one tomorrow on how to make eco-friendly decorations. Cost: $5. The class calendar hasn’t been updated either, but you can still RSVP by email.

DC Metrocentric went to EcoBuild 09 and has an enthusiastic post about the green building conference at the Washington Convention Center.

Pacific Coast fishermen Say Carbon Dioxide Having ‘Really Scary’ Ocean Effect.

New figures show 10,000 people have died of Swine Flu.

A new study in Sweden has found that high voltage power lines trap cancer-causing pollutants in their electric fields, potentially raising health risks for people who live beneath them.

The DCist has some weekend cultural offerings here and here.

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.

Greenlines: Donuts Corrodes Pipes, MinuteClinics Open, Seattle Cuts Emissions + More

I wonder if this is another sign that the federal health care bill’s so-called public opinion is dead? Local CVS stores are getting MinuteClinics, the Washington Business Journal reports. The first has already opened in CVS’s Bladensburg Road store and is “staffed by nurse practitioners, who can diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for common illnesses like strep throat, infections and minor wounds.”

Krispy Kreme will pay Fairfax County $1.65 million for corroding sewer pipes with donut grease from its Lorton store. Given this news, you’ve gotta wonder what the sweets do to human pipes? Well, at least we now have the MinuteClinic for treatment!

Borderstan posts on how neighborhood residents rallied and saved trees along 17th Street NW that had slated for removal by city officials.

DC Metrocentric has proposed specs for redeveloping the Spring Road-Georgia Avenue NW area.

It’s official, the H Street shuttle has been saved, The Washington Post reports.


Richard Layman
checks in from New York City on how to make cities more cyclist-friendly.

Fresh AIRE is unveiling its sustainability toolkit for condos and apartments tonight at Arlington’s Central Library, The Green Miles has the details.

We Love DC is very happy to share that the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden ice skating rink opens tomorrow.

Seattle proves cutting emissions can be done! “The city of Seattle announced this afternoon that its greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 were 7 percent below what they were in 1990  a target the city had hoped to meet by 2012. But it’s not at all clear how or if the city will still meet the goal three years from now,” the Seattle Times reports.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says toxic chemical pollution from the nation’s industrial plants, mines and factories fell by 6 percent in 2008, declining for the second year in a row.

Coal mining company, Consol Energy Inc., lashes out at environmentalists who have sought to hold the company to compliance with federal clean water and other laws. After a judge pulled the company’s permits, the company decided to idle two mines employing about 500 workers and publicly blamed the shutdown on environmental activists, Reuters reports.

This might be entirely too much information for all but true climate politics junkies, but I happened across the official site for the UN climate talks. Here, you can download webcasts of every single official event and even some of the side shows.

Or you could just follow breaking news from climate talks on SEJ’s CopenBlog.

Today’s Greenlines – Toxic toys, Tainted Food, Bad Water, Rising Temperatures + New Literature on How Climate Change Can Literally Drive You Mad!

from The Guardian's Copenhagen Essay


The DCist: reports of the death of the H Street shuttle might have been greatly exaggerated.

It looks like the Advoc8te at Congress Heights on the Rise put in a late night to upload the results of her Freedom of Information Act Request regarding the investigation of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8C‘s spending. Check it out.

DC MUD says a community boycott is brewing in Ward 7 against the Polin Memorial Community Development, a residential project set to break ground tomorrow. The fracas  is over community benefits that the developers, apparently, haven’t been too forthcoming about. Read more. Oddly, the WaPo piece makes no mention of the controversy, though it did merit some ink in today”s Washington City Paper Loose Lips column.

The Washington Post has a story on how, as the holiday gift-giving season arrives, toys are still not safe from harmful toxins. On a somehow related theme, the paper also has a piece on how our far flung global food supply system puts us at greater risk of eating tainted food.

While some would claim world temperatures have been cooling recently, the World Meteorological Organization announced today in Copenhagen that it’s just not true. “The period from 2000 through 2009 has been ‘warmer than the 1990s, which were warmer than the 1980s and so on,’ said Michel Jarraud, the secretary general of the international weather agency,” according to the New York Times story.

The Times also has this cheat sheet identifying the different players and what they want out of Copenhagen.

Mother Jones has a story on how climate change can drive you crazy – literally! “King’s College London psychiatrists recently published a metastudy of how the many charming side effects of rising temperatures—natural disasters, infectious diseases, mass migration—can really harsh your mental mellow, to say the least.” Read more.

WaPo reports that the Swine Flu outbreak could be the mildest pandemic since the advent of modern medicine.

WaPo also has a long story rehashing yesterday’s announcement by the US Environmental Protection Agency that it plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

I just discovered this new site: DC Food for All. It has posts about farmers’ markets, rants on the country’s food system and a passionate defense of keeping chickens in the city, among other things.

Missed this important story yesterday: More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a NY Times analysis of federal data. After you read that story, if you want to know more, check out the NY Times’ entire series on water pollution.

I leave you this morning with The Guardian‘s photo essay from Copenhagen.

Copenhagen/Holiday Fundraiser Tonight

In case you didn’t already hear, there’s been a slight programing change for tonight’s fundraiser sponsored by  DC Green Connection and CarbonfreeDC. Monika wrote in earlier to say, World Wildlife Fund climate change policy expert Will Gartshore has joined the ranks of District wonks called away to Copenhagen. But never fear! The hosts have found a substitute: Nick Sundt, the Director of Communications for WWF’s Climate Change Program. He, apparently, is “one of  the few climate experts left in DC to hold the fort and tell the story!!” Thanks for the update, Monika!

There is still time to RSVP. You can find all the details here.

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?

Greenlines – Copenhagen Summit Edition

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.