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.)
Read my latest cover story for the Washington City Paper that chronicles the almost unbelievable goings-on at one DC gas station. Researching this story was a real eye opener on how the gas selling business works these days – all in all, a pretty “oily” business. At the particular station I profiled, there had been shootings – including a homicide – muggings, purse snatching, aggressive pan handling, multiple rat sightings, and a general disregard for such things as giving out receipts and posting the prices. The owner seems to make a pretty good living from the stations he owns but doesn’t appear overly concerned about providing good service to customers. But that seems to be the way this industry works; Skeeviness cascades downward from corporate headquarters all the way to the pumps at neighborhood stations. Small operators are being driven out of business in DC and all over the country, as Chevron and other Big Oil companies put street level sales in the hands of regional distributors called “jobbers,” who operate on even lower margins than the traditional ma’ and pa’ outfits. Just don’t expect the squeeze on the profitability of local stations to trickle down to customers.
I’ve seen tons of stories and received a slew of activist emails about the need to ban BPA, or bisphenol A. The material used in baby bottles and many other products was considered safe for years but a growing body of scientific research suggests toxins in the plastic seeps into whatever is stored inside, meaning we may be consuming it with every sip. The EPA was poised to take a side on the issue, but NPR reports that the agency now plans to delay action pending the results of even more studies.
Mother Jones on Big Oil continues funding climate deniers abroad and how the corporate largess undermines international climate action.
The EPA is reversing a long-standing decision with plans to require pesticide manufacturers to disclose to the public the inert ingredients in their
products. Federal regulators are also shifting course on the policy toward pharmaceutical residues in the nation’s drinking water.
Farmers use more herbicides on GMO crops, according to a new report.
Congress Heights on the Rise takes on the pros and cons of gentrification.
DC Mud reports that Zip Car has won the right to park in alleys, a victory that will help the car sharing service expand its presence in parking-strapped neighborhoods.
Qualia, the Petworth coffee joint, is staying open late tonight to help last-minute shoppers stay alert. Oops,I’m confusing my blog posts. This one’s better for my new Washington City Paper Series “Confessions of a Wi-Fi loafer.” Check it out on the WCP’s City Desk blog!
First up: local bike news today:
The New Columbia Heights blog has a post about the debate raging on the Columbia Heights listserve about bikes after a pedestrian was nearly mowed down by a cyclist, who reported shouted “get out of my way,” as opposed to breaking or getting out the pedestrian’s way. Here’s a link to the blog post and here is the listserve site.
Borderstan reports that a new bike lane on 15th St. NW is expected to open by the weekend. The site also has an interesting post on how the District’s unemployment rate varies by wards.
The Washington Business Journal has a sobering article on the growing shortage of affordable housing in the D.C.-area even though the real estate has yet to recover from its crash two years ago.
Mount Kilimanjaro has lost more than a quarter of its ice cap since 2000, the New York Times reports.
The Times also covers the continuing saga of the senate climate bill.
The New Republic says Warren Buffett‘s just announced plans to buy Burlington Northern Santa Fe signals he’s “betting big on coal.” Coal has started to look decidedly “last century” given the greenhouse gas implications and the serious doubts about whether “clean coal” technology will ever be commercially viable. TNR, however, sees Buffett’s move to buy a railroad that runs right through Western states with large coal reserves as a sign that the business guru does not expect coal’s hold to loosen anytime soon on the country’s economy and electric grid (more than half of the country’s electricity is coal-powered.)
Mother Jones is among the news outlets that has rifled through the White House visitors log and reports on the oil moguls who have been chumming around with Larry Summers and other Obama administration officials.