Grist launches a seven-week special series In much of popular and political culture, the environmental movement is dismissed as the pet cause of white, well-off Americans. And yet, the population most affected by environmental problems in the U.S. is the poor. Today we kick off a seven-week series that looks at the intersection of economic and ecological survival — and how we can do better to ensure both for all our citizens. We want to hear from you on these issues, so swing by our discussion area and share your thoughts.
In 1977, a factory in Columbia, Miss., that had been manufacturing Agent Orange was rocked by an explosion. The owner, Reichhold Chemical Inc., shuttered the facility and abandoned or buried thousands of barrels of toxic waste near the water supply of the predominantly poor, African-American neighborhood where it had operated; flooding and leaks followed. In this virtual walking tour, Columbia activist and evangelist Charlotte Keys, founder of Jesus People Against Pollution, describes life near the plant and her fight to win justice for her community.
At least public transportation is catching on somewhere. (via BB)
Oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico didn't get much attention during the 2005 hurricane season. Thankfully none were so catastrophic as to overtake any of the catastrophes unfolding on land during Katrina and Rita. But as the folks at SKYTRUTH document, there were still plenty of spills. And according to the Minerals Management Service (the part of the Department of the Interior responsible for overseeing production in federal waters), Katrina and Rita were the greatest natural disasters to oil and gas development in the history of the Gulf. Furthermore, the impact hasn't stopped. Due to the oil infrastructure wreckage, three boats have been damaged, including one that led to a massive spill back in November.
Energy analyst Michael T. Klare has been busy lately. There was his great piece on natural gas in The Nation, an op-ed in the L.A. Times this weekend about how it's not just us but the whole world that's addicted to oil, and -- most deserving of your attention -- a new piece on Tom's Dispatch arguing that the world is on the brink of a more-or-less permanent energy crisis: Although we cannot hope to foresee all the ways such forces will affect the global human community, the primary vectors of the permanent energy crisis can be identified and charted. Three such vectors, in particular, demand attention: a slowing in the growth of energy supplies at a time of accelerating worldwide demand; rising political instability provoked by geopolitical competition for those supplies; and mounting environmental woes produced by our continuing addiction to oil, natural gas, and coal. Each of these would be cause enough for worry, but it is their intersection that we need to fear above all. Yup. Read the whole thing.
Todd Gitlin brings us this quote from Frank Barnes' Rebel-in-Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush: Though he didn't say so publicly, Bush is a dissenter on the theory of global warming....He avidly read Michael Crichton's 2004 novel State of Fear, whose villain falsifies scientific studies to justify draconian steps to curb global warming....Early in 2005, political adviser Karl Rove arranged for Crichton to meet with Bush at the White House. They talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement. The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalists all the more. Sigh. My review of Crichton's book is here.
According to a guest op-ed in today's NYT, switchgrass is the road to world peace. And a pony. I'm ready to be convinced about this stuff. If switchgrass really flourishes on marginal land, soaks up pesticides, absorbs CO2, looks great in floral arrangements, and -- this is key -- could eventually be scaled to compete with the abundance and price of corn, count me a cheerleader. I think biofuels will be only a small part of the long-term energy solution, but low-impact crop fuels are necessary and comparatively unobjectionable as a bridge technology.
Apparently I didn't do such a good job in this post explaining why I found this New York Times article on higher-mileage, gas-electric hybrid SUVs so troubling. So I'll try again. To recap -- the Times article claims that, under the system governing vehicle fuel economy in the U.S., selling a hybrid Escape lets Ford sell an additional Lincoln Navigator without running afoul of federal CAFE standards. In other words, while buying an Escape may mean that you're driving a more efficient vehicle, it doesn't mean that the average fuel economy of all the Fords on the road will change one whit. A couple commenters over on my blog mothership said this is bunk. But I think the article is on to something.
James Hansen says NOAA is also stifling its scientists.