Francisca Porchas, clean-bus campaigner, answers questions

Francisca Porchas. What work do you do? I am a lead organizer with the Labor/Community Strategy Center and the Bus Riders Union‘s Clean Air, Clean Lungs, Clean Buses Campaign, based in Los Angeles. How does it relate to the environment? The Strategy Center has engaged in environmental-justice and civil-rights campaigns for the last 17 years, combining grassroots organizing and policy work with a strategy that challenges market-driven social policy. The Strategy Center includes the Wilmington Labor/Community Watchdog that fights corporate polluters in the Los Angeles port area and the Bus Riders Union that takes on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan …

Silly Rabbit, Toxics Aren’t for Kids!

Parents strive to protect kids from everyday chemical hazards There may be no more powerful force for social change in the world than worried parents. And they’re turning their attention to lead in lunchboxes, bisphenol A in plastic, and other eco-nasties in their children’s daily lives, switching to greener-seeming products — like cloth totes and wax-paper wrappers for school lunches — and sharing information. Breeders’ buying power can transform the market: green goods retailer Seventh Generation has seen double-digit growth in sales for the past five years, which the company attributes in part to new parents. Making healthy choices for …

What would be in your ideal farm bill?

The U.S. needs a food bill more than a farm bill

<img src="" class="blog4" width="150" height="100" America is scheduled to write a new farm bill in 2007. With the World Trade Organization ruling that our farm subsidies distort trade, and public expenses for flood relief and the war effort taxing the treasury, this could be a time of interesting shifts in how we view farm policy. Moreover, both farmer and consumer groups say subsidies are harming Americans and developing nations (see Tom Philpott's fine story "I'm Hatin' It"). On the other hand, there are also signs that the same coalition of grain traders and producer groups will persuade Congress to extend the provisions of the existing farm bill for a few more years. This gets me thinking about what a proper farm bill should do. The first thing to note is: We don't need a farm bill in 2007. We need a food bill, or a rural development bill. We need to invest in communities, not commodities.

Pangea Cinema: A day of worldchanging film

When the world comes together

In the spirit of using film and television to make a difference, I introduce you to 2006 Ted Prize winner Jehane Noujaim: In her moving acceptance speech, TED Prize winner, Jehane Noujaim described her wish for using film to bring people together in a more meaningful way. Jehane is the award-winning filmmaker behind Control Room and Jehane's wish is to create a worldwide cinema event for one day each year with programming that highlights the themes of unity, the common ties that bind us into a global culture, a film festival called "Pangea Cinema, the day the world comes together." "Pangea" refers to the single land mass that broke up millions of years ago to create the disparate continents we know today.Pangea Cinema is still very much in the brainstorming phase but the hope is to develop the idea well beyond the act of showing films. The goal is to invite the viewers of these films to join a global conversation about the issues that affect us all. Watch Jehane's acceptance speech and proposal here. And as for the subject matter for this day of film? May I suggest climate change.


I walked into the study this morning to find my wife and youngest daughter watching an eagle on a wildlife webcam. They asked me if male eagles sit on eggs. No sooner had I said, "Pfft, I seriously doubt it," than another eagle appeared. The one sitting on the eggs flew off, allowing its partner to take over. Hey, roosters don't sit on eggs! Where would conservation (a major branch of environmentalism) be without charismatic wildlife? Speaking of which, Luna, the killer-whale orphan, was just killed by a boat. Later, while poking around on the webcam site, I discovered a cool video of a black snake making short work of a nest of baby robins (click on the picture of the robin). I watched the exact same thing happen on my uncle's farm when I was a kid in Indiana. Black rat snakes can get up to six feet long. They are the generalists of the snake world, known to eat just about anything: rodents, amphibians, birds, other snakes, and even eggs. I was glad the webcam owner, obviously a bird lover, allowed nature to take its course. I bet that wasn't easy.

Put a Canada in your tank

How do Canadians feel about fueling America’s empire?

Something I've wondered about for a while: Canada is our No. 1 source of oil imports. And Canadian tar-sands are often cited by energy optimists as a virtually unlimited source of future oil. But, um, has anyone asked Canada about this? Or rather, asked Canadians, as opposed to the Canadian government? 'Cause it seems like a pretty raw deal for them. Extracting tar-sands oil is horrifically destructive to the environment and the workers involved. And because of NAFTA, Canada is stuck exporting most of it to us, meaning they're fueling our dreams of empire at the possible expense of their own future energy security. Furthermore, in times of energy scarcity, being a fruitful source of oil immediately contiguous to the world's largest consumer of oil -- and also its most powerful, hyper-militarized country -- might prove to be a little, ahem, awkward. Anyhoo, Oil Drum has a thread going about all this, playing off this Canadian think-tank report (PDF), which raises all the above concerns. Lots of interesting stuff.

From clubbin’ to clubbing

Hey, I'm not really sure why we stopped blurbing these in Gristmill. Maybe we'll start again. But regardless: A new Grist List is up, sure to amaze and amuse. Check it out.

Makower on the service sector

I was going to try to say something smart about this great Joel Makower post on the environmental footprint of the service sector, but it's obvious now I'm never going to have time, and hell, it's Friday, so I'm just going to poach a chunk and tell you to go read the rest:


In other exciting news: "The number of billionaires surged this year, as did their collective pile of cash, according to Forbes magazine's annual billionaire list."

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.