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Where to look for responses to climate change: environmental secession?

Climate reporter Andrew Revkin wrote an essay in the NYT on Sunday wherein he tries to "bring the debate on global warming down to earth." While I believe global warming is "breaking news" (it's the fate of Earth we're talking about after all), I'm not as interested in taking another shot at the "debate." What struck me was the story I found in the graphs alongside the article. Several recent surveys show a fairly low level of concern for global warming and the environment generally among Americans. There is a striking disconnect between these survey results and the real, concrete steps being taken at local and state levels. Mark Hertsgaard points out one such example in the recent Vanity Fair green issue:

LCV hearts Barack

The League of Conservation Voters is having its annual Washington Dinner this Wed. The keynote speaker? Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

The Land of Disenchantment

New Mexico cracks down on its filthy dairy industry Industrial dairy farms deplete groundwater, fill the air with bacteria-laden dust, and, what with the massive lagoons filled with manure (ew), kinda stink. If goings-on in …

The World Bunk

World Bank report urges cleantech boost in developing countries The World Bank is turning its attention to helping developing countries meet their growing energy needs without, you know, frying the globe. At the request of …

Hydrogen Fidelity

Bush stumps for hydrogen on Earth Day For Earth Day, President Bush visited a California hydrogen fuel-cell project, decrying the danger posed to the planet by … high gas prices. Predicting a “tough summer” and …

Grist in the MSM

As a small, scrappy, poor non-profit magazine devoted to the environment, we naturally revel in our thoroughgoing moral superiority to the mainstream media (MSM). We also, naturally, giggle like schoolgirls whenever they mention our name. Amanda's interview with Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott is covered rather extensively in the business section of the New York Times. Also, our Maximum Leader Chip is quoted (for reasons not entirely clear, but whatevs, we love it) toward the top of this story about carbon offsets. Also, ML Chip is interviewed by NPR's Weekend America for Earth Day (second segment down), about the changing image of environmentalists -- a change, we find out from the disinterested interview subject, being led by Grist! Also, ML Chip has an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle today, about the connection between poverty and the environment -- a little late for our Poverty & the Environment special edition, but then, it's not like the problem has gone away. And that's that for Self-Promotion Sunday. Tune in next week!

Every day is Earth Day … or at least yesterday was

I spent Earth Day in a small cabin on a sand spit that juts from the coast of Bainbridge Island, enjoying the sun, the waves, my kids' delighted squeals, and most of all, the four -- yes, four -- hour nap I took mid-day. Ah ... love me some Earth Day! So I missed my chance to write an inspiring message. Instead, I offer this small roundup of stuff to read:

LA Times can learn a lot from ESPN

I unfortunately did not take Dave Robert's advice, and went ahead and read Jonah Goldberg's vapid op-ed on global warming. I'll leave it to others to say why Goldberg is wrong. I want to discuss why the L.A. Times is wrong. A year or so ago, ESPN hired Rush Limbaugh to provide color commentary (the irony only became apparent later) during NFL football games. This little experiment ended, as any idiot could have predicted, when Limbaugh made on-air comments that -- how to say this in a balanced way? -- some listeners thought might be racist, and others knew for sure were racist. Limbaugh's shtick might play well on rightwing hate-radio (though is no less excusable), but no one, including ESPN, should have been surprised when it didn't translate well to a broader audience. An audience with black people, for instance. ESPN endured a firestorm of criticism -- the National Association of Black Journalists said "ESPN's journalistic credibility is at stake" -- and ended up issuing mea culpas and canning Limbaugh. Ditto Goldberg. His vapid screed might play well over on National Review Online, but the L.A. Times insults the thinking members of its circulation when they publish this kind of horseshit on Earth Day. What's next? Paul Bunyan's ode to lumber on Arbor Day? Will they give Hugh Hefner free rein on National Chastity Day? (Trust me. It's only a matter of time.) Shame on you, L.A. Times. You insult your readers at your peril.

What’s next in the global warming discussion

If you want to see the conservative punditariat's most ignorant, flat-footed, intellectually irresponsible position on climate change, you can't do better than Jonah Goldberg's insipid column in the L.A. Times. But it's just a collection of smears and discredited half-truths collected from right-wing blogs, so I won't encourage you to waste your time on it. A far more intelligent conservative, and a far more eloquent statement of the conservative position on climate change, can be found in this post from Ross Douthat. Ultimately, though, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny either. (Incidentally, both posts focus their ire on Al Gore. We can expect more of that. Particularly on issues on which the merits weigh against them, conservatives love to personalize and demonize, and they made an art form of doing it to Gore back in 2000. Laura Turner makes the point well here.) Once you strip away the cruft, Douthat's position is basically this: Global warming may be devastating in the long term, but "the kind of economic reforms necessary to do anything significant about the accumulation of carbon dioxide would be immediately and decisively disastrous." And "very, very few governments are inclined to accept an immediate economic calamity in order to forestall a longer-range crisis that may or may not be worse." The problems with this position are fairly obvious. As Ezra Klein puts it, "if there's a sick patient on your table and you decide surgery might kill 'em, that doesn't erase the fact that there's a sick patient on your table." Douthat offers no alternative proposal. If we take him seriously, what he offers is basically nihilism: It's going to happen, we'll never do anything to stop it, and Al Gore is a butthead. That's not exactly a winning position, substantively or politically. This is where Douthat -- and conservatives generally -- leave off, but it's where the meaty argument actually begins.