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Me and Elizabeth Kolbert

Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe, based on three well-received articles she wrote for the New Yorker (the articles are no longer available online, but you can read an excerpt from the book here; Grist reviewed it here.) It's a journal of her travels to various parts of the world being directly impacted by global warming, along with a clear-eyed assessment of global-warming politics in the U.S. It's probably the best single book on climate change to date. I'll be chatting with Kolbert tomorrow. What should I ask her?

The Mustache and Lugar

Chip mentioned The Mustache's latest column here. A couple of people wanted to see excerpts, as it's hidden behind the $elect subscription wall. The basic point of the column is that "Dick Cheney and Big Oil" have taken control of the energy debate by defining "realism" with ... ... this patronizing, pat-you-on-the-head view about alternative energy -- hybrids, wind, solar, ethanol -- which goes like this: "Yes, yes, those are all very cute and virtuous, but not realistic. Real men know that oil and fossil fuels are going to dominate our energy usage for a long time, so get used to it." But, he says, there are signs of strain in the Republican coalition. More groups on the right are coming to realize that leaving oil behind -- and fast -- is the only "realistic" option if we want to avoid serious pain down the line. Mostly, though, the column amounts to, "hey, look at Lugar's speech!" Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) makes the same points more eloquently. I'm including a long excerpt below the fold, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.

An interview with Rabbi Michael Lerner

On spiritual environmentalism

A few weeks ago, I sat down for a long chat with Rabbi Michael Lerner. The first half -- most directly related to environmental issues -- is here. The second half, wherein in we discuss general spiritual and theological issues, is below. In his new book The Left Hand of God (you can read an excerpt here), Lerner says the religious right offers what he calls the right hand of God: a stern authoritarian father, who punishes sin, demands self-reliance, and inspires fear. The political right has gained momentum and adherents in recent years, Lerner says, because only conservative Christianity has been vocally and unapologetically addressing the spiritual needs of Americans, their quest for meaning in a materialist, consumerist culture. Lerner thinks progressives should offer an alternative: the left hand of God, a loving, nurturing presence that forgives imperfection and inspires a sense of hope and wonder.

The Sound of One Species Clapping

Humans responsible for fastest rate of extinction since dinosaurs Human beings continue to dominate “Survivor: Earth,” voting other species off the island at a blistering pace. “In effect, we are currently responsible for the sixth …

What the Left Hand’s Doing

A conversation with Rabbi Michael Lerner on spirituality and environmentalism As long as the environmental movement neglects the spiritual realm, says longtime activist Rabbi Michael Lerner, it’s going to keep losing. It’s got to go …

Something Fishy: World Water Day

A celebration of all things H2O

Ahoy, me hearties! Arrrr you excited about World Water Day? Well ... arrrr ye? Begad, mateys! Do tell me ye know what the fuss is all about? Why, today is the one day a year wherein we celebrate the briny (and non-briny) deep as we should all year. I daresay, 'tis the best holiday of 'em all. (OK, perhaps the second best.) So sing a chantey, grab a noggin of rum, and let's yo-ho-ho, if ye know what I mean. Recognized formally for the first time in 1993, the World Day for Water was designated by the United Nations as a yearly commitment by member nations to devote time to implementing U.N. recommendations and promoting concrete activities related to water issues. Last year's World Water Day marked the start of the second "U.N. International Decade for Action: Water for Life." (During the first U.N. decade on water in 1981-1990, it's estimated that more than a billion people gained access to safe drinking water.) Wanting to get in on all the U.N. action, NGOs have used the holiday to push for clean water and sustainable aquatic habitats (that'd be where the "something fishy" comes in). There are events going on everywhere, but one of the major haps is the 4th World Water Forum that's been going on in Mexico City since March 16. Held every three years by the World Water Council, these forums are international arenas for open dialogue on water-related policy-making. And, as you may have noticed (as pirates of the über-informed variety), there's always much buzz in the media about water issues during one of these forums -- which is exactly the idea, I suppose. Even the godly have gotten involved in the water wars. The Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches has called on their religious brethren to "work together to preserve and protect water resources against over-consumption and pollution." Which totally makes sense, because What else Would Jesus Drink? Seriously, though, ye lads and lassies, why all the ruckus about H2O?

Green blogs meet mainstream media, exchange kisses

If you read green blogs, you will no doubt see this linked on every single one today. Gregory Dicum (who occasionally contributes to Grist) writes a column on environmental matters for the San Francisco Chronicle. Today's column is about the green blogosphere. Check it out. Update [2006-3-22 9:45:35 by David Roberts]: Obviously I should clarify one thing, as apparently every single one of my colleagues plans to razz me about it. In the piece, it says, "Roberts is technically an employee of [Grist], although he says he has complete editorial freedom." I chatted with the author of the piece, Gregory, over IM, so obviously nuances are going to get lost. But just to clarify: I am not "technically" an employee of Grist, I am entirely and happily an employee, working every day in the office alongside all the other talented, intelligent, and beautiful/handsome employees, and I do several things outside the purview of the blog. My comment about editorial freedom was meant as praise for my employers: They have shown me a great deal of trust and have never asked or pressured me to alter the content of the blog. Hooray for them! I am proud to technically work for them.

Environment back in National Security Strategy

President Bush dropped any references to the environment from his 2002 National Security Strategy. Environment had first appeared in Poppy Bush's NSS in the early 1990s, and made continual appearances in the various Clinton administration iterations. But just last week a new NSS was announced by the White House. In the last section, on the opportunities and challenges of globalization, environment appears along with pandemics, trafficking in drugs, people, and sex. Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis. Problems of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond, and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response. These challenges are not traditional national security concerns, such as the conflict of arms or ideologies. But if left unaddressed they can threaten national security. Obviously Katrina is a key frame of reference, rather than the contribution environmental degradation may be playing in causing instability in developing countries, the focus in previous NSS mentions. The NSS is an important document in security circles -- remains to be seen whether this can translate into any new approaches.

New-age energy

Continuing on his energy kick, Tom Friedman devotes his Wednesday column in full to a perhaps shocking speech (pdf) given last week by Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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