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The Present Future

Glimpsing the predicament of our moment, of "a human world newly and suddenly vulnerable to the forces of a changed planet," writer and artist team up to question the fantasy of human control over destiny. That's the tag line for "The Present Future: Paintings for a very hot planet," a showcase of paintings by Alexis Rockman, accompanied by an essay from Bill McKibben, in the latest issue of Orion Magazine. Check it out.

WTO to EU: Belly up, sucka

WTO rules that Europe must accept gene-modified food

In other big news today, the WTO ruled that the European Union has to accept genetically modified food, like it or not. More specifically, it ruled that countries that have banned the import of GMOs have broken international trade laws, since such bans have insufficient "scientific basis." This is glorious news for the Bush administration, which is eager to pry open EU markets for America's copious output of GM crops. I don't know all the ins and outs of the ruling; it's an incredibly complex issue. I believe/hope our resident food expert will be chiming in soon with some more informed commentary. But on first blush, I tend to think Roger Pielke Jr. has it exactly right:

Just can’t quit

Three guesses who said this: Americans depend upon [oil] imports to fill the gap. No combination of conservation measures, alternative energy sources and technological advances could realistically and economically provide a way to completely replace those imports in the short or medium term. The answer will shock you. Oh, wait, no it won't. (via TP)

Me and Lester Brown

Early tomorrow morning, I'm interviewing Lester Brown. What should I ask him? Brown founded the Worldwatch Institute and the Earth Policy Institute, where he now serves as president. He's the author of the recently released Plan B 2.0, which is, as I said yesterday, the best big-picture summary of our environmental situation -- both the problems and the solutions -- I've ever read. (All in a slim 266 pages, not including the copious footnotes.) The entire book is online in both HTML and PDF form. But you should buy it anyway, just to toss a couple bucks EPI's way. Anyway, Brown is a legend in environmental circles; the Washington Post called him "one of the world's most influential thinkers." And I'm just some blogger. So what should I ask him?

Paradise Found

Researchers discover treasure trove of new tropical species in Indonesia Just when we thought we’d colonized it all: Scientists have discovered a jungle in New Guinea’s Foja mountains that is home to hundreds of rare and dozens of previously unknown species of flora and fauna. Researchers were helicoptered into the Rhode Island-sized area and spent a month in a state of awe. Among their findings were a new species of honeyeater bird, a nearly extinct tree kangaroo, a rhododendron with blossoms the size of bread plates, and an aptly named bird of paradise that hadn’t been recorded since the 19th …

You’ll Eat It, and You’ll Like It

WTO says E.U. illegally blocked genetically modified crops After years of striving to pry Europe open to biotech crops, Washington scored a crucial victory yesterday: A World Trade Organization panel found that the European Union had illegally blocked imports of genetically modified crops, and that several E.U. nations had no legal right to impose their own bans. Although the E.U. has licensed limited GM crop imports recently, the Bush administration says the issue now is clearing a decade’s backlog of trade applications — and dispelling the chilling effect E.U. resistance has had on sales worldwide. European consumer and eco-advocacy groups …

The Only Boy Who Could Ever Teach Me

Evangelical leaders launch new campaign to fight global warming Eighty-six evangelical Christian leaders have joined together to launch an “Evangelical Climate Initiative” and call for federal legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions via a cap-and-trade market system. This move comes after 22 evangelical leaders — including Bush-friendly political heavyweights James Dobson and Charles Colson — warned the National Association of Evangelicals against issuing just such a statement earlier this month. The NAE didn’t sign on to the new statement, but its president Ted Haggard says he’s personally convinced global warming is real and dangerous, and NAE VP Richard Cizik helped …

Hallelujah!

Evangelical leaders sign up to battle climate change

Last week I wrote a post called "Jesus Interruptus" (a title that failed to elicit the encomiums it deserved, ahem), about efforts by a group of evangelical leaders to prevent the National Association of Evangelicals from making a formal statement on global warming. Later that day, I was contacted by Paul Gorman, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, who said I'd gotten the story all wrong, that the NAE had never planned to issue a statement, and, somewhat cryptically, that I should keep my eyes peeled for news on Wednesday. Well, here it is Wednesday, and here's the news: Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming ... Among signers of the statement, which will be released in Washington on Wednesday, are the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, leaders of aid groups and churches, like the Salvation Army, and pastors of megachurches, including Rick Warren, author of the best seller "The Purpose-Driven Life." "For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority," the statement said. "Indeed, many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians. But now we have seen and heard enough." This is excellent news -- and I say that as someone able to find the cloud in any silver lining. It's debatable how much power conservative Christians actually have in Republican politics -- as opposed to, say, big business -- but they are certainly perceived to have great power. And they are perceived to be as conservative as conservative gets. This move could decisively dispel (finally!) the illusion that global warming is a partisan issue.

Tierney: Market = fairy godmother

I don't mean to spend half my time discussing New York Times columnists that my readers can't read, really I don't, but ... John Tierney has a truly stupid column running today. In it, he describes his plan for energy independence, which is: do nothing. There is a great deal of dimwittery encased in the short piece, but I just want to make one small point, about this:

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