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Behind the scenes at the poverty series...

Some background and some thank-you’s

As the lead editor on Poverty & the Environment, I can say that the tough thing about putting together a series like this isn't what goes into it; it's what doesn't go in -- the great stories that wind up on the cutting room floor because you run out of time, or run out of money, or the journalist goes into labor a month early, or your awe-inspiring colleagues finally say, "we'd love to but we've already worked 96 hours this week." This chronic editorial dilemma was particularly acute with the current series. Given the subject matter, "embarrassment of riches" is exactly the wrong phrase, but it is certainly (and sadly) the case that there's no shortage of important stories to be told about the relationship between environmental and economic injustice. (That's one reason I encourage all of you to use this discussion forum to share your own ideas and experiences, as well as your reactions to what you read here.) We at Grist owe our familiarity with these issues to a great many people who took the time, early on in this process, to talk to us about their work and their vision for this series. That input was so valuable that I want to post some of it here; where we have not been able to incorporate it into the rest of the series, we can at least share it directly with our readers. Herewith, then, a very abbreviated list of heartfelt thank-yous, helpful advisors, and important ideas:

Aw, Mom, Not Whaleloaf Again!

Japanese government trying to unload surplus whale meat Japan’s “research” whaling has led to a market glutted with whale meat. Burdened by 2,700 tons of whale heading for freezer burn, the Japanese government has launched a campaign to overcome an increasingly common sentiment: “To put it simply,” says one Japanese diner, “whale meat tastes horrible.” The government has issued a pamphlet called — what else? — Scrumptious Whale, and is distributing the blubbery meat to schools, homes for the elderly, and pet food stores. Greens are concerned that feeding whale meatballs to students will “create a new constituency that will …

What Doesn’t Krill Me Makes Me Stronger

Smaller number of gray whales migrating south to breed, says researcher Fewer gray whales are migrating from North Pacific feeding grounds to warm Mexican lagoons to breed this year. British whale researcher William Megill says only 90 whales made it to the San Ignacio lagoon on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula by February — down about 50 percent from the same time last year. Scientists have noted an abrupt rise in Bering Sea ocean temperatures since 2000, and a parallel decline in the worm and shrimp populations the whales depend on to fuel up for their annual 5,000-mile journey. “I wouldn’t be …

Public Land Enemy No. 1

White House wants to auction off 300,000 acres of public land The Bush administration has proposed a sell-off of over $1 billon worth of public land over the next five to 10 years. Proceeds from the auctions of more than 300,000 acres of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management holdings would largely go to rural schools and roads, funding for which has been cut by, um, the Bush administration. Environmental historian Char Miller calls the scheme “a fire sale of public lands … utterly unprecedented.” Mark Rey, the Agriculture Department undersecretary in charge of the Forest Service, claims timber, …

Poverty & the Environment

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.

A virtual walking tour of Columbia, Miss., with Charlotte Keys of Jesus People Against Pollution

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.

Now on to humans!

At least public transportation is catching on somewhere. (via BB)

Oil addiction: Symptoms continue in the Gulf of Mexico

Gulf oil production remains hobbled

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.

Klare on the permanent energy crisis

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.