Little did I know the hours spent typing high school newspaper articles on my Wang computer were some of the first steps I'd take toward founding a groundbreaking green news organization — now with more than 2 million readers a month and counting.
We’ve suffered through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but more and more people are eschewing these frenzied traditions and participating in Giving Tuesday instead -- a day dedicated to charitable giving and volunteership. We love the idea of this holiday at Grist -- and what better way to celebrate than by hitting you up for cash?
I started Grist in 1999 to awaken more people to environmental concerns and spur them to take action. Over the years we’ve helped our readers find ways to de-stuff the holidays -- last year, we dedicated the entire month of December to “Shifting the Gift” -- and our surveys show that half of you have changed your consumption habits after reading Grist.
Yes, Grist is a nonprofit -- and we’re aiming to raise 300 gifts today. We hope you’ll help us get off to a strong start toward our goal of 2,500 gifts by Dec. 17.
Each and every day, Grist brings you coverage of the latest climate politics, pipeline foibles, and other news; practical advice on green living, eating, and commuting; and quirky stories to keep your spirit light. Help us continue to lead this important conversation and inspire more positive traditions. Make a tax-deductible gift today.
Fall is here -- have you noticed the unmistakable whiff of End Times in the air? The latest climate report says we’re all doomed, the government has shut down, Breaking Bad is over ... how much more can we take?
OK, I’ve never actually watched Breaking Bad. But I did find the timing of the other two events amazing: Just days after the influential IPCC report said we must take action to avoid irreversible planetary harm, the U.S. government proved that it was incapable of performing basic functions, never mind taking proactive steps on climate and energy.
That is, in a word, bad.
I’ve been thinking about this perfect storm of urgency and inaction a lot this week, because I’m making my first-ever visit to New Orleans. I’ll never forget being in the Grist newsroom when Hurricane Katrina struck. Along with the rest of the country, we watched with increasing horror as the storm devastated homes and lives across the city. But unlike the rest of the country, we also found ourselves wondering: Did climate change make Katrina worse?
Under draft rules being announced this morning, new coal power plants will have to be a whole lot cleaner than the ones we've got today. In fact, thanks also to market conditions, new coal plants might not get built at all. Perhaps most important, the draft rules lay the foundation for a bigger move to cut emissions from already-existing coal-fired power plants, a plan due to be unveiled in June 2014.
In an interview with Grist, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the proposed regulations for new plants are not intended to push coal out of the energy mix. Still, the standards are pretty strict. The EPA had released an earlier version of them in March of last year, then decided to rework them, but this new set of regs still takes a hard line with coal.
Tom Steyer spent years as a wildly successful hedge fund manager, a vigorous philanthropist, and a sought-after funder of Democratic politicians, but most of that activity took place beneath the public radar.
In August 2010, he and Taylor signed the Giving Pledge, vowing -- as with Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett -- to give away at least half their fortune, which in their case runs to $1.2 billion. Later that year, Steyer poured $5 million into a winning campaign against California's Prop 23, which would have rolled back the state's seminal global warming legislation. In November 2011, he cofounded the Advanced Energy Economy, a trade association of clean energy businesses. In October 2012, he resigned from his hedge fund to pursue social change full-time. Also in 2012, Steyer crafted, and spent $32 million to back, California's Prop 39 -- which voters approved in November, closing a tax loophole benefiting out-of-state corporations and directing half of the resulting revenue to clean-energy initiatives.
Most controversially, in March of this year, he dove headlong into electoral politics, pouring scorn and threatening to pour money into a Mass. Democratic senate primary campaign against Stephen Lynch, a supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Lynch's opponent Ed Markey won, but Steyer's involvement drew fire. Markey himself disavowed the hardball tactics and political operatives everywhere clutched their pearls.
We met with Steyer when he came through Seattle, for a chat about climate, politics, and money. (This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Q.What first engaged you on climate and energy in such a significant way? Was there a turning point or moment of clarity?
A. I don't think there was a big epiphany. But getting involved in the No on 23 campaign in 2010 was an incredible education for me in how human beings think about this, how they relate to it, and what moves them on it. It definitely corrected a bunch of my preconceptions as to who cared and why they cared. People's image of environmentalism is very different from the actual Americans who care about it. That Latinos care the most about environmental issues is not a popularly held view in the U.S., but it consistently polls that way.
James Bond had Goldfinger. Maxwell Smart had KAOS. Inspector Gadget had Dr. Claw. At Grist, our evil nemesis is a whole coven of dark forces intent on wrecking the climate, from fiendish oil-lovin' billionaires to crooked coal-beholden politicians. Luckily, the Grist Agency is committed to fending them off with a whole lotta smarts -- and a dash of style.
Every day, we reveal all the crucial information you need to navigate this ever-changing world we live in. But it takes more than just a goldeneye for great stories to create a brighter planetary future. It takes some shekels, too. So please, parachute in some dollars, pounds, whatever you got.
Grist readers, these climate-crushing villains are threatening to "send us a message" by dismantling the Grist irrev-o-blaster -- the device that dispatches our irreverent green news to millions -- and we have just two weeks to stop them. Make a donation today to help us reach our goal of 2,500 donations by Dec. 11 so we can foil their plot and pursue our ultimate mission: you know, saving the planet.
It's been a bumpy road for Lisa Jackson through three and a half years as chief administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But the 50-year-old chemical engineer doesn't look fazed or fed up. A scientist-turned-insider who has learned that the levers of power don't always budge without a fight, she shows a little steel in her eyes as she ticks off achievements and notes setbacks. But she also lets mischief color her laugh as she acknowledges what she calls the "toxic attitude of absolute certainty" that paralyzes progress on climate and other issues.
In 2009, President Obama appointed Jackson to lead the EPA, the agency she'd worked at for 16 years before serving in New Jersey's environmental agency, where she became commissioner in 2006. Jackson took the EPA helm at a moment of high hopes for green advocates in the U.S. They'd spent eight years in George Bush's wilderness; now they felt they were on the verge of passing climate legislation at home and a global carbon accord at the Copenhagen talks.
What could go wrong? Only everything.
Today progress on climate at the federal level seems less likely than ever. Certainly, Jackson can point to a passel of signal achievements: she has reinvigorated the agency, presided over a plan to double automobile fuel-efficiency standards over the next decade, established EPA's right to regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide as pollutants, and placed new controls on mercury and other toxic power-plant emissions.
But Jackson has also watched as the faltering economy and a partisan civil war in Congress have placed environmental issues on a low-simmering back burner -- and placed EPA itself in the crosshairs of an increasingly radical conservative movement that aims to defang, defund, and ultimately destroy it. Even if it dodges that bullet, her EPA must use the narrow statutory authority of a handful of increasingly outdated laws to tackle an endlessly multiplying set of problems. Meanwhile, new laws are out of reach, and old-fashioned regulations get held hostage to competing agendas: Her agency's proposal to tighten ozone standards met sudden death at the hands of the White House that had appointed her.
Jackson has stuck to her post, despite rumors that she might resign in the wake of that ozone reversal. At the end of last week, she visited Seattle to drop in on Boeing, speak at the annual Climate Solutions breakfast, and deliver a commencement address at the University of Washington. She also took time to talk informally at an event with Grist supporters, and sat down with us for an interview.
We knew there was little chance that Jackson would go off message or make unscripted news, and we weren't going to play gotcha with her. But we did get some intriguing glimpses of the mind of the woman who's still trying to push the Obama administration's hope wagon over all those bumps.
Q.Right now U.S. fossil fuel production is ramping up, and a lot of people are enthusiastic about energy independence and jobs in that industry. So national security and employment are set up to be at odds with the environment. Can we get beyond that?
A. First of all there's two sides of the energy discussion: there's production, and there's also use. America as a consumer-oriented country is seeing real choices for the first time in using less energy. That's very good for the American pocketbook. There's simply no reason why American cars can't be efficient and still be cool and be a part of what drives our economy. And if you want proof of that, look at what's happening right now in Detroit. I have conversations all the time with young people, and they're not feeling like they're losing anything by the fact that they'll be able to have choices and much more fuel-efficient cars should they choose to buy them.
My staff has been struck by a curse:
We have to keep speaking in verse.
But a timely donation
Will offer salvation -- Give now, or this curse will get worse!
Grist readers, at the risk of incurring the wrath of the raven that put this curse upon us, I'm going to break from speaking in verse for just a moment so I can ask you, in all earnestness, to support Grist today with as little as $5.
We gotta get just a few more gifts by midnight to earn an additional $25,000 from a generous donor. We are so close to our goal of 3,000 gifts, and we don't want to leave that money on the table. Please help us meet our goal and capture the gold. We don’t want to be doomed to meetings like this:
Once upon a workday dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a serious tale of gloom 'n' doom 'n' eco-gore,
While I nodded nearly groaning, came a thought that seemed worth honing:
If we make this funny, we will surely get folks in the door. And lo, green news won't be a bore.
Grist was born and, 12 years later, has 1 million fans or greater!
We’ve helped you and your friends explore climate news and views galore.
Carpools, bike lanes, urban gardens -- our punny fun we hope you’ll pardon.
At Grist.org you get the score, on what to praise and to abhor. So now what am I rhyming for?
You see, there is this awful curse, that forces us to speak in verse.
But you can spring us from this chore!
Please give a buck, or three, or four!
Our fine nonprofit needs an offer, from your wallet or your coffer. We need 3,000 gifts or more by May 15 or just before. Please give now, we do implore.
Edgar Allen Poetically,
Chip Giller President and Founder
P.S. Giving online give you the heebie-jeebies? You may also send an old-fashioned (but most welcome) check to: Grist, 710 Second Avenue, Suite 860, Seattle, WA 98104.
P.P.S. If we reach our goal by May 15, Grist will receive $25,000 from a generous donor.
If you notice our commas standing up a little straighter today, our links looking a little orangier, our photos a tad crisper, it must be because they've heard the news: Grist has a new top gun. It's a banner day, and even the banners want to look good. Scott Rosenberg joins our team as executive editor after many years as a journalist and online innovator. He was a co-founder of Salon.com, where he served as technology editor and managing editor and got people thinking -- and talking to each other -- in whole new ways. He's written two books, one …