David Roberts

David Roberts

Energy, politics, and more

David Roberts was a staff writer for Grist. You can follow him on Twitter, if you're into that sort of thing.

Hypocrisy again

Over on Treehugger, Lloyd Alter claims to have enjoyed this Wall Street Journal piece by Dan Akst (yes, yes, subscription only). I can't say I did. Since you can't read it, I'll summarize: People who build "green" houses that are huge and isolated are hypocrites. It's a bit mystifying to me why this genre of writing is so prevalent. I suppose it's fun to point out that a preachy celebrity drives a Hummer, or that the head of an environmental group flies all over the country to give talks, or that some recycling suburban mom commutes 50 miles to work. For pundits, charges of hypocrisy are nigh irresistible, since they require no thought, research, or analysis. "Look, person says A and does not-A! Gotcha!" It's easy. But is hypocrisy really that important? To the point that seemingly the bulk of writing on environmentalism begins and ends there? I think not.

Monsanto payola

Michael Fumento gets dropped.

Another rightwing pundit has been dropped by a media outlet after it was revealed that he was taking payments from private interests in exchange for columns. Who was the corporate paymaster this time? Monsanto. Scripps Howard News Service (SHNS) announced Friday that it severed its relationship with Michael Fumento -- a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute -- for taking payments in 1999 from agribusiness giant Monsanto. The payola was revealed by BusinessWeek Online, which also broke the story that columnist Doug Bandow had accepted bribes from Jack Abramoff. Copley News Service subsequently dropped Bandow. Incidentally, if any wealthy interests out there are interested in a column about, say, the evils of suburbia, drop me an email and I'll send you my rates.

From Slings to Scouts

Green pickle sling Putting a whole new spin on the wet T-shirt contest, Low Tee makes tight-fitting men’s swimsuits out of recycled vintage tees. Buy …

The Asia-Pacific climate summit


The big Asia-Pacific climate summit ended today, and I suppose I should have something to say about it. Amanda's piece on the Asia-Pacific climate pact lays out the basics, and I said a little more here. Thankfully, Ross Gelbspan has saved me the trouble of repeating myself, with this compact and devastating post about the summit. As he says, the whole pact is basically an attempt to subsidize the further use of coal. Clean coal technology, with its reliance on hugely expensive geo-engineering projects like mechanical carbon sequestration, basically represents a full-employment act for companies like Bechtel and Halliburton. These projects are also wasteful in the extreme. Given their huge pricetags, the same amount of money would generate far more electricity per dollar were it to be spent on constructing windfarms. A real "pro-technology pro-growth" initiative would center on a worldwide project to replace every coal-burning generating plant, every oil-burning furnace, every gasoline-powered car with clean, climate-friendly energy technologies. Yup.

Environmentalists, conservatives, the commerce clause, and 'results'

A post more interesting than it sounds

This diary on dKos about Alito isn't all that great. It does, however, confirm what Amanda's article described: The basic bone environmentalists have to pick with Alito, and with conservative jurists in general, has to do with the Commerce Clause, which empowers Congress "to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." (I'm not a lawyer or a law scholar, so take all that follows with a large grain of salt.)

Environmentalism = bias

Seems Grist is connected, in a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon way, to the ongoing efforts of Bush defenders (I won't call them "conservatives" any more) to free the administration of any responsibility for the Sago mine tragedy -- and many other mining accidents that preceded and followed it. Jordan Barab has the strange details.

Ha ha, stupid hippies and their, uh, markets!

Want to see what happens when the substance of libertarianism runs up against the prejudices and stereotypes held by libertarians? Read this thread on Hit & Run about Whole Foods recent move to buy wind-power credits. Deeply incoherent.

Sen. Ted Stevens: Can this hurt ever heal?

I wrote a little while back on the tantrum thrown by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) when his fellow Senators refused to let him attach Arctic Refuge drilling to the defense appropriations bill. Well, he's still whining: As the Arctic drilling went down to defeat, Stevens said "goodbye" to the Senate, a remark interpreted by some as a farewell. At the press conference, Stevens said that interpretation was wrong. "I'm here, I'm going to stay and get ANWR, there's no question about that. It's going to happen." But Stevens said when he returns to Washington, he will no longer consider some Democrats his friends. The final refuge debate became too personal, he said. "When I first went there, you would never hear a senator speak about another senator the way they were speaking about me that night," he said. "There are people I've considered to be personal friends without regards to politics, and they were turning into vipers as far as I was concerned. ... The extent of the venom there on the floor, that would never have happened in the days gone by." Stevens said he has "written off" those friends. "I'm not traveling with them anymore, and I'm not going to play tennis or swim or do various things with them." Somebody give this guy a hug! (via ThinkProgress)


Our science-minded readers may be interested to know that a whole gaggle of sharp science bloggers -- Chris Mooney, Tim Lambert, PZ Myers, and more -- are moving over to ScienceBlogs.com (sponsored by Seed). Their combined firepower is formidable. Bookmark it.