David Roberts

David Roberts

Energy, politics, and more

David Roberts is a staff writer for Grist. You can subscribe to his RSS feed or follow him on Twitter or email him at droberts at grist dot org, if you're into that sort of thing.

Green advertising

The NYT reports that eco-themed advertising is growing ever-more-ubiquitous from big companies. I know we're supposed to bitch and moan about greenwashing, but the way I see it, even if 50% of this is hype, a) 50% non-hype is better than nothing, and b) it speaks well to current cultural trends that companies feel the need to brag about their environmental consciousness. Environmentalism is once again coming out in the open as a mainstream value, after years of demonization and caricature.

The Arctic Refuge isn’t everything

Environmentalists won a key victory today, blocking a truly risible attempt by Sen. Ted Stevens to cram Arctic Refuge drilling through on the back of the defense bill. It's a good thing. Why am I not more celebratory? Well, because I'm not just an environmentalist. My muted feelings are well explained in this post by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson:

Funny?

Bill Maher's intro to the Earth to America special. (via desmogblog)

Victory on Arctic Refuge drilling

The Senate has blocked the latest attempt to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Update [2005-12-21 12:16:45 by David Roberts]: MoveOn has set up a page where you can send Washington's own Sen. Maria Cantwell a message of thanks for her leadership on this issue. Go here.

Pombo wins!

Congratulations, Dick.

New particulate regulations

Stop me if you've heard this one before:The Bush administration on Tuesday proposed new air quality regulations intended to reduce modestly sooty pollutants that health officials blame for thousands of premature deaths and illnesses each year. But in proposing the first change since 1997 in federal standards on the pollutants, called particulate matter, the Environmental Protection Agency largely ignored recommendations for tighter controls from its own scientists and from an independent panel of outside experts.

Ebert hearts Syriana

Roger Ebert has judged Syriana the second best movie of 2005. His review of the movie is here, mine (no doubt boasting equal readership) is here. FYI.

Skepticism, real and faux

Speaking of things I'd like to offer some insightful contribution to but don't have time, do not miss yesterday's post on RealClimate about skepticism -- or rather, "skepticism." Climate skeptics are more accurately called contrarians. Everything but the most extreme philosophical skepticism countenances accepting the consensus view of experts as likely to be true. Anything else would be crippling, since 98% of our personal knowledge is taken on the authority of experts (ever seen an atom?) rather than from direct experience. I've written some on related topics before, and hope to again, but for now just go read RealClimate -- and read the comments too, there's some great discussion.

Maass on the real price of oil

I keep meaning to say something insightful about the Peter Maass essay "The Price of Oil" that ran in the NYT last weekend. But it looks like I'm never going to have time, so instead I'll just say: go read it. His basic thesis is this: [E]very barrel of oil that is not extracted from America must be drilled from someone else's backyard, often with little regard for the consequences. Because our appetite for energy has grown over the decades, new drilling, along with the damage it tends to create, has not been halted; it has been outsourced. The same could be said of wretched working conditions, oppression of women, manufacturing pollution, and on and on. We have, to a large (though not total) extent, banished these ills from North America. But our consumption habits rely on their existence in other countries. This is a knotty moral situation, and it's not clear what the answer is. As far as I can tell, the American people are totally unequipped and temperamentally disinclined even to wrestle with it. But there it is. His secondary thesis is that North American environmentalism is thus a form of hypocrisy, and maybe we should build more oil wells off Florida and in the Arctic Refuge, so people know what the true cost of oil is. I find that rather silly -- some environmental protection is better than none -- but I suspect it was just a rhetorical flourish on Maass' part.

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