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The future

Over on Worldchanging, Vinay Gupta asks: What will environmental policy in the 22nd century look like? His answers are pretty heady stuff.

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Pension funds

If you were intrigued by this blurb in Daily Grist on CalPERS, check out the in-depth story by William Greider in The Nation on the increasing power of public pension funds to affect social and environmental change. In the wake of Enron-style corporate scandals, in which public pension funds lost more than $300 billion, some of the leading funds have restyled themselves as more aggressive reformers. They are picking fights with Wall Street orthodoxy they long accepted, like the obsessive maximizing of short-term gains. More important, they are broadening their definition of fiduciary obligations to retirees by trying to enforce …

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Conspiracy theories

In a piece discussing the import of today's kick-off of the Kyoto Protocol, Chris Mooney makes a point I also tried to make in my review of Crichton's book, and again in this post. Those who remain in denial about the seriousness of global climate change must now defend a truly ludicrous position. They must argue that the rest of the world is suffering from a mass delusion, a fantasy so powerful that over a hundred nations have independently fallen for the same alarmist myth; and furthermore that the 35 developed nations facing binding commitments under Kyoto have voluntarily agreed …

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Exactly

Sacramento County plans to join the green building revolution, but it's not necessarily a high-minded ethical decision. It's about on dollars and cents. Specifically, how to stretch them farther. Music to my ears.

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Old Macdonald had a GPS unit

This little story in the Fresno Bee speaks volumes. It's about a program at wee West Hills College called "Farm of the Future" that teaches students how to use the latest high-tech farming equipment. These students are in hot demand and are hired straight out of the program, because farm tech is advancing faster than the abilities of typical farmers to keep up with it. "The jobs are there," said Ted Sheely, who grows a wide range of crops on 8,000 acres near Huron. "We don't have enough qualified people to run the equipment we have." Increasingly, farmers are embracing …

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The problem in a nutshell

A majority of Tennesseans approve of President Bush's job performance, but most doubt his ability in several key areas -- cutting taxes, improving health care, protecting the environment, healing the nation's political divisions and protecting the Social Security and Medicare systems, according to a Middle Tennessee State University poll released yesterday. It is to weep.

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Campus Progress

Via The American Prospect, I found CampusProgress.org, a new initiative from the Center for American Progress. It's an attempt to foster progressive action among college students, and as far as I can tell from browsing around, it's not the sort of painfully faux-hip thing you usually see from an effort like this. There are some great articles up, including a basic primer on global warming, a story on student efforts to move their schools over to clean energy, and -- best of all -- a reprint of the very funny Larry David essay on how he became an environmentalist. Here's …

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Easterschtick

Gregg Easterbrook writes in the NYT today that Bush's Clear Skies legislation is peachy, and darn it, Dems should get behind it. As my boss Chip aptly wondered, why do they keep letting this guy write the same column over and over again?

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Hot wind

Frequent Grist contributor Bill McKibben has a column in today's NYT saying that environmentalists should get behind wind energy. He is sympathetic to some enviros' objections and rather gentle toward them. I fully agree with McKibben, but I can't say I share his sympathy. Oil and gas exploration is ravaging the American West. The nuclear industry is resurgent. And oh yeah, the globe is frying. If environmentalists take global warming seriously, and expect others to take it seriously, maybe they shouldn't become bitchy provincialists the minute you want to build a wind turbine that impedes the scenic view off the …

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Gallons and gallons of Kyoto

Kyoto goes into effect tomorrow. You kind of think you generally know what it's about, but you're not really clear on the details. I feel your pain. Luckily, Bruce Sterling's latest Viridian Note -- "Ten Gallons of Kyoto" -- tells you everything you need to know. And I mean everything, all ten gallons of it. I must quote his intro: Let's face it: it's a big deal that Kyoto has come into force in February 2005. People who are genuinely serious about the Greenhouse issue need some kind of nodding acquaintanceship with the ins and outs of this multilateral national …

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