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.

Imagine there's no pavin'

It’s easy if you try

As I was walking my two-month-old (already!) son around the neighborhood the other day, I started daydreaming. It was silly, and I wasn't going to bother writing about it, but then I saw a post on eliminating the private automobile (hat tip: Jeff) and thought, hell, my daydream is only a little kookier than that, so why not? My dream started this way: What if we didn't need roads? What if we just ripped them all out?

Reaching the hipsters

So I went to a show this weekend. (A band called My Morning Jacket, whose recorded output, though excellent, scarcely hints at the head-exploding, ball-rocking, thunder-f**king awesomeness of their live performance. I would recommend their latest album, Z, but every copy of the CD is crippled by Sony's absurd digital-rights-management software, and buying that kind of product is as contemptible as selling it. Don't blame the band, though -- they had no idea, they opposed the move when they found out about it, and their label even tells consumers how to circumvent the DRM. In the meantime, just buy It Still Moves or At Dawn from your local music store. Wait, where was I ...) Anyhoo, I went to this show, and as I checked out the merch table, I wondered why you never see environmental materials at venues like this small club. You see them at, say, Bonnaroo, or a Phish show (back where there were Phish shows), or a Dave Matthews Band show maybe. But they only seem to crop up around bands that are from the hippie-tinged jam-band scene -- i.e., precisely the shows where the attendees are likely already on board with the eco-program. See, for instance, this InterActivist we had, who runs an outfit called Rock the Earth. He works primarily with a band called the String Cheese Incident, and, you know ... god love 'em, but SCI fans are already down with nature. They even smell like it. What about the hipsters? What about the semi-affluent, college-educated, tech-savvy, media-saturated twenty-somethings with artfully disheveled hair? They are, like it or not, apt to be central players in our culture in coming years ("the next generation," blah blah). They have no tolerance whatsoever for the kind of earnest, soft-focus appeals most enviro-groups pitch. They are, let's face it, a tad self-absorbed, but they are attracted to all that is innovative, cool, and cutting-edge. Coolhunting is practically a genre unto itself on the net these days. And lots of stuff that's going on in the green world these days fits the bill. Is anyone trying to snag this crowd? Is anyone tailoring a message to them? Is there anything I could imagine seeing on that merch table that wouldn't make me cringe, that might actually turn some heads? I got no answers, only this persistent ringing in my ears. Any ideas?

Climate heroes

Congrats to Amanda for her work on the big new Salon/Rolling Stone package on "Climate Warriors and Heroes." It's pretty great -- a nice overview of the many approaches to fighting the fight of our time. And I quite enjoyed Al Gore's essay as well. He's doing an adept job framing the issue not as scientific or political but moral: What kind of people do we want to be? Powerful stuff. Give it a read.