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.

From Cracking Up to Cream Pie

Gloom and doom with a sense of … hey, wait a minute Some Grumpy Grumpersteins out there think environmentalism is never funny. TBS aims to prove ‘em wrong with Earth to America! — an exclamation-pointed, star-studded night of comedy about the planet’s plight. That bit on new-source review is gonna kill. Turning Japanese, we really think so The upcoming Tokyo Motor Show is going to be wicked awesome, and not just for lovers of auto-gadget porn. No fewer than three hydrogen fuel-cell concept cars — from Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes — will debut to the oohs and ahs of bright …

Bush administration casualties

Civil servants quit or get canned for bucking bad environmental policy

In Nick Turse's astonishing list of Bush administration casualties -- civil servants who have quit or been fired for bucking administration policy -- are numerous entries of interest to greens. Here are a few:

Poll: everyone supports us but no one really cares

All the sustainable bloggy folk are reporting on a new poll in the Wall Street Journal. On the bright side, "nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults agree that protecting the environment is important and standards cannot be too high." Then again, "Only 12% of U.S. adults describe themselves as active environmentalists." There's a lot to be unpacked in this, but I gotta skeedaddle home. Read the whole thing. I'll just say: greens are rather obsessed with the idea that if they just get the facts out there, people will want action. (This is particularly true on global warming.) But the facts are already out there. People already want action. But there's a difference between wanting action in the "I'd say so on a poll" way and wanting action on the "I'd make it a voting priority" way. We don't need more facts and studies and "proof." We need to figure out how to motivate people. Those are separate undertakings, and it's the latter greens are failing at.

Sprol: still cool

Sprol seems to have redesigned since the last time I visited. Their RSS feed is a little fritzed, for me anyway, but as usual there's tons of fascinating stuff there. Just thought you'd like to know.

Pope on GAS Act

So, Carl Pope, what's up with this refinery business going on in Congress? The answer is clear: Oil industry members of Congress and their allies in the Administration believe that America needs new petroleum sacrifice zones. It's not enough that the oil industry has devastated the Louisiana and Texas coasts by destroying the wetlands that should have protected New Orleans, by fouling the turtle nesting areas of Padre Island National Seashore, and by killing and maiming thousands of residents of Cancer Alley along the Mississippi River. Now, California, Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia, and New England must also be turned over to the oil industry. First we must throw them billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars to ensure their engorged profits. Then we will allow them to build new refineries without regard for their neighbors or for state and local control. Then we will bribe state governors to turn their coastlines into oil fields to feed these new refineries. And then we will eliminate public health standards to make these refineries even more profitable. This is not even a conspiracy -- it's not secretive enough. Speak it!

Knock knock

Who’s there? A joke contest

So, I claimed a few days ago that environmentalism is never funny. Apparently, there's some dispute about this matter. So we're going to settle it once and for all. And we're going to start with the most basic unit of humor on the planet, the unit of humor that dragged itself up out of the primordial swamp and flopped onto land, causing the other protozoa to giggle and roll their eyes. Yes: the knock-knock joke. You think environmental matters can be funny? Prove it. Leave us a green knock-knock joke in the comments. We dare you.

Energy efficiency resources for business

I should have done this several days ago, but better late than never: Check out Joel Makower's excellent list of resources for businesses looking to save (or make) some money through energy efficiency. As he says: Energy efficiency (the more business-like alternative to "conservation") has a strong foundation in a bottom-line-centric world. And there are rich resources -- case studies, how-to manuals, calculators, incentive programs, technical assistance agencies, and more -- to help companies manage the process. There's also a sizeable industry that's grown up around helping companies audit, assess, implement, and finance energy-efficiency solutions. And yet, we've barely begun to harvest the low-hanging fruit, let alone sow the seeds of an economy that can continue to grow and prosper using continually less energy from oil and other polluting resources. Get to it!

Defeat from the jaws of victory

Call it environmentalism, Bush style. A new federal tax credit will help allay the extra cost of purchasing hybrid vehicles, but the Byzantine formula for calculating the savings provides greater financial incentives for buying heavy SUVs than more fuel-efficient cars. Read the rest at Wired. (Via TP.)

Personal schmersonal

Personal virtue is not enough for environmentalists

A point I try frequently to make: If you want real, substantial, lasting environmental change, it is not enough simply to recycle or drive less or shop at Whole Foods or buy organic cotton t-shirts. It is not enough to advocate that others do so. The kind of environmental change we need will never happen solely through personal virtue. There just aren't enough virtuous people. What's needed are structural changes -- changes in gov't policy and regulation at every level, changes in the way we build and run our communities, changes in the practices of large corporations, changes in international norms and treaties. Political advocacy, in the broadest sense, is the obligation of any true environmentalist. Now, why do I pound on this point, even at risk of being a big downer for all the chipper eco-strivers who so love Umbra? Look no further than this headline: "Environment High in Personal Values, Low in Political Priorities for U.S. Voters" Grrr ...

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