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Bjorn again

Bjorn Lomborg has an editorial in yesterday's L.A. Times, presenting -- in extremely rudimentary form -- the results of his already notorious Copenhagen Consensus. While the composition of Lomborg's group and its specific conclusions have been harshly criticized -- in particular see John Quiggin's blog here, here, here, and here, and also this Disinfopedia entry -- it's worth saying that the enterprise itself is entirely worthy, if done properly and honestly. It is true that aid money is not spent rationally. If it were possible to get a serious, empirical accounting of the world's problems from a wide variety of …

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“De-urbanizing” Yosemite

Think everything is going to hell? Well, you're right. But still, the fact that Yosemite National Park is undergoing something of a renewal is happy news nonetheless.

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California contains multitudes

California, home to the most stringent auto-emission restrictions in the U.S., is also home to the most SUVs in the U.S., with 2.8 million (Texas, by comparison, has 1.8 million). But wait, you're saying, California has no snow and most people live in cities... "In Southern California, image is important," said Arthur St. Antoine, an editor-at-large with Motor Trend magazine. "I think the big allure is how the SUVs make you look. Any number of people would be better served by a minivan. They have more room and are more comfortable for five, but they don't have that rough-and-ready 'I …

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Burning bright

Congrats to the tiger.  According to a survey of more than 50,000 folks by the cable TV channel Animal Planet, the tiger is the world's favorite animal, narrowly beating the dog. One wonders, of course, if it is the world's favorite why it is threatened with extinction in so many of its natural habitats... Without further ado, the top ten: Tiger: 21 percent Dog : 20 percent Dolphin: 13 percent Horse: 10 percent Lion: 9 percent Snake : 8 percent Elephant: 6 percent Chimpanzee: 5 percent Orang-utan: 4.5 percent Whale: 3.5 percent

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Friedman: pigs sure would look pretty with wings

I'm not sure if Tom Friedman is just a stubborn optimist or whether he has somehow, after years on the international beat, not been divested of a childish naiveté. His latest editorial in the NYT deplores the fact that the Republicans just cut the National Science Foundation budget by 2 percent. He says what they ought to do instead is marshal the country behind a massive effort toward energy independence, like Kennedy's call to make it to the moon. Political reform would follow in trouble spots around the world. Birds would sing. The lion and the lamb would lie down …

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Science

Is a basic understanding and appreciation of science necessary to be an environmentalist?  Does it help?  Does it matter? I'm inclined to say Yes, an understanding of science -- not necessarily all the facts (that's a lot to ask), but certainly the basic principles of scientific inquiry -- is necessary to act effectively to preserve the natural world. Which is why stuff like this depresses me to no end. Some 55 percent of Americans believe that God created human beings in their present form. That is to say, they do not believe in evolution. Sixty-five percent want evolution and creationism …

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Consensus

Via Chris Mooney: Naomi Oreskes has a short paper in the recent issue of Science in which she reports on her review of peer-reviewed climate science papers from 1993 to 2003. Her results are stark: Not a single peer-reviewed scientific paper challenged the consensus that climate change is being driven by human activities. Not a single one. She concludes: Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open. But there …

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States continue to lead the way

Washington Rep. Ed Murray (D), chair of the state's House Transportation Committee, is set to introduce a measure that would have Washington impose greenhouse-gas standards mirroring those recently put in place in California. See if this sounds familiar: The idea of imposing the tougher standards here was endorsed recently by most members of a task force that included government officials, environmentalists and representatives of some of the state's largest businesses. The bill will likely face a vigorous fight from the auto industry, which claims the California rules are really an illegal, if indirect, attempt to impose tougher fuel-mileage standards. Supported …

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Smokestacks off the hook?

A flurry of stories today -- see, e.g., here -- report the results of a study that claims carbon (read: auto emissions) is at fault for pollution-related heart problems. The study lets sulfates (read: power plants) off the hook. Reuters calls the Electric Power Research Institute, which conducted the study, an "independent, non-profit center for public interest energy and environmental research." According to Geoffrey Johnson over at The Green Life Blog, a little more skepticism is warranted.

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Free-range pig intestines

Who says organic is for sissies? (Wait, is baseball considered sissy ...? I'm really not tapped into the sports world, being a longtime sissy myself. Anyhoo!) San Diego's Petco Park and St. Louis's Busch Stadium are going to start selling organic hotdogs and bratwursts at the games of, uh, whatever teams play in those stadiums. They expect the dogs to cost about a buck more than the pesticide- and hormone-ridden variety. Hot dogs are still, of course, hot dogs, and even if they come from the happiest pigs on the planet, eating pig guts ain't healthy.  But hey, progress is …

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