David Roberts

David Roberts

Energy, politics, and more

David Roberts is a staff writer for Grist. You can follow his Twitter feed at twitter.com/drgrist.

Disasters and social bonds

Why was there looting after Katrina?

We are entering an age when severe weather events, terrorist attacks, and other abrupt dislocations and catastrophes will be more common. It is thus to our great benefit to learn how best to marshal an effective response. Over on Reason, Jesse Walker's got a fascinating piece (via Jim Henley) on when social bonds do and do not break down after disasters, and the kinds of spontaneously arising community responses that authorities should learn to work with rather than against. Oddly comforting.

New foody blogs

I recently stumbled on a couple of nice new blogs. Life Begins at 30 revolves around the challenges and joys of eating local -- start with this nice, tidy list of reasons to eat local food. Then there's Bitter Greens Journal, a blog about the evils of industrial agriculture that recently attracted the attention of the mighty Monsanto. Enjoy.

"A clusterf**k beyond all imagining"

A first-hand account from the Gulf Coast

Good God. Read this first-hand account of the Gulf Coast rescue and cleanup operations from a contractor who works with the EPA. Here's a tidbit:This contractor has been organizing reverse osmosis (RO) water purification units from all over the country since last Tuesday. He has over 100 units of various sizes available to move into the region, but no one will give the go ahead. No one will sign their name to a piece of paper for fear of recriminations later. He says that over 80 million pint bottles of water have been purchased at $0.75 each. The RO units can produce a gallon of water from contaminated water for $0.01 and they can produce thousands of gallons a day. Two are staged near the zone and these alone can produce 250,000 gallons per day. The Army has RO units, but every functional one, and every operator trained to use them, is in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Interview with Treehugger’s Graham Hill

Via TriplePundit, a short interview with Graham Hill, founder and proprietor of Treehugger.

Katrina and compassion

In which your author finally breaks down

This (via Tapped) nails, like nothing else I've read, why I take Bush's reaction to Katrina personally. And it's not just Bush, it's Brown, Chertoff, any number of politicians, a substantial portion of the commentariat. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) said that those who stayed (got stuck) behind in New Orleans should be punished:There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.I don't really consider myself a bleeding heart, but for god's sake, thousands of our fellow citizens are sitting in their own filth, old people and babies, dying of sickness, dehydration, illness, suicide ... Why isn't everyone, at every level of government, in a fucking panic about this? Where's the humanity? How can I be a part of the same species as these people? I just don't get it. Time for me to take a valium and stop reading the news.

Compare and contrast

Quotes on Katrina

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency: "Unfortunately, [the death toll]'s going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings," Brown told CNN. "I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," he said. Michael Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Security: Some people chose not to obey [the evacuation order]. That was a mistake on their part. Bill O'Reilly, conservative talkshow host on FOX News: Moral of the story: People were warned to get out. Those who stayed paid a price for that decision. If you rely on the government, you're likely to be disappointed. No government can protect you or provide for you. You have to do it yourself. Barack Obama, Senator from Illinois: And so I hope that out of this crisis we all begin to reflect - Democrat and Republican - on not only our individual responsibilities to ourselves and our families, but to our mutual responsibilities to our fellow Americans. I hope we realize that the people of New Orleans weren't just abandoned during the Hurricane. They were abandoned long ago - to murder and mayhem in their streets; to substandard schools; to dilapidated housing; to inadequate health care; to a pervasive sense of hopelessness. That is the deeper shame of this past week - that it has taken a crisis like this one to awaken us to the great divide that continues to fester in our midst. That's what all Americans are truly ashamed about, and the fact that we're ashamed about it is a good sign. The fact that all of us - black, white, rich, poor, Republican, Democrat - don't like to see such a reflection of this country we love, tells me that the American people have better instincts and a broader heart than our current politics would indicate. (first three via American Progress)

Welcome to the new Grist. Tell us what you think, or if it's your first time learn about us. Grist is celebrating 15 years. ×