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.

More on the Prospect package

Highs and lows of sweet, sweet wonkitude

Enough about The Reapers. How's the rest of the American Prospect environment package? Much of it, sadly, is deathly, wonkily boring. In particular, Carl Pope ... dude. What is this pap? It's so bland, so politician-y, it takes genuine concentration even to get through it. You've written better stuff on your blog, for chrissake. This from Ross Gelbspan and this from John M. Meyer are similarly forgettable. But there are many bright moments. Bill McKibben could write about what he ate for dinner and make it engaging, but I found the conclusion of this piece on global warming particularly on-point:

The Reapers and their britches

‘Death’ authors getting a little too cocky

The American Prospect has a big package of stories in the latest issue called "The Environment: Death and Rebirth." In it, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus -- authors of the infamous "Death of Environmentalism" paper -- have a follow-up called "Death Warmed Over." It's meant as a response to critics of the original and something of a look ahead. While it, like the original, contains nuggets of insight, the bulk is taken up with strawman bashing, bad analogies, and an entirely unwarranted degree of smug self-satisfaction.

Reducing gasoline consumption

With gasoline prices high and rising, it's worth revisiting an old post by our very own Clark Williams-Derry, which makes a simple point: if you want to reduce gas use, the best route is not more efficient cars but more efficient cities. Give it a look.

DeLay indicted


Rebuilding: organizing for a sustainable alternative

Who’s going to push the new New Orleans in a green direction?

It sure would be nice if New Orleans would be rebuilt with an eye toward sustainability. And yet, all indications are that it will be a characteristically Bushian undertaking, riddled with inefficiency, waste, vice, cronyism, and wishful ideological thinking. How to avoid this? Well, people need to organize. Quickly. Only voluble, sustained political pressure will push Bush and Congressional Republicans toward transparency, accountability, and social/environmental responsibility. I was heartened, then, to see an article on Alternet called "Green Relief and Reconstruction." It contained many such inspiring assertions as the following: Eco-friendly companies, social justice groups and concerned professionals are forging a nascent "Green Relief" movement that is already delivering results on the ground, working to replace today's snapshots of oil-soaked abandon with visions of locally-crafted communities bustling with bike paths, sidewalks, lots of green space, healthy housing, and powered by clean energy. They are? Awesome! Uh ... who? Where? It goes on in this vague way for a while, eventually outlining some sensible principles of progressive reconstruction. But where's this budding movement he keeps talking about? Who are these people? What have they done? Where can I sign up? Bizarrely, it is only toward the end that a link is provided -- but the reason becomes clear once you click on it. GreenRelief is an effort organized by the Healthy Building Network (www.healthybuilding.net) and others to encourage and assist Hurricane Katrina relief efforts that promote environmental restoration, environmental health, and environmental and social justice. GreenRelief will bring international expertise, resources, and materials to achieve the goals of restoring community, rebuilding homes, restoring the environment, and rebuilding the economy. Site under development. Godspeed, fellas. Hurry up.

The latest bid for Arctic Refuge oil

As everyone surely knows by now, Republicans are using the devastation of a region of our country to push for their long-time goal of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The idea is, depending on which bullshit happens to be flying at the moment, that oil sales will bolster the federal budget, or that the oil will make up for shortfalls caused by the hurricanes, or that the oil will lower gas prices. All these claims are, as has been demonstrated ad nauseam, quite obviously false. According to a July 2005 report (PDF) by the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, it will take 10 years to get the first drop of oil out of the Refuge. In 20 years, when production is at its peak, Refuge oil might bring down the price of a gallon of gas ... by a penny. The Wilderness Society has a one-page summary of the report here (PDF). Why do Republicans really want to drill in the Refuge? Well, oil-service companies are hot for it. And also, well ... because it's there.

L.A. Weekly on smog

The entire current issue of L.A. Weekly is devoted to the issue of air pollution in Los Angeles, a battle once hailed as a victory for environmentalists that is now slipping into the loss column. There are oodles of stories, and many lessons for those of us in other parts of the country. Give it a look.

An interview with Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science

Chris Mooney. Photo: Perseus Books. For some five years, Chris Mooney has been writing about the delicate overlap of science and public policy. As a correspondent for The American Prospect and Seed, a blogger, and a freelance journalist, he’s carved out what you might think would be a modest, out-of-the-way niche of political punditry. Turns out, Mooney’s metier has placed him at the eye of a kind of political perfect storm: This past year, he’s become something of a pundit rock star. He’s even ascended the Mount Olympus of hip relevance: The Daily Show. Why? The Bush administration has come …

Rebuilding: what to do with New Orleans

I hope to write quite a bit on issues around the rebuilding of New Orleans. It's a bit overwhelming in two ways, the first logistical and the second political: The issues involved are just incredibly complex, in terms of social and physical engineering. The Bush administration is almost certain to run this the same way they ran the rebuilding of Iraq: badly, with maximum inefficiency, graft, and cronyism. Resistance is futile. But just as a teaser, check out a couple of intriguing ideas, both via City Comforts. Both start from the basic problem that much of New Orleans is built beneath sea level, and is sinking (and oh yeah, sea level is rising). So there's two things you could do: Rebuild the city as another Venice, with deep canals and elevated buildings. Fill it up until it's above sea level, the way they did with Galveston, Texas in the early 1900s. Crazy, maybe, but then, razing wetlands to build a major seaport beneath sea level is crazy to begin with. (See also: 5-point plan for sustainable rebuilding.)

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