David Roberts

David Roberts

Energy, politics, and more

David Roberts was a staff writer for Grist. You can follow him on Twitter, if you're into that sort of thing.

Rebuilding: the cock-up is underway

Unsurprisingly, the Bush administration is already screwing up reconstruction

It's a couple weeks before Halloween, but if you're looking for a nice horror story, try the LA Times piece on post-Katrina reconstruction. You know how sometimes President Bush makes big, rousing speeches full of earnest declarations, with his chest all puffed out, making that one annoying hand gesture, and then in subsequent weeks adds several carefully staged photo-ops, and then his administration doesn't follow up on anything and whatever the subject of the speech was descends into chaotic factionalism and incompetence because, really, what Bush likes is feeling like he's being Historical and he doesn't care for the nuts and bolts of governing at all? Yeah, this is one of those times.

I’m so, like, over it

You know what's really boring? Affected, world-weary cynicism from post-collegiate hipsters. Didn't that go out in the 90s? (via TH)

WC action

Worldchanging is doing a book. And hiring. FYI.

Peak oil hits USA Today

There's nothing particularly new in it, but it's the front page of USA Today, so I feel obliged to link: "Debate brews: Has oil production peaked?" It's typical mainstream journalism, scrupulously "balanced" in that it gives both sides equal time and makes no effort to evaluate their respective credibility or the validity of their claims. But it's a complex topic, so I guess that's the best we can expect. I suspect the average reader will come away from the piece thinking, "Ho hum, another group of alarmists crying about another alleged apocalypse ... wonder what's on TV?" Which is another way of saying: Peak oil won't have bite until it hurts average people, directly and for a sustained period of time. Such is life.

Rise Up Sweet Island

A recommendation from Jamais at WC sent me back to Rise Up Sweet Island (it drifted across my radar a while back but I never took a close look). I'm glad he flagged it, because it's pretty amazing. It's part of a larger site called Notes from the Road, a travelogue/blog with superb original photography from amateur traveler Erik Gauger. Sweet Island is a narrative about a tiny West Indian island called Guana Cay, the pristine coral reefs around it, a proposal for an "ecologically sensitive" golf course on it, and the corruption and absurdity that ensue. It's difficult to summarize but fascinating to read and sumptuously illustrated. Check it out.

Mooney on TPMCafe

For the past week, on TPMCafe's Book Club, they've been discussing Chris Mooney's book The Republican War on Science. It's been a great back and forth among Chris and several guests, including Roger Pielke Jr. and Lawrence Krauss. The reader comments, as usual on that site, have been literate and insightful. Head on over and start scrolling down.

Surfing the waves

Carl Pope is speaking my language

Has Carl Pope been reading Gristmill? Cause he's speaking my language. (Leave me alone with my illusions, people.) In a post today he makes this point:

Cradle to Cradle certification arrives

Ever since I first heard him mention it, I've been wondering when Bill McDonough's "Cradle to Cradle Certification" program was going to become a reality. I think it has huge potential to become for product design what LEED has become for green building (though probably, as Jamais cautions, more slowly and fitfully). Well, via WC, here it is. The first six recipients have been announced. Cradle to cradle is a biomimetic approach to design, wherein every material used can either be returned to the earth to biodegrade without harm (a biological nutrient) or can return to the manufacturing cycle with no loss of quality (a technical nutrient). In short: no waste. Or rather, in C2C terminology: waste is food. A great primer on biomimicry can also be found at WC. The certification ... ... covers five categories (PDF): Materials (including assessment and emissions); Material Reutilization/Design for Environment (including product recovery plans); Energy (including an emphasis on solar energy use); Water (including plans for conservation and quality); and Social Responsibility (including corporate ethics statements and third-party social responsibility assessments). The overview linked above is a basic checklist; the Application Form (PDF) has the full details on what's required for each step of the certification process. Look for C2C product on shelves near you! Uh, some day.

Rebuilding: do it right

Two good things on rebuilding: Leo DiCaprio (heard of him?) and (ex-InterActivist) Matt Petersen give a brief but pungent rundown on what went wrong in New Orleans and how it could be made right. I wonder which part Leo wrote. (Oh, and no offense, Leo, but the consensus in the office is that Jake Gyllenhaal is the eco-hottie du jour.) Van Jones has a similar piece in Yes! Magazine, calling for social justice and environmental principles to govern the rebuilding process. Apparently a longer version will run in the Oct. print issue.