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Emily Gertz's Posts

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Climate Week kicks off in New York with bigwigs and big hopes

2009: The year so many met so often to talk so much about the perilous state of the climate -- and as of September, accomplished so little.  Will this week be the charm? During several different international meetings this year, nations have been getting into position for this December's international climate treaty talks in Copenhagen. This week, they're all gathering again.  On Tuesday, the U.N. is holding a day-long Climate Summit (alongside its annual, two-week General Assembly) in New York City.  And on Thursday and Friday, the Group of 20 (G20) leading world economies is gathering in Pittsburgh, its third …

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NAACP resolves to fight climate change

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People celebrated its centennial last week by jumping into the policy debate over global warming. Delegates at the storied civil rights organization's annual meeting in New York voted to adopt a resolution supporting clean energy development, curbs on greenhouse gas emissions, and policies to foster green collar jobs. Dale Charles of NAACP's Arkansas chapter was a leader in getting the climate change resolution approved by the civil rights organization.Photo courtesy Dale Charles"This is a policy that was passed unanimously at our convention," said Hilary O. Shelton, the director of NAACP's Washington, D.C., …

Read more: Politics

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This White House science adviser thinks America should embrace nuclear power

There are 104 commercial nuclear power stations in the United States today, supplying about 20 percent of the nation's electricity. No new commercial reactors have been licensed here since 1973. And the last commercial plant to come online, Watts Bar in Tennessee, powered up more than a decade ago, in 1996. That all needs to change, says Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, an M.I.T.-trained theoretical physicist. And her opinions matter, because President Obama recently named Jackson to the newly revived President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Jackson was a researcher in the prestigious Bell Laboratories earlier in her career. …

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Low-income nabes lead the way in urban farming

The Garden of Hope -- the new community green space I covered this week on Grist -- is just one facet of Brooklyn's community gardening scene. While writing this story I spoke with Susan Fields of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's GreenBridge program, which reaches out to neighborhoods all over Brooklyn to encourage and to support many levels of gardening -- from the "Greenest Block in Brooklyn" contest all the way to the Urban Composting Project. "There's a growing focus on urban food production," she told me. In the Red Hook waterfront neighborhood, for instance, the group Added Value transformed a …

Read more: Food

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Ouster of Sierra Club’s Florida leaders stirs up a storm of controversy

Things get stormy in Florida. Photo: Ali Nishan It's got all the signs of a bad breakup: anger, recriminations, and friends taking sides. But this rift doesn't involve bitter former sweeties; it's between members of one of the nation's largest and most influential environmental groups. And it's happening in a high-profile, wealthy state with complex environmental problems, where the stakes are much higher than who gets the DVD collection. On March 25, the national board of directors of the Sierra Club voted to suspend its Florida chapter for four years -- an unprecedented move for an organization with a long …

Read more: Uncategorized

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Finance, energy, and the environment: markets and opportunities

Last night, I went to a panel at the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street (no, really!) on what's financially hot or soon will be in non-coal, non-oil energy technologies. I love these kinds of events; typically, what comes of them is reality-based information, dealing with who has the money, where it's going (or ought to go), and what will get it there, in order to transform our energy system. I come away from these things more hopeful than from any number of political rallies, because these are people who are walking their talk instead of posing in their …

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As Corps series ends, big questions remain about the future of the Mississippi

There are 8 million stories in the Mississippi Basin, and this week we've told only a few. As lead editor of this Army Corps series, I've been immersed for the last few months in all things Mississippi River. Coming out the other side, I have a few answers, yes, but even more questions to explore. Below is my personal working list of issues that -- while perhaps less acknowledged nationally than the spectacular disaster that is New Orleans and the Louisiana coast -- rank high in determining a bright or dim future for the Mississippi Basin's communities, both human and …

Read more: Cities, Politics

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A post-Katrina homebuilding project gives hope for weathering severe storms

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Mississippi on August 29, 2005, the storm's 125-mile-an-hour winds and 25-foot wall of seawater ground homes, boats, and businesses into matchsticks across the state's three coastal counties: Jackson, Hancock, and Harrison. The cities of Waveland and Bay St. Louis, roughly 20 miles east of the Mississippi-Louisiana state line, were practically flattened; whole neighborhoods were destroyed in larger cities like Biloxi and Gulfport. In the end, Katrina damaged over 94,000 homes across the three counties, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with those in moderate- and low-income communities the hardest hit. …

Read more: Cities

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EPA set to kibosh Mississippi Delta boondoggle

Successive presidential administrations -- including the current one -- have tried to rein in the Army Corps of Engineers and its projects, which are mostly known for their tangy combination of high cost, arguable utility, and disregard for the environment. Tried -- and largely failed, thanks to the level-10 force fields erected by congresscritters who covet the flood of Corps project dollars into their districts. So it's startling and welcome news that apparently, the EPA is initiating the process to veto a massive Corps project known as the Yazoo Pumps. The pump project is situated in the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta, a …

Read more: Cities

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A primer on chemicals, fertility, and reproduction

Illustration: Keri Rosebraugh Feeling unusually infertile lately? You're not alone: according to a December 2005 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 12 percent of American couples reported having a hard time conceiving a child and bearing it to term in 2002, up 20 percent from the 6.1 million couples reporting such "impaired fecundity" in 1995. Although the reasons are complex and overlapping, one major factor may be nonstop exposure to low-level environmental pollutants like pesticides, dioxins, and phthalates. Because these toxics are generated in ways and places beyond our immediate control, "You can't shop your …

Read more: Living