Erik Hoffner

Erik Hoffner works for Orion magazine and is also a freelance photographer and writer. Follow him on Twitter: @erikhoffner.

CitizenRE Spam

This company a renewable energy godsend or pyramid scheme?

Even after reading about how CitizenRE is possibly a shady racket, I was still willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, until I got a hilarious and random email that sounded like it came from a Nigerian scammer:

A Convenient Fiction?

AEI brings us the good news on climate

How about that fascinating ad in Gristmill today for the new video courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute! An Inconvenient Truth ... or Convenient Fiction? aims to present us with an alternative to the "climate extremism" that is "popular with Hollywood and other pessimistic enclaves" and seeks to assure us everything is A-OK. They're even doing screenings around the U.S. In, uh, three locations. Anyone else give this AEI spin project a spin yet? [editor's note, by David Roberts] This seems like a good time to draw attention to Grist's advertising policy, to wit: we don't screen ads for political or ideological content. If we did that, every ad that did appear on our site would carry an implied endorsement, and we don't want to get into that briar patch. The main thing to note is: advertising is advertising, editorial is editorial, and never the twain shall mess with each other.

Drain Lake Powell

… before nature does it for us

Following a recent study forecasting permanent drought in the southwest U.S. in coming decades comes this news in today's Salt Lake Tribune. It's a proposal being floated to pipe some of the already dwindling Lake Powell reservoir (currently just half full) in a new direction, to three thirsty counties in southern Utah. Living Rivers' End Lake Powell Campaign says that draining Powell would actually add water to the Colorado River system, given the evaporative losses the lake suffers every day, but federal and state agencies are so far blunt to good logic, which is a shame, when restoring natural flows and water tables along the length of the river would benefit both humans and ecosystems. Seems like nature is going to drain the lake for us, so why not get on with it?

Coal bed methane drilling: Not just a western issue

Alabama’s Bankhead forest next?

Until today I was ignorant of the spread of this nasty sort of mining. Its impact is well documented in the antelope and sage grouse country of the intermountain West, leaving a trail of ruined land and poisoned wells. But companies are also drilling and fracturing this stuff out of the ground in the East, too.

Chavez on food vs. fuel

Oil diplomat or man of the people?

On the defensive after George Bush and Lula da Silva of Brazil started getting friendly over ethanol, Hugo Chavez has now backed away from plans for building a massive array of 29 ethanol plants. His rationale tears a page from the nascent biofuel backlash movement, saying that land should be used to feed people, not to fill "rich people's cars." As with most things Chavez, this is probably largely about politics and somewhat about people: he doesn't want to be outflanked by Bush's new foothold in the region. But it's a stand that will win him points in many quarters, and he's expected to make it again later this month at a South American energy summit.

American Idle

What else might we do with our time?

Every week, 30 million people tune in to at least a couple hours of American Idol. Whether this show has truly "jumped the shark" this year or not remains to be seen, but I submit that if a portion of these folks would join the ranks of the American Idealists instead, we'd all be in for a more interesting Wednesday night.'s brand new connections platform is already linking up 28,000+ people who are meeting up to build community in their towns and cities. It's worth a visit just to read the myriad of quirky personal profiles, and hey, you just might find a gathering to join on a Wednesday ...

Making Other Arrangements

What are you doing to respond to the climate crisis?

Orion magazine has a brand new section, of interest to all Gristmill readers, where folks from all over are encouraged to write in and share what changes their families, communities, churches, etc. are undertaking to respond, now, to the climate crisis, peak oil, etc. I've seen so many ripe ideas posted on Gristmill, BioD's plug-in hybrid bike being a good example. So have a look at some of these great ideas and initiatives (a clustered, renewably-powered, affordable housing community in Missoula, for example) in the first installment of this section, called Making Other Arrangements, and share your own projects and ideas.

Cape Wind found 'adequate'

May become U.S.’s first large offshore wind project

This just in: the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs has weighed in on Cape Wind's Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), saying that it "adequately and properly complies" with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. The project can now advance to the state permitting process. I believe it is the first U.S. offshore wind project to have a certified final environmental impact document.

Fire on the mountain

Sky Islands getting crispier

Just when you thought Arizona couldn't get any hotter, right? Yesterday's NYT article on how that state's Sky Islands, the uniquely biodiverse plateaus, are changing due to higher heat regimes is borne out not only by news of such destructive fires but also by daily observation on the ground. A friend who works for the Sky Island Alliance in Tucson says her staff, while out ripping up roads or monitoring wildlife corridors, has been noticing that species are disappearing from islands, being squeezed out by the changes. It really brings home that no matter what kind of activism we're involved in on a daily basis, whether it's knee-deep in a watershed or coordinating youth development efforts in inner-city neighborhoods, we've all got to turn out with our friends and families and Step It Up in April. It all comes back to the climate.