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Glenn Hurowitz's Posts


God's lightbulbs

An eco-emporium for the faithful

Interfaith Power and Light, an organization dedicated to a "religious response to global warming," has just launched an online store,, where religious institutions, people of faith, and freeloading atheists can go to buy energy-efficient lighting, solar cookers, and other environmentally friendly gizmos for house and church alike. It's creation care in action. I learned about this through my sister-in-law Allison Fisher, who works for the Greater Washington division of Interfaith Power and Light. Heretofore, she's mainly been confined to having one-day church presentations where people can buy compact fluorescent lightbulbs and a handful of other eco-appliances; now, even congregation …


Fast to stop global warming

September 4th event marks new phase in struggle for the planet

I'm incredibly excited about the September 4th Climate Emergency Fast being organized by the U.S. Climate Emergency Council and others. I've signed up and hope you will too, by clicking here. In one week, the number of fasters has grown from 395 to 795 and continues to multiply. Everyone I've talked to about it is instantly drawn to it; people seem to instinctively understand that we need to move beyond the polite letter-writing, lobbying, and yes -- blogging -- that has characterized response to the climate crisis thus far. In most true crises, people take to the streets if the …


Dirk's dodo

Interior Secretary Kempthorne gets award for record refusal to protect endangered species

The Center for Biological Diversity yesterday presented Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne with its first ever "Rubber Dodo" award, in honor of going a record one year and 90 days without listing a new species as endangered or threatened. The previous record holder was Ronald Reagan's notorious Interior Secretary James Watt, who went a comparatively wimpy 376 days without listing a new species. Meanwhile, the Fish and Wildlife Service has classified 279 species as "candidates" for listing, because they're in danger of extinction, but haven't yet been given protection by Secretary Kempthorne. "That waiting list could turn into a 'too-late' list …

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Udderly awesome

Starbucks vows to make 100 percent of its milk rBGH-free

If you haven't been ordering that double whipped Frappuccino at your local Starbucks with soy milk, you've likely been gulping down Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). It makes cows produce more milk, but it's thought to increase the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in humans (if only they could come up with something to make cows squirt machiatto directly from their udders). But now, after two years of pressure from the organization Food and Water Watch, Starbucks has announced that it's going to go rBGH free by December 31, 2007. Moo-chas gracias, Starbucks! (photo: Tami Witschger) Whew! Now …


Big Oil's biggest toadies

And the ‘Climate Balls of Steel’ award goes to …

A new report penned by the environmental movement's genius uber-strategist Daniel J. Weiss of The Center for American Progress and his alliterative sidekick Anne Wingate examines exactly how big Big Oil's influence on individual members of Congress is. Working with, Weiss and Wingate found that the 189 members who opposed a Democratic measure to redirect $16 billion in oil and gas subsidies to clean energy like wind and solar received on average $109,277 in contributions from Big Oil between 1989 and 2006. The 221 representatives that voted successfully to shift the subsidies to clean energy had only received an …


Regular oil cleaner than ethanol

Saving and restoring forests better for climate than switching to biofuels

A new study in the journal Science ($ub req'd) validates what many have been saying here in Gristmill: Biofuels, especially those from the tropics, are far worse for the planet than regular old crude oil. The study finds that we could reduce global warming pollution two to nine times more by conserving or restoring forests and grasslands than by razing them and turning them into biofuels plantations -- even if we continue to use fossil fuels as our main source of energy. That's because those forests and grasslands act as the lungs of the planet. Their dense vegetation sucks up …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Al Gore calls for civil disobedience

Against climate polluters

From The New York Times's Nicholas Kristof ($ub req'd): I ran into Al Gore at a climate/energy conference this month, and he vibrates with passion about this issue -- recognizing that we should confront mortal threats even when they don't emanate from Al Qaeda. "We are now treating the Earth's atmosphere as an open sewer," he said, and (perhaps because my teenage son was beside me) he encouraged young people to engage in peaceful protests to block major new carbon sources. "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers," Mr. Gore said, "and preventing them from …


Dingell is dispensable

Even though conventional wisdom says you need him to pass major environmental legislation

Whether House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell is a potential friend or an implacable foe is not only the subject of intense debate here at Gristmill, but a key strategic question for the environmental movement and the Democratic Party. I recently wrote an article for The American Prospect about how Dingell's fellow congressional Democrats are abandoning him as he tries to obstruct meaningful energy and climate legislation -- and implied that his diminished power means Democrats and environmentalists can go around him without worrying about fallout from not having him at the table. I want to use this opportunity …


The most moving environmental story of the year

Newsweek’s cover story deserves Pulitzer — and global action

Newsweek's Sharon Begley and Scott Johnson should get the Pulitzer Prize for last week's Newsweek cover story, "Slaughter in the Jungle." It was the most moving story of the year and clearly based on truly intrepid reportage. More importantly, I hope it provokes action to stop this brutal global slaughter of wildlife. Scott Johnson went into the rainforest in the war-torn Congo, home to much of Africa's remaining 700 mountain gorillas. Miles from the nearest town, he discovered and recorded the worst massacre of gorillas in more than 25 years. The rangers found the first corpse less than a hundred …

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George Soros vs. the planet

Soros, Goldman Sachs financing destruction of Brazilian forests

Well, that whole beating George Bush thing in 2004 didn't work out, so now billionaire financier / Democratic fundraiser / anti-Communist crusader George Soros is back to his first love: making money -- apparently even when it comes at the expense of the planet. Sabrina Valle of the Washington Post is reporting that Soros is one of the biggest investors in growing sugarcane ethanol in the Brazilian cerrado, "a vast plateau where temperatures range from freezing to steaming hot and bushes and grasslands alternate with forests and the richest variety of flora of all the world's savannas." That could soon …