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Sierra Club chief weighs in on conservation heroes, green energy, & Bruce Springsteen

Sierra Club

We have a new game we like to play with famous (and infamous) visitors to Grist World HQ. It's called Vs., and it goes something like this: Famous person sits down. Gristers present visitor with two related words or ideas or songs. Gristers then force visitor to choose one over the other -- and explain why he or she chose it. Visitor squirms, Gristers giggle, repeat. It's fun!

This time around, our lucky guest was Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. And it turns out this is a game he's already pretty good at: Not only did he somehow manage to get through our questions without offending anyone (does that mean we lost?), he flipped the table around by saying a few things that got our wheels turning.

Natural gas vs. nuclear? Pounding the pavement vs. cutting a trail? Thunder Road vs. Ghost of Tom Joad? Watch the video to find out!

Read more: Climate & Energy


Tell the EPA what you think of its climate rules

woman with megaphone

You know those proposed EPA power-plant rules that we've been going on and on and on about? Now you can go on and on and on about them yourself.

The Obama administration has opened up the official 120-day public comment period, after the proposal was published in the Federal Register. The EPA will accept feedback through Oct. 16, so now's the time to speak your mind.

Here's how to comment.


Make Me Care: Why not just call ‘Game Over’ on climate change?


Welcome back to Make Me Care, the video podcast where Grist writers pitch you on a story they think is worth your time. This week, intern/host/Google Hangout ventriloquist Amelia Urry and Environmental Justice writer Brentin Mock talk about the sticky problem of hope in the face of climate uncertainty.

Ezra Klein of Vox thinks we've already lost the game, but Mock fired back this week with three reasons we can't afford to give up just yet. For one thing, would we be so quick to throw in the towel if it was our island nation about to be submerged? Then again, maybe it is. If giving up is a luxury, we're not sure we can afford it -- and the people who definitely can't deserve more from us. Watch to learn more!

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Apocalypse chow

Want to know what the future tastes like? Eat some bugs

Welcome to the second episode of Grist Test Kitchen, where we taste green, wacky, and (hopefully) edible foodstuffs that may or may not be a part of a more sustainable future. After whetting our appetites with organic food-replacement drink Ambronite last episode, this time around we decided to channel some hakuna matata spirit and dig into the wild world of entomophagy.

To help us get in the mood, we invited the Bug Chef (science writer and edible-insect pioneer David George Gordon) to the Grist office to whip up a meal that would be both easy on the planet and on the palate. Hey, if he could make Conan O'Brien eat a cockroach, we figured he could get us to do just about anything.

Read more: Food, Living


Drawing the line

These illustrations make climate change palpable — and hilarious

This is an excerpt from The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change, which is available at local bookstores, or wherever books are sold. It’s by Yoram Bauman and Grady Klein, and published by Island Press. (Seattlelites, you can also see Bauman speak tonight at Town Hall.) Click to embiggen the illustrations:

Read more: Climate & Energy


Grist’s Brentin Mock talks about climate change’s new poster children on MSNBC

When President Obama and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy unveiled their new climate push last week, they didn’t talk about saving the polar bears and sparing the ice caps. Instead, Obama led his pitch by talking about the children: A set of proposed power plant regulations, he said, were aimed at “reducing the carbon pollution that hurts the health of our kids, and the health of the planet, while also giving us enormous opportunities to grow and improve the economy in all sorts of ways.”

In particular, Obama singled out African American kids, who “are twice as likely to be hospitalized for asthma, four times as likely to die from asthma,” as white kids, and Latinos, who “are 30 percent more likely to be hospitalized for asthma.”

Brentin Mock, who covers environmental justice for Grist in his Read, black, and green blog, explained this new frame in a post that got some wide attention from the national press. Mock talked to MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on Sunday.


Obama really wishes he could put a price on carbon

Barack Obama
The White House

President Obama explained his thinking about climate change during a sit-down interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman; it will air Monday night during the final episode of Showtime’s climate series “Years of Living Dangerously.” Friedman also shared lots of the good bits in his Times column on Sunday. Here are some highlights:

Obama would love to make polluters pay for their CO2 emissions:

"[I]f there’s one thing I would like to see, it’d be for us to be able to price the cost of carbon emissions. ... We’ve obviously seen resistance from the Republican side of the aisle on that. And out of fairness, there’s some Democrats who’ve been concerned about it as well, because regionally they’re very reliant on heavy industry and old-power plants. ... I still believe, though, that the more we can show the price of inaction — that billions and potentially trillions of dollars are going to be lost because we do not do something about it — ultimately leads us to be able to say, ‘Let’s go ahead and help the marketplace discourage this kind of activity.’"

He knows we can't burn all proven reserves of oil, gas, and coal and still keep warming below 2 degrees C, an internationally agreed-upon target:


Make Me Care: What’s the deal with Obama’s new CO2 rules?

Hallie Bateman

Hey! It's Make Me Care, that thing where Grist writers and editors talk about things they think are important and worth paying attention to. This week Amelia Urry talks with Grist policy writer Ben Adler to get the skinny on the new EPA emissions regulations that debuted this week.

They're a big deal, fine, but HOW big are they really? And should you be thrilled by their mere existence or outraged by their underachievement? With proponents and detractors on both sides, a lot could change in the next year of review. "The only guaranteed beneficiaries are lawyers," Adler tells us, but this is definitely a step in the right direction (the lawyers agree). Watch to learn more!


Make Me Care: How does tech turn citizens into climate scientists?

Welcome back to Make Me Care, where Grist writers and editors talk about stuff they care about that they think you should care about, too. This time around, Amelia Urry hosts Grist fellow Samantha Larson to talk about the big wide world of collective intelligence a.k.a. crowdsourcing a.k.a. citizen science.

You know what they say: With a smartphone in every pocket and a laptop on every desk, the world is your research lab and supercomputer. (Well, we said it.) Climate scientists are using the new tools of collective brainpower to sort signal from noise, wresting meaning from the mob by collecting huge amounts of data and then processing it with a huge amount of volunteer RAM. Some groups are even using crowds to focus on finding climate solutions. Watch to hear more!


Make Me Care: What should we really fear and loathe in Las Vegas?

Wesley Allsbrook

Welcome back to Make Me Care, Grist’s video blog experiment, in which we get our writers and editors to explain why their story is worth paying attention to. On this episode, erstwhile host and editorial intern Amelia Urry welcomes Grist senior editor and writer Greg Hanscom to talk about his adventures reporting on resiliency in Las Vegas.

Yeah, Vegas -- world capital of waste and fakery. And it's built in a desert, where climate change is going to make all things heat- and water-related more difficult. But neither of those is actually the biggest climate-related threat to the Sin City, Hanscom says. When epic droughts and 115-degree scorchers aren't your biggest problems, you're REALLY in trouble. Watch the video to hear more!