Jonathan Hiskes

Jonathan Hiskes is a writer in Seattle and a former Grist staff reporter. Find him at and on Twitter.

Hoosier guru

An interview with author Scott Russell Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders, author of A Conservationist ManifestoCourtesy of Indiana University PressI’ve had some great teachers over the years, but none quite like Scott Russell Sanders, the gentle guru of Bloomington, Indiana, and a leading light of Midwestern environmentalism. To call him articulate doesn’t begin to do justice. He exudes a sort of intellectual clarity, in both his works of non-fiction and fiction and in his teaching at Indiana University. (As a former student, I’m a thoroughly biased source.) Sanders’ book Staying Put offers a countercultural vision of what it means to live rooted in a place — not far …

History of the Greens, Part I

The secret history of Earth Day

If 40 years of Earth Days have taught us anything, um … While the Earth Day movement has had undeniable successes, critics charge that, uh … Whatever, screw it. Here’s the “real” story (with jokes!): 1970: Twenty million Americans celebrate the first Earth Day, but bloggers opine that it’s just a fad and will be quickly forgotten by those “stoned-out hippies.” 1971: Nixon White House looks forward to second annual celebration, which it refers to internally as “Pay Less Attention to Vietnam Day.” 1972:  Green ring added to official Olympics logo in attempt to “green up” the upcoming Montreal summer …

A Moral Issue

Catholic Climate Covenant seeks aid for world’s poor

Courtesy Catholic Climate CovenantCiting dual obligations to care for God’s creation and the world’s poor, a broad coalition of Catholic groups today announced a new commitment to take action on climate change. The “St. Francis Pledge,” named after the patron saint of animals and ecology, urges Catholics to pray for those affected by climate change, learn about the problem, and take steps to reduce their own consumption and advocate for climate legislation that protects the world’s most vulnerable people. “Our cars and power plants, more energy consumption and waste—we’re leaving a bigger carbon footprint,” reads a statement on the website …

Endanger? I barely know her

EPA’s climate finding ticks off industry, energizes enviros and congressional leaders

Here come the reactions …Grist’s Kate Sheppard has a great story on today’s big news, the EPA decision that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare: The long-expected finding, set in motion two years ago by a Supreme Court ruling, moves the Obama administration one step closer to regulating CO2 emissions from a number of sources across the country. But it leaves unanswered questions about how the agency will go forward and which industries will be most affected. The news set off a flurry of reactions from wary industry reps, gratified green groups, and eager politicians. Here’s a sampling. Industry …

Reconsider, baby, reconsider

Palin says global warming harms Alaska, still wants to drill

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (from left), Senator Mark Begich, Congressman Don Young and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar arrive at a public forum meeting in Anchorage Tuesday to discuss Outer Continental Shelf development.Courtesy Alaska governor’s officeSarah Palin seems to have discovered global warming, and she’s got just the thing to do about it. Yesterday the Alaska governor said climate change is harming her state, but she insisted that expanding natural gas production is the best way to lessen the effects of global warming. She was speaking at an Anchorage hearing held by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is holding …

Hoosier Wordplay

Indiana bill would define clean coal and nuclear energy as ‘renewable’

Indiana’s statehouse.Flickr: mattindy77The Indiana lawmakers are considering legislation that would define “clean coal” and nuclear-generated electricity as renewable energy. They’re also mulling bills that would define John “Cougar” Mellencamp as a jazz musician and categorize the pork tenderloin sandwich as a vegetable. Seriously, the energy change, being debated as part of a set of changes to the state’s electricity laws, would allow nuclear and clean coal electricity to qualify for state renewable energy funding incentives. And it would let them count toward a renewable electricity standard — also under consideration in the statehouse — that would require Indiana utilities to …

Architect in chief

Obama calls renewables a ‘pillar’ of new economy

Courtesy of Georgetown UniversityPresident Obama today affirmed the place of renewable energy as one of the “five pillars” upon which he plans to build an economic recovery. In a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Obama warned Americans to expect more economic pain and a long road to recovery. He then sketched out his pillars for economic growth: new regulation of the financial markets, investments in education to strengthen the workforce, renewable energy, reducing health care costs, and shrinking the federal debt. Here’s the section on renewable energy and efficiency: Now, the third pillar of this new foundation is …

Map to the future

PBS’ Planet Forward brings a new kind of show to explore new kinds of energy

Planet Forward host Frank Sesno (right) with Kevin Harrison of the National Renewable Energy Lab.Courtesy of PBSThree things to know about Planet Forward, the PBS special about America’s energy future that runs at 8 p.m. Wednesday: Social media … used well! In the interest of bringing “citizens and their ideas together with decision makers,” asked for videos from folks with innovative energy ideas and collected wide-ranging responses. A solar-voltaic researcher opens his home electricity bill on camera to show the payment he earned by using rooftop panels to produce excess electricity. Rochester, N.Y., Girl Scouts make their own plea …

A Nobel Effort

Wangari Maathai film shows Kenyan tree planting as political subversion

Planting trees in Kenya is about more than just helping the environment.Alan Dater Planting trees in deforested areas brings a host of benefits, as any good environmentalist knows. Trees provide cleaner air, richer soil, wildlife habitat, and shade. They conserve water and protect lands against floods. They absorb carbon dioxide. Under the rule of an oppressive regime, tree planting can also be a profoundly subversive act. This is the focus of Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, a documentary about the Kenyan activist that premiers on the PBS series Independent Lens this Tuesday, April 14. Wangari MaathaiMartin Rowe By …

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