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Kathryn Schulz's Posts

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A wrong time coming

What have environmentalists been most wrong about?

Photo: limonada via FlickrFirst things first: Don't ask me how I went from being an editor of Grist to an expert in wrongness.  It's a long story.  Suffice it to say that in 2006, I left Grist (with much regret) in order to write a book about being wrong.  (That's the eponymous Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, published earlier this month by Ecco/HarperCollins).  At first blush, these two jobs don't seem to have much in common.  Lately, though, I've been wondering about the overlap between my identity as an environmentalist and my identity as a wrongologist.  Here's …

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Our Poverty & the Environment series comes to an end, but our concern doesn’t

The sun sets on our poverty series. Photo: Clipart. There's something a little odd about ending a series on the subject of poverty -- as we at Grist are officially doing today -- when the issue itself will stubbornly continue to exist. That might seem, at first, like a laughable sentence. Of course poverty will persist -- when hasn't it? -- and of course our series must end. (Not so coverage of the issues, though. Publishing Poverty & the Environment was as much an act of masonry as of journalism, and we hope we have built a strong foundation for …

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Two eco-leaders — one mainstream, one radical — debate the movement’s past and future

Eric Mann. When Eric Mann first encountered environmentalists, he saw them as a bunch of "arrogant, racist airheads." When Frances Beinecke first encountered environmentalists, she felt she'd found her cause. Frances Beinecke. Nearly four decades later, both are tireless proponents of environmental sanity, but they work in very different ways. Mann is director of the Los Angeles-based Labor/Community Strategy Center, where he fights for environmental justice, immigrant and labor rights, and economic equity. Beinecke is president of Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the nation's biggest and best-known environmental organizations. As part of our Poverty & the Environment series, Grist …

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Sierra Club Chronicles

Turns out, we're not the only game in town paying attention to the intersection of economic and environmental issues (thankfully). So are the folks over at the Sierra Club Chronicles, a monthly TV series featuring community efforts to protect environmental health. This month, the series focuses on the fate of DeLisle, Mississippi, home to a Dupont chemical plant. When the plant was first built, it was welcomed by DeLisle's residents, who were hungry for steady work. Twenty-five years later, more than 2,000 current and former residents and employees are suing the company, blaming dioxin and other heavy metals from the …

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Behind the scenes at the poverty series...

Some background and some thank-you’s

As the lead editor on Poverty & the Environment, I can say that the tough thing about putting together a series like this isn't what goes into it; it's what doesn't go in -- the great stories that wind up on the cutting room floor because you run out of time, or run out of money, or the journalist goes into labor a month early, or your awe-inspiring colleagues finally say, "we'd love to but we've already worked 96 hours this week." This chronic editorial dilemma was particularly acute with the current series. Given the subject matter, "embarrassment of riches" …

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Vision trouble

Democrats, environmentalists, and other left-leaning sorts are arguing heatedly over whether to move the party to the left or to the right in the wake of the election (those who aren't arguing over whether the election was legitimate, that is).  One wag challenged those who disapprove of any rightward slide to ask themselves: "What states did John Kerry lose that Howard Dean would have won?" I find this line of argument terrifying.  If we have to make the left into the right in order to win, I don't want to win.  The problem isn't Dean or Kerry.  The problem is …

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Medium Rare

Kathryn Schulz reviews Monster of God by David Quammen

Monster of GodBy David QuammenW. W. Norton & Company, 384 pages, 2003 What this world needs," opined the nature writer David Quammen in a 1984 column for Outside magazine, "is a good vicious 60-foot-long Amazon snake." He was kidding, thankfully; the rest of the column goes on to describe the human tendency to massively exaggerate the size of anacondas in the Amazon. Now, though, 19 years later, Quammen has written Monster of God, a book arguing that precisely what the world does need is very large, very predatory animals. I do Quammen a disservice by calling him a nature writer. …

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Let Us Not Praise Infamous Men

On Bjorn Lomborg's hidden agenda

Here is Denmark, that harmonious northern country known for its curiously vanilla accomplishments (comprehensive social welfare, pastry, Hans Christian Anderson), and here is its latest export, Bjorn Lomborg, come to announce the good news that we live in a fairy-tale world. The medium for the message is The Skeptical Environmentalist, Lomborg's 500-plus page blow-by-blow of "the Real State of the World," as the book is confidently subtitled. Lomborg's thesis is simple enough: Environmentalists have deluded the masses into believing that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, when in fact, as the title of the first chapter …

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