Kit Stolz

The Woody Loves It

George Will doesn’t get “This Land is Your Land”

The columnist George Will recently wrote about the new movie Up in the Air. While breezily discoursing on the emotional pain of the worst unemployment record in decades,  Will happened to mention that the “opening soundtrack” to the movie, featuring a new version of Woody Guthrie’s classic This Land is Your Land, was (and I quote) “weird.” Check out the song for yourself, via the interesting free music site LaLa: Will, the bow-tied baseball-ed embodiment of white-bread conservatism, is about as stuffy as a man can be, so it’s no surprise that he completely misses the point of this funkified …

Climatologist Richard Alley Explains Why CO2 Changes Lag Temperature Changes

In his talk to thousands of scientists this week at the American Geophysical Union, Dr. Richard Alley, perhaps the best communicator of all climatologists today, offered a simple metaphor to explain how changes in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can lead to a rise in global temperatures, even if the CO2 changes lag a little behind behind changes in global temperature. It’s important because this fact seems to challenge the cause and effect linkage between CO2 and global temperatures. To explain why this matters, Alley opened his talk by quoting from an angry letter about Alley to the …

Gore vs. Palin on Climategate

Super-blogger Andrew Sullivan has an intriguing feature on his site called The Odd Lies of Sarah Palin in which he catalogues the way the most popular so-called “conservative” in the country today lies seemingly reflexively, even about topics which are not the least bit controversial. (For instance, whether or not she consulted her daughters about accepting the nomination to be Vice-President last year.) Well, here’s another one. Yesterday Palin published an op-ed in the Washington Post, in which she claimed that global warming is real, but “a natural, cyclical environmental trend.”

Say It Ain't So, Rupert

Wall Street Journal minimizes global warming in its news coverage

In the past, before Rupert Murdoch’s $5.6 billion acquisition of the Wall Street Journal, the paper was greatly respected by its peers for its news coverage, even on climate issues. This year that has changed. First we had veteran science reporter Robert Lee Hotz’s story on New York City’s sloshy, scary future, which appeared to have barely survived a cleaver-wielding editor. Then about a week and a half ago, Andrew Revkin, dean of climate reporters for the New York Times, pointed on the blog Dot Earth to a long video interview the Wall Street Journal ran with the famously successful …

How the Little Ice Age Reveals Our Climate Control

This month Harper’s magazine turns its lead essay over to Stephen Stoll, a historian, who in “The Cold We Caused,” delves into the history of climate to show how “nearly incoherent” are the arguments of the likes of climate change denier James Inhofe, Senator from Oklahoma, who continues to insist against the facts that we are in a “cooling period.” Inhofe concedes that the globe did warm after the Industrial Revolution, but doubts whether this warming was caused by “man-made gases, anthropogenic gases, CO2, methane.” Stoll turns the question around, asking: What would happen to carbon dioxide and methane if …

A stitch in time saves nine

EPA chief stumbles over need to prepare for global warming

In one of her first interviews with the national press since being named to office, Lisa Jackson, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, started well in her defense of the need for government action to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases. She pointed out to National Public Radio that corporate lobbyists have a long history of melodramatizing the costs of government action to reduce air pollution, water pollution, acid rain, and CFC emissions.  If you look at the history of environmental laws in this country, big ones — because climate-change law, energy law would be big new legislation …

Did Guilt Drive Thoreau into the Woods?

Henry David Thoreau went to the woods because, he wrote in Walden, he wanted to “live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.” Yet in the book Thoreau didn’t mention the fact that a year earlier, he had accidentally set the woods near his home town of Concord on fire, causing a 300-acre blaze, a near disaster, and costing the town  $2,000, at the time a considerable sum. In Walden he famously scorned those who would live “lives of quiet desperation,” but he didn’t mention after the fire that he himself was scorned in Concord as a “woodsburner.” …

The karma of coal?

Climate change hits Australia with a vengeance

Depressing. Photo: Georgie Sharp via Flickr Despite its economic woes, The Los Angeles Times still employs some of the best environmental reporters in the business, including a personal favorite, Julie Cart, who always brings compassion (and great quotes) to her work. Her story about how climate change is devastating Australia ran this week on the front page and it’s absolutely first rate. “What Will Global Warming Look Like? Scientists Point to Australia” is the headline in the online edition, but although the story references the science, it hits home with quotes from ordinary folk — farmers, suburbanites, shocked patriarchs — …

The joy of dirt

An earthy non-prescription anti-depressant

Medical researchers in the United Kingdom have found evidence that “friendly” bacteria found in soil may activate the immune system, produce the brain compound serotonin, and help ward off depression. According to a study published last week in Neuroscience, researchers from Bristol University and University College London found that mice treated with the soil agent Mycobacterium vaccae behaved much like mice treated with anti-depressants. Further research showed that a specific part of the mice brain that produces serotonin — the dorsal raphe nucleus, or DRI — had been energized, and was producing serotonin, which helps govern mood. Popular anti-depressants such …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.