The Senate today voted to allow oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Yes, yes, we know you've heard that before, but this vote means drilling really is closer to reality than ever before. Really.) Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state led the fight to protect the refuge, offering an amendment that would have stripped from a budget bill a provision that calls for drilling. Her amendment was voted down, 48 to 51. See how your senator voted. (A "Yea" vote is a vote to protect the Arctic Refuge.)
Power players in the U.S. are finally sitting up and taking note of climate change. But don't get hopeful just yet. They're not leaping to figure out how to retool our industrial system and stave off disaster. Rather, they're calculating which islands will make the best vacation getaways for the rich and famous in a globally warmed world. Yes, The Wall Street Journal has helpfully published "The Global Climate-Change Island Guide" [subscribers only, alas], informed by the new "Dow Jones Island Index" [PDF; should work even for non-subscribers], which analyzes "12 factors that reflect a range of environmental risks that islands and island tourists face." Of 40 islands examined, the top ranked for your continued vacation pleasure is Prince Edward Island off Canada's east coast. Of course, the average temperature in December is 24 degrees Fahrenheit, but maybe a little more warming will nudge that number up to a more comfortable range. Elites will be more happy to see that Martha's Vineyard ranks second on the list. Also scoring reasonably well: the Florida Keys, Grand Cayman Island, and Crete. Steer clear of Sri Lanka, though, which bottoms out the list. Other islands you might want to avoid: the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Fiji. Book those plane tickets and buy those third homes now, folks, before the plebs get ahold of this valuable data!
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has gone one better than those governors who've been feeling so smug about giving up their SUVs. He's tooling around town on a Vespa.
Speaking of rebuilding New Orleans, NPR's Living on Earth this week talks to a cross-section of city denizens -- including an artist, a bar owner, an environmental-justice activist, and a co-chair of Gov. Blanco's Louisiana Recovery Authority -- to get their opinions on what should come next for the Big Easy. Listen, or check out text and photos, on the LOE website.
Kudos to The Seattle Times and reporter Sandi Doughton for an extensive report on climate change that cuts through the bullshit. Dominating the front page of the Sunday paper, this headline and subhead: The truth about global warming Scientists overwhelmingly agree: The Earth is getting warmer at an alarming pace, and humans are the cause -- no matter what the skeptics say.
Or at least you good ones. You might want to get your name in the running for a new annual prize for top-notch environmental reportage; the winner(s) of the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment will take home $75,000. Info here.
Bummer news for cycling advocates. Word's long been around that spending too much time on a bike seat can impair your performance in the bedroom. Now, researchers in this arena are getting even more adamant in their admonitions. A New York Times article -- the No. 1 most-emailed on their site for the second day running -- highlights mounting evidence that frequent cycling by men can lead to a damaged perineum, loss of libido, "small calcified masses inside the scrotum," and/or impotence. Women, though less studied than men in this area, are also thought to be at risk. Dr. Steven Schrader, a reproductive health expert who studies cycling at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said he believed that it was no longer a question of "whether or not bicycle riding on a saddle causes erectile dysfunction." Instead, he said in an interview, "The question is, What are we going to do about it?" ... The link between bicycle saddles and impotence first received public attention in 1997 when a Boston urologist, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, who had studied the problem, asserted that "there are only two kinds of male cyclists -- those who are impotent and those who will be impotent." The hope is that better-designed bicycle seats can save the day. Otherwise, all those new bike owners may soon lose their steel steeds, for fear of losing something they care about a whole lot more.
So, um, change one. Info here; feel-good pledge here. (And act quickly, before those cads in Congress eliminate Energy Star altogether.)
The defeat in the California legislature of the bipartisan Million Solar Roofs bill earlier this month was a big blow, but the initiative -- and the broader spirit behind it -- are carrying on, says David Hochschild, director of policy at Vote Solar Initiative, a nonprofit working to bring solar energy into the mainstream. Here, Hochschild shares his take in an op-ed written for Grist:
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