Lisa Hymas

Lisa Hymas is senior editor at Grist. She tweets sometimes.

Calling all environmental journalists

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.

Biking: good for the environment, sucky for your sex organs

Too much time on a bike can impair sexual performance, researchers say

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.

It’s Energy Star Change-a-Light Day

So, um, change one. Info here; feel-good pledge here. (And act quickly, before those cads in Congress eliminate Energy Star altogether.)

Sunrise from the West

California’s Million Solar Roofs moving ahead, and setting pace for national climate action

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:

Swedes aim to phase out fossil fuels by 2020

To counteract today's totally bummer crop of news, a cheery development from my peeps, the Swedes: Prime Minister Goran Persson announced this week that Sweden will try to end its dependency on fossil fuels in 15 years by, among other things, ramping up use of wind power, boosting research into renewable-energy technologies, and providing incentives for renewable power and clean cars. Swede dreams are made of this ...

Inhofe: Gonna wash those rules right outta my hair

Senator wants to waive EPA regulations in Katrina disaster area

James Inhofe -- Republican senator from Oklahoma, chair of the Senate Environment Committee, and tormentor of enviros -- yesterday introduced a bill that would let the EPA waive for 120 days any environmental regulations that could stand in the way of the Katrina response effort. Never mind that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said environmental rules weren't hampering post-hurricane cleanup.

Can't blame Katrina on global warming

Grist’s Roberts & Giller argue their point in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

No conceivable Bush (or Clinton, or G.H.W. Bush) administration energy strategy aimed at slowing or reversing global warming -- least of all ratifying the Kyoto treaty -- would have protected lives or averted property destruction on the Gulf Coast. Think of smart energy policies as you might of tobacco taxes: good idea, but they probably wouldn't have saved your Uncle Ned from lung cancer. So write Grist's own Dave Roberts and Chip Giller in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  Read the rest for yourself.  

Lakoff on Katrina

Framing expert says Katrina shows need for strong, compassionate government

"The Katrina tragedy should become a watershed in American politics," writes lefty framing guru George Lakoff on AlterNet. "This was when the usually invisible people suddenly appeared in all the anguish of their lives -- the impoverished, the old, the infirm, the kids, and the low-wage workers with no cars, TVs, or credit cards. They showed up on America's doorsteps, entered the living rooms, and stayed. Katrina will not go away soon, and she has the power to change America." Lakoff argues that Katrina gives us the perfect opportunity to highlight the "heart of progressive-liberal values," namely "empathy (caring about and for people) and responsibility (acting responsibly on that empathy)." "A lack of empathy and responsibility accounts for Bush's indifference and the government's delay in response, as well as the failure to plan for the security of the most vulnerable: the poor, the infirm, the aged, the children," he claims. Put more succinctly: The Katrina disaster is the best possible argument for strong, vibrant, well-funded government that takes care of its people.   I wholeheartedly agree. You won't find many Americans this month who would sympathize with anti-tax crusader and government-hater Grover Norquist and his aim "to get [government] down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, that quote sends shivers down the spine.

LCV endorses Maria Cantwell

Green group makes early entry into 2006 election fight

And they're off! The League of Conservation Voters has made its first endorsement for the 2006 election, 14 months ahead of time, throwing its green weight behind Washington state's junior senator, Maria Cantwell, and promising to mount "an aggressive campaign" to reelect the Democrat. Cantwell will need all the help she can get; she's likely in for a tough fight. She won by a teensy margin in 2000, against Slade Gorton, and then proceeded to piss off much of her liberal base in 2002 by voting in favor of the Iraq war resolution. Republicans have determined that hers is one of the five most vulnerable Democratic seats in the Senate and will be pumping resources into the campaign to defeat her. It's not clear who she'll be up against -- state Republican Party Chair Chris Vance and former Rep. Rick White are two prominent potential contenders -- but whoever it is, they'll be well-funded. LCV says Cantwell was one of only two senators to get a 100 percent rating on the group's 2004 National Environmental Scorecard. Among her eco-achievements as touted by LCV: leading the effort to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, pushing for creation of the Wild Sky Wilderness Area in Washington, fighting to hold polluters responsible for their Superfund messes, and battling Enron on behalf of bilked ratepayers. They should have listed her notable though unsuccessful effort to attach to the energy bill a provision requiring the feds to reduce imports of foreign oil by 40 percent in 20 years.