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Lisa Hymas' Posts


Eve Ensler connects the dots between violence against women and violence against the planet

Eve Ensler
Eve Ensler wants you to speak up -- and dance!

Eve Ensler made it OK to say the word vagina out loud. Could she now inspire more of us to say climate change too?

Ensler, the artist and activist behind The Vagina Monologues, is currently making a big push to promote One Billion Rising, a global event planned for this coming Valentine's Day, aka V-Day. She's calling for people everywhere to "dance, rise up, and demand an end to violence against women." The campaign was inspired by a U.N. estimate that one in every three women will experience violence during her lifetime, meaning well over a billion of us.

And Ensler's activism extends beyond this critical issue. She has recently been drawing connections between the violence that men perpetrate against women and the violence that fossil-fuel companies perpetrate against the climate and all of us who depend on it. She talked to Grist recently about how these topics tie together and her hopes for her new campaign.


Q. I was interested to read a piece you published in The Guardian last month comparing climate change and violence against women. You wrote, "Like climate change, only the patriarchs with power seem to be blind to the magnitude of the horrors," and you wrote about "the raping of the Earth through ecological destruction by the corporate powerful." Can you talk more about those common threads?

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Do you think Obama will approve the Keystone pipeline? Take our poll

White House
Hmm. To Keystone or not to Keystone?

Back in 2011, the Obama administration postponed a decision on whether to build the Keystone XL pipeline until after the election. Now, this week, they've postponed it again until at least April.

But the White House can't kick the can down the road forever. Someday the decider must decide. What do you think Obama's decision will be?

  • CNN: "most analysts still expect Obama to approve the pipeline. But the chances that he won't are increasing."

And you? What do you think?


Green and lefty groups band together, pledge millions to fight right-wing evildoing

Andy Kroll at Mother Jones writes about "the massive new liberal plan to remake American politics":

A month after President Barack Obama won reelection, top brass from three dozen of the most powerful groups in liberal politics met at the headquarters of the National Education Association (NEA), a few blocks north of the White House. Brought together by the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Communication Workers of America (CWA), and the NAACP, the meeting was invite-only and off-the-record. Despite all the Democratic wins in November, a sense of outrage filled the room as labor officials, environmentalists, civil rights activists, immigration reformers, and a panoply of other progressive leaders discussed the challenges facing the left and what to do to beat back the deep-pocketed conservative movement.

At the end of the day, many of the attendees closed with a pledge of money and staff resources to build a national, coordinated campaign around three goals: getting big money out of politics, expanding the voting rolls while fighting voter ID laws, and rewriting Senate rules to curb the use of the filibuster to block legislation. The groups in attendance pledged a total of millions of dollars and dozens of organizers to form a united front on these issues—potentially, a coalition of a kind rarely seen in liberal politics, where squabbling is common and a stay-in-your-lane attitude often prevails. ...

The liberal activists have dubbed this effort the Democracy Initiative. The campaign, Brune says, has since been attracting other members—and also interest from foundations looking to give money—because many groups on the left believe they can't accomplish their own goals without winning reforms on the Initiative's three issues.

As Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune puts it, "We're not going to have a clean-energy economy if the same companies that are polluting our rivers and oceans are also polluting our elections."


Who will serve on Obama’s second-term green team?

Obama in Cabinet room
The White House
Who will the president pick to fill all these empty chairs?

Much of President Obama's green team is moving on to greener pastures. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced last month that she'll be retiring soon, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu is expected to follow suit. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is said to be mulling over his future. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood appears to be undecided as well, and there's a chance that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack could leave.

Lesser-known but still critical positions are up in the air too. Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has announced her resignation. Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Heather Zichal, Obama's top climate and energy advisor, might also be leaving their posts.

Who could be tapped to fill the gaps?

EPA administrator

Outgoing Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) is rumored to be a frontrunner for the top EPA job. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has more:


Solar crowdfunding project Mosaic sells out in under 24 hours

Yesterday we told you about the launch of Mosaic, a new Kickstarter-style service that makes it easy to invest in rooftop solar projects. Today comes news that it's already sold out shares in all of its public projects. Talk about pent-up demand!

happy people & solar panel
Solar Mosaic
These people invested in a solar project and now they're happy.

From a company press release:

Mosaic, an online marketplace that connects investors to high-quality solar projects, sold out its first four projects in less than 24 hours with over 400 investors putting in between $25 and $30,000. In total, investors put in over $313,000 with an average investment of nearly $700. ...

To date, Mosaic has raised $1.1M from more than 700 investors to finance twelve rooftop solar power plants in California, Arizona and New Jersey. Mosaic’s latest projects were available to residents of California and New York as well as accredited investors from around the country. ...


Tar-sands operations dump carcinogenic pollution in Canadian lakes

tar sands operation
Poisonous as well as ugly.

Here's yet another way that tar-sands oil extraction sucks. From The New York Times:

The development of Alberta’s oil sands has increased levels of cancer-causing compounds in surrounding lakes well beyond natural levels, Canadian researchers reported in a study [PDF] released on Monday. And they said the contamination covered a wider area than had previously been believed.

For the study, financed by the Canadian government, the researchers set out to develop a historical record of the contamination, analyzing sediment dating back about 50 years from six small and shallow lakes north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, the center of the oil sands industry. Layers of the sediment were tested for deposits of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PDF], or PAHs, groups of chemicals associated with oil that in many cases have been found to cause cancer in humans after long-term exposure.

“One of the biggest challenges is that we lacked long-term data,” said John P. Smol, the paper’s lead author and a professor of biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. “So some in industry have been saying that the pollution in the tar sands is natural, it’s always been there.”

The researchers found that to the contrary, the levels of those deposits have been steadily rising since large-scale oil sands production began in 1978.

As scientist David Schindler told British Columbia news site The Tyee, the study's findings should "deep-six once and for all the bullshit that all pollution from the tar sands is natural."


Cleantech investment fell off a cliff in 2012

dollar signs falling down a cliff

"You could call it the cleantech cliff," writes the San Jose Mercury News:

Global clean-technology venture investment plunged to $6.46 billion in 2012, down 33 percent from the $9.61 billion invested a year ago, according to San Francisco-based research and consulting firm Cleantech Group.

Why such a big drop-off?

The low price of natural gas has made it harder for renewable energy to compete on cost. Venture capitalists are shying away from capital-intensive deals after seeing companies like Santa Clara-based Misasolé sold at fire sale prices. And global economic uncertainty took a toll: Several privately backed cleantech companies, including Oakland's BrightSource Energy, were forced to shelve their IPO plans and raise additional funds from existing investors.


Green car sales were up in 2012, and should be even more up in 2013

Chevy Volt
The Chevy Volt had a pretty good year in 2012.

Green cars account for just a teeny, tiny fraction of U.S. auto sales -- 3.3 percent in 2012. But that teeny, tiny fraction is growing fast!

BusinessGreen reports:

Analyst firm Mintel estimated last month that sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars in the US will exceed 535,000 units in 2013, a sizable increase on the 440,000 sold last year. Sales of hybrids and electric cars rose 73 per cent in 2012, making it the fastest growing segment in the US auto market.

A separate market analysis by Pike Research "estimates annual global sales of 3.8 million electric or plug-in hybrid cars by 2020," the International Herald Tribune reports. It also "estimates that sales of plug-in cars will grow by 40 percent annually. During that same period, general car sales will grow by 2 percent."

The plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt gets some of the credit for those rising numbers. "General Motors sold three times as many Chevrolet Volts in 2012 as it did in 2011, which was the car's first full year on the market," reports CNN -- "23,461 Volts in 2012 compared with just 7,671 in 2011." That's still below GM's sales targets, but, as Climate Progress points out, it makes GM "the first American auto manufacturer to sell more than one million vehicles with a 30-mpg fuel rating." No thanks to all the Volt-hating right-wingers out there.


Sea-level rise could be way, way worse than we already thought

flooded city street
Petrov Stanislav
Could your city look like this in 2100 (assuming it hasn't looked like this already)?

It might be time to buy that dry suit you've had your eye on -- or start saving up for a submersible.

"Glaciologists fear they may have seriously underestimated the potential for melting ice sheets to contribute to catastrophic sea-level rises in coming decades," reports The Independent. Here's more from NBC News:

Melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland may push up global sea levels more than 3 feet by the end of this century, according to a scientific poll of experts that brings a degree of clarity to a murky and controversial slice of climate science.

Such a rise in the seas would displace millions of people from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, swamp atolls in the Pacific Ocean, cause dikes in Holland to fail, and cost coastal mega-cities from New York to Tokyo billions of dollars for construction of sea walls and other infrastructure to combat the tides.

"The consequences are horrible," Jonathan Bamber, a glaciologist at the University of Bristol and a co-author of the study published Jan. 6 in the journal Nature Climate Change, told NBC News. ...

Read more: Climate & Energy


Could Chuck Hagel, defense secretary nominee, turn out to be a climate hawk?

Chuck Hagel
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Chuck Hagel: Will his inner climate hawk defeat his inner climate skeptic?

Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for secretary of defense, has long been confused about climate change ... and yet concerned about it too. He has a history of obstructing climate action, but also a record of elevating climate as a national security issue. If he's confirmed to head the Department of Defense, he might ultimately show himself to be a climate hawk -- though not one who hews to green orthodoxy or any party line.

Confused Chuck

On the one hand, Hagel -- a Republican senator from Nebraska from 1997 to 2008 and now co-chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board -- has professed many views you might associate with a climate denier.

In fact, his name is tied to the Senate's first high-profile repudiation of climate action: In 1997, he cosponsored the Byrd-Hagel resolution calling for rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, arguing that it would hurt the U.S. economy and should have required emissions cuts from developing countries. Five years later, he was still enthusiastically bashing the treaty:

The Kyoto Protocol would have eliminated millions of jobs in America. It would have driven our economy downward. It would have eliminated opportunities for investment, such as clean energy technology, in developing countries. It would have driven a stake through any hope of prosperity for America.

In 2001, at the start of the George W. Bush administration, Hagel and three other senators sent Bush a letter asking him to clarify his positions on Kyoto and on regulation of carbon dioxide. As Hagel explained later, "There was talk within this new administration that EPA had the power, through the Clean Air Act, to be able to enforce, in particular, carbon dioxide emissions. We didn't think that the EPA had that power." Bush wrote a letter in response saying that he didn't think the EPA had that power either, setting the course for his administration to do essentially nothing about climate change over its eight years.

In a 2005 interview with Grist, Hagel questioned the causes of climate change: