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Mark Hertsgaard's Posts

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Obama and Wen to meet soon one-on-one in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN -- The Chinese premier Wen Jiabao will meet one-on-one with President Barack Obama soon in Copenhagen to try to reach agreement on a new international climate treaty, according to He Yafei, the vice chairman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. "Yes, I believe so," responded He in the hallways of Copenhagen's Bella Center late this afternoon, when he was asked if Wen and Obama, the heads of government of the world's two climate superpowers, would meet to resolve outstanding differences. Wen, whose country is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases on an annual basis, arrived in Copenhagen yesterday for …

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In Copenhagen: island nations confront big emitters

Cross-posted from The Nation. Big news from Copenhagen today, where the divide between big emitters and at-risk nations deepened, threatening the prospects of reaching a climate deal for President Obama and other heads of state to sign when they arrive at the summit next week. In a day of major developments, the Alliance of Small Island Nations put forth a radically tougher proposal for confronting climate change than the U.S., China and other major emitters favor. The AOSIS proposal, which calls for temperature rise not to exceed 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, ran counter to a separate text released …

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A scary new climate study will have you saying ‘Oh, shit!’

"Oh, shit."They say that everyone who finally gets it about climate change has an "Oh, shit" moment -- an instant when the full scientific implications become clear and they suddenly realize what a horrifically dangerous situation humanity has created for itself. Listening to the speeches, ground-breaking in their way, that President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao delivered Sept. 22 at the U.N. Summit on Climate Change, I was reminded of my most recent "Oh, shit" moment.  It came in July, courtesy of the chief climate adviser to the German government. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chair of an advisory council known …

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Why Al Gore isn’t running for president

As Hillary, Obama, and Edwards continue to slug it out in the early primary states, one name is conspicuously absent among the Democratic candidates to become the next president of the United States. Where is Al Gore? The man who received more votes than George W. Bush did in 2000, who served eight years as Bill Clinton's vice president, and whose climate change evangelism has been rewarded with an Oscar and Nobel Peace Prize has resolutely refused to enter the race, even though he might well have won it. Ever since the documentary An Inconvenient Truth catapulted Gore to international …

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John Francis, a ‘planetwalker’ who lived car-free and silent for 17 years, chats with Grist

How long could you survive without your car? For the many Americans who think nothing of driving 10 blocks to buy a gallon of milk, the answer is obvious. But before any of you dedicated pedestrians and die-hard cyclists start feeling smug, try this question: How long could you survive without talking? John Francis. Photo: Courtesy of Planetwalk. Chances are, nowhere near as long as John Francis did. After a massive oil spill polluted San Francisco Bay in 1971, Francis gave up all motorized transportation. For 22 years, he walked everywhere he went -- including treks across the entire United …

Read more: Living

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An interview with Terry Tamminen, Schwarzenegger’s top enviro official

Terry Tamminen. Terry Tamminen, secretary of California's Environmental Protection Agency, may hold the most powerful environmental job in the U.S. outside of Washington, D.C. Not only is California the world's fifth-largest economy, it has long been an environmental trendsetter, pioneering standards in automobile regulation and alternative-energy development that have spread across the nation and around the world. But Tamminen works for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), whose fondness for gas-guzzling Hummers leaves some environmentalists skeptical of his assurances about protecting California's environment. Grist sent environmental author and reporter Mark Hertsgaard to question the 52-year-old Tamminen about how he and Schwarzenegger plan …

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Can a beat-Bush effort yield a progressive coalition with staying power?

Is Bush digging his political grave with enviro rollbacks? Photo: White House. Who says George W. Bush never did anything for the great outdoors? His running for reelection could be the best thing to happen to the U.S. environmental movement in years. The threat of four more years of Bush has provoked a significant rethinking of the movement's tactics, according to interviews with movement leaders, their financial supporters, and political advisers. Not only has it energized activists like never before, it has also produced unprecedented expressions of unity within the movement and beyond -- specifically with labor unions, feminist organizations, …

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Threats to Mexican environmentalists continue

Two political associates of peasant environmentalists Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera have narrowly survived an apparent assassination attempt, raising grave questions about Montiel and Cabrera's own safety following their Nov. 8 release from jail by Mexican President Vicente Fox. Rodolfo Montiel. Felipe Arriga, the secretary general of the Ecologist Organization of the Mountain of Petatlan and Coyuca of Catalan -- the grassroots group Montiel founded to fight logging in the southwestern province of Guerrero -- said the attack took place at 6 a.m. on Nov. 1 in the town of El Venado. Unidentified assailants stopped a truck providing local transport …

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Enviros worldwide call for release of two Mexican activists

Forty-five of the world's most prominent environmentalists have called for the immediate release of Mexican colleagues Rodolfo Montiel Flores and Teodoro Cabrera Garcia, who have been jailed and tortured after blocking logging operations by the multinational Boise Cascade in the southern state of Guerrero. Rodolfo Montiel Flores. Urging that the "tragic stories" of murdered environmental activists Chico Mendes and Ken Saro-Wiwa never be repeated, the activists -- all previous winners of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize -- wrote to Mexico's President-elect Vicente Fox on July 14 to request his intervention in the case. Fox is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., …

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It's time to renew your enviro vows, Al

The environment should be a winning electoral issue for Al Gore, so why has he said so little about it -- thus far -- during his run for president? Day after day, the vice president pounds away on his core themes of health care, education, the booming economy, and now, his sinner's conversion to campaign finance reform. Meanwhile, he mentions the environment only sporadically. That's odd coming from the author of Earth in the Balance, but it's also a mistake. The truth is, the environment could be the key to a Gore victory in November, if he has the wit …

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