There were plenty of depressing numbers out there this Earth Day, from dwindling numbers of moose in Minnesota to ongoing honey bee decline. But to me, this takes the Prozac-frosted cake: a study found that while young people could identify a thousand corporate logos, they couldn't identify even a handful of plants and animals in their backyards. Will future generations care about protecting the planet if they can't even pick a starling out of a lineup? How can we start to change that? The No Child Left Inside Coalition has a simple idea: get 'em outside:
Things may be getting a little weird in what's traditionally been a cozy long-term relationship. A Republican state representative in North Dakota last week ripped electric company executives for being too liberal on climate action: State Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, said the companies have a responsibility to "tell the truth" about global warming. "What I hear you saying is that, 'It's going to be a reality and we're just going to play the game as best we can,'" Kasper told company officials Wednesday, at a conference sponsored by the Utility Shareholders of North Dakota. "For you to throw in the towel now, is really disheartening to hear." The issue was raised by Bill Brier, a vice president at the Edison Electric Institute in Washington, D.C. He said all three presidential candidates favor some sort of requirements dealing with climate change. "We can argue the science, which we did for years," Brier said. "Now we are saying, 'It's going to happen. We want to be at the table.'" What's going on here? Aren't Republicans and energy executives like peas and carrots? Is this just a lovers' quarrel or a sign of a more serious problem?
You know, if you set aside the massive threats to their habitats posed by global warming and oil and gas development, polar bears are an "otherwise healthy" species. That was the argument made Wednesday by William Horn, an attorney and former Assistant Interior Secretary for Fish and Wildlife in the Reagan administration, at a Capitol Hill hearing about the ongoing delay in whether to cover the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. Horn's case was echoed by several Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. To listen to Horn, the 33-51 percent chance that the recently signed oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea on Alaska's northwest coast would result in a major offshore oil spill is no big deal. And Horn clung to outdated projections that widespread Arctic Sea ice loss is 45 to 50 years away when, just four months ago, a NASA scientist predicted the Arctic Sea could be ice-free in the summer as soon as 2012. We all know the threats to polar bears posed by rapid climate change. But what would happen in the case of a major oil spill?
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is on a barnstorming tour, holding a series of innocuously-named "State Climate Dialogues." While the promotional materials sound forward-looking -- conservation, clean energy, efficient technology -- make no mistake about the purpose of the events. The national chamber is trying to derail the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act or any other legislation that puts a price on greenhouse-gas emissions. How's the tour being received so far? Not so well:Claims of dramatic job losses and rising prices for consumers were quickly dismissed by environmentalists, Gov. Brian Schweitzer's office, Montana economists, and others. Those forecasts fail to account for new technology and emerging economies that will reduce carbon emissions and keep Montana's economy humming. "It's fake and it's not realistic," Eric Stern, senior counselor to Gov. Brian Schweitzer, said of the industry forecast. "There is a clean-energy future, and Montana sits at the center of that." ... In the audience, former Billings Mayor Chuck Tooley, who began offering public presentations on climate change and the need for action two years ago, said he was taken aback. "He's from upside-down land," Tooley said of ["Frontiers of Freedom" President George] Landrith. "I wasn't sure if he was serious or not." As oil prices top $109 a barrel, it's quite an odd time to make the case that climate action will destroy our economy:
Hey, did you notice that new analysis the Environmental Protection Agency just put out? The one on the economic impacts of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act? No? None of this ringing a bell? That's just the way the EPA wants it. Like it was putting a scandal-ridden aide out to pasture, the administration quietly released the report on Friday afternoon and has tried to bury the important findings. But while the release may have been stealthy and the presentation was marked by the White House's typical efforts to make everything look bleak, the results speak loudly, showing we can both tackle global warming and grow America's economy.
Stepping into the Heartland Institute’s “2008 International Conference on Climate Change” was like walking into an alternate reality. To the rest of us, climate science is settled, the solutions are sensible, and the time for action is now. But in the Marriott Grand Marquis Times Square, the only science comes from industry-funded think tanks; climate action will destroy humanity; and the underdog in this fight is ExxonMobil. Photo: Justin Shearer Perhaps more accurate than alternative reality, the event was about denying reality. Global warming isn’t an abstract possibility. It’s already raised temperatures, stressing species from salmon to moose, triggering more …