Sara Barz

Sara Barz is a writer based in Seattle.

Precedent versus vision

The media’s central arguments for and against Gore’s challenge to the nation

Nearly a week after Gore unveiled his carbon-free challenge (sounds sadly kind of like a reality TV gimmick), the substantive reactions from the nation's editorial pages and blogosphere fit (for better of for worse) into two groupings: precedent versus vision. Brushing past the naysayers (John Tierney and his "junk science" complaints) and the yes-men (Christine Pelosi and her Gorish platitudes), those in the "precedent" camp tend to disapprove of Gore's goal on the basis that United States continues to produce very little renewable energy, so these critics say ramping up to 100 percent renewable is impossible. Those in the "vision" group tend to applaud Gore's call on the basis that it offers a compelling vision for the future, even if it lacks details. These divisions do not completely break down along political lines. It's true that those who tend not to like Al Gore tend not to like Al Gore's challenge and vice versa; yet, there are some notable exceptions.

Can the coal industry and an environmental blog find common ground?

In response to this post on the many varied reactions to Gore's energy speech, Behind the Plug (the coal industry blog for which we have strong language) contacted me regarding questions for Gore on "Meet the Press." The impetus: Coming from very distant sides of political and editorial spheres, could we find some common ground to collaborate on a question for Gore? As Behind the Plug says in its post, "We all breathe the same air and we all have an interest in America's energy future." Thus, based on the blogosphere roundups and reader comments -- and without feigning scientific expertise -- the joint question that both of us would like to see answered:

Late to the party, but made the last call

Bloggers weigh Gore’s plan in advance of ‘Meet the Press’

Liberals love Gore's gall. Conservatives hate that he drove a gas-guzzler to the big speech. Politicians grumble over his timing. Climate policy wonks and science geeks admire the inititive, but want something a little more ... feasible ... say, 50 to 90 percent renewable electricity by 2020 with a little natural gas for good measure? Across the blogosphere, however, certain questions about Gore's plan remain unanswered. What practical measures will we take to get to zero emission electricity in 10 years? Who will lead the charge? From where will the requisite funds come to finance this energy operation? Will Tom Brokaw grill Gore on "Meet the Press" this Sunday? Or will the Goracle leave the details to those in the political trenches and dodge the pragmatic bullet? The remaining voices:

Goracle on Meet the Press

Questions for Gore’s energy plan?

This Sunday, Al Gore will appear on NBC's "Meet the Press" to talk about the energy action plan he unveiled in Washington this week. So, Grist readers, in tribute to the late Tim Russert, what kind of tough questions do you want host Tom Brokaw to lob Gore's way? Offer your suggestions here. Looking ahead, is it safe to say that Gore stands to get a very warm reception from interim "Meet" host Brokaw? After all, the ex-NBC anchor hosted an Emmy Award-winning Discovery show back in 2006 that explored the reality of climate change and the need to address it. And he's a self-proclaimed environmentalist -- a lover of the outdoors (travels the world with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard) who touts his personal efforts to conserve energy. Brokaw also did his part to flack Gore's movie, "An Incovenient Truth." Will Brokaw embrace his inner Russert and grill Gore about how exactly the nation can meet a 100 percent renewable electricity goal by 2018?

Mr. Gore, how do you feel about 90 percent?

Blogosphere responds reservedly to Gore’s call for 100 percent renewable electricity

Al Gore stood up in Washington today to call on Americans to join a crusade for 100 percent renewable electricity use by 2018. The blogosphere's response? A golf clap and general round of nitpicking ... Some see the renewable energy goal as a touch impractical, and his beating of the carbon tax drum (1993 ... anyone? anyone?) irked plenty of conservatives -- no surprise -- and congressional Democrats on the grounds of poor timing as the American economy limps along. A roundup of reactions:

Green carpet treatment

MLB, NRDC, and Chevy partner for ‘greenest’ All-Star Game

Tonight's Major League Baseball All-Star Game in New York should be the "greenest" MLB event ever, according to Reuters. In partnership with Chevy and NRDC, MLB incorporated a number of "green" initiatives into tonight's game: Athletes will be transported to and from Yankee Stadium in FlexFuel Chevy Silverados, post-consumer recycled waste content and bio-based materials will be included in paper products, and NRDC green teams will roam the stands of Yankee Stadium encouraging debauched and inebriated baseball fans to recycle. However, the centerpiece of the green All-Star Game is the giant "green" red carpet upon which the all-star players paraded for 18 blocks down Sixth Avenue. The 95,000-square-foot carpet, created by Bentley Prince Street, Inc. of California, was made completely out of recycled fiber content, and 100 percent of electricity was generated by an on-site solar array or financed through the purchase of Green-e certified renewable energy certificates. Too bad the FlexFuel Chevy Silverados in which the All-Stars paraded were less green than the carpet upon which they rolled. Fox will broadcast the final Yankee Stadium All-Star Game starting at 7:00 p.m. ET.

On the Ball: In Beijing's court

A semi-comprehensive sportin’ round-up

Beijing Olympics 2008: With less than 30 days to the Olympic games, Chinese officials and businesses have actively been touting efforts to reduce air pollution. Even as visibility was down to a few hundred meters in the pollution-laden misty July weather, Beijing's environmental bureau insisted that there will be clear skies for the August games. Chinese corporations are trying to do their part to curb the smog. The Beijing Shougang Group has cut steel production by 70 percent and will take a 2 million yuan loss for the third quarter. International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge told the AP, "We are confident that atmospheric pollution will have no major impact on the Olympic Games." However, Olympic athletes are not quite as confident as Rogge in the Beijing climate. In the lead-up to the games, the Canadian Olympic Road Racing Team will train in Kyoto, Japan, thereby avoiding the streets of Beijing until the last possible second. Perhaps the Canadians are right to raise a skeptical eyebrow at Rogge's claims. As of early July, Beijing's smog was five times over the safety limit and a few recent health studies have indicated that polluted air may affect blood circulation and athletic performance for asthmatics and non-asthmatics alike.

Olympic trials: The locusts of control

A locust swarm worries Chinese officials ahead of Olympics

Officials in the Northern Chinese province of Inner Mongolia have mobilized 33,000 people to stop a swarm of locusts 267 miles outside of Beijing. Concerned that the locust swarm may descend on Beijing during the Olympic Games, the regional government has set aside 4 million yuan for pesticides and large-scale spraying machinery. As of July 2, the swarm had infested 5,000 square miles. "The larvae are in the hatching stage in the counties and cities near Beijing, Gao Wenyuan, of the Inner Mongolia's grassland office, told the Xinhua news agency, as reported by Bloomberg. "The plague is becoming more apparent."

Olympic trials

Olympic sailing venue battles with massive algae bloom

With a mere 37 days until the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, Qingdao, the port city where Olympic sailing events will be held, has sailed into troubled waters. Since June 12, municipal and Olympic officials have been wrestling with an algae bloom in Fushan Bay that has produced over 20,000 metric tons of weeds and green muck. Approximately 10,000 troops and Qingdao residents and 1,000 boats have been dispatched to dredge the bay. According to a Reuters report, algae blooms are regular occurrences in Qingdao, but this one stands out: