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Sarah Laskow's Posts

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Peter Gleick: Hero or moral moron?

Yesterday evening, water researcher and Pacific Institute Director Peter Gleick came forward to say that it was he who had first obtained the documents revealing the inner workings of the climate-denying Heartland Institute. Gleick admitted that he had obtained most of the documents using a false identity. This morning, the climate community has exploded with judgments, positive and negative, of Gleick's actions. Was he Goofus or Gallant? Here's a sampling of arguments on either side.

First, Gleick's own assessment of his decision. In his post, he called it "a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics." He also apologized "to all those affected."

Heartland, of course, isn't about to praise his actions. The institute's president wrote to reporters that "Gleick’s crime was a serious one … A mere apology is not enough to undo the damage.” (We know political hypocrisy is getting so commonplace as to be boring, so we’ll just say “cough cough Climategate.”)

Plenty of climate thinkers jumped to Gleick's defense, though.

Read more: Politics

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Critical List: Heartland documents obtained using deception; killer whales OK with climate change

Peter Gleick, a water expert and climate scientist, says he obtained documents that revealed the inner workings of the Heartland Institute by soliciting them from the group under someone else's name.

A new study says that exploiting Canada's tar sands might not exacerbate climate change as much as environmental groups fear.

Mexico and the U.S. are going to work together on offshore oil drilling.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Obama budget raises oil drilling royalties 50 percent

Public lands belong to all of us, so when the federal government decides to lease them out to oil and gas drillers, those companies have to pay for depriving taxpayers of environmental and recreational benefits. And the Obama administration has decided that they're not paying enough. So the Interior Department's budget includes a proposal to raise royalties for oil and gas projects by 50 percent.

Read more: Oil

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Critical List: House passes drilling bill; turning grass into plastic

The House passed a bill expanding oil drilling in ANWR and oil shale drilling. Revenues are meant to fund the transportation bill, which won't be considered until after the President's Day recess.

Mexico City shut down a giant landfill, but will capture methane that the landfill exudes and use it as a power source.

A new technique could turn grass into plastic.

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Hillary Clinton is tackling climate change whether you like it or not

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with EPA's Lisa Jackson and a handful of international diplomats, has had enough of climate inaction. She announced a new initiative Thursday morning to start attacking "short-lived climate pollutants" -- otherwise known as "everything except carbon dioxide." Recent research has shown that decreasing these pollutants, which include methane, soot, and HFCs, could actually pull back climate change by as much as 0.9 degrees F. That won't solve the problem, but it could buy the world some time while diplomats continue squabbling over carbon.

There's also a win-win-win angle to attacking pollutants like soot and methane.

Read more: Politics

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Critical List: State Department working to reduce emissions; transportation bill vote delayed

The State Department is going to announce this morning a program to reduce shorter-lived greenhouse gases, like methane.

The House won't vote on Republicans' transportation bill of horrors quite yet.

Worldwide, 92 percent of freshwater water goes to agriculture.

Mining in Mongolia -- good for China, maybe not the best idea for the desert environment or the people who live there, who are mostly herders.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Here is a shark swallowing another shark

Researchers from the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies took this picture of a shark eating another shark near the Great Barrier Reef. Nature is crazy!

Read more: Animals

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Pollan’s Food Rules, animated. With vegetables

Via the invaluable Maria Popova at Brain Pickings, this video by Marija Jacimovic and Benoit Detalle uses vegetables -- so many, many awesome vegetables -- to illustrate Michael Pollan's Food Rules (the version that expands on "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”).

Read more: Food

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Critical List: More than 800,000 anti-Keystone messages delivered; Obama could veto transportation bill

The anti-Keystone email campaign gathered more than 800,000 messages to Senate leadership. Check out this picture of the messages being delivered.

Internal documents from Heartland Institute, the climate-denying think tank, show funding from sources like Microsoft, Koch Industries (which had reportedly stopped funding the institute), tobacco companies, and other corporations. One "Anonymous Donor" gave more than $1.6 million in 2010 and $979,000 in 2011.

The White House said senior advisers would recommend the president veto the House version of the transportation bill, citing provisions to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Maybe Republicans didn't hear that after its completion, the pipeline could create as few as 20 permanent jobs.

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French judge: Monsanto poisoned farmer

In 2004, Paul François, a French farmer, breathed in the vapor of Monsanto's Lasso weedkiller while cleaning out the tank of a crop sprayer. He lost consciousness and later suffered from memory loss and headaches. Monday, a French court found that Monsanto could be held liable for poisoning François.