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Strange bedfellows in climate politics

A Nation columnist goes contrarian; GM goes the other way

Did lefty pundit Alexander Cockburn and corporate behemoth General Motors secretly agree to swap climate positions? It looks that way. GM, swallowing hard, recently joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the elite enviro-business coalition pushing cap-and-trade -- a so-called "market-based system" for controlling carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the famously acidic Cockburn lacerated global warming orthodoxy in his column in the Nation magazine, deriding it as a "fearmongers' catechism [of] crackpot theories" ginned up by "grant-guzzling climate careerists" and opportunistic politicians looking to ride the greenhouse "threatosphere" all the way to the White House. (Whew!) But there's less here than meets …

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This Sounds Like a Job For … Nobody

Workaholics, especially American ones, are ruining the planet Now here's a theory we can get behind: workaholism is ruining the earth. "We are proudly breaking our backs to decrease the carrying capacity of the planet," says Conrad Schmidt, proponent of the 32-hour work week, who declares that overwork leads to overconsumption, pollution, and less fulfilling life experience. If there's anyone who needs to take the message to heart, it's Americans, who work more hours than anyone else in the industrialized world -- a full 500 hours more per year than Germans. Not coincidentally, the U.S. is also the world's largest …

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Is It Worm in Here?

Deep-water mining could be bad news for seafloor organisms, say experts Pop quiz: Would deep-water mining harm fragile ecosystems? An article in Science gives the shocking answer: Vancouver-based Nautilus Minerals' pioneering plan to dig out gold, copper, silver, and zinc from hydrothermal vents in the South Pacific would likely create unpleasantness for the hardy organisms who live there. While Nautilus aims to mine uninhabited vents, suggested sites are a mere half-mile or so from thriving microorganism hotspots, and sediment drift could easily lead to "smothering, clogging, and contamination of vent communities," says coauthor Jochen Halfar. Eh, they'll be fine, says …

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Coal Is the Enemy of the Human Race

New BP, Rio Tinto venture plans three "clean coal" plants Last week, oil giant BP announced a new "clean coal" partnership, and it's already spewing big plans. With Rio Tinto, the world's third-largest mining company, BP created Hydrogen Energy, a cleaner-energy venture. Just one hitch: they're gonna make hydrogen by burning fossil fuels, which produces carbon dioxide, which ends the world. So the companies will plunge huge amounts of money into "clean coal" operations that separate out the carbon, then bury it under the sea. (Note to future generations: We know it sounds crazy. So, uh, did it work?) BP …

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The week after the announcement

FOX airs ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ after Murdoch’s green speech

Last night, about a week after Rupert Murdoch announced News Corp. is going green, FOX aired The Day After Tomorrow. I'm not sure this is the best start, but it is something, right?

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Exxon still up to no good

Funding deniers, still, in 2007?

A little while back Exxon was trying to backpedal on its global warming shenanigans, claiming it had been misunderstood and that it wasn't funding those nasty denialist groups any more. In what is sure to come as a huge shock to ... nobody, that turned out to be bullsh*t. According to a new report from Greenpeace, Exxon is still actively funding 14 groups for "climate change work," and you can bet that work isn't devoted to fine-tuning a cap-and-trade system. Today, Rep. Brad Miller sent Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson a letter (PDF) chastising him for this ongoing nonsense. Good luck …

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Organic lite

‘Organic’ beer with conventional hops, and other USDA wishes

It's happening again -- the USDA is scheming to water down organic standards for key products. This time, the targets are that sacred duo, beer and sausage. Beer is composed essentially of two agricultural products: barley and hops. If the USDA gets its way, makers of "organic" beer will be able to use conventionally grown hops. And sausage is made up essentially of ground meat stuffed into casing made of animal intestines. The USDA would like manufacturers to be able to use intestines from conventionally raised animals. According to Food Navigator, the USDA hopes to add 38 substances to the …

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Galapagos report: A wrap-up on our freshwater discussions

Biz leaders and scientists brainstorm solutions to the freshwater crisis

Mary Pearl is the president of Wildlife Trust, cofounder of its Consortium for Conservation Medicine, and an adjunct research scientist at Columbia University. She recently returned from a boat trip through the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador with scientists, conservationists, and business leaders, intended to forge partnerships and develop solutions to the global freshwater crisis. This is the third and final dispatch from her journey. See also her first and second dispatches. My best intentions were to have a daily dispatch to Gristmill from our weeklong floating seminar on the future of fresh water, but satellite communication from the boat proved …

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An interview with Rupert Murdoch about News Corp.’s new climate strategy

Rupert Murdoch. When Rupert Murdoch, the cantankerous and conservative owner of Fox News, enthusiastically joins the fight against climate change, you know we're past the tipping point on the issue. Think landslide. Last week, the media mogul pledged not only to make his News Corp. empire carbon neutral, but to persuade the hundreds of millions of people who watch his TV channels and read his newspapers to join the cause. Messages about climate change will be woven throughout News Corp.'s entertainment content, he said, from movies to books to TV sitcoms, and the issue will have an increasing presence in …

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How to profit from the end of the world

MarketWatch is running a ginormous series of articles under the rubric, "an investor guide to global warming." It's about the market opportunities opened up by climate change and the companies that are moving in to take advantage. Lots of good stuff to peruse.