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Between Iraq and a hard place

I wonder how many people realize that the chances of nuclear war did not fall significantly with the end of the Cold War. A deliberate nuclear war, while a real risk, was always the outside chance. The worst danger -- an accidental nuclear launch -- is probably more likely today than it was prior to the fall of the Soviet empire. Neither the U.S. nor Russia have taken their missiles off hair trigger alert, and Russia's command and control system is deteriorating. When the old war criminal McNamara, leftist Noam Chomsky, pacifist and anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott, and the right-wing …

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Sheddy Mercury

Wal-Mart to cut mercury content in compact fluorescent bulbs As energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs move their way into the mainstream, concerns about their mercury content are spiraling up too. Soon, however, consumers will be able to find less-toxic CFLs for always low prices. Yes, Wal-Mart announced yesterday that its bulb suppliers will reduce mercury content by about one-third, eliminating 360 pounds of the metal if the store meets its goal of selling 100 million CFLs this year. Noah Horowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council notes that "the energy savings delivered through the use of CFLs will actually reduce …

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[Environmental disaster] hits [minority group] harder than whites, study finds

In coming years, expect many, many more headlines like this. Why, if you squint really hard, I bet you'll even see a pattern emerge!

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The dots

An energy consultancy firm says that state ownership and resource nationalism are the big threats to global oil supply. In other news, Russian President Vladimir Putin this week obliquely compared U.S. foreign policy to that of the Third Reich.

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Excuse Us While We Pick Our Jaws Up Off the Floor

Canadian bureaucrat fights charges over leaked climate document This week's hottest eco-scandal comes from Canada. For real! Where else would Mounties descend on a federal office to arrest an anarchist-leaning, punk-drumming bureaucrat for allegedly leaking a climate document to activists and the press? We swear on our stack of Celine CDs: this happened Wednesday at the Environment Canada office in Ottawa. Jeff Monaghan, 27, who's worked at the agency for four years, was released but still may face charges; yesterday, he described the arrest as a "witch hunt" and an attempt to "bully public servants whom [the agency], in a …

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All about lighting

The WorldWatch Institute discusses a burst of new efforts from various and sundry governments to ban incandescent bulbs. Wal-Mart is using its considerable monopsony powers for good, forcing its suppliers to substantially reduce the amount of mercury in CFL bulbs. (Cool about the Wal-Mart solar buy too, huh?) CFL schmeeFL. LEDs are coming on strong!

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Sigh

The 1872 Mining Law is evil. It gives mining companies cheap and privileged access to public land, and makes it virtually impossible for anyone, including the gov't, to stop them from grabbing it (yet another cost of mining that gets offloaded onto the public). Attempts to get rid of or update the absurdly archaic and destructive statute have long been blocked by legislators from mining states. Among them is Harry Reid (D-Nev.), now the majority leader in the Senate, who spent the '90s furiously battling his fellow Senators on behalf of the hard-rock mining business in his state. Says the …

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UN Secretary-General appoints climate envoys

I haven't been keeping very close tabs on this, but apparently new(ish) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon -- who is determined to make climate change a priority -- has named three Special Envoys for Climate Change. What's a Special Envoy, you ask? Good question. I searched in vain for answers, and all I found is this: The Special Envoys will solicit the views of national leaders, including those who are key actors in the climate change negotiations. "The work of the Special Envoys will assist the Secretary-General in his consultations with Governments and other key stakeholders on how he might facilitate …

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A bill to subsidize making biogas from cow manure

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has just submitted a bill in the Senate that would establish federal tax credits, loans, and loan guarantees to encourage production of "biogas" from cow manure. Three Republicans are co-sponsoring the bill: Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Wayne Allard of Colorado, and Larry Craig of Idaho. A similar bill has been introduced in the House. As described by an article in the Omaha World-Herald, the legislation would "help ease America's addiction to fossil fuels by encouraging a renewable resource." Here we go again. Senator Nelson envisions building a national biogas industry. His motto: "Don't waste the …