Theories of eco-impotence

Why is green so low on the political agenda?

Why, with green so ubiquitous in media and culture, is it not higher up on the political agenda? Emily Gertz says it’s because the green grassroots aren’t involved in party politics. Matthew Yglesias points to new survey data from American Environics (PDF) which indicate that concern for the environment is broad but shallow. While everyone claims to care about environmental issues, nobody — not even those who rate their concern the highest — makes them a priority in the voting booth. Is it one of those two, or something else?

How much wind and solar could we have gotten for the cost of the Iraq War?

Paul Gipe does the math.

Green movements or green paint

China’s central government faces a choice between democracy and eco-collapse

"Choking on Growth" is the apt title of the new New York Times series on the "human toll, global impact and political challenge of China's epic pollution crisis." Epic, indeed. The first installment shows how "As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes." The statistics are daunting:

Sustainable math in East Asia

East Asian countries could save money shifting to renewables, but aren’t gonna

According to Greenpeace International, East Asian countries can save about $2 trillion in fuel costs over the next 23 years by shifting to renewable energy (abandoning plans for both coal and nuclear plants). Said dazzlingly monickered Greenpeace campaign coordinator Athena Ballasteros … … investment costs for new power plants in East Asia projected by the International Energy Agency (IEA) would total 490 billion dollars between 2004 and 2030. Under Greepeace’s scenario, investment costs on renewable energy would amount to 556 billion dollars over the same time frame. However, fuel costs in the IEA projections would cost 6.3 trillion dollars over …

Nothing to fear ...

Fear of death leads to authoritarianism, not sustainability

It’s tempting to think that if you scare the shit out of people — really convince them, down to their bones, that hurricanes, diseases, and starving refugees are hiding just around the corner — that mass mobilization against global warming will at long last ensue. There’s good reason to doubt it. Fear causes fairly predictable reactions, which do not include international cooperation, equitable distribution of resources, cost-benefit analysis on a multidecadal scale, and short-term sacrifice in the service of long-term problem-solving. They do include increased xenophobia, reactionary moralism, and susceptibility to demagogues. That is to say, the language of fear …

Put It in Park

Donations roll in for national parks’ centennial projects The 100th anniversary of the National Park Service is a mere nine years away, and donations are rolling in to spruce up parks for the occasion. In a spending bill yet to be approved by Congress, Bush made funds available to match private giving; some $300 million has already been pledged by corporations, nonprofits, and visitors’ groups. Last week, the National Park Service unveiled a list of 201 priority projects for the centennial bash, covering 116 parks in 40 states. Says NPS Deputy Superintendent Frank Mares, “The last big heady time for …

Ignoring science: Not just for Republicans anymore!

Michigan gov. follows Gingrich’s example, kills science advisory board

Newt Gingrich, claiming a mandate to make government smaller, actually managed to abolish only two offices: the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). The OTA was a widely praised, nonpartisan board that helped Congress understand and deal with technical issues -- exactly the kind of office you don't need if you get your understanding of biology from Genesis, your thoughts on telecommunications from K Street, and your opinions on energy from Exxon. The OTA was probably one of the least-known but best performing offices in all of D.C. Oddly, Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan just killed the Michigan Environmental Science Board, which was composed of volunteer scientists appointed by the Governor. The only cost to the state was for member travel when on assignment, and for preparation and distribution of reports. Here are the reports prepared by the MESB over the years:

Killing you legally

The Bush administration proposes to make illegal MTR mining legal

I suppose I should have something to say about the Bush administration’s latest effort to encourage mountaintop removal mining. But what? It’s not like there’s any particular analytical insight required. The Bushies are choosing profit for coal companies over some of America’s most beautiful landscapes and oldest cultures. It’s right there in the open. What’s required in situations like this is not analysis but brute power politics. The administration makes it clear that they don’t give much of a damn about feedback: The Office of Surface Mining in the Interior Department drafted the rule, which will be subject to a …

You call this wonkery?

New article fails to shed light on state renewable portfolio standards

Jordan Schrader of USA Today manages to pen a long piece about the profusion of state renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) without discussing, except in the most glancing, cursory fashion, any of the important issues around them. For instance, he notes that some people say RPSs will raise electricity rates, while others say they will ultimately save ratepayers money. Who’s right? Which RPSs have raised rates and which haven’t? How do different RPSs address costs? Or this: Renewable resources are defined differently in each state, but primarily as cleaner alternatives to coal that do not produce as much greenhouse gases. This …

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