Politics

U.S. military steps it up

Maybe the Pentagon can persuade red-staters

The military -- which tends to insist on operating in a reality-based world, as a matter of self-preservation -- thinks global heating is a big threat. A bit from the story: Today, 11 retired senior generals issued a report drawing attention to the ability of climate change to act as a "threat multiplier" in unstable parts of the world. The Army's former chief of staff, Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, who is one of the authors, noted he had been "a little bit of a skeptic" when the study group began meeting in September. But after being briefed by top climate scientists and observing changes in his native New England, Sullivan said he is now convinced that global warming presents a grave challenge to the country's military preparedness. "The trends are not good, and if I just sat around in my former life as a soldier, if I just waited around for someone to walk in and say, 'This is with a hundred percent certainty,' I'd be waiting forever," he said.

The Err Up There

EPA relaxes clean-air requirements for ethanol-fuel plants Before last week, plants turning corn into liquor (yes, please) were allowed to emit 250 tons of emissions per year before triggering clean-air regulations, while those processing corn into ethanol fuel could emit only 100 tons annually. Just doesn’t seem fair, does it? So the U.S. EPA did the logical thing, announcing that ethanol-fuel plants will now be allowed the higher pollution level too — and they won’t have to keep track of emissions from vents and other minor sources. Because a process for making clean energy should get to be dirty! The …

Greening geopolitics

Friedman in the NYT Magazine

What's red white and blue, and green all over? The cover of this week's New York Times Sunday Magazine. In "The Greening of Geopolitics," Thomas Friedman applies his trademark econo-politico-historical analysis to the state of the global environment, and he is nothing if not comprehensive. From China, Schwarzenegger, and Wal-Mart, to Islamic fundamentalism and oil prices, Friedman traces the connections. Enviros won't learn much about global warming they didn't already know; on the other hand, how greening America could ultimately result in democracy in Saudi Arabia and better schools in Qatar is a point not often made in activist circles. Particularly encouraging are Friedman's call for regulations at the national level to encourage green innovation (free hand of the market won't do this by itself) and his call for a 2008 candidate with a rock-solid plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Oh yeah, and the art is pretty too.

Slouching towards sanity

In Washington state

Ooh, boy! It looks like the state of Washington is one step closer to having a sane climate policy. The state House of Representatives just passed a climate policy that looks like it's got some teeth:

Step It Up Seattle

Local and federal leaders step it up

As reported by KING5.com (video), more than 1,000 people took part in Step It Up Seattle, which began at Occidental Park in downtown Seattle and ended in Myrtle Edwards Park where a rally and solutions fair commenced. Many Grist staff members were present, and took pictures and chatted with local Grist readers. My job was to record brief audio interviews with some of the participants. Early in the week, we plan to share these photos and recordings with you. For now, here is just a taste of the day's events, the unedited audio recordings (Windows Media) of the rally's speakers: KC Golden, Policy Director for Climate Solutions -- Listen (7:22) Jiji Jally, Marshall Islands representative -- Listen (4:36) Jay Inslee, U.S. Congressman; Greg Nickels, Mayor of Seattle; Ron Sims, King County Executive -- Listen (26:00) Dave Freiboth, MLK Jr. County Labor Council; Emily Duncanson, Western Washington University student and founder of Kyoto in the classroom; Rev. Lisa Domke -- Listen (13:22) More to come. Update [2007-4-16 17:13:1 by Chris Schults]: Check out today's podcast to hear from some of the Seattle marchers. Update [2007-4-20 12:44:12 by Chris Schults]: Check out Grist's audio slideshow.

Step It Up media coverage

Mostly in the local papers

I’m moving this to a separate thread. I’m trying to track news coverage of SIU events — most of which is popping up in local and regional newspapers. If you know of a story I haven’t got here, leave it in comments — I’ll be updating. Forthwith: Coverage of Step It Up events in Annapolis, Md., the Hudson Valley, all across Maine, Chicago, Pennsylvania, the Adirondack Mountains, Michigan, Florida, Southern California, Notre Dame, several Conn. towns, Colorado College, Louisville, Ken., Rapid City, SD, Boston, Austin, Tex., Bear Mountain State Park, Princeton Univ., DesMoines, Iowa, New York, Pittburgh, Clemson Univ., Frankfort, …

Step it up!

Get out there on the street!

Today is the day! Across the United States, in more than 1,300 communities, citizens are gathering together at local grassroots events to send a clear message to Congress: Step it up. Pass legislation that will insure an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The world’s eyes are upon us. Go here to find an event in your area. Later today, after I get a little sleep, I will be attempting to chronicle at least some portion of what promises to be a historical occasion. If you’re able, post an account of your community’s events in comments on this …

A minister, a congressman, and a student activist walk into a climate rally

Don’t forget to Step It Up tomorrow

This was posted by my colleague Madeline Ostrander at our mothership blog, but I thought it belonged on Gristmill as well. What do Washington Congressional Rep. Jay Inslee, the AFL-CIO, a car-sharing company, and a radio DJ have in common? What about swimmers doing a polar bear dip in the Willamette River, a Unitarian Church, and Portland Commissioner Eric Sten? They and thousands of others are, for the first time in history, united on climate change. Founded by writer Bill McKibben, Step It Up is the largest and most diverse citizen day of action on climate change the U.S. has ever seen. With 1,300 gatherings in cities and small towns across the U.S., could Step It Up be the climate movement's turning point, its "Selma" or "bus boycott" as one activist suggested in yesterday's Oregonian? Step It Up organizers hope so, as the events catch a wide net of supporters -- companies, churches, national labor associations, peace groups, local governments, conservation organizations, and thousands of citizens collectively urging Congress to take action on climate. In Seattle, nearly 50 partner groups -- including Grist; the AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers; coalitions of peace activists and churches; Sightline Institute; the League of Women Voters; and the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations -- are bringing Rep. Jay Inslee together onstage with Presbyterian minister Lisa Domke, student activist Emily Duncanson, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, and King County Executive Ron Sims. Organizers are expecting thousands from the Puget Sound area to turn out for one-mile march ending in a rally and sustainability fair.

Scientists and social power

They’ve got it, they shouldn’t be ashamed of using it

In a previous post, I argued that the public doesn’t particularly need a sophisticated scientific understanding of climate change (or evolution, or stem cells) in order to make the right basic policy decisions. A rudimentary understanding, deliverable and understandable by a layman, is perfectly sufficient. We’re warming the climate? It’s gonna hurt us? Let’s stop. Bada-bing, bada-boom. Given this, and given the fact that such rudimentary explanations of the science are ubiquitous, the obvious question is: why does the public persist in believe in goofy things, and supporting goofy policy? The assumption of many scientists is: the public needs more …

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