Why environmental groups have been slow to fight the border wall

The bobcat turned, looked at me, and jumped into the mesquite brush. It was the first day of a three-day visit to South Texas, and I was exploring the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge along the Rio Grande River. Seeing the bobcat was a treat for me — but the kind of treat that could become increasingly rare if the Bush administration and Congress go ahead with plans to build between 370 and 700 miles of double-layered concrete wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The efficacy of this plan to keep out “unwanted” foreigners is dubious at best, and highly controversial. …

Notable quotable

“I’m interested in good policy. Kyoto, I thought, was bad policy.” – George W. Bush

A look at Ron Paul’s environmental platform and record

Update: Ron Paul dropped out of the presidential race on June 12, 2008. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul doesn’t spend much time talking about the environment; when he does address the issue, it’s usually to say that our land, air, and water would be in better shape if the government butted out and let the free-market, private-property system run its course. Paul has represented Texas’s 14th district in the U.S. House of Representatives for the past decade, and he represented the 22nd district for about seven years in the ’70s and ’80s. In 1988, he ran for president as the …

An interview with Ron Paul about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Ron Paul dropped out of the presidential race on June 12, 2008. Ron Paul. Photo: MyTwistedLens Enviros may roll their eyes at a candidate who dismisses the U.S. EPA as feckless and disposable, who believes all public lands should be privately owned, and whose remedy for an ailing planet is “a free-market system and a lot less government.” But Ron Paul, the quixotic libertarian U.S. rep from Texas, has a bigger cult following online than any other presidential candidate*, and has won …

Think you very much

Smart commentary on Gore’s Nobel

“Do I derange you?” Photo: Eric Neitzel/WireImage. Gore’s Nobel certainly brought out the mouthbreathers, but it also inspired some insightful commentary, some of it, mercifully, not about its effects on the presidential race. Most commentators did, however, find it difficult to avoid the Bush/Gore comparison. Here’s a sample of some of the better stuff I’ve found around the tubes. Paul Krugman on Gore Derangement Syndrome: What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane? Partly it’s a reaction to what happened in 2000, when the American people chose Mr. Gore but his opponent somehow ended up in the White …

Sticks and stones

Right wing commentators react to Gore’s Nobel

The assault on reason Gore Photo: Eric Neitzel/WireImage. Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize was met with howls of outrage and resentment from the right, which never met anything other than war that it couldn’t drum up some howls of outrage and resentment about. The smear of choice was to mention Gore’s name in the same sentence as a bunch of bad people. Or to say that the Nobel committee hates Bush. Pretty much how they deal with all critics, in other words. Here’s a small sampling from the fever swamps: Iain Murray of Planet Gore: Who Else Should Al Gore …

Chinese prez Hu Jintao promises eco-reforms in big speech

Chinese President Hu Jintao, in a speech to the country’s Communist Party Congress yesterday, promised environmental as well as economic reforms in the next five years. Shying away from specifics in his 2.5-hour speech, Hu said that China’s “ecological and environmental quality will improve notably.” He acknowledged that “[China's] economic growth is realized at an excessively high cost of resources and the environment,” and spoke of increasing funds spent on energy issues and conservation, with an eye toward controlling pollution and improving environmental conditions for both rural and urban residents. He said the country will “promote a conservation culture by …


Al Gore’s commitment to public service in the face of cynicism

“Hey Crichton, won the Pulitzer yet?” Photo: Eric Neitzel/WireImage. I get accused of "hero worshiping" Gore, which I don’t think is right, but I do have immense respect for the guy, so I thought I’d say why. Even now, I don’t think people appreciate what a punch in the gut the 2000 election was for Gore. The previous eight years had been spent in the shadow of a pol who had the charm and magnetism Gore lacked, but Clinton did not share Gore’s passion for the environment, wasn’t willing to put his ass on the line for it, and his …

Most opinion leaders just don't get global warming: Part I

The intelligentsia isn’t helping the public understand the urgency of the climate crisis

Why does the public largely lack a sense of urgency on climate? Maybe because most opinion leaders also lack that sense of urgency. To mark its 150th Anniversary, the Atlantic Monthly (subs. reqd) ... ... invited an eclectic group of thinkers who have had cause to consider the American idea to describe its future and the greatest challenges to it. Now this one is real easy -- you don't have to be scientifically literate or read the work of James Hansen, you just have to have seen Al Gore's movie or maybe read Time magazine (reading the Atlantic itself is, however, no help, as previously noted). By far the greatest challenge to the American idea (i.e., unlimited abundance, supreme optimism about the future, global moral leadership, and our special place in the world -- OK, that one's a bit tarnished already -- is global warming. In fact, if we don't adopt something close to Barack Obama's extraordinary climate plan within the next few years -- and I suspect conservatives will block such an ambitious, albeit necessary, approach as too "big-government" -- then global warming will destroy the American idea, perhaps for a millennium or more. Global warming means we move from great abundance to oppressive scarcity, from optimism to pessimism (especially if we cross carbon-cycle tipping points that cause an accelerating greenhouse effect in the second half of this century), and finally, as I wrote in my book: For decades, the United States has been the moral, economic, and military leader of the free world. What will happen when we end up in Planetary Purgatory, facing 20 or more feet of sea level rise, and the rest of the world blames our inaction and obstructionism, blames the wealthiest nation on Earth for refusing to embrace even cost-effective solutions that could spare the planet from millennia of misery? The indispensable nation will become a global pariah. The Atlantic assembled a who's who of the intelligentsia -- who in the main, though very thoughtful, just don't get it:

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