How significant is the difference between one idiot burning a building full of rare plant tissues, research, writing, curricula, slides, and books all regarding the worthy goal of a better understanding of the natural world and the idiot who burns a church because it is occupied by a group of people they don’t like?
The terrorists who burned Center for Urban Horticulture didn’t know the difference between genetically modified organisms and hybridizing poplars in order to rely less on the few stands of old growth forests for paper products.
No one killed? Well, it really was just luck. The likelihood of a graduate student or an organic garden instructor like me working into the night on a grant or an experiment was not low.
No one injured? Bullshit. All of us were injured. All of us lost something. All of us had dedicated our professional career to making a lighter footprint on this planet and a better understanding of its systems. Under the name of — well — what? In the name of making a statement against science?
If you’re destroying property or putting others in danger because you think your cause (be it segregation or saving the planet) is so terribly important, then you have crossed the line from activist to criminal.
The only difference between firebombing a minority church, abortion clinic, or a Hummer dealership is the political motive. Otherwise, they’re all the same stupid, unthinking acts of violence carried out in the name of The Cause. These so-called “eco-terrorists” are criminals who deserve prison time. They only make the job of real activists far more difficult.
While I generally like (and agree) with your observations and asides in the environmental stories you publish, I wonder if I am the only one who has a problem with your quasi defense of “10 eco-activists” (your description) who are about to be sentenced for “arson and conspiracy in connection with 20 fires from 1996 to 2001, including a mega-blaze at a Vail ski resort.” Your story tried to make it appear as if setting fires is not an act of violence and should not net longer sentences.
Would you write the same way about other types of activists who set fires (which, I should point out have the potential to kill) to advance their political views about other issues? It is the act (setting the fires), not the viewpoint the act was taken to support (whether environmental, social, or whatever) that must be condemned. Surely you understand that to judge a violent act based on whether you support the political agenda of the actor is untenable, unethical, and indefensible — even when done by the U.S. government — or by Grist.
Please do not defend violent acts when the political hue of the actors is green. Setting fires is wrong, exposes people to uncontrolled risks (how could these actors know that someone wasn’t inside or that a firefighter would not be hurt or killed), and it is even bad for the environment (think about the pollution from the fires). It is selfish because it places the actors’ views of right and wrong above our (relatively) democratic society’s views, and it is counterproductive to the activists’ own goals, as it simply turns people off.
I am so thankful for the articles put forward by Tom Philpott. Our congregation has a focus on food justice. We recently celebrated 25 families who are buying local and organic community-supported agriculture shares.
We are also working hard to build a more humane immigration policy. I wrote a resolution for a more humane immigration policy that will be presented to our national denomination (United Church of Christ) in Hartford, Conn., this month. Tom’s articles help me connect all the dots for my congregation. How key food justice is to care for the earth, immigration, and so many other justice issues!
Please encourage Tom to compile the information into book form. I would buy the book in an instant. Tom’s voice and practice are so important to forging a personal and structural ethos that may save us, if we are willing to listen. I am a huge fan. My presentations on justice in Latin America are rife with footnotes from Tom Philpott.
Rev. Mike Mulberry
The author describes as the “key issue” that Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers are causing some portion of the increase in total driving in the U.S. because they create a retail distribution structure with fewer stores that are therefore farther away, on average, from people’s homes. There is something to this argument, but it is one side of a trade-off, and it is not clear whether Wal-Mart increases or decreases total driving.
One of the features of Wal-Mart is that it allows consumers to combine several trips that would otherwise be separate drives into one trip. A typical Wal-Mart Supercenter (almost entirely what they are building these days) combines a large grocery store, gas station, clothing store, electronics and appliance store, pharmacy, health clinic, and other features in one location. So, while I may now have to go 10 miles to Wal-Mart instead of three miles to my local grocery store, I don’t have to do a separate three-mile trip (or added 1.5 mile segment) to a Kmart and another 0.5 mile segment to my favorite gas station and so on. It’s not totally unlike the idea of a mall.
Obviously, if my alternative was to drive one mile to a downtown area where I would then walk between stores, it clearly increases net driving. If, on the other hand, I lived exactly at the mid-point of a square eight miles on a side with the nearest grocery store, clothing store, gas station and electronics store at the four corners, then replacing one of these with a Wal-Mart would definitely reduce total driving.
It’s actually complicated, and would take a lot more analysis of the spatial distribution of shopping trips with vs. without Wal-Mart, rather than your simple assertion, to answer the question as to the net impact of Wal-Mart on total U.S. driving.
Re: Ready to Barack
One of your statements, undoubtedly meant to be comical, is unfortunately not true. Coal is not the enemy of the human race, as you have expressed it. If anything, the human race is its own greatest enemy. One of the main reasons is the oversimplification of thinking to which it repeatedly falls prey.
Coal was the ecological fuel of choice in the 19th century. Without it, modern-day Europe would look like Northern Africa after deforestation. As with anything else, however, the use of coal can be perverted.
I am certainly no friend of the coal industry in its present form. I live in a German village about to be destroyed by a U.S.-owned lignite mining company. The fact remains, however, that despite all the protests, the majority of people still accept the bills of the utility companies at face value for conventional electricity sold at immense profits, which in turn are redistributed to shareholders. It is very rare to experience a community that wants to generate its own power using sustainable resources.
Re: 15 Green Actors
It’s nice that you’ve acknowledged mostly younger, attractive, and hot “current” stars but you left out, even as a runner-up, Olivia Newton-John. You may not be familiar with all of the things Olivia has been involved in for over 20 years to help our planet but here are a few examples: helping the environment, wild animals, the rainforests, and cancer research for adults and children, just to name a few. Just because a celebrity is “hot” right now does not mean other celebrities are not doing their part to help our planet, and hopefully your next list will reflect this.
Las Vegas, Nev.
Re: 15 Green Actors
I just read your list of “Top 15 Green Celebrities” and wanted to laud you on this piece, as well as your dedication to environmental issues, which I feel strongly about. The only concern I have is the lack of attention placed on vegetarianism and veganism. In fact, in your “Green Celebrities” list, there are at least two vegans present (Ed Begley Jr. and Daryl Hannah), and yet this is not mentioned, despite the profound benefits these diets have on the earth. I question why this topic is not given the same weight as the more conventional ways to be eco-friendly.
Re: 15 Green Actors
I want to thank you for publicizing and recognizing celebrities that are making a difference with their environmental habits and campaigns. This kind of celebrity worship is far more interesting to me than say, reading up on who is going out with whom, or who just got busted for drugs, etc. I am so happy to hear that electric vehicles are making such a comeback — big props! One thing I think was lacking, however, was a failure to mention or recognize whether any of these celebrities were vegetarians or vegans. Going veg is a great way to positively impact our environment, as I’m sure you know, and I think you should also recognize people who are making this lifestyle choice.
I love Grist and look forward to everything you send. But this sarcastic take on Tom Cruise’s efforts with the 9/11 responders only perpetuates the myth that Big Pharma wants us to believe: that nothing natural could possibly work. Go ahead and talk to some of the responders who have been through the program in New York City and they’ll tell you they don’t care if Genghis Khan invented it, it works. In fact, it’s the only thing that is working for them. Check it out!
First off, I’d like to make it clear that I love Grist, and I appreciate your humor and irony. However, I was not very pleased by the Daily Grist snippet on Bill Richardson. While you might be complaining that Richardson doesn’t have the name recognition and support in the polls that Obama and Clinton enjoy, I think that commentary such as this in Daily Grist is part of the problem, not part of the solution. People who really care about their vote and trust your word read your daily email and are affected by what the “liberal” media says. If you make Richardson’s climbing recognition seem futile, who’s going to vote for him?
And maybe I don’t get it, but what is there that Richardson says that might make anybody think he hates America? The press becomes part of the problem when it “rushes to point out” every little (often insignificant, in the long run) flaw in each pro-environmental candidate.
Grist should not be too excited to be featured in Outside. Starting in May or June of 2005, Outside began taking advertising monies from Hummer and running full and two-page ads. I wrote them immediately asking for a change and pointing out the obviously hypocritical nature of taking money from Hummer. I was ignored and have tried to get them to cancel my subscription, which I’d had for three years. They have ignored that plea a few times as well.
I flipped through the magazine at a library to see if a Hummer advertisement was present in their “environmental issue.” It wasn’t, for the first time in a long time. However, strangely enough the environmental hero was Arnold, who despite doing some very positive things is the one that approached GM about starting a civilian line of the military Hummer and started that whole thing. Big deal if he changed two of the seven he owns? What about the other thousands on the road polluting our air?
I think Outside magazine should be boycotted until they make a public apology. I do not understand why Patagonia, 1% for the Planet, Jack Johnson, and now Grist among many others would allow themselves to be a part of something like that.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Greetings. Longtime reader, first-time caller. Just a quick note to say how much I appreciate the good stuff you guys and gals do at Grist. I enjoy chuckling over the headline puns every day, they give me endless encouragement to be punny in my own life. After all, dry writing just seems to come alive with a headline like “Vote Surly, Vote Often.” I just read the profile in Outside last night, Big ups to you guys for a great article, and for running with the big dogs. Outside interviews Grist … yeeha!
Once again, Grist gives us half a report, I assume because it makes for better sarcasm. In addition to the nuclear power, genetically modified crops, and carbon burial, the BBC article referenced talks about “shifting to renewable forms of energy” and “making buildings more energy-efficient.”
The Guardian story says the plan includes “energy efficiency and renewable energy from wind and wave farms, and more futuristic ideas for hydrogen car fleets and ‘intelligent’ buildings which can control energy use.”
C’mon, Grist. You act like the little girl that runs to mommy yelling, “Johnny broke the window!” but neglects to tell mommy that she pushed him through it. Grow up. Either tell the whole story, or stop wasting our time.
The article you wrote has a belittling attitude about the efforts of Nellis AFB and Nevada to use solar power and cut our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. The Air Force should be saluted for its project, not smirked at by people who are not “doers.” Writing the tripe that Grist is famous for requires no productive, beneficial efforts, it only requires the mind-set of the same type of idiots who told the Wright brothers that “if God had intended man to fly He would have given him wings.” It is a shame that that type of mentality prevails in some quarters.
Some beings can write productively and effect positive outcomes for the good of society, but you poor “gene-deficients” never will achieve that level of intellect. You’ll go right on belittling and whining and carping about anything you can exploit to show how “superior” you aren’t.
Big, big difference between these two resignations, in my humble opinion.
[John] Browne [of BP] resigned over a personal matter.
[Julie] MacDonald was a public servant, sworn to uphold the Constitution in the deliverance of her official duties, who was found (not just charged) by her department’s own inspector general to have violated federal law by giving privileged information to the Pacific Legal Foundation, a so-called “wise use” anti-environment litigator. This, along with her Endangered Species Act report alterations (she’s not a scientist), is my business! I paid her salary. Her malfeasance affected two Department of Interior bureaus (Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service) that she oversaw — bureaus that are critical to environmental protection. She betrayed the public trust, as did Stephen Griles, who emerged from the same Bush-Cheney muck to mess up DOI. I hope my government throws the book at her and her slimy associates. She deserves prison for leaking official documents for political gain.
Next time, Grist writers, please put the emphasis where it belongs! I don’t think most of your readers respond to the homophobic insinuation about Browne that the rest of the press is titillating us with, either.
I still wish I could see photos of Umbra. She is a great writer, very funny while giving great advice. I always look forward to reading her column.
The whole team is great, but Umbra, (he? she?) is my favorite.
I love getting the Daily Grist, but am finding it harder and harder to read. The articles’ titles are simply painful. Examples:
- If You Get Her Shift
- Look At Me, I’m Cassandra Dee
- Ducked Ape
- Cloves to Home
What the hell? Does anyone there see this is not cute, just stupid?
There’s also another annoying habit I see regularly: I’ll call it the “parenthetical, plural, editorial idiot.” Here’s the example from today’s mailing:
(If we ever tire of green journalism, we’re gonna become gorilla-poop analysts.)
Har har. My brother-in-law gets Stuff Magazine, a soft porn fashion magazine for “men,” and I swear the writing is very similar. Check it out; it’s true. Of course I think it’s important that your message reach drunk frat boys, but is it at the cost of losing a much larger group of intelligent over 25s?
I read the Daily Grist during the maximum two hours a day my health will allow me before the computer screen. I enjoy every minute of it. Thank you a hundred times for this worldwide and world-class media coverage in defense of the natural environment.