Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where Have All the Flounders Gone?

With stocks in sharp decline around the world, it's more important than ever to make sure the fish you're eating is sustainable.

So here's a quick and easy tip to start the week. Look for the little blue fish:

That's the seal of the Marine Stewardship Council.

If you want to make sure you're making good choices at the seafood counter or while dining out, you can download the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch pocket guide, customized by region.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin on Polar Bears: "Grossly Misinformed or Intentionally Misleading"

John McCain has been distancing himself from his previous championing of climate action as he tries to appeal to conservatives. Well, he's certainly keeping that theme with his vice presidential pick.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been a champion of a different fight -- the one to try to keep the polar bear from being protected by the Endangered Species Act:
"She's either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Alaska deserves better."

Siegel said it was unconscionable for Palin to ignore overwhelming evidence of global warming's threat to sea ice, the polar bear's habitat.

"Even the Bush administration can't deny the reality of global warming," she said. "The governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this."
With this pick, McCain has completely turned his back on his past leadership on global warming.

UPDATE 1:47pm - Much more on Palin's sorry environmental record over at Gristmill.

UPDATE 2:13pm - Palin today tells a conservative website she doesn't believe scientists who say global warming is man-made.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Al Gore Addresses the Democratic National Convention

Mordecai Lays the Smackdown at Upton Hill Regional Park

Every week or two I round up as many friends as I can and head to Upton Hill Regional Park in Arlington for a round of pre-bar mini-golf. Most of us are no good and the only real competition is usually to see who can get off the best trash talk.

But we got an unexpected show in the sky on Saturday night. As we were finishing up the 4th hole, a red-tailed hawk burst out of the tree above the 12th hole (at center of this photo), swooped straight for a patch of mulch on the embankment above the 9th hole, and plowed right into it. The hawk took a second to gather itself, then flew back up towards the tree -- with a mouse danging in its talons. (By the time I snapped this cell phone camera pic, the hawk was already back in the tree.)

After that, mini-golf seemed pretty mundane by comparison, even if my friend Brendan did drain four holes-in-one on the back nine.

It wasn't the only cool bird sighting of the night. By the time we were finished, the sun had set, and people in the parking lot were pointing up at the sky. Something was darting around above the lights snacking on the gathered bugs. It almost looked like a bat, but was too big and its wings were too thick. (Once again, my cell phone camera came up short - it was too dark and the bird was too quick.)

A man was standing next to his car with binoculars looking up at it, so I walked over and asked him what it was. He told me it was a night hawk -- a
whippoorwill. Most of us have heard the name and maybe even heard its call, but I don't know that I'd ever seen one myself. The birdwatcher told me that whippoorwills gather above Upton Hill's lights each night, sometimes as many as a dozen of them.

That's what I love about Arlington -- I'm just a few Metro stops away from DC or a short walk from Clarendon's nightlife, yet there are also incredible nature opportunities like this. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Island of Misfit Green Toys

It's not that people dump stuff on me.

It's more like I'm an orphanage for misfit green things. People want it the item to have a good home.

Case in point:

It's a menu from DC's
Sweet Green, embedded with wildflower seeds and ready for planting. A friend took one home because she thought it was cool ... but didn't want to plant it herself.

So she brought it to The Island of Misfit Green Toys. Which was fine, because The Green Miles is always happy to provide a good home.

I picked a spot outside my apartment that gets a reasonable amount of summer sun and dug a half-inch deep hole as instructed. I buried the menu and soaked the spot in water.

Is it an ideal spot? No, but that's not the point. Seed embedded paper isn't geared towards green thumbs with gardens -- it's geared towards people with a little available space.

I planted it on Sunday. No sprouts yet, but it's early. I'll let you know how it does!

Ring in Labor Day with a Depressing Realization

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Media's Drilling Double Standard

On NBC's Meet the Press just now, Gwen Ifill said some Democrats are "backing off their knee-jerk opposition to drilling."

Let's review.

When Republicans filibuster anything that has anything to do with energy unless it does only one thing - let Big Oil do more drilling in more of America's public lands and waters, they're holding firm to their principles.

When Democrats oppose more drilling because they know we can't drill our way out of our energy crisis and that more drilling will do nothing to lower gas prices while adding Big Oil's record profits, they're knee-jerk obstructionists.

Gotta love that "liberal" media.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Green Crystal Ball: Previewing the VP Contenders

UPDATE: It's Biden.

Rumor has it Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama will announce his vice presidential pick today or tomorrow. Greenpeace has a
roundup of the climate, energy, and environmental records of the leading contenders.

The candidates are clearly divided into two tiers. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Delaware Sen. Joe Biden have solid environmental resumes. Gov. Sebelius took a bold stand against new coal-fired power plants. Sen. Biden has an exceptionally strong record on clean energy and climate change issues in the Senate.

Meanhile, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh have been marginal at best -- and at worst, outright climate action foot-draggers.

When judging Democrats on the environment, it's critical to go beyond rhetoric. At this point all Democrats (and many Republicans) agree global warming is happening, man-made emissions are to blame, and we need to take action. But some Democrats like Kaine and Bayh shy away when it comes to setting targets. Here's Kaine at a recent the Southern Governors' Association meeting:
[I]n an acknowledgement of the political climate and the difficulties in building consensus, Kaine's initiative did not take the bigger step of proposing timetables and goals for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, or phasing in new technology or conservation regulation in the energy industry.

"I don't think you start with a goal," the governor said in an interview. "I think you start with a process in which you come up with goals and strategies to meet the goals.

"I would very much hope that goals would emerge, measurable goals, targets that we're going to try to hit," Kaine said.
We don't need process. We don't need discussion. We need action. And action doesn't mean more mushy talk about some future breakthrough that might make less-dirty coal not only technologically feasible but affordable. I invite Bayh and Kaine to start holding their breath.

Over on the GOP side, I'm guessing Greenpeace will release their look at leading VP contenders closer to Friday the 29th, when Republican nominee John McCain is expected to announce his running mate. But that doesn't mean The Green Miles can't take his own sneak peek now:

  • Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman has been one of the nation's leading champions of strong climate action, most recently serving as lead co-sponsor of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (PDF). Whatever you think of his politics or personality, if Al Gore wants you to be his running mate, it means you're as strong as it gets on real climate solutions.

  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has signed legislation setting a 25% renewable energy standard for his state by 2025. He introduced a carbon emissions reduction proposal before the National Governors Association, but Robert Novak and Tim Carney reported it "was shot down by bipartisan opposition from the coal-oil bloc of governors."

  • It's hard to get a read on former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge. He supported voluntary efforts to confront climate change, but then again, left the governor's mansion before global warming became front-and-center in the national debate.

  • Then there's Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Jindal opposes climate action, but it's nothing personal -- if you think the Bush administration is waging war on science, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Jindal is perhaps best known for signing a bill allowing local school boards to teach non-science theories on a wide range of scientific issues, from evolution to global warming. While serving in the U.S. House, Jindal garnered a dismal seven percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters and received some of the lowest scores in Congress from Republicans for Environmental Protection. Given McCain's moderate positions on science issues, I can't imagine him selecting Batshit Insane Bobby.
Who would you like to see Obama and McCain select?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Which Virginia Congressman Stands to Gain from High Gas Prices?

That would be Virgil Goode. He's estimated to have the 13th-highest level of oil stock ownership of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, with between $100,002-$200,000 in oil holdings. That's according to the Sunlight Foundation.

So it's no wonder that the lone specific item in Goode's pathetic "energy plan" is to give Big Oil free reign to drill anywhere and everywhere in America's public lands and waters. It makes sense now, doesn't it? They drill, we burn, Goode profits.

Fortunately, his Democratic challenger, Tom Perriello gets it. He's pushing a real energy plan that includes clean energy, cutting-edge efficiency technology, and rolling back subsidies for Big Oil. No wonder Goode is terrified.

But hey, I guess we know now why Goode's supporters drove a Hummer in the Scottsville Fourth of July parade. That gas money gets reinvested right back into the campaign!

Cross-posted from RK

Thursday, August 14, 2008

And You Wonder Why They Don't Ask About Global Warming

You're not going to believe who's sponsoring CNN's convention coverage.

No, wait. Maybe you will. Depends how cynical you are.

Anyway, has the shocking and/or depressing details.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Democrats' Disastrous "Me, Too" Drilling Strategy

You've seen the cycle a million times before. Republicans see a political opportunity to pander. They take a position that, despite being the public policy equivalent of junk food, scores points with voters. Democrats, fearful of losing populist ground, say "me, too!"

It's a devastatingly corrosive strategy that fails on every single level. Contrary to removing the issue from play or co-opting it, voters faced with Tough Stance or Tough Stance Imitator will choose the genuine article. A Republican opponent will still hammer the Democratic candidate just as hard with a snide "I'm glad my opponent has come around to my position" (the great part about this attack -- doesn't matter if the Democrat came around to this position at age 6, you can still use it).

It gets worse. Any Democrat who doesn't pander on the issue is branded as an extremist liberal unwilling to hammer out a deal. And if legislation is passed, even if it's a down-the-middle compromise, guess who the media will give credit for championing it? (Hint: Not us.)

So why are Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, and Jim Webb all supporting Republican proposals to drill for fossil fuel off Virginia's shores?

It's hard to call Kaine and Warner's positions anything other than trying to have it both ways. Gov. Kaine claims he only supports natural gas exploration "to determine potential natural gas deposits." Mark Warner twists himself into knots, saying, "I favor the exploration piece, not the development piece." And then what? It's sort of a window-shopping approach to drilling.

Despite his longstanding support for more drilling, Sen. Webb does deserve credit for voting the right way on other energy issues, supporting proposals to extend renewable energy tax credits and crack down on speculators. Both bills were killed by GOP filibusters.

Fortunately, both Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran voted against an offshore drilling plan during this year's special session. While neither candidate has yet laid out detailed energy plans, it's promising that both did the right thing on drilling this year.

I know what you're thinking. "Miles, you treehugging dope," you say, "Republicans will use the drilling issue to hammer us in November!" I'm sure they'll try, but I'm not so sure they'll succeed. Neither is Matt Yglesias:

So here's a thought: For years and years before 2006, the savvy leadership of the Republican Party took the view that indulging the base's passion for Mexican-hating would be a political error. It was important, thought Bush, Rove, et. al, to position the GOP as a forward-thinking pro-immigration party. Then along came a moment of political desperation for congressional Republicans at which point they seized upon immigrant-bashing as a cure for their midterm blues. Democrats, conditioned by decades of defeat to instinctively believe that whatever crap the GOP is pulling at any given moment is political genius, had a moment of panic. But at the end of the day, it turned out that the Republican strategists were right the first time and there is no mass swing constituency for immigration restriction capable of delivering elections -- the crank racists were already Republicans, and this just helped push Hispanics into the Democratic column.

Flash forward to the Great Drilling Debate of 2008. Recall that it's unlikely that Bush and the GOP leadership weren't pushing this issue back in 2006 or 2004 out of their deep-rooted environmental convictions. Instead, the leadership didn't used to push offshore drilling because they thought offshore drilling was a bad issue -- the people who care either work for the oil companies (and are Republicans anyway) or else are drilling opponents worried that their communities and coastal economies will be wrecked by drilling. But facing another drubbing in November, congressional Republicans have talked themselves into believing that "drill drill drill" will deliver them a victory.

I'm sure you've heard plenty of polls reported in the media that Americans want more drilling. And it's true that if you ask, "Do you want more drilling in an effort to lower gas prices," Americans say yes. But that question reveals more about Americans' desire for lower gas prices than it does about their desire for drilling. And there's also the minor detail of the question's premise simply being false -- the Dept. of Energy says new drilling wouldn't lower gas prices for at least a decade, and only then by a few pennies.

Ask Americans whether they want clean energy solutions or more drilling and they'll choose clean energy every time. And why wouldn't they? Americans love more choices. Clean energy solutions would give us more energy diversity. Americans love saving money. Energy efficient technologies will cut our energy bills.

Democrats are not dealing from a position of weakness on energy. They're dealing from a position of strength. Voters don't want more drilling. They want leadership on real solutions. Let's give it to them.

Look, I'm not saying we should never compromise on the drilling issue. There's a case to be made that the Gang of Ten energy proposal in the Senate right now could be a net positive bill. But if our Democratic leaders won't take strong stands now, we'll be negotiating from a position of weakness when the Senate reconvenes in September.

Speaking of which, have you called your members of Congress to tell them to oppose more giveaways to Big Oil and support clean energy solutions? You can find contact information here.

Cross-posted from RK

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bike Rentals Arrive in DC

I was walking from my office to the Metro station the other day and noticed this new bike rack in Farragut Square. It's SmartBikeDC, a new program from DDOT and Clear Channel Outdoor (an advertising company).

Upside: The price is right -- $40 for the year with unlimited rentals.

Downside: Locations are clustered in downtown DC and you can only rent them for three hours at a stretch.

Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette is spearheading an effort to bring kiosks, possibly including bike rentals, to Arlington. For $40 a year, I'd definitely sign up! On the weekends, a bike would be way quicker to get from, say, Ballston to Courthouse than waiting up to 20 minutes each way for an Orange Line train.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ask The Green Miles: Computer Recycling

Here's a question for Ask The Green Miles:
Hi Green Miles... so what do I do with my old iMac computer once I get the data off of it?? I have no idea!!
Help me.

It's Not Easy Being Green
Good question, bad pseudonym. It is easy to be green. The people who made your computer say so right on their website.

Apple offers free recycling of old computers. All you have to do is register on their website and take your packaged computer to the nearest FedEx location. Most other computer manufacturers will help you recycle your computer as well.

You can also donate your computer to the National Cristina Foundation. It will then match your donation to charities, schools and public agencies.

In case neither of those options work for you, the National Recycling Coalition can help connect you with your local government's recycling program. In DC, DPW offers a free, weekly Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and electronic recycling (e-cycling) drop-off service at the Benning Road Trash Transfer Station, 3200 Benning Road, NE, each Saturday from 8am to 3pm. The weekly dropoffs started recently after the bi-annual e-cycling event turned into an epic fail.

Why do you need to recycle your computer and other household electronics? A study by the New Jersey Institute of Technology found consumer electronics account for only 1 percent of the total content of landfills by volume, but contribute up to 70 percent of their toxic content. Inform has more details. Grist's Ask Umbra is also a great resource for this and other issues.

Got an environmental question? Ask The Green Miles!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Can Someone Fetch Some Organic Coffee for The New Republic's Green Bloggers?

Posts on The Green Miles since August 2: Seven.

Posts on The New Republic's highly-touted "The Vine" blog since August 2: Four.

OK, so The Green Miles clearly has way too much spare time on his hands. But I do this in my off hours and The Vine has paid staffers! And considering The Vine was accused of being in the tank for BP literally from the day it started ... The New Republic is making those initial greenwashing allegations look more and more accurate.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dropping a Deuce: Port-a-Potty Emptied into Four Mile Run Again

Arlington County officials are warning residents to stay out of Four Mile Run Stream because it has been contaminated with waste from a portable toilet for the second time in as many weeks.

The waste was dumped into a storm drain and flowed into the stream near Interstate 66 and Westover and Bon Air parks, officials said. A resident reported the spill about 8:30 this morning. [...]

Officials believe the illegal dumping is connected to a similar incident that occurred July 31. The county also had advised residents to avoid the water after that spill, but lifted the advisory Tuesday after clean-up, days of stream flow and a rainstorm helped flush away bacteria from the spill.

Park officials and Arlington fire officials are investigating.

I don't think most people realize Arlington's storm drains often flow straight into our local waterways with no treatment. Hopefully Arlington authorities can catch who's responsible -- it's our tax dollars that are paying to clean up these messes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

EnviroCAB: Jarringly Pleasant

On my recent trip to Austin for Netroots Nation, I called an enviroCAB for my ride to the airport. Since I don't take cabs very often, this was my first chance to use enviroCAB.

So how was it? In a word, spooky. In a made-up word, spookygreen.

It was completely silent. No engine roar as the hybrid car glided on battery power through the back streets of Ballston. The driver was courteous, well-dressed, and didn't talk on his cell phone or blare the radio. The cab even still had that new-car smell.

Compared to the terrifying experience of riding in a loud smelly cab as it careens through the streets of DC ... no, wait. There's no comparison. EnviroCABbing was a completely different experience than traditional cabbing.

If you don't have it in your cell already, add their number now: (703) 920-3333.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Watch Obama Unveil His "New Energy for America" Plan

Learn more at Environmentalists for Obama!

Obama Shreds McCain's Drill-and-Burn Energy Plans

What position will help John McCain get elected president today? Well that's the one he'll take. And if the political winds shift tomorrow, he'll shift right along with them.

How else to explain his always-changing positions? McCain used to be for climate action; now his advisers are
saying he's against it. McCain used to be against the Bush tax cuts, now he's for them. In fact, Crooks and Liars detailed ten McCain flip-flops in June alone.

Since he has no principled positions to run on, John McCain has created a campaign that would make Karl Rove proud, running ads tying Barack Obama to young blond girls, questioning his patriotism, and trying to link him to terrorists.

So is Obama responding by getting down in the dirt? Nope. He's hitting McCain where it hurts -- on substance:

Check out the campaign's new page, Environmentalists for Obama.

Video: Veteran Olympic Journalist on the "Greyjing" Games

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tickets Now on Sale for Arlington's Biggest Environmental Event of 2008!

The Green Miles just reserved his VIP tickets for Hallowgreen on October 23rd! It's the big 30th Anniversary bash for Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment. ACE is one of the top environmental groups in Virginia, if not the entire country.

There's an early bird discount through September 12, so reserve your tickets now!

Friday, August 1, 2008

GOP: We Can Block 30 Energy Solutions Today!

Have you ever read the Dr. Seuss book I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today? The Green Miles still has his yellowed copy. The Cat in the Hat's son confidently declares he can take on 30 tigers ... until 30 tigers show up and call his bluff.

"Well ... maybe twenty-nine," says the cat. "You! Down there! With the curly hair. Will you please step out of line. I can lick twenty-nine tigers today ..."

The cat finds excuses as to why he won't lick the other twenty-eight tigers until there's just one left. "But ... you know, I have sort of a hunch," the cat calls out to the last tiger as scurries away, "That noontime is near. You just wait for me here. I'll beat you up right after lunch."

That's Congressional Republicans' energy strategy. We can block 30 energy solutions today!

Oh, wait ... that oil speculation bill looks rather scrawny. Wouldn't be a fair fight. Better filibuster it.

And that renewable energy tax credit extension is too short. Yes, that's it. We'll filibuster that one, too.

Releasing light petroleum from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ease pressure on gas prices? Why, that would be too easy. Let's use procedural moves to block that until something more challenging comes along!

In fact, for all their bluster about supporting "all of the above" energy solutions, they'll only allow a fair vote for one -- handing more of our public lands and waters over to Big Oil so it can drill, then turn around and sell the gas to us at exorbitant prices and post the biggest profits in American history.

Tell your members of Congress you want them to support a clean energy future.