Monday, August 30, 2010

Breaking: Cuccinelli Loses Another Battle in War on Science

A judge has set aside Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's subpoena of climate science documents from the University of Virginia:
Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled (PDF) that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occured in university grants, as the attorney general had contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli's subpoena failed to state a "reason to believe" that Mann had committed fraud.
The ruling is a major blow for Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic who had maintained he was investigating whether Mann committed fraud in seeking government money for research that showed the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming. Mann, now at Penn State University, worked at U-Va. until 2005.

According to Peatross, the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, under which the civil investigative demand was issued, requires that the attorney general include an "objective basis" to believe fraud has been committed. Peatross indicates that the attorney general must state the reason so that it can be reviewed by a court, which Cuccinelli's failed to do.
Under the McDonnell-Bolling-Cuccinelli administration, Virginia has threatened to become a new national leader in the war on science. Judge Peatross' ruling is a major step towards steering Virginia back to the path of facts & reason ahead of corporatist ideology.

Washington Post Struggles to Keep Painting Greens as Struggling

If you go to right now, you'll see this:
A year ago, environmental groups seemed at the peak of their influence. Now they are struggling.
Except that exactly one year ago, the Washington Post didn't say environmental groups were at the peak of their influence. It literally said they were struggling using the exact same reporter, using those exact words:
It seems that environmentalists are struggling in a fight they have spent years setting up.
You have to wonder if the Washington Post's reporting on environmental groups is driven by reality, or if it just rewrites the "greens are struggling" article once a year & adds a new headline. You also have to wonder how much its reporting is being influenced by its increasingly-conservative editorial side.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Anthropocene: Not So Good For Maples

Friend's tree dropped 80% of leaves on day it hit 97 in ... on TwitpicI spent the weekend visiting Every Day Father. One day this summer, it hit 97 degrees. That same day, the maple tree in his backyard dropped 80% of its leaves.

Clearly, this tree needs to heed Joe Barton's advice and start adapting to the Anthropocene. Get on that, maple tree!

Obama's Climate Track Record Continues to be Mostly Hot Air

Obama 2008 Presidential CampaignPresident Obama stood by and watched as clean energy & climate legislation died in the Senate. His administration claims EPA regulation of global warming pollution is coming, but a new court case has conservationists questioning President Obama's commitment once again:
Administration officials said the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory moves to restrain carbon dioxide emissions made the lawsuit unnecessary, and the acting solicitor general asked the Supreme Court to return the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

But environmentalists said that the administration had talked about - but not imposed - limits on emissions from existing power plants.

Moreover, environmental groups said, the government's brief went beyond that, employing arguments that threatened to undercut a basis for legal action that have been used for a century, since Georgia sued over damage a Tennessee copper smelter was inflicting on Georgia's forests.

"We're very angry and very disappointed that they would take this tack," said David Doniger, policy director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
At a time when the effects of global warming continue to accelerate, it's mystifying the Obama administration wouldn't take every possible route to cut carbon pollution. And while the Obama administration says it would veto attacks on the Clean Air Act, we have yet to hear that promise from President Obama himself.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

When Is Fuel Efficiency A Security Issue?

When every extra time you need to gas up means an extra trip outside the gate.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Our Courts Are Blue, But We're Thinking Green"

The U.S. Open tennis tournament is continuing to take more steps to reduce its environmental impact:
Working in conjunction with its partners at the National Resources Defense Council, GreenSlam and Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the USTA will once again conduct an extensive consumer-waste recycling program for all plastic and cans throughout the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

In addition, approximately 18,000 to 20,000 Wilson tennis ball cans will be recycled. As for the 60,000 balls contained in these cans and used during the 2010 US Open, they will be reused for tennis programming at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and then donated to other community and youth programs.

Hybrid vehicles will make up almost 60 percent of the Mercedes-Benz player transportation fleet, and Constellation Energy, the US Open's energy provider, will supply Green-e certified wind renewable energy certificates to match the electricity consumption generated during the 2010 US Open.
Venus Williams will join Billie Jean King among the effort's spokespeople. Venus has shown her willingness to break with the trend of corporate athletes silent on political issues by speaking out for equal pay. And the GreenSlam initiative is led by King, one of Venus' idols. Might Venus be willing to be active on clean energy & environmental issues off the court? Maybe join the board of Green for All? Could be quite a game-changer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

If You Know Anyone Who Works in Congress ...

... print this article about Koch Industries' perversion of our democracy, write PLEASE FIGHT BACK in big red block letters across the front, and give it to them.

You know I couldn't help but think of while reading this article? Someone who's not even named: Senator Jim Webb. Even though the Koch-funded Club for Growth was George Allen's #2 donor in the 2006 Senate race, Webb hews closely to the Koch line on climate change. So even though their preferred candidate didn't come out on top in 2006, Koch still found itself a winner.

But do you think that will stop Koch from funding an even more anti-science challenger to Webb in 2012? Of course not. He may have been born fighting, but on global warming, Jim Webb allows himself to be a pawn in Koch's game.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Green Miles: Now New & Improved!

My buddy Fitz recently launched a blog called Every Day Father. It's a brutally honest, laugh-out-loud funny account of his efforts to be a better father -- both his touching successes and down-goes-Frazier-level failures. As I watched him develop the blog & tinkered with the format, I came to the startling realization that his blog, in which he's invested dozens of hours, actually looked better than my blog, in which I've invested thousands of hours.

So now that my work for the National Wildlife Federation reporting on the Gulf oil disaster has shifted from intense crisis coverage to long-term disaster response & I'm back to having more spare time to blog, I decided to spruce up look of New layout, new banner, cleaned-up links section, and improved options for subscribing & sharing.

With a more normal work schedule, I'll do my best to get back to posting daily. If you like what you're seeing, subscribe to my posts with the orange RSS button or follow me with Google Friend Connect (both available in the right column). And if you want to share a post with friends, the sharing buttons at the bottom of each post will make that easier.

Anything you like or dislike about the new look? Any links I should add to the list on the right side? Let me know in comments.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ryan Reynolds: The True Cost of a Gallon of Gas

Via Ecorazzi, here's a new video from NRDC. It's a powerful ad, although I have to ask ... why not have him do something silly? Isn't that what Ryan Reynolds is good at, making us laugh? I kind of want to see him arguing with a sock puppet.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cuccinelli v. Climate Science Goes to Court

Kindler has more details at Blue Virginia. Couldn't agree more with his conclusion that "hopefully, Judge Peatross will rule in favor of academic freedom and against the arbitrary use of state force to decide scientific questions with political answers."

Friday, August 20, 2010

More Evidence Going Green Means Saving Money

Of U.S. News & World Report's 15 Things You Shouldn't Be Paying For, at least four of the money-saving tips have the added bonus of reducing your environmental footprint.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Polluters are Big Robert Hurt Fans

I see Koch Industries, one of the biggest funders of polluter front groups in U.S. history, is getting behind Robert Hurt in Virginia's 5th. Not surprising since Tom Perriello has been so willing to stand up to Big Oil & Big Coal.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wherein I Complain About Getting a Good Deal, Again

After complaining about how cheap my flight was (compared to the costs of its pollution), I thought it only fair to complain about getting a free upgrade from Hertz.

I tried to rent a hybrid at Logan Airport, but there were none available. From any of the rental car companies. As much as conservatives hype the free market as a solution to everything, the fact that rental companies don't make hybrids available at any price is a major wart on the invisible hand. So I reserved one of the more fuel-efficient options available, a Toyota Corolla.

2008 Cadillac CTS: All-New Technology, Design and Hand-Crafted Interior
When I got to the Hertz counter, I asked if they had a Prius or another hybrid available. The woman said no, but offered me ... a minivan. No thanks, I said, I guess I'll just stick with the Corolla. "We're out of Corollas, so I've given you a Cadillac CTS," the woman said. 

It's a beautiful car & I've already gotten plenty of ribbing from my relatives. "We thought some big hotshot was pulling into the driveway. Then we said, 'Oh, it's just Miles!'" (And you wonder where I get the snark from.)

The CTS is listed at 18 miles per gallon city & 27 highway, but the car's digital display says it's actually averaging just 18.3 miles per gallon. It's a shame that every "upgrade" seems to lead to a downgrade in fuel efficiency. The last time I was upgraded, I was given an SUV. At first I thought it'd be a nice change of pace. But having to gas it up twice in a few days? Not so fun.

Wouldn't it be nice if an "upgrade" meant you'd be getting a nicer car and saving money on gas?

Friday, August 13, 2010

ACE Goes Amish: Introducing Solar Raisers has details on a cool new program from ACE:
In an effort to promote the use of energy-saving solar water heaters, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment is launching a new initiative this fall. The group will organize volunteers to install solar water heaters for Arlington residents willing to shell out the cash to purchase the systems.

ACE is calling it their “Solar Raisers Program” — a take-off on Amish barn raisings. They’ve started recruiting members to volunteer on weekends for the day-long installations. They’re also looking for homeowners who are interested in the solar systems.
People should only be allowed to volunteer if they grow beards, wear straw hats & memorize the words to Weird Al Yankovic's Amish Paradise:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Destroying the Planet is Incredibly Economical!

I just booked a round-trip flight from Dulles to Boston on JetBlue for $185. That figure includes taxes & fees. 

I don't mean to complain about a cheap flight. But considering all of the negative societal costs of flying -- intensive reliance on imported fuel, massive climate pollution (not to mention asshole passengers driving flight attendants to leap from their planes) -- it's an incredibly low out of pocket cost.

The Green Miles offsets his carbon footprint through TerraPass, but how many air passengers do that? Maybe a few per plane? Why should I have to pay for my carbon pollution when others can pollute for free? And if JetBlue cared about being accountable for its pollution, wouldn't it work to offset its emissions on its own, or at least offer an offset option at checkout?

That's why we need a national price on carbon pollution -- either through cap & trade or a carbon tax. It's simple, it's fair, it cuts pollution.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Recycling vs. Trash: Time to Swap Sizes?

Five years ago, I had a standard-sized garbage bin in my kitchen and put recycling in paper grocery bags.

Two years ago, I switched to a smaller garbage bin and not only needed more recycling space, my old system didn't work because I've gone exclusively to reusable grocery bags. So I started using a big clear plastic bin for recycling bottles & cans (and just clap your hands) and used a reusable bag to collect the paper.

Today, my new apartment building does single-stream recycling, so I just use one bin for containers, paper & cardboard. My problem is that I now recycle or compost much more waste than I send to the landfill. I end up having to take out the recycling a couple of times a week, while my trash only needs to get taken out every few weeks. The composting helps get rid of most of what could be unpleasant after a few weeks, but long-term, it's not the optimal set-up.

Maybe it's time to use the bigger bin for recycling & the smaller bin for landfill?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How Are Climate Deniers Like Peacocks, Ostriches & Sheep?

The only thing more fun than taping this edition of the National Wildlife Federation's Climate Capsule at the Reston Zoo? Being described as Dirty the Global Warming Denier Sock Puppet's "earnest human keeper" by Restonian.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Proof It's Not Just Cars That Can Drive Me Crazy

Bicyclists can do it too! Like when they ride their bikes on the sidewalk on roads on which there's a dedicated bike lane. Happens to me on Roosevelt Boulevard in Arlington and 9th St NW in DC all the time. Makes me want to do this as they ride by:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Deep Thoughts on Messaging (And Vacuum Cleaners)

The Green Miles works in issue advocacy communications (these days, mostly climate & wildlife). I don't offer a lot of deep thoughts on my professional work because once I'm out of the office I'd much rather blab about organic beer, how great Tom Perriello is, etc.

But this clip sums up my best advice for anyone -- nonprofits, politicians, etc. -- looking to get your message across to the general public. Unless you're Apple or Nike or Meg Whitman and have a giant advertising budget to tell your story over & over, you need to be direct.

You need to tell them to buy this vacuum cleaner:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Deep Thoughts on Metro & Lunch

Amazing how the same people who complain about a 10 minute delay or 10 cent fare hike on Metro gladly wait 20 minutes to fork over $9 for pile of warm lettuce at Cosi.

Clearly, Metro's mission is to define expectations down to lunch line level. (Or: start handing out lettuce.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pedestrian to Restaurants: I Want You To Want Me

I was walking through Clarendon the other day around 5:30pm. From a financial point of view, I figured I should wait until I got home to make myself dinner. And yet, if some restaurant had tempted me with a discount burger & beer and the evening edition of SportsCenter on a big screen ... well, sense of hunger would've easily overwhelmed my financial sense.

Yet as I walked down Wilson Blvd none of Clarendon's bars & restaurants tried to lure me in. While you can't walk through the streets of most major cities without sandwich boards out on the sidewalk pitching that evening's specials, there was nothing like that in Clarendon. I ended up heading home. Which was fine, it just wasn't necessarily fun.

So I was very happy to see Arlington County Board Member Chris Zimmerman working to change it:
THUMBS UP: To County Board Vice Chairman Chris Zimmerman, for pressing to end the county government’s overzealous regulation of what are generally called “sandwich boards,” those freestanding signs beckoning the public into shops and restaurants.

As Zimmerman notes, it is awfully hard to get permission to put those out in Arlington. And that’s just plain silly.
Some parts of a walkable community are obvious (public transit, crossable streets). Others are subtle. Good to know Chris Zimmerman gets the big picture AND the little details. Just one more reason Chris deserves re-election.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Grounds Crew Tries BP Technique for Readying Baseball Diamond

BP has gotten lots of positive press from burning oil on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Hey, look, less surface oil! Well, y'know, except for those pesky questions about health issues & burning endangered sea turtles.

Now we learn a local grounds crew has put BP ingenuity to work in Edmonton, attempting to speed-dry a wet baseball diamond. From CBC News via Deadspin:
"What usually takes a day, day and a half for Mother Nature to take care of, we did in half an hour," Gerry Peterson said after his crew spread diesel fuel on the field and ignited it last week.
After being told what had happened, officials in the Edmonton suburb dispatched a crew to dig up the field and test the dirt. When the test results showed the pitcher's mound had been contaminated with fuel, the field was shut down as an environmental risk. [...]
The local baseball association is on the hook for cleanup costs.
So like BP, the local baseball association will have to pay for the cleanup. But I wonder if it's also protected by an industry-friendly liability cap?