Can the Stuck-in-Place Economy Help Us Face Climate Change?

YES! Magazine

After I finished high school in the flat, square corn country of central Illinois, I fled—along with many of my fellow classmates. We chased jobs or graduate school in places like San Francisco, New York, or Washington, D.C. I settled in Seattle. It wasn’t until I hit my 30s that I became aware of the social costs of this mobility … .

But in the last couple of years, Americans have begun to change their itinerant ways. Since the mid-1980s, an ever-smaller percentage of people are changing locations. [Read more.]

The Education of Bill McKibben: How the Unlikely Activist Learned to Break the Rules

YES! Magazine

The tasks Bill McKibben set for himself were monumental. Start a genuinely grassroots movement at a time when many big environmental groups focus on mouse-click petitions, fundraising, and lobbying done by professionals. Marshal enough political will to put a finger in the proverbial dike: to hold back climate change, the worst crisis to face society. It has been exhausting work, and to maintain his sense of perspective, he returns again and again to a plot of land he owns in rural Vermont, where a friend has set up a beekeeping business.

McKibben’s latest book, Oil and Honey, chronicles his journey into ever-riskier and more confrontational activism over the past two years.

The Parable of Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch

Photo by DonkeyHotey

The Nation

Although he successfully runs one of the largest media empires in the world, Rupert Murdoch has more detractors than fans. His persona and appearance so evoke the archetype of a villain (rich, ruthless) that some James Bond enthusiasts believe he inspired the evil character Elliot Carver, who tries to provoke a war to gain broadcasting rights in China in the film Tomorrow Never Dies. 

… In the United States, Murdoch’s most controversial media network is, of course, Fox News. But his company, News Corp, also owns numerous television stations, the book publisher HarperCollins, and such iconic publications as The Wall Street Journal. The Guardian has called Fox a “major driving force behind global warming denial,” citing a recent study that said Fox viewers were more likely to distrust scientists and disbelieve the evidence that climate change is happening.

But there is a parallel universe in which Murdoch has even more power over information—the faraway country where the media mogul was born, Australia. [Read more.]

Warning: This Gasoline Is Hazardous to Your Planet

gasoline_stillThe Nation

If oil is really an addiction, would warning labels on gasoline motivate drivers to try to kick the habit?

An organization called Our Horizon wants to label Canadian gasoline pumps with evocative (sometimes graphic) images and information on climate change. (You can watch their promotional video above.) They hope eventually the campaign will become viral and international. But they are starting by encouraging Canadian municipalities to pass local laws requiring the labels.

An obvious question is, could warning labels change the behavior or attitudes of people who drive cars? [Read more.]

Frigid and Sweltering: The New Climate Normal

frigidscreengrab2-tiff

The Nation

Climate change often seems more palpable (and gets more media coverage) at this time of year, after heat waves have hit parts of the country. But polls suggest many members of the public are confused about the connection between climate change and cold weather. As I noted in a post last week, belief in climate change drops among Americans during cold weather and dipped slightly after this past winter. Moreover, climate deniers and right-wing pundits tend to hype winter weather, as if climate models never anticipated another flake of snow.

But a new report produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, published on Tuesday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, shows that both cold and hot weather in 2012 were heavily under the influence of climate change. [Read more.]

Thousands Protest Chevron Oil Refinery in Richmond, California

The Nation

Richmond, California is home to the Golden State’s single largest greenhouse-gas polluter, the Chevron oil refinery and some of the fiercest local environmental politics and activism anywhere in the country.

On Saturday, police arrested more than 200 people for trespassing at the refinery gates, as more than 2,500 demonstrators gathered there in a protest over climate change and air pollution, according to reports in the San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area radio station KQED. Protesters marked the one-year anniversary of an August 6, 2012 explosion at the Chevron refinery that sent 15,000 people across the region to hospitals with respiratory problems. The refinery was also one of the key symbolic sites that Bill McKibben’s organization, 350.org, chose for its series of protests this summer—to draw attention to climate change, the fossil-fuel industry’s role in blocking environmental policy, and the plight of people living in the shadow of industrial pollution.

Richmond is one of the country’s best case studies on how oil mixes with politics. [Read more.]

Will California’s Cap and Trade Be Fair?

capandtradenation-tiffThe Nation

Supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Even when she was a kid, Melissa Cervantes knew something was wrong with the air in Wilmington, a neighborhood next to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach where she has lived most of her life. The streets here are verdant with mango, guava and avocado trees. But a brownish haze hangs above the houses. “I kind of figured the refinery was making people sick,” she says. “But when you’re just a little kid, you don’t put it together as a puzzle.” …

It’s no secret that the refineries often break the laws that limit pollution. The Tesoro refinery in Wilmington, for instance, violated air regulations twenty-eight times from 2008 to 2009. Melissa sometimes calls the companies’ public hotlines when she notices a bad smell or a plume of smoke, but they “give you the runaround,” she says. In the fall of 2010, her boyfriend’s mother, Maria Ramos, told her that Tesoro and Valero were backing a ballot measure that would suspend Assembly Bill 32, the state’s groundbreaking attempt to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. [Read more.]

When Words Fail: Does a Warming World Need a New Vocabulary?

YES! Magazine

We are at a loss for words, says Glenn Albrecht. There is nothing in English adequate to describe how overpowering it is to face climate change, or how we might feel about drought across Somalia or Texas, the leveling of mountains for coal mining, or our uncertainty about how flooded or stormy the future may be.

So Albrecht is inventing new words.

Albrecht is an Australian philosopher who has gained some fame for coining the word solastalgia, a term that describes the angst you might feel when the environment around you starts to change … [Read more.]