Saturday, September 29, 2007



D.C. Comical
Bush admin talks up voluntary actions with strong words at D.C. climate summit

President Bush's climate summit of the world's top polluters kicked off yesterday in Washington, D.C., with rhetoric aplenty and the arrest of some 49 protesters from Greenpeace and other environmental groups outside the State Department offices. Meanwhile, inside the conference, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talked up the need for strong climate action even while advocating the administration's position that each nation should act in its own self-interest and at its own speed toward as-yet-undefined voluntary goals. President Bush said in a brief speech to the summit this morning, "We acknowledge there is a problem, and by setting this goal, we commit ourselves to doing something about it. We share a common responsibility: to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions while keeping our economies growing. ... Each nation must decide for itself the right mix of tools and technology to achieve results that are measurable and environmentally effective."

Seattle Readers, You're Invited!

What better way to celebrate the release of our first book than with a hometown party, complete with scrumptious organic food and drink? Join us on Wednesday, October 17 -- we promise it'll be lots of pun! Click here for more info and to buy tickets.


The Dingell Life
Michigan Rep. John Dingell unveils a carbon-tax bill

Michigan Rep. John Dingell (D) has drafted a carbon-tax bill and posted a summary to his website to solicit public feedback. In its current form, Dingell's legislation would phase in over five years a $50-per-ton tax on carbon emissions and a tax of 50 cents per gallon on gasoline and jet fuel (after five years the tax would be indexed to inflation). The bill would also phase out tax deductions for homes over 3,000 square feet. A carbon tax is beloved by economists and other wonks as the most transparent, efficient means of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. Voters, however, tend to hate that whole "tax" idea, and thus most politicians do as well. The 81-year-old Dingell, who has served in Congress for 52 years and chairs the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has been accused of pushing "political poison" in order to torpedo other climate bills that include boosts to auto fuel-economy standards (which could have a big effect on Dingell's Michigan district). Dingell denies it, but then again, he says this: "I'm trying to have everybody understand that this is going to cost and that it's going to have a measure of pain that you're not going to like." The man sure knows how to excite voters!

Socket to Us
Britain will phase out incandescent light bulbs

Britain announced a voluntary initiative today that will phase out traditional incandescent light bulbs in the country by 2011. Officials predict that phasing in compact fluorescent lights will keep up to 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide a year out of the atmosphere. Brilliant! "Britain is leading the way in getting rid of energy-guzzling light bulbs and helping consumers reduce their carbon footprint," said Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, apparently forgetting that Australia actually led the way (and its legislation was mandatory, cough cough.) Could the U.S. be next to see the light?

Into the Drink
California may require labels on bottled water, EPA strengthens lead-in-water regulations

Bottled-water companies would have to disclose the source of their H2O under a bill that has passed through the California legislature and awaits the pen of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). The bill would require companies to list the minerals, chemicals, and bacteria present in bottled water, as well as whether it came originally from a well, aquifer, spring, or plain ol' municipal reservoir. In other water news, the U.S. EPA has issued revised national regulations that strengthen requirements for testing tap water for lead and require utilities to notify customers immediately if water supplies are found to be contaminated with high levels of the heavy metal. The new rules will "help get the lead out and keep it out of our drinking water," says EPA water guy Benjamin Grumbles, whose way with a cliché is nearly on par with his delightful name.

Sweet 15
Cycling group Critical Mass celebrates 15th anniversary, keeps on pedaling

The cycling group Critical Mass turns 15 years old this month! It all began in San Francisco in September 1992 as a bunch of bike commuters getting together for a ride, and quickly turned into a global cycling phenomenon with chapters in most major cities worldwide, as well as many smaller locales. The last Friday of every month, cyclists gather for a ride, often snarling traffic by accumulating in numbers that can't be ignored, to reclaim the streets on behalf of human-powered transport and at least temporarily reverse the traditional cars-first hierarchy of the road. Critical Mass has been credited in some places with linking fellow alt-transportation enthusiasts who then together manage to advance pedestrian and bike-friendly initiatives in their city. In other locations, it's a popular rolling party. Whatever it is, it's a blast. Happy 15th!
sources: San Francisco Bay Guardian
see also, in Gristmill: Critical Mass media


Off to College
Grist parenting series grows up, moves out

We're preparing for a serious case of empty nesthood here at Grist, what with our parenting series wrapping up today. But before we go, a few pieces from the adolescent angle: a reader asks for advice on getting teens involved in green issues; a teen activist explains why she's lobbying California's political leaders on an important health issue; and Grist den mother Sonja Waters writes about her 18-year-old daughter's climate nightmares, encouraging fellow parents to foster hope. Finally, series co-editor Amy Linn explains why, now that this project is over, she needs a swig of Jack Daniels -- pronto.

Coming Monday: An interview with Republican presidential candidate John McCain

Grist: Environmental News and Commentary
a beacon in the smog (tm)
©2007. Grist Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Gloom and doom with a sense of humor®.

No comments: