Part of me can’t believe James Fallows fell for this woo, but another part of me can relate. I’ve been coughing up a lung for several weeks now (mornings are worst), and that’s not counting the other assorted flu horrors, which I’ve alternately tried treating and ignoring. Here’s the various over-the-counter and prescribed meds I’ve ingested, with little success.
At one point, I was so desperate for relief that I would have eaten Chinese herbal pills like Hershey’s kisses if somebody had offered them to me.
As someone who covers archaeology, climate change & energy, and ecology, this developing story fascinates me. The short post by Todd Woody barely scratches at the complex interplay of issues, so it’s worth following up if someone can get a deep dive assignment.
Another wild tale from the illegal wildlife trade, this one about a Malaysian smuggler that
offers a window on the illegal wildlife trade and our broken system to combat it. Underfunded law enforcement, government corruption, controversy-shy NGOs, and a feeble international legal framework have yielded few inroads against wildlife syndicates or kingpins like Anson Wong.
At the end of this piece, the larger issue driving the illegal wildlife black market is acknowledged:
Wildlife smugglers, like any other breed of trafficker, obey the laws of supply and demand: As long as there is a market for rare and endangered animals, someone will find out how to get them there.
Let me elaborate: as long as there are cultures that value animal bile and body parts for supposed medicinal purposes, the illegal wildlife racket will thrive. It’s not as sexy as a story of a notorious smuggler brought to justice, but it’s a story that should be explored.
Seriously, I would have been more impressed if the Guardian writer had become a Freegan for a month, or swore off jet travel for 2010. Instead, he takes the no retail therapy pledge for metrosexuals and thinks he’s helping save the world. Gimme a break. Talk to me after you donate half your wardrobe to someone in need or volunteer at a soup kitchen once a week for a year.
On a less cheeky note, the new California governor seems to have his head in the right place, though anyone who knows anything about New Urbanist dwellings knows they are mostly trendy, expensive digs for the well-to-do set. That said, when I see Thomas Friedman give up his kings castle for something a little more scaled back that is at least consistent with his green gospel, we’ll know a real trend of self-sacrifice is in the making.
In environmentalism, the notion of an idealized past has long manifested itself in various ways. For example an early strain of contemporary environmentalism–known as the Back to the Land movement in the early 1970s–was propelled, in part, by a healthy dose of nature romanticism.
Ecology, too, has similarly been in thrall to a false ideal, argues Greg Breining:
Even modern ecologists and conservation biologists, though they would deny it, have internalized a sense of Eden. They don’t call it that, of course. Their Eden is a vision of the New World as it existed before the arrival of European settlers. So they restore prairie and rip out exotic species in an effort to restore nature to a pre-Columbian ideal. Modern restoration ecology becomes an effort, as Joni Mitchell sang of Woodstock, “to get ourselves back to the garden.”
So it makes sense that some British greens worried sick today over global warming would hark back to the halcyon days of…1972. No, I’m not talking about the life of Austin Powers, just the average bloke, according to George Marshall:
The early 1970s marked the first time in Britain when people’s basic needs were largely met. Yes, there were still pockets of absolute poverty, but by and large, people were housed, fed, clothed, and in work. They had weekends off, annual holidays and spare cash for entertainment and leisure. It was not a time of great plenty ““ but of ample sufficiency.
What does that mean? Thursday was meat day? School kids had ring dings with their pp & J (okay that was my typical American lunch)? The little urchins had enough quarters for pinball (yeah, me again). Cause I gotta tell ya, I’m not pining for my mother’s Oldsmobile Cutlass, though I’m sure all the leaded gasoline fumes I inhaled from the every other day trip to the gas station to fill up the tank did wonders for my growing brain.
Well, whatever your lovely life was like (if you were around then), Marshall’s point is this:
For every sector, the figures tell the same story ““ had we chosen to keep that standard of living and applied our ingenuity to making it better, fairer and more efficient, we would not now be facing catastrophic climate change.
Wait, I thought that 2010 was infinitely better, fairer, and more efficient than the early 1970s? (Then again, it seems like a week didn’t go by in the 1980s when I didn’t hear my my grandfather lament, “They don’t make things the way they used to.”)
But don’t take my word for it. Read this poignant reminisce from Shaun about those good old days. It was her post that triggered my own trip down memory lane.
What’s your fond remembrances of that quaint, contented era?
So I’ve been cross-eyed with the flu this week, which is finally ebbing. Even more interesting, the whole family got equally sick at the same time. I think one of our neighbors put a skull and crossbones on our front door. I shuffled out to get the mail one day and another neighbor, caught in the stairwell, cowered into a ball until I passed by. I grunted at her and she whimpered.
Or that part could have been one of my feverish dreams.
Anyway, in between my periods of semi-consciousness, I’ve tried to stay current with various posts, comments, and stories. In case you missed them, here’s a bunch that are worth taking a look at.
As Charlie Petit notes:
Two long features out this week provide a serious, handy, collective guide to the yin and yang of observational climatology’s primary jobs these days ““ explaining and measuring global warming.
The role of evangelicals in the global warming debate has gotten a lot of recent play in the climate blogosphere. Grist had some dueling perpsectives and Judith Curry stirred the pot with this Q & A. (I’ve occasionally covered this angle.)
energy efficiency is often oversold as a policy panacea. Many energy efficiency policies that are sold as win-wins aren’t actually so once you account for all the costs. But to argue that promoting energy efficiency invariably undercuts progress toward curbing resource demand and greenhouse gas emissions is wrong.
Brad Johnson from the Center for American Progress scratches an itch:
There’s also the enviro-journalist cabal that have complicated reasons for muddying the science, that reflect decades of being manipulated by propagandists.
I asked him to elaborate on these “complicated reasons.” Alas, no response. (Anybody else who can’t stop scratching this itch want to give it a shot?)
Fred Pearce, writing in Yale Environment 360, says the real good news out of Cancun is recognition
that the UN negotiations are truly broken could be the key to unlocking a Plan B. There is growing evidence that countries are willing to do unilaterally what they refuse to commit to at the UN.
There’s much more but hey, it’s a holiday, so enjoy the time with your friends and loved ones. Josh insists.
Here’s a story in the latest issue of Conservation magazine that should raise some hackles:
Social Scientists have long understood that corruption has disastrous effects on struggling economies and people, with the poorest suffering the brunt of that impact. What is now becoming clearer is corruption’s devastating impact on ecosystems””and on the business of conservation itself.
The piece has a great character who tackles Africa’s wildlife trafficking in Cameroon. The story suggests that the problem is wider in scope and little acknowledged:
Discussing the influence of corruption on conservation is a bit like bringing up religion or politics with a new neighbor. The subject remains somewhat taboo””possibly because some in conservation view it as a necessary evil while others say it is too big a beast to fight, much less clearly understand.
“The conservation community is still loath to talk about it,” says [ Transparency International's Robert] Barrington. “But evidence is emerging that corruption may be the hidden time bomb in conservation.”
To loosen those lips, Conservation magazine might consider soliciting leaders of environmental NGO’s to address the story head-on in an online forum.
There’s a passage in Ross Douthat’s NYT column today that struck me as analogous to the decline of environmentalism. So I made the appropriate word substitutions:
Thanks in part to this bunker mentality, American Christianity environmentalism has become what Hunter calls a “weak culture” “” one that mobilizes but doesn’t convert, alienates rather than seduces, and looks backward toward a lost past instead of forward to a vibrant future. In spite of their numerical strength and reserves of social capital, he argues, the Christian churches environmental organizations are mainly influential only in the “peripheral areas” of our common life. In the commanding heights of culture, Christianity environmentalism punches way below its weight.
My favorite archaeology blogger will be returning sometime today or tomorrow as a guest host. I think it will be brief, probably just one post related to this recent controversial story (unless I can convince him to stick around longer).
And I’m hoping to squeeze a few climate change related guest posts out of someone else next week. I’ve got to tear myself away to meet some deadlines. But I’ll be peeking in at the threads and probably chiming in on occasion.
Look, it’s always good when stuff like this comes to light, if only to further puncture the absurd facade that Fox is actually [cough, cough] “fair and balanced.” Just as it is similarly revealing when the top exec at Fox News refers to NPR brass as Nazis and goes on a rip-roaring rant against Jon Stewart. I mean, anyone familiar with Roger Ailes and his history as a Republican operative was probably not shocked by that outburst, either. But for the folks who pay only passing attention to Fox News’s role in the journalistic ecosystem, it’s useful information.
Anyway, I see that Joe Romm is playing this up as “Foxgate” and a “bombshell,” before getting a grip:
Well, okay, this would be a bombshell email coming from any other news organization in the world.
Which pretty much sums up my take.