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It turns out you really can get a free lunch—at least, if you're a great white shark.

A group (or, a shiver, if you prefer a more alliterative group name) of sharks found themselves presented with just such an unexpected buffet earlier this month, when a 36-foot Brydes whale (Balaenoptera edeni) was found drifting off the coast of South Africa.

On the campaign trail, President Obama shared his thoughts about mountaintop removal mining:

We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal than simply blowing the tops off mountains. We're tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our dependence on fossil fuels ... Strip-mining is an environmental disaster ... What I want to do is work with experts here in West Virginia to find out what we need to do to protect the waterways here. That's going to be a primary task of the head of my Environmental Protection Agency.

So, imagine breathing in a substance that not only exacerbates but causes known breathing problems such as asthma. You'd want the Environmental Protection Agency to do something about it, right?

Well, they did: in June the EPA reined in emissions of sulfur dioxide—a nasty chemical—from power plants and other sources. These new standards are expected to prevent thousands of asthma attacks and hundreds of emergency room visits every year.

Great, right? Industry doesn't think so.

In a speech in Oslo on September 6, John Holdren, President Obama's science advisor, suggested that 'global warming' be replaced by 'global climate disruption' as a more accurate expression. As The New York Times reported it, "changes to the climate are rapid when viewed in terms of the capacity of society and ecosystems to adjust; the impact is distributed unevenly; and the outcome will be overwhelmingly negative for most of the globe." Global warming implies slow changes that might even be benign.

Holdren (an old friend of mine and one of the smartest people in the universe) has long been a lightning rod for the right wing climate deniers owing largely to his long association with the population biologist Paul Ehrlich, with whom he wrote several books. Following Dr. Holdren's speech, the right blogosphere immediately accused the administration of playing politics, of trying to "rebrand" the subject preparatory to another push for a climate bill next year. The administration denied there's any rebranding going on.

I'm no expert, but John's suggestion makes good sense to me.

"I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords."

Thus spake Mark Twain of Lake Tahoe, the magnificent high-altitude lake nestled in an alpine cup between Nevada and California.

But, as with so many other places, Tahoe's fatal beauty has led to too much development—too many homes, too many casinos, too many cars, too many piers, and too many boats. The clarity of the water has suffered, as has the purity of the air.

Joe Barton (R-TX) is proving that he has better things to do than apologize to Tony Hayward and BP. Now, he is trying to repeal energy efficiency standards that save American citizens billions of dollars every year. These standards, ironically, are among the few environmental policies made in eight years of Bush leadership. 

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.