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Maybe it's a good thing that Bush has kept Earthjustice so busy these last eight years, fending off unrelenting assaults on the environment. The experience is proving invaluable as we face, in these final weeks of the administration, a frantic effort to roll back some of the nation's most significant protections. We also are encountering a barrage of last-minute attempts to convert America's wild, public treasures into private, commercial commodities.

At the just-concluded U.N. climate negotiations in Poznan, Poland, Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal advocated for rapid action to reduce emissions of black carbon, now considered one of the most effective strategies to slow near-term global and Arctic warming.

This could prevent catastrophic, irreversible tipping points such as the melting of Arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet, and buy time for implementation of critical strategies to cut long-lived greenhouse gas emissions.

Recent studies identify black carbon, a component of ultrafine particulate air pollution, as a critical climate warming agent both in the atmosphere and when deposited on snow and ice. Technologies exist to rapidly reduce black carbon emissions from diesel and coal sources, and fast-track mitigation efforts will have an immediate cooling effect. As black carbon is a leading cause of mortality from air pollution and accelerates the melting of glaciers that provide fresh water for millions, controlling these emissions is critical to promote sustainable development, improve human health and save lives.

With a single vote on Dec. 2, Florida took real leadership in the fight against global warming.

After years of head-in-the-sand policy making, this is a welcome change. We have Gov. Charlie Crist to thank: he proposed that Florida adopt clean car standards patterned after those in California.

A miracle, just take a look around: this inescapable earth.
– Wislawa Szymborska, Polish poet and Nobel Laureate

Yes, we can.

As Martin wrote earlier in the week, the negotiations that just concluded in Poznan fell short of expectations. But take heart – the talks did deliver on the fundamental objective of providing a negotiation blueprint for an agreement that can be signed next year in Copenhagen.

The world is now meeting in Poland to tackle global warming - and Earthjustice is there. Read our daily dispatches.

The Federated States of Micronesia, one of the leading voices of the Alliance of Small Island States – countries whose very existence are threatened by global warming-induced sea level rise – has called on the governments assembled in Poznan to take urgent action in light of potential catastrophic tipping points in the Earth's climate system.

One of the primary tasks of this conference was to determine the outlines of a "shared vision"—areas where all parties were in agreement concerning what the negotiations would try to achieve. The hope was that this vision would move the negotiations from the very general goals established in the Bali Action Plan toward the kinds of specifics necessary to reach a final agreement a year from now in Copenhagen. So how the negotiators doing? Well, do you want the good news first, or the bad?

Motorists heading to Colorado ski resorts are being confronted with images of the state not found in tourist brochures: Pollution-spewing oil and gas rigs looming over wildlife habitat, ranchland and neighborhoods.

The billboards are part of a campaign by the Colorado Environmental Coalition to tell Coloradans and out-of-state visitors that there's a dark side to the state's vast petroleum industry.

Yes, one knows that the economy and the climate are jobs one through ten, but I can't help but be a tiny bit concerned that the new Obama administration still lacks a Secretary of the Interior, a Secretary of Agriculture, a Secretary of Energy, an Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and a Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality. Plus and all the under secretaries and assistant secretaries and directors and assistant administrators who will eventually be nominated and confirmed to carry out extremely sensitive and important tasks. I have no reason to think that these nominations will not be up to the standard of the nominations we've seen so far, but I hope this doesn't signal a back-burner approach to wildlife and public lands and national parks and national forests, and so forth. A large fraction of our oil and gas, for example, come from the public lands and a smaller but important fraction of our lumber and pulp too. One thing we're going to have to be vigilant about over the next months and years is to ensure that environmental regulations are not sacrificed in the name of economic recovery—and you can be sure that such suggestions will be made. We need strong, bright people to run the environmental agencies, people who have the full support of the president.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

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.