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I got a call the other day from a fellow in Alabama who is a keen student of The Washington Times and its influence on right-wing politics in the U.S., the paper being owned and operated by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, otherwise known as the Moonies.

My caller was incensed by something I had written that dismissed the Times as a silly embarassment that was costing the Reverend Moon and his minions millions of dollars and having no influence to speak of on anything.

The State of Colorado is about to adopt new rules governing oil and gas development in the state.

The strangely named Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will soon change the state's permitting process for oil and gas extraction. (If the Commission is supposed to conserve oil and gas, why is everything it does concerned with taking fuels out of the ground?)

In the extensive media coverage of the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the accepted source of conflict between Chinese police and Tibetan protesters has been competing claims of nationalism and self-determination. But a number of experts now say that control and management of a vital resource—Tibet's vast supply of freshwater—is also central to this increasingly tense political and cultural relationship.

One recurring theme among environmentalists, regularly confirmed by pollsters, is that concern over environmental issues seldom guides the way people vote, especially for president. People care, no doubt about that, but generally something else—crime, war, the economy, party loyalty—tips the balance one way or another.

This time will be interesting to watch. There's little question whether global warming will be under discussion—it will be, with the two candidates arguing whose approach will work better, faster. I'm hoping it won't stop there—we need a robust debate about a wide range of environmental issues, from the loss of species to the collapse of the oceans to energy policy. Such matters generally get lost in the clangor of sound bites and spin mongering, but maybe this time will be different.

The fix the planet finds itself in, a predicament that worsens daily, is largely the result of human mismanagement and hubris: too much consumption of all the resources you can think of—fossil fuels, metals, topsoil, fish—by too many people.

I could show you reports and articles from 35 years ago that predicted all this (not yet on-line, for better or for worse), but few listened. It's about time someone did, and an election, for all its excesses and hype, is a time when the media pay some attention to actual issues. Let's hope this time the candidates will talk about what really matters.

This may have been a political no-brainer:

Campaigning in Montana on the eve of the primary, Obama stated his opposition to a proposed open-pit coal mine 40km north of the Canada-US border in the headwaters of the Flathead River, which forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park, declaring that "the Flathead River and Glacier National Park are treasures that should be conserved for future generations."

As the average price of a gallon of gas tops $4 for the first time this week, TV pundits are having a field day. There's nothing like bad economic news that everyone can understand to bring out the blather.

I'm into the last stages of a book on the roadless rule—you remember, the rule that protects unroaded areas on the national forests, the one put in place toward the end of the Clinton administration and walked away from by the Bushniks. It's a long, tangled, and fascinating tale and I have two more weeks to get it all down on paper. Well, not on paper these days, but you know what I mean. That's a long way of saying that my columns for this week and next will be pretty thin, but there's much other good stuff to read in Unearthed; I encourage you to sample other columns.

I will, however, put in another of my periodic plugs for one of my favorite sites, Grist (www.grist.org). It's a fine source of information and commentary and it is relentlessly punny. Take a look.

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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.