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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S 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.

Terry Winckler is Earthjustice's Editor and resident wordsmith who edits and produces our blog, online monthly newsletter and quarterly print magazine. His appreciation for all that is wild began as a child when he would spend countless hours outdoors, gazing at fireflies on soft summer nights, or listening to his father's tales of the vast primeval forest in Canada's North Woods. Terry's heroes include saints, do-gooders, champions of the underdog, free spirits and nature lovers. In his free time, he enjoys engaging with his spouse and children, eating fistfuls of peppermint stick ice cream and spinning a good yarn.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
16 December 2009, 7:45 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 16

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 16, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: The next 24 hours will make or break the Copenhagen climate conference, said the U.N.'s chief climate negotiator. More than 100 world leaders will soon be on their way to the conference, but whether they have anything significant to agree on has yet to be negotiated.

<Update>: The fate of climate change legislation in the U.S. Senate hinges on what happens in Copenhagen, Sen. John Kerry said today. What has to happen, he warned, is an agreement that wrings concessions from China and India. Absent that, he predicted, U.S. legislation will founder on domestic economic fears.

<Update>: "I'm stuck between a rock and hard place," said the frustrated chief of the U.N. climate conference, as he stood before thousands of protesting people. Most were protesting the lack of action in Copenhagen. Hundreds were arrested.

In what could be the most significant achievement in Copenhagen, climate negotiators are close to agreement on the idea of paying to keep the world's forests from being cut down. Trees store vast amounts of CO2, the single biggest contributor to climate change.

It's "deal or no deal" time in Copenhagen, and the poorest, fastest-growing countries have the upper hand, says The Los Angeles Times.

In an emotional speech, Al Gore told the conference that the world should meet again next July in Mexico to try and create the binding climate change agreement that probably won't be reached in Copenhagen.

For perspectives, news and information from environmental groups at the conference, check out the The Copenhagen News Collaborative.

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15 December 2009, 8:19 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 15

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 15, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: In a report released at the conference, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture says climate change is already affecting America and "poses significant threats and challenges for farmers, ranchers, and those who make a living off the land, which will have a serious impact on our ability to feed the people of the United States and the world."

President Obama is literally calling on world leaders to make a climate deal in Copenhagen. According to The Los Angeles Times, the president, who is coming to the conference Friday, is making round-the-world phone calls, hoping to solidify some kind of agreement.

A worldwide grassroots green revolution is needed to attack the climate change crisis, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says in a speech today in Copenhagen. The governor, who once boasted of owning five gas-guzzling Hummers, said his state's clean energy initiatives should be emulated by the nation and the world. <Update>: A Grist columnist describes the governor's speech as "a shockingly defeatist speech tricked out with sunny language about private-sector innovation."

With only a few day before the world's leaders arrive in Copenhagen, it's time for things to start happening at the conference, says the U.N. climate chief. Progress is "too slow."

The pope today weighed in on the climate crisis, calling it a moral issue that the world's nations must urgently address.

Check out The Copenhagen News Collaborative for a variety of blog reports from Copenhagen.

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14 December 2009, 8:24 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 14

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 14, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: As we head into the conference's final week, The New York Times gives a quick review of what's happened so far, what to expect over the next few days, the real issues at stake, and who are the key players.

Climate change negotiations came to a sudden halt today as a bloc of developing nations led by China withdrew in protest of what they called the Danish government's tilt toward the interests of developing countries. <Update>: Talks have resumed, according to reports.

Mayors from around the world are holding their own climate conference in Copenhagen, based on the premise that since cities produce two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions they should be on the front line of controlling them. <Update>: California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will speak at the mayor's conference tomorrow to push his theme that local government action is essential for planetary success.

CO2 is the bogeyman in Copenhagen for good reason—it accounts for half of global warming. But how about that other half? wonders The Los Angeles Times. We're talking about methane, black carbon (soot) and other emissions that could be reined in more easily, more quickly, and at much less cost than carbon dioxide.

<Update>: For a mix of reports from environmental journalists, check out the "Copenhagen News Collaborative" reports. The collaborative comprises Mother Jones, Grist, The Nation, Treehugger, The Uptake, ForaTV, Pulitzer Center, Discover, and OnEarth. 

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12 December 2009, 4:54 PM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 12

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 12, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

It may seem contradictory, but business interests are among the strongest supporters of climate change action in Copenhagen, reports The Los Angeles Times. The growing international market in alternative energy will really boom if nations turn away from fossil fuels.

Thousands of people and hundreds of organizations across the planet participated today in "Global Day of Climate Action," but Copenhagen is where the real action happened, where some 1,000 protesters were arrested.

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11 December 2009, 11:14 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 11

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 11, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: What the Los Angeles Times described as a "flurry" of draft proposals flooded the conference today, bringing fresh impetus. Meanwhile, The Times of London portends that two agreements will come out of the conference because the major countries can't agree on key issues.

<Update>: The official draft climate plan has just been released in Copenhagen - and it's a doozy. The goals it sets for getting major countries to limit carbon emissions and to pay off developing countries are much more than what President Obama is pledging. This should generate a lot of developments during the day. <Update>: The chief U.S. negotiator ispooh-poohing the official draft plan because it is too lenient on China and India.

China verbally attacked the U.S. chief climate negotiator today in Copenhagen for being "irresponsible" in saying that China should not get climate financing from the U.S. It's all about his assertion that the U.S. owes nothing to the world for past greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest version of a Senate climate change bill calls for 17 percent cuts in carbon emissions by 2020 - matching what President Obama is proposing at Copenhagen. It also includes nuclear power plants and increased offshore oil and gas drilling.

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10 December 2009, 9:01 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 10

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 10, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: At Copenhagen, the simplest idea for corraling climate change is this: don't cut the trees. Logging in tropical forests releases 1.6 billion tons of C02 each year. When it's in the ground, it's not in the atmosphere. Same principle for old growth forests in the northwest United States and in the Tongass National Forest.

<Update>: Here's an interesting take by the Washington Post on the EPA's announcement that greenhouse gases can be regulated. Says the Post: "The threat of the EPA regulating in Congress's stead should persuade lawmakers to look at climate-change afresh." The announcement was made as the Copenhagen conference opened Monday.

<Update>: The world's two biggest greenhouse gas emitters - China and the U.S. - squabbled in Copenhagen today over who is responsible and who should pay. Here's the latest on this story.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Interior Sec. Ken Salazar is leading a "charm offensive" in Copenhagen to sell world government and business leaders on the United States' increased commitment to renewable energy and combating climate change. Not charmed are Alaskan Natives who protested in Copenhagen over Salazar's approval of drilling by Shell Oil in the Chukchi Sea.

In Copenhagen it's all about the money—and there's not enough of it being proposed by rich nations to help poor nations deal with impacts of climate change, says American billionaire George Soros. He's got an idea.

 

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09 December 2009, 12:00 PM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Wed., Dec. 9

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 9, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: Developing countries are in deep disagreement over how best to help those countries most affected by climate change. Tuvalu, a Pacific island nation, is expressing particular concerns.

<Update: The U.S. chief negotiator in Copenhagen today publicly challenged China and the other major developing countries to do their part in attacking climate change by seriously curtailing their own emissions. "Virtually all of the growth in emissions going forward (...) will be coming from developing countries," said negotiator Todd Stern.

Two days after announcing that greenhouse gases should be regulated as a health threat, the EPA's chief came to the conference to explain that President Obama is trying to make up for lost time. The president will do his own explaining in person on the last day of the conference.

Sarah Palin surfaced in a Washington Post editorial, urging President Obama to boycott the conference. Her reasoning is a regurgitation of climate change-deniers' arguments, retorted Al Gore. "The entire North Polar ice cap is disappearing before our eyes," he said. Deny that.

Native Americans, Alaska Natives and First Nations Peoples will convene tomorrow in Copenhagen before the U.S. embassy to "speak out about the U.S. energy industry's war on indigenous lands and livelihoods." They are part of a burgeoning human rights movement at the conference.

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08 December 2009, 4:56 PM
Feds grant approval despite obvious threats to fragile area

Some ominous news about the Arctic from the Obama administration almost escaped attention yesterday, amid Copenhagen climate conference hoopla and the EPA's determination that greenhouse gases are a public health hazard.

Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar announced that Shell Oil Co. has been granted conditional approval by the Minerals Management Agency to drill three exploratory wells next year in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast. Approval comes even though the government has yet to resolve legal problems with a Bush-era five year leasing plan opening vast areas of the Arctic Ocean seabed to oil and gas activities.

Reading between the lines, Salazar sounded a bit too positive about what the drilling means:

By approving this exploration plan, we are taking a cautious but deliberate step toward developing additional information on the Chukchi Sea.

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08 December 2009, 9:14 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Tuesday, Dec. 8

(Editor's Note:  This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 8, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: Poorer countries are outraged and threatening a walkout from the conference because of a draft climate agreement that apparently favors the interests of the United States.

<Update>: Here's an angry, if novel, request from the Bolivian president -- industrialized nations should pay "reparations" for the unprecedented flooding his country is experiencing. He links the flooding to global warming and blames the rich countries for the greenhouse gas emissions that caused it. Today, at the conference, Bolivia called for those countries to set a carbon emissions cap of less than 350 ppm.

The New York Times put together this easy-glimpse look at what the major and poorer countries of the world promise—and want—at the conference. The Times also released a new scientific analysis, confirming that global warming is not slowing down. <Update>: Indeed, says The Washington Post, we are on track to have the warmest decade on record.

"Hopenhagen" is a coined term for a planet-wide eco-petition, but it's fast become a description for the positive mood sweeping the city of Copenhagen, and it's been picked up as an angle for various news treatments: "What Is Hope?", and The Los Angeles Times.

Lots of buzz came out of the Obama administration's announcement yesterday that greenhouse gases present a threat to the public health and therefore can be regulated. Here's one reflection by the Huffington Post.

 

 

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07 December 2009, 8:31 AM
Earthjustice attorneys will be blogging live from Copenhagen

(Update: Newspapers in 45 countries ran an editorial urging countries to forget their differences at the Copenhagen climate conference, and come together in an honest effort to address climate change and its consequences. Here are editorial comments from around the world.).

As the international conference on climate change opens today in Copenhagen, expectations are much lower -- call them more realistic -- than what had been hoped for a few months ago.

That's not necessarily bad, if the major countries can come up with political agreements that lead to binding treaties in the next year or so. Moderate success may be measured on the basis of emissions targets agreed to  by the U.S., China and other major polluting countries; agreements on the implementation of green technologies replacing polluting ones; and, at least a handshake by wealthy countries to help poorer, developing countries deal with global warming.

Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal will be blogging from the conference, which runs until Dec. 18.