The world is now meeting in Poland to tackle global warming - and Earthjustice is there. Read our daily dispatches.
The Latest On: science
One of the good things about the Web is that it increases accountability. Those questioning the so-called "mainstream media" (MSM) don't have to hope that a stingy editor will find a few column inches to publish an op-ed to have their views heard.
So while I'm a regular reader of The New York Times, I was happy to see this article at grist.org panning the Times' story on the beetle epidemic which is killing off hundreds of thousands of acres of pine forest in the Rocky Mountains. The "Newspaper of Record" omitted the key fact that global warming is playing a key role in the beetle epidemic. That's because beetles are typically killed off when subzero temperatures last for days in the forest, something that hasn't happened for years.
It's a key aspect of the beetle story. And kudos to grist.org for telling it.
Most environmentalists believe that nature has a right to exist for its own sake, but that's not how the law works in our country.
In the United States, nature is defensible only if a human will miss the forest, species, or clean water when it is gone. To use the law, a human must first prove harm to their person.
If that proverbial tree falls in the woods and no human cares, no laws were broken. But if a tree falls and the hiker who depended on its shade is harmed, the U.S. legal system may provide some relief.
A Generational Challenge to Repower America
Delivered 7/17/08 in Washington, DC
The biggest story around here lately has been the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo, and what a muddled tragedy it is. Spokespersons for the zoo couldn't even say how tall the wall the tiger got over was for a while. Were the victims high and drunk, as has been alleged? Did they roar at poor Tatiana, even attack her with slingshots? The rumor mill has been churning. And now the survivors have hired Mark Geragos, defender of Scott Peterson and Michael Jackson, the guy who gives lawyers black eyes by the dozen. Meanwhile, I'm wondering, along with many others, whether it's time to close all zoos. The pro-zoo faction argues that they're good for public education, recruit defenders of wildlife, and are a genetic reservoir of disappearing species. Others say that the animals you see in a zoo behave nothing like the way they do in the wild so the education is minimal and skewed, that you can learn more about tigers from Animal Planet, that a zoo is really just entertainment for humans, like a carnival midway. My kids loved going to the zoo, I'm quick to admit, but maybe it's time to close them down and turn our attention to preserving habitat so all those amazing creatures will survive on their own.
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I hate to throw stones, but I can't help but wonder how on earth the Sierra Club decided to give its David Brower journalism award to Tom Friedman, the New York Times columnist. It's true that Friedman has been singing green tunes recently about energy and climate. It's also true that he has been the most strident and bombastic proponent of the World Trade Organization and free-trade-at-all-costs, the-environment-and-labor-be-damned. His best seller, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, for example, quoted dozens of bankers and corporate bigwigs on the greatness of trade (a rising tide lifts all boats, they say, which is fine unless you're tied up to a pier) and not a single one of the scores of able, even brilliant, critics of trade as currently practiced. I do not think Mr. Brower would be pleased.