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I joined Tuesday's huge crowd in Washington to witness the inauguration of our 44th President. The people who traveled from all over the country had worked to elect Barack Obama and create a community of hope, optimism, and readiness to tackle the challenges, and that spirit pervaded the Mall.

The San Francisco Chronicle (and many other papers) carries a weekly feature at the bottom of the weather page called Earthweek — a Diary of the Planet. It's often fascinating, with tiny snippets about oddments of weather, earthquakes, animals, and other events and phenomena. On Jan. 3, it was more like Earthyear, with a litany of scary blurbs followed by one that should inspire hope — or a chuckle or two.

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.

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 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.

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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.