11/28/2008 10:33:48 AM
It’s no news that pesticides pose health risks, particularly to children. So why are they being sprayed liberally on school grounds?
Concerned parents in California have been asking that question for some time, according to the Sacramento News and Review. And while they’ve made significant headway—curbing pesticide use at some schools, getting spraying to be done during off hours, and making schools’ use of weed killers much more transparent—pesticide applications at most schools persist.
The News and Review highlights the recent efforts of parents at one Sacramento school, where students tend their own organic garden, to rid the campus of pesticides, and also points to the work of Utne visionary Robina Suwol. Suwol’s work helped prompt the Los Angeles Unified School District to approve the strictest rules restricting pesticide use in the country, which in turn ushered through passage of California’s Healthy Schools Act, giving parents the right-to-know about pesticide use at their children’s schools.
11/19/2008 10:37:50 AM
The Democrats decided Sen. Joe Lieberman’s fate Tuesday, granting him what was widely viewed as a political pardon, or “punishment via feather duster,” as the Wall Street Journal put it, for his vigorous support of John McCain’s presidential bid. But Politico’s Glenn Thrush points out an important curiosity about Lieberman's slap on the wrist:
Some Democrats have sniped at Joe Lieberman for not grilling the Bush administration hard enough as head of the homeland security committee.
He gets to keep this job.
Democrats have (mostly) offered praise for his position on the Environment and Public Works Committee, where he has criticized the Bush administration’s global warming policies.
He loses that job.
The Guardian opines that “Lieberman’s loss of the environmental panel spot effectively removes him from the front lines of the climate change debate,” even though he pushed congressional action to combat global warming before it was politically profitable. Lieberman introduced the Senate’s first climate bill in 2003 with McCain, which proposed a cap and trade system and was voted down. Most recently, he co-sponsored the Climate Security Act with Virginia Sen. John Warner, which was also defeated.
11/19/2008 9:39:06 AM
Think the new e-culture of business has eliminated our need for paper? Think again: Even though e-mail is the established mode of business communication, American offices still use as much paper as they did back in 1994.
Paper Elephant, the most recent entry in the Center for American Progress’ “Easy Being Green” series, outlines how prevalent paper is in our daily lives and how much of that paper is wasted with unnecessary printouts, paper utility bills instead of e-bills, and endless streams of junk mail.
While America’s addiction to paper is somewhat obscene, the post’s tone is optimistic, outlining how you can cut back on paper usage and therefore save millions of tons of CO2 emissions from being released into the atmosphere.
The rest of the “Easy” series covers green-centric news and simple, specific ways to be more eco-friendly in your life, such as Community-Supported Agriculture programs, energy efficiency, and sustainable merchandise and services.
Image courtesy of Orin Optiglot, licensed under Creative Commons.
11/14/2008 2:16:26 PM
In his new book, The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World, wildlife photographer Steven Kazlowski set out to capture the polar bear in all aspects of its life. He told Minnesota Public Radio that accomplishing this meant bearing 80-mile-per-hour winds and 40-below temperatures for weeks on end and being very patient. At one point, Kazlowski spent 17 days camped outside a mama bear’s den waiting for her to emerge from hibernation. But the fruits of his effort were worth it: When that mama bear finally left the den to hunt, Kazlowski had the rare opportunity to photograph her den from the inside.
He also captured some remarkable ways polar bears negotiate their fragile environment. In one photo, a bear drags its back feet instead of walking on all fours to prevent itself from breaking through thin ice.
Photos like this one speak to the challenges polar bears and other wildlife face in a warming arctic. Before a recent event at the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis, Kazlowski told the St. Paul Pioneer Press he has "found that being a wildlife photographer and an activist are one and the same." He said he hoped to "show people how beautiful this place is," as well as show them the environment in transition. The book's cover image shows two bears standing precariously at the edge of fragmented sea ice, and the book also includes a shot of a polar bear in captivity with this caption: "If we do nothing as a society, and the ice continues to melt, zoos could be the only place on Earth where polar bears can be found."
You can see many more of Kazlowski's polar bear photographs at his website.
Images courtesy of Steven Kazlowski/
11/14/2008 1:29:48 PM
Software company Front Seat, the outfit behind the Walk Score website on walkable neighborhoods, has launched Obama Urban Policy, a website that allows readers to express their thoughts and opinions on president-elect Barack Obama’s proposed Office of Urban Policy. Readers can nominate and vote on issues they feel deserve the most attention from the future administration.
The most popular idea is far and away the development of a “world-class rail network,” followed by “change zoning laws to promote walkable development” and “end subsidies for car-dependent development” at a distant second and third, respectively.
11/10/2008 1:00:28 PM
The NRA came out forcefully against Barack Obama during the campaign, warning its members that he would be “the most anti-gun president in American history.” And though the group's endorsement of Obama’s Republican rival was criticized by some gun rights and conservation advocates in the hunting community (as we blogged about a couple months ago), Obama clearly took the threat of the NRA’s vitriol seriously, going out of his way to reassure voters that he didn’t plan to strip them of their firearms.
But recent infighting among gun owners shows many vocal Second Amendment supporters remain unconvinced. Dan Cooper, co-founder of Cooper Firearms of Montana, was forced to resign from his post as the company’s president when word leaked that he was an Obama supporter, a scandalous revelation that “led to calls on pro-gun Web sites to boycott the company's products,” according to Real Clear Politics.
Cooper told USA Today that he had voted for only Republican presidential candidates since Nixon, but would be crossing the aisle this year because of the war and what he saw as the Republican Party’s shift to the far right.
Like Cooper, most in the firearms community have been voting consistently Republican for some time, a reality that Hal Herring says should make Democrats consider abandoning gun control. In an article for High Country News, Herring writes:
Single-issue gun-rights voters are especially destructive when it comes to environmental issues. Year after year, Republican politicians swear allegiance to the Second Amendment, an act that costs them nothing, but guarantees the gun vote. Then they support measures to exploit, degrade, and even sell off the public lands and waters that hunters and fishermen depend on. Neither the NRA nor the gun voters themselves do anything to protest this. The gun vote has gone to anti-environment politicians for so long now that millions of non-hunting American no longer associate hunters with conservation, despite the fact that sportsmen have painstakingly restored wildlife and habitat, rivers and lands, with their gun and ammunition tax dollars, their license fees and waterfowl stamps. This will eventually backfire on gun owners — and on conservationists. In a society increasingly disconnected from nature and hunting, with places to shoot growing increasingly scarce, fewer citizens grow up in a traditional gun culture. That means fewer hunters will fund assets like the Federal Wildlife Refuge system, and fewer shooters will respond to future, inevitable challenges to the Second Amendment.
It is not too late for a new vision, one as unique as the nation itself. If the Democratic Party would recognize the Second Amendment as the Supreme Court has interpreted it in the Heller decision, and reassure gun voters that the years of backdoor maneuvers to promote gun control are over, the Republican deadlock on the gun vote could eventually be broken. It seems a small price for the Democrats to pay. All they have to do is recognize the Constitution.
Photo by Marion Doss, licensed under Creative Commons.
11/7/2008 2:12:12 PM
As Jake Mohan wisely reminded us earlier this week, George Bush still has a few more months in office, which is plenty of time for him to do some serious harm to environmental protections.
Bush recently aimed his firing squad at the Endangered Species Act (and not for the first time). According to High Country News, he attempted to dismantle the act like this:
Back in August, the administration proposed tweaking the law to give federal agencies the discretion to opt out of independent biological oversight when considering new projects such as highways and electrical transmission lines. The proposal would also let the feds pass on considering individual projects' global warming impacts on species. Such changes usually take months or even years to accomplish, but by late October, the Interior Department had 15 staffers slamming through some 200,000 public comments (not including another 100,000 form letters) in a mere 32 hours…
Additionally, Bush is pushing changes that will ease pollution limits for power plants, allow factory farms to self-regulate their water pollution, reduce buffer zones around streams designed to protect them from mining waste, and open millions of acres of unspoiled public land in Utah to oil and gas exploration. On the last point, the New York Times writes:
This sort of pillage would be hard to justify even if Utah’s reserves were large enough to make a difference, which they are not… And even if those reserves were worth going after, it would still be essential to protect areas of special cultural, scenic and recreational value.
So don't forget to keep an eye on the Crawford cowboy as he rides off into the sunset, lest he plop an even bigger mess into Obama’s lap than he already has.
Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.
Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!
Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of Utne Reader for only $29.95 (USA only).
Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 6 issues of Utne Reader!