Utne Blogs > Media

Saving A Rainforest: Crockpot 08.24.12

Metalmark Butterfly

Our weekly guide to what you may have missed.

It’s an unfortunate fact that many Global South countries depend on fossil fuels for economic survival. But Ecuador has found an innovative solution, says Audubon. The Quito government knows full well that its Ishpingo, Tambococha, and Tiputini oilfields are worth billions, but the fields are also sitting on Yasuní National Park. And the Amazonian park has treasures of its own, including a full 20 percent of world bird species and more tree varieties than all of North America. So, President Correa has proposed a bargain: if the rest of the world can pony up a (small) percentage of the oilfields’ lost revenue by 2024, they won’t drill. The proposal may add up to blackmail, but major players are already heavily involved, including the German government and the UN. The upshot could be a protected forest and an empowered Third World economy. 


Understanding Rem Koolhaas’ satirical architecture: from the “setback” New York office building to the “crumbling” Bangkok high-rise, Koolhaas’ largely unbuilt designs disrupt expectations and lend common forms a shade of irony, says Smithsonian Magazine. There’s even an occasional anti-corporate message. One proposal for a Paris office block includes a single floor jutting away from rest of the tower, complete with subversive billboard signs such as ne jamais travailler, or “never work.”


It’s not easy to catch some civil discourse these days, but it’s still out there. Check out Treehugger’s list of “26 Things We Can All Agree On” (with pictures!), mostly having to do with the environmental crisis. It’s a lot of no-brainers—“Every kid should have the opportunity to climb a tree,” “Tap water shouldn’t catch on fire”—but that’s the point. The sooner we realize most of us see eye to eye on things like, “Kids need healthy food,” the better.


President Obama may be ahead in national polls, but that doesn’t change the Democrats’ deeper demography problems, says Jack Metzger in Working Class Perspectives. Like most Democrats, Obama did very well among minorities and women in 2008, winning the nonwhite vote by a full 60 percentage points. But also like previous elections, 2012 will likely come down to working class whites—and probably males. In that group, the Dems have a lousy record. Such a crude classification of American society is unfortunate, says Metzger, but the fact is that if the Republicans can edge out just 5 percent of the white working class from 2008, Romney’s headed for the White House. And in 2008, those white working class voters made up a majority in battleground states like Ohio and Iowa. The solution? The Democrats need to stop thinking in stereotypes, Metzger argues, and maybe—just maybe—stop calling everyone “middle class.”

Not to mention the fact that the middle class itself is changing faster than pollsters seem to realize. Should the Democrats venture far beyond Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium during the DNC next month, they might catch a glimpse of what local photographer Nancy Pierce has recently documented. There, once-booming exurbs have been transformed into ghost towns, says Streetsblog’s Angie Smith. We’ve known about exurban decline for a while now, Smith adds, but Pierce’s photography is still a powerful and surreal portrait of decay—and naturally poignant as the city plans to soon host the biggest political shindig of the year.  


And don’t miss Democracy Now’s moving remembrance of Howard Zinn, who died two years ago at the age of 87. Zinn would have been 90 today, and to celebrate his birthday Democracy Now has posted a 2009 interview in which Zinn discussed honesty, history, and the power of ordinary people. And of course his message of standing up to injustice and falsehood is resonant as ever. 

A periander metalmark butterfly in Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park. Image by Geoff Gallice, licensed under Creative Commons.