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Environment, Economy, & Equality in Development [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Environment, Economy, & Equality in Development

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Environmental Politics [Dec. 6th, 2007|11:08 am]
Environment, Economy, & Equality in Development

In the public realm, there are two things that I could say I am passionate about: sustainability issues, and politics.  So naturally, the places those overlap are pretty important to me; while issues of peace, education, the justice system, and health care are all front and center for me, where a politician stands on environmental issues can pretty much be a deal-maker or -breaker for me.  Ditto for political organizations, or ones that attempt to wield power in some form that we might as well call political.

Organizations such as the National Resource Defense Council, for instance;  I was shocked and disappointed last year when I got a mailer from them proclaiming that the answer to our habit of driving way too much was that we could still do it with the right technology and subsidies!  Well, yay.  No need to restore community infrastructure or local agriculture, or--gulp--make any adjustments to our lifestyle whatsoever.

This came to mind today when Matt Stoller (of openleft.com, my favorite site for political analysis and commentary) laid it on thick today: "Degraded organizations like Frances Beinecke's starfucking obsessed NRDC and the utterly corrupt and industry-owned Environmental Defense don't work."  For those not familiar with Matt's colorful and combative style, my suggested translation is, "I've had it with proclamations of environmentalism from people who just want to be hip, or are actually covering up horrendous intentions." 

And he has a point.  His comment was in response to a climate change bill that passed out of the Senate's Environment Committee last night, which he has a lot of problems with.  The biggest one is that it sets up a cap-and-trade system which theoretically uses market forces to get people to reduce their pollution most cost-effectively... but this bill (written by independent Sen. Lieberman and Republican Sen. Warner) subsidizes the cost to coal-burning plants, passing the burden of  carbon reduction on to everyone but the largest corporate polluters, and handing hundreds of billions of dollars of tax revenue to those polluters.

His other big problem is with environmental groups and progressives who are doing what's easy, not what's right.  For instance, while most environmental groups have opposed this bill -- likely calculating that if a Democrat enters the White house a year from now, we could see leadership towards something much better -- they haven't had anything to say about the ones that have endorsed it.  A political movement's health can be measured by its ability to have internal debates, but it seems like everyone's acting like there's no difference in opinion here.  (The NRDC actually helped write part of this bill, so of course they're supporting it.)

And not just groups, but individuals as well.  Sen. Boxer is often considered a strong progressive, but on this issue she has clearly disappointed.  She shut down amendments in committee to improve it, and now lauds the authors for "breaching the partisan divide" -- as if that was somehow the global threat to life as we know it.

This is frustrating of course, but ultimately it serves mainly to illustrate the state of environmental politics today.  As the environmental movement gains popular credibility, it also gains political power.  Right now that's being siphoned off to provide "green-washing" for people who want to look good, but there are plenty of politicians and organizations who take this seriously and aren't going away.  The big question for me remains: when will this issue develop to being a point of serious political debate?  With the Lieberman-Warner bill now headed for the full Senate -- but a far better bill having been raised in the House -- one can only hope this instance might amount to more than an illustration.

UPDATE: If this post made you feel less hopeful -- about the strength of the environmental movement or the hope of getting meaningful climate change legislation -- there's also reason to take heart.  I meant it when I said there are also plenty of good-faith actors, and they've just achieved a huge success in the House.  Also, regarding the Senate bill, John Edwards actually gets it.  What do you know?

This is real progress.

[Cross-posted on Progressives]
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(no subject) [Nov. 26th, 2007|05:50 pm]
Environment, Economy, & Equality in Development


A consortium of four European universities – Lund University (Sweden), Central European University (CEU, Hungary), the University of Manchester (UK), and the University of the Aegean (Greece) – is inviting applications for the Erasmus Mundus Masters Course in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management (MESPOM)

if interested - leave comments
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Future Network News [Nov. 22nd, 2007|03:51 am]
Environment, Economy, & Equality in Development

For those of you with an interest in international politics, futurism, the environment, genetic modification, peak oil, climate change, etc please watch my new webcast show

FNN - Future Network News

leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Excerpt: Steve LeVine on Caspian Oil Deals [Nov. 7th, 2007|12:29 pm]
Environment, Economy, & Equality in Development
I have permission from Random House to distribute an excerpt from journalist Steve LeVine's mammoth new book, The Oil and The Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea.

The excerpt is called "Azeri Oil" and follows the final negotiations for development of Azerbaijan's massive offshore oil fields. After three years and six changes of government, a deal is finally struck between private and state-owned oil companies as diplomats from Russia and the United States spar in the background. Overnight, $230 million in cash put up by the oil companies disappears into private bank accounts, apparently benefiting Azeri leader Heydar Aliyev and his associates. It's just one of the stunning, billion-dollar deals documented in this book.

"This is the new way wars are fought," says journalist LeVine, who covered the region for a string of global media companies including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek. Serving 11 years in the Caspian, LeVine was flown home on a stretcher when a Chechen rocket grenade shattered his leg.

The excerpt from The Oil and The Glory is available at the following URL:


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Green Buildings Open House [Oct. 5th, 2007|03:10 pm]
Environment, Economy, & Equality in Development

Saturday October 6 is this year's Green Buildings Open House day.

You can take self-guided tours of green buildings in your area, talk to the owners, find out more about the renewable & alternative energy technologies they have installed, as well as other green technologies.

Things generally run from 10am to 4pm.

More information can be found here: http://nesea.org/buildings/openhouse/

Note: This is where you can find listings for the Green Buildings Open House in the six New England States, plus Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. I don't know where one might find the info for the other states, or even if it's scheduled for the same day elsewhere. One might check the website for the National Solar Tour.

X posted
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Hello there! [Sep. 20th, 2007|03:14 pm]
Environment, Economy, & Equality in Development

Hey all!

I wanted to share with you an incredibly effective campaign that C3 is currently engaging in. Right now they're asking for people to pledge to stop junk mail (who doesn't want that, right?). They have all the information necessary at their site (including forms that you can print out and send in to remove your name from mailing lists). Take the pledge at this link:

It also will really help me out, as it's a sort of competition. I really appreciate it!

Also, don't let it end here!
Pass it along (you can start your own link if you'd like to be part of the competition as well!)
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World Moron Death [Aug. 9th, 2007|01:50 pm]
Environment, Economy, & Equality in Development

If we were able, hypothetically, to painlessly exterminate every person of low intelligence on planet earth, why would anyone be against it? After all, our societies would go farther, and the people alive would have a better experience of life. Society would function more intelligently. I can't think of a single logical argument against it. Any ideas?

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(no subject) [Jun. 30th, 2007|03:36 pm]
Environment, Economy, & Equality in Development
For UK peeps only.

Click hereto write to your MP to stop the carving up of the Congo rainforest

To sign up for email updates on Greenpeace UK actions, go here
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