Stop Saving These Animals!
January 09, 2012
A week before Christmas, Russia banned the import of harp seal pelts—the skins of those undeniably cute animals with their big, melting eyes and their cuddly bodies. This followed a similar ban in the E.U. and the U.S., both of which have forbidden the import of almost all seal products. Prominent animals rights activists, like Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson as well as groups like Humane Society International, hate seal hunting—and I understand their objections. I had a toy stuffed seal when I was a kid. (Name: Sealy).
When President Obama took office, most environmental activists assumed that their cause would still meet resistance in Washington DC—they just assumed it would be located in Congress. But according to activists, a chief opponent of environmental causes has turned out to be within the White House itself: The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). A division of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), OIRA has always had the power to review the economic impact of virtually any new federal regulation.
November 09, 2011
The GOP’s favorite punching bag right now is a government regulation that doesn’t exist. “Our goals include ... overturning the EPA’s proposed regulations that inhibit jobs in areas [such as] farm dust,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote in an August Washington Post op-ed. There was no such proposed rule. “We’ll stop excessive federal regulations that inhibit jobs in areas [such as] farm dust,” House Speaker John Boehner similarly pledged in a September 15 speech to the Economic Club of D.C. Still, there was no such proposal.
Whatever Happened to the Evangelical-Environmental Alliance?
November 03, 2011
In the fall of 2005, Joel Hunter, the senior pastor of a 12,000-member megachurch in central Florida, signed on to the Evangelical Climate Initiative—a landmark public statement acknowledging that human actions were causing the Earth to warm. The central message—“creation care,” as it became known—was that the biblical commandment to protect God’s creation was relevant to modern-day environmental issues. Soon, Hunter had distributed 20,000 creation care pamphlets to pastors around the country, and his parishioners were sifting through garbage to see how much trash his church produced.
September 14, 2011
Haines Falls, N.Y.—Here are some things my children and I weren’t thinking about as we scampered outside our house in the Catskill Mountains during an afternoon lull in Tropical Storm Irene, elated by our suddenly torrential waterfalls, eager to pose in front of them for pictures to send to our friends: We weren’t thinking about orographic enhancement, because, of course, we had never heard of it. Orographic enhancement is the meteorological phenomenon that made Irene rain harder when it hit the mountains (wet air forced upward cools and condenses).
How the Weather Toys With Our Emotions
September 08, 2011
The English are known for their propensity to collect eccentric things—tea cozies, snuffboxes, colonies. So it didn’t surprise me to learn that a British writer, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, was responsible for The Cloud Collector’s Handbook, a bewitching little book that has become the latest quirky hit.
Rick Perry's Record on the Environment: Is it Bad, or Awful?
September 06, 2011
In April 2009 the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had found that carbon dioxide and several other greenhouse gases, though not pollutants in themselves, were subject to federal regulation under the Clean Air Act, because of the threats they pose to human health via climate change. It was not the sort of finding that Texas governor Rick Perry—long a skeptic, even outright denier, of anthropogenic climate change—was liable to welcome.
Hope and Change: Meet the Ex-Obama Staffers Getting Arrested in Front of the White House
September 03, 2011
Each morning for the past two weeks, scores of respectable-looking protestors ushered themselves into single file lines, walked determinedly through Washington’s Lafayette Park, sat down on the sidewalk in front of the White House, arranged themselves in rows as if for a class photo, and waited patiently to be arrested (the violation: blocking pedestrian traffic).
Canada and Its Tar Sands: What the Country Can Learn From Brazil About Protecting the Environment
June 27, 2011
In 1986, the then-editor of The New Republic, Michael Kinsley, famously asked whether anyone could find a headline more boring than “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative,” which had recently appeared on the Times op-ed page. The jibe was really a backhanded compliment, of course—Canada’s virtue was so automatic it could just be assumed. It was big news in Canada when, in 2008, the country slipped from the top-ten list of the world’s most peaceful countries (all the way to eleventh). By this year, it was back in eighth, 74 places above the U.S. and, when liberals in the U.S.
Turning FEMA Around
May 28, 2011
It’s not exactly the Rapture, but the tornadoes that have been tearing through the Midwest and South this year certainly have an end-times feel to them. Just this past Sunday, an EF-5 level tornado (that’s as fierce as it gets) plowed through Joplin, Missouri, killing at least 125 people, flaying the bark off trees, crumpling cars like aluminum cans, and basically flattening everything in its six-mile path.