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Mar. 25 2011 — 11:56 am | 0 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

A new forum at Forbes

The Forbes Building in New York

As I hinted in a semi-final post at True/Slant, this forum has found a new home, under a new name and with a new mission, at Forbes.

The assignment has changed, appropriate to the developing realities of the politics and economics of carbon. I’ll be pursuing green technology, its pioneers and their projects.

Please join me at  The Ingenuity of the Commons.

I hope that many of you who participated in this experiment at True/Slant will bring your curiosity, your vitality, and your expertise to the  dynamic, developing forum at Forbes. You’ll find many other True/Slant veterans there.

See what happens when digital innovation infuses legacy media. More than see: be the change.

Jul. 31 2010 — 7:52 am | 265 views | 1 recommendations | 12 comments

So long to the life we used to live

Emily Dickinson

Emily. Image via Wikipedia

My old man taught me to say “so long” whenever we parted because he contended “goodbye” should be reserved for permanent occasions, like the one Emily Dickinson refers to here: continue »

Jul. 23 2010 — 8:27 am | 552 views | 2 recommendations | 39 comments

Game over: Senate abandons climate bill

Astronaut Alan Shepard raises the United State...

Image via Wikipedia

The Senate’s abandonment of climate legislation, confirmed last night, is not a victory of Republicans over Democrats, business over government, skeptics over believers. It’s a failure of capitalism, above all, and a failure of capitalism’s apprentice: democracy.

In facing global warming, human beings have faced the unprecedented necessity–and the unprecedented possibility–of changing our collective behavior through our collective will.

We didn’t attempt to do it through imperial fiat, totalitarian dictate, One World Order — we attempted to do it through the most powerful engine of change known to modern time, and only after taking a vote. continue »

Jul. 19 2010 — 9:25 am | 473 views | 0 recommendations | 5 comments

So Gulf seafood is safe, but should we eat it?

Image via wikipedia.

No sooner had oil stopped gushing into the Gulf of Mexico–if only temporarily–than a campaign was underway to convince Americans to buy Gulf seafood, now that everything is “back to normal.”

Engineered by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, the campaign penetrated news media nationwide this weekend, most of which dutifully reported that Gulf seafood is safe to eat. Most overlooked another question hanging over Gulf seafood: whether eating the healthy survivors of BP’s oil-spill disaster can be good for the Gulf’s recovery.

The Louisiana Seafood Board wants to counter the perception, documented in this University of Minnesota study, that Gulf seafood may be tainted.

WBBM, Chicago’s CBS affiliate, aired a segment during its Sunday newscasts titled “Oil Cap On, Seafood Back on Menu” that features a plea by Louisiana restaurant owners. During the segment, Anchor Mai Martinez says,

continue »

Jul. 16 2010 — 12:18 pm | 111 views | 0 recommendations | 8 comments

Will outrage dissipate without live oil-spill video?

BP's latest cap, the capping stack, as it was deployed from the ship above.

For more than three months, up to 15 cameras have fed Americans live video of BP’s oil-spill disaster from nearly a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico. The metaphor was not hard to catch–instead of fueling planes, trains, and automobiles, the gushing crude was fueling outrage.

Now that the spill has been contained by a cap that could divert all of the oil to ships above, will the outrage run out of gas? Will images of oiled birds and dolphins keep Americans hot under the collar, or will they turn to the live video for assurance, fill up their tanks, and go on doing what it is that Americans do?

Two hours ago in the Rose Garden, President Obama said that’s a worry.

A reporter asked, “Sir, do you think this means that basically we’re turning the corner at least in the Gulf? Tell the American people what you anticipate in the next few weeks ahead, because they’re still very anxious about this.”

And Obama said, essentially, remain anxious: continue »

Jul. 13 2010 — 8:14 am | 731 views | 1 recommendations | 15 comments

The Economist: An unhappy worker is a productive worker

Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times. Image via Wikipedia.

Why does The Economist have not only anonymous scribes, but anonymous bloggers? Perhaps so they can be refreshingly honest.

There’s no taint of political correctness, no whiff of sympathy, in the latest offering in the paper magazine by their “Schumpeter blogger” (named for Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter), who turns out upon investigation to be none other than Mr. Adrian Wooldridge, an Oxonian philosopher who serves as the magazine’s editor on management.

Mr. Woolridge frets about a growing movement in which companies concern themselves with their employees’ mental health: continue »

Jul. 12 2010 — 8:58 am | 825 views | 2 recommendations | 21 comments

Lloyd’s warns of economic energy crisis

The sun sets over an oil platform waiting to b...

The sun sets on the oil derrick. Image by AFP via @daylife

Don’t believe in global warming? There’s a backup disaster.

Even without the threat of climate change, economic disaster looms for businesses that fail to switch from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources, the insurance giant Lloyd’s of London warns.

“Companies which are able to plan for and take advantage of this new energy reality will increase both their resilience and competitiveness. Failure to do so could lead to expensive and potentially catastrophic consequences,” according to a white paper (pdf) prepared for Lloyd’s by Antony Froggatt and Glada Lahn, researchers at the London analysis firm Chatham House. continue »

Jul. 10 2010 — 8:06 am | 529 views | 2 recommendations | 11 comments

Can this language change American politics?

Pop!Tech 2008 - The Body Politic - Question & ...

George Lakoff. Image by Pop!Tech via Flickr

Berkeley linguist to Democrats: talk to America like it’s a 5-year-old.

That’s not what George Lakoff says, exactly, but it’s what he does in a sample editorial he wrote to teach progressives how to convey their message more effectively to the American public.

In a sample editorial on Arizona’s immigration law–reprinted in full below–he doesn’t want to use the term “undocumented worker” because that sounds like something Karl Marx would say, and he doesn’t want to use the term “illegal immigrant” because that sounds like something Karl Rove would say.

So in Lakoff’s words, immigrants become “guys.” Are you reading this at a tiny schooldesk? Because you should be. Turns out there are good guys, and there are bad guys: continue »

Jul. 6 2010 — 10:55 am | 220 views | 0 recommendations | 9 comments

Air pollution alerts spike as EPA announces new regulations


Air quality for the U.S. on July 6, 2010.


The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce new rules today regulating power-plant pollution that crosses state lines.

Gina McCarthy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant administrator for air and radiation, is holding a press conference at 12:30 to announce a “significant Clean Air Act proposal to protect public health and the environment.”

The White House Office of Management and Budget recently cleared the way for EPA to enact the new power plant rules, which will focus on emissions that cross state lines and that contribute to smog and soot pollution. continue »

Jul. 5 2010 — 9:00 am | 432 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Keeping Chicago’s body count in the ‘Killing Season’

CHICAGO - MAY 18:  Chicago police conduct a mu...

Image by Getty Images North America via @daylife

Chicagoans know they can count on a few things when the weather turns fair in summer: hundreds of thousands will flock to the Lakefront, live bands will play at lunchtime on State Street corners, farmers will haul fresh produce into town for the morning markets, fireworks will light the evening skies at least twice a week, and dozens of our neighbors will be shot to death.

So inured are we to the nighttime gunshots and the next-day numbers that we lose track of the body count. continue »

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    About Me

    Environmental reporting recruited me 25 years ago—on my first day as a reporter for my college newspaper, when I discovered my college was discarding radioactive waste in the regular city trash. Since then I've written hard news for dailies, including the Arizona Republic, and slanty news for alternative weeklies, including Newcity. I've written a column for New Times, stories on the Web for Forecast Earth, essays for PEN International and other magazines. I lived in an idyllic California village nestled among volcanoes and vineyards until my batteries were full of sunshine, and then I returned to my origins on the South Side of Chicago, where hope persists with no illusions about the struggle ahead. I cross the asphalt jungle by bicycle and el, mostly to get to the University of Chicago, where I teach journalism. But what matters more than any of this is a lifelong love for the natural world. We are all born with it, I believe, but some turn away.

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