Environment

Fixing California: The Green Gentry’s Class Warfare

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Historically, progressives were seen as partisans for the people, eager to help the working and middle classes achieve upward mobility even at expense of the ultrarich. But in California, and much of the country, progressivism has morphed into a political movement that, more often than not, effectively squelches the aspirations of the majority, in large part to serve the interests of the wealthiest.  read more »

Cities Don’t Consume Resources, People Do

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Urban form or urban consumers? If we want to reduce the environmental impacts of modern society let’s prioritize consumption, not city form.  The evidence suggests that large cities (and especially city centres) are associated with a bigger environmental footprint than modest cities or suburbs. 

This post looks at incomes and consumption, especially the consumption of housing and transport services, asking how far can local regulation really influence environmental impacts?  read more »

Can Kamaishi, Japan Recover From the Tsunami?

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KAMAISHI, Japan - Two years after the disastrous 2011 earthquake and tsunami, most of the debris from the deluge has been cleared away in this small city on the northern edge of Japan’s tsunami coast. The cars and vans once piled on top of each other like some kind of apocalyptic traffic jam have been sorted out or sold for scrap. My guide, a local teacher who lost three of her aunts in the deluge, drives us up to a lookout. Spread out below us is the coastal village of Unosumai, or, more accurately, what once was the village of Unosumai. The view reminds me of pictures taken of Hiroshima after the atomic bomb had flattened almost everything. The only exception there was one surviving building, the former Industrial Promotion Hall in Hiroshima’s Peace Garden.  read more »

No Solar Way Around It: Why Nuclear Is Essential to Combating Climate Change

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Nobody who has paid attention to what's happened to solar panels over the last several decades can help but be impressed. Prices declined an astonishing 75 percent from 2008 to 2012. In the United States, solar capacity has quintupled since 2008, and grown by more than 50 times since 2000, according to US Energy Information Administration data. In 1977, solar panels cost $77 per watt.  read more »

The Myth of Green Australia

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Having collected the Nobel peace prize in 2007, Al Gore’s fortunes as a climate crusader slid into the doldrums.  But 8th November 2011 arrived as a ray of sunshine. On that day Australia’s parliament passed into law the world’s first economy-wide carbon tax. Rushing to his blog, Gore posted a short but rapturous statement, cross-posted in The Huffington Post. His fervent language echoed in progressive circles across the globe.  read more »

Fracking Offers Jerry Brown a Watershed Moment

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The recent announcement that Jerry Brown is studying "fracking" in California, suggests that our governor may be waking up to the long-term reality facing our state. It demonstrates that, despite the almost embarrassing praise from East Coast media about his energy and green policies, Brown likely knows full well that the state's current course, to use the most overused term, is simply not politically and economically sustainable.  read more »

Progessives, Preservation & Prosperity

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Conservatives often fret that Barack Obama is leading the nation toward socialism. In my mind, that's an insult to socialism, which, in theory, at least, seeks to uplift the lower classes through greater prosperity. In contrast, the current administration and its core of wealthy supporters are more reminiscent of British Tories, the longtime defenders of hereditary privilege, a hierarchical social order and slow-paced economic change.  read more »

Green Office Towers Cast Shadow Over Sydney

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Known for her spiky hair, studded-collar and heels, Sydney’s Lord Mayor is the epitome of progressive chic. For a green activist, though, Clover Moore attracts some surprising company. Landlords owning 58 per cent of the CBD’s office space have rushed to join her Better Buildings Partnership, an alliance “to improve the sustainability performance of existing commercial and public sector buildings”.  read more »

The Ecology of Obesity

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Starting in the mid-nineties, ecologically-minded Americans increasingly came to see farmers markets as a way to bring healthy foods to poor neighborhoods, support local organic agriculture, and even address global warming. During the Bush years, major health philanthropies joined these efforts, making new grocery stores their highest priority in combating obesity, which was disproportionately affecting the poor.  read more »

Natural Gas Boom: The “Janus” Effect

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The last five years have seen a revolution in terms of the amount of inexpensive U.S. natural gas made available for consumption in power plants, road fuels, and as a feedstock for new and expanded petrochemical plants. We are now even debating the advisability of large volume natural gas exports in the form of liquid natural gas (LNG).    read more »