EPA regulations, the midterms, LNGs and solar roads

The environment was thankfully in the news a lot this week (if we can all ignore politicians’ ridiculous response to Bowe Bergdahl’s release and unnecessary coverage of Rihanna’s fashion choices) because Obama announced his target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal power plants by 30 percent by 2030. It’s great that the U.S. is finally taking climate action, but it’s important to note that it’s not that huge of a reduction. Slate’s Eric Holtaus explains that domestic carbon dioxide emissions have decreased due to an increase in natural gas use and coal exports. You should also read Grist’s explainer, which goes through what you need to know about the target. Hopefully this will only lead to more climate action (it really needs to be worldwide to have an actual impact) and hopefully businesses will stop complaining once they realize it won’t hurt the economy.

The political ramifications of this action could be interesting, however. Many coal-state Democrats (so disappointed by my girl Alison Lundergan Grimes) have denounced these actions and promised to protect coal and fight Obama on this because they’re worried about the midterms. And Democrats do need to be very worried about the midterms. But it’s important to note that 70 percent of Americans think that the government should limit greenhouse gases from existing power plants. And in battleground Senate states, more than 2/3 of voters think the EPA should limit pollution from power plants. Our politicians should pay attention to what real Americans are thinking (ugh I can’t believe I just referenced real America).

Also, the Department of Energy released a report that stated that exporting liquefied natural gas is a terrible idea, which we all knew already. Its leakage rate negates any climate benefit it has, and it’s not worth it to use the energy to liquefy it or transport it. Plus it displaces renewable energy, which we should all be focused on. Yet people still seem to champion LNGs like they’re the energy of the future.

On another note, I read an intriguing article this week about solar roads. It’s an idea that’s definitely way far in the future, but if we somehow replaced all of America’s roads with roads with solar roads, we would generate three times the energy that America uses in a year and release greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent. This is what we need as we fight climate change: great green technology. My AP Environmental Science teacher told me once that we don’t need environmental activists as much as we need environmental engineers. I’ve always felt a little guilty about not being sciencey enough to go in that direction, but hopefully that’s what our STEM education children will do in the next few years, come up with innovative ideas that will at least help mitigate climate change.




Bullshit Journalism

I’ve been binge-watching The Good Wife lately, so I now have a lot of obviously very well-informed thoughts on how political campaigns are run and how ridiculous they can get. It’s the same with the real-life RNC and the DNC. Real issues that politicians and magazines should focus on are always overshadowed by sensational character smears. 

The Washington Free Beacon decided to published a BREAKING NEWS ARTICLE about how the children of four Obama administration officials broke D.C. law by riding bikes without helmets in their latest music video. Yes, let’s take a minute to think about the hysterical fact that the privileged children of the Obama administration have their own band, Twenty20. And yes, these tweenagers should have been wearing their helmets.

But more importantly, why is a “news source” that is apparently committed to “producing in-depth and investigative reporting” writing articles about kids who literally have nothing to do with any real issues? Why are they even taking the time to watch the music video, which is terrible but not that bad considering it’s a bunch of kids. And of course they had to have fun with Jay Carney’s resignation (one of his kids was in the video so clearly he resigned because his kid didn’t wear a helmet).

I would’ve dismissed this article entirely if I hadn’t seen it because the DNC’s Communication Director felt that it was important enough to Tweet a response to it. If I didn’t know that there are people who only read sources like this. I just wish that people wouldn’t write articles like this (though clearly I am feeding into it by linking the article). 

I know that this article is really not a big deal at all. It just kills me to imagine the Washington Free Beacon‘s editors giggling over this article like a bunch of children while there are actual stories that don’t get enough attention in the media.

Environmental Links of The Week 5/28/14

College is over and I’m hopefully done with writing papers forever, but it’s impossible for me to stop writing and reading the news. So I’m going to start blogging regularly again. Wednesdays will be environmentally-related links that I find intriguing, and Sundays will be my thoughts on a political or pop culture issue of the week. So here are some of the things I read this week.

1. A study just came out that shows that people apparently take the threat of global warming a lot more seriously than the threat of climate change, even though they are pretty much the exact same thing. This is like the time that people said they supported the Affordable Care Act but Obamacare was the scariest socialist evil to ever strike our country. Clearly environmental educators have a ton of work to do to ensure that as many Americans as possible know exactly what global warming/climate change is and how it affects their lives. The funny thing is that technically climate change encompasses everything that is happening as we continue to burn fossil fuels, including the terrifying floods and polar vortexes and all of the weather that some people still mistakenly dismiss as proof that global warming doesn’t exist. People should be more afraid of climate change.

2. Next week, the EPA is going to announce new rules on power plant emissions. So of course the Chamber of Commerce is prepared to announce their own response to the rules and tell everyone that any regulations to help the environment is terrible for the economy and blah blah blah. Coal-industry lobbyists are all over this too, telling anyone who can listen that regulations will lead to high electricity prices. The article that I linked quotes an energy analyst who says that since the regulations will take a few years to go into effect, lobbyists can say whatever they want to during the midterms because there won’t be any facts yet. That’s so disturbing.

3. Bloomberg (who is totally going to heaven y’all) is now the U.N. special envoy for cities and climate change. He said yesterday that cities are essential to combating climate change because they account for 75 percent of heat-trapping emissions and have mayors that can usually get shit accomplished a lot faster than Congress can. This is spot-on and I hope that Bloomberg actually has a large effect on mayors throughout the country. Cities have already taken the lead on climate issues by reducing their emissions and moving to divest from fossil fuels.

4. Speaking of fossil fuel divestment, it seems to have an odd enemy: Jewish leaders? They’ve decided that institutions should stop divesting from fossil fuels because 1. we should only be thinking about divesting from Iran? and 2. Divestment tactics are dangerous because groups like Students for Justice for Palestine could use them to divest against Israel. I don’t even know what to say. Jewish leaders need to stop constantly disappointing me like this. Being scared of other people using your tactics is not a reason to not use tactics that enact change. That’s called democracy. And to the hawks: Iran is certainly not the only issue that anyone should be focusing on. Climate change is going to play a large part in wars in the future (including in Israel) and fossil fuel divestment is something that Jewish leaders should take seriously.

Why I Support Hillary

There’s been a lot of buzz this week about Elizabeth Warren as the ideal Democratic candidate for 2016, the anti-Wall Street progressive who can fiercely attack Hillary from the left. Warren’s policies fall very closely in line with my own, and for a second I wondered if I should rethink my staunch support for Hillary 2016. But realistically, Warren won’t run against Hillary, and she would never be able to win a general election unless someone equally partisan is nominated on the Republican side. And, even if she could make it past Hillary, here’s why I would still want Hillary 2016 to happen, told from a slightly pessimistic perspective of someone who’s been sitting in the newsroom for way too long.

Hillary’s had to be mostly non-political for the past few years as Secretary of State, so I really want to see what she has to say when she declares. She doesn’t have any competition in this party, but I still think her views will become more progressive in the primaries because that’s generally what happens in primaries. 

 We also don’t know what’s going to happen in the Republican Party because it’s a shitshow, but the unfortunate truth is that Wall Street is a major supporter of the Democratic Party (and they love the Clintons), and there’s really nothing that would happen by 2016 to change that. I just don’t think it would be possible for Elizabeth Warren to win in that climate. Clinton is also the only Democratic candidate who could realistically beat Christie, though I don’t think the GOP will be smart enough to nominate him. 
Personally, though I would love to elect a progressive President, Hillary is still a liberal and she does care about many of the issues that I would prioritize, like health care and women’s rights. So right now I don’t feel like I’d be even close to selling out by voting for her, though I am still working on where I stand on issues like the NSA.
And on a more realistic sense, I’m really not sure it matters what each candidate’s positions on their issues are, because most likely Hillary would get elected and still have a Republican House to deal with. Obama came in to office super shiny and liberal and he really wasn’t able to do much because he didn’t prioritize building a working relationship with Boehner, and honestly his entire administration has been very negative towards Republicans. Which could seem fine because their policies are terrible, but that’s just not how it works in a two party system. I’m gonna slightly promote myself here and bring out Chris Matthews’s example (from his book Tip and the Gipper, which I helped research) of Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan disagreeing on almost everything but compromising and always pointing out that they were friends after 6:00. Chris Matthews uses the example of Reagan sending O’Neill to Soviet Russia to represent the administration, but it’s ridiculous to imagine the Obama team allowing Boehner to go somewhere like Iran and trust him to be on exactly the same page as Obama.
Obviously the Tea Party is anti-government and Obama is doing the best he can, but his administration is kind of a mess. And though the Clintons tend to surround themselves with sketchy people, Hillary has a much better sense of how fucked up government is and how to deal with it. So I do think that she would be a much better President than Obama in the sense that she would know how to deal with these people, and Republican members of Congress do respect her, except for the people that are still harping on Benghazi. 
I think Hillary could actually get a lot done and make a ton of Progress as President. I also have the typical position that I’ve dreamed of her being the first female President for as long as I remember and she does deserve to shatter that glass ceiling way more than anyone in the Democratic Party, even if there are amazing women like Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand out there.  Also if those two run against each other in 2024 that would be insane.  
It may be a waste of time to talk about 2016 now, but I don’t think that any of us political junkies are able to control ourselves, so here is my contribution to the crazy.

Fracking, flooding, firing and feelings

Blogging while going to school while interning while pretending to have a social life has proven to be very difficult. So I’m just going to leave a few links here for you to peruse while you’re procrastinating doing any sort of work. Someday soon I will try to get more organized and have real thoughts on real things instead of just, you know, reading the news for you. 

1. A bunch of badass Brits are protesting fracking at a potential site. They were about to get evicted, but the court ruled that they can stay there until October! Now let’s just work towards getting courts to mandate that fracking is a danger to the local community.  This could plausibly happen, right? If the protesters stand there long enough? Maybe?

2. Freaked out by the Boulder floods? You should be. This Mother Jones article details how extreme they are, and what exactly this has to do with climate change. 

3. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal doesn’t think that oil and gas companies should have to repair the marshes they damaged. You know, the marshes that did their best to mitigate Katrina? They’re pretty important. Instead, he decided to fire the people who stood up to the oil companies, because capitalism can do no wrong and everyone else is a crazy hippie.

4. If you have not seen the ad that Chipotle just released, watch it NOW. So many feelings. Love Fiona Apple. Need to watch Willy Wonka now. And then think seriously about all the food choices that I’ve made in the past week.


Laziest links for you before school starts

I’m writing this as I procrastinate picking up my laundry and cleaning my entire apartment before I start my senior year tomorrow. So I searched through the news from the last few days for approximately ten minutes (time to go get my laundry) and decided to share a collection of things we should be talking about.

1. No one should be listening to Ted Cruz talk about the environment. Or anything, really. Unless he’s talking about his Canadian background. But if you hear people like him say that global warming doesn’t exist because it’s slowed down, read this article to prove them wrong. There’s a difference between a large scale climate event and natural variation. If you don’t know what that means, take the time to learn about it. Basically, no matter how fast it happens, the Earth is still warming at an alarming rate. 

2. There aren’t enough people out there focused on environmental justice, which does make it hard for the EPA to help everyone. But when people go to the EPA with evidence of a real problem and the EPA cuts a deal with the people who regulate pesticides to ignore that problem? That’s just evidence of how much is wrong with this country.

3. Things may be getting sketchy in the Middle East, but while everyone was debating whether to go to war in Syria, a stork was jailed for being a spy in Egypt. Stranger things have happened.

4. Aaaand on a lighter note, Amanda Bynes somehow managed to escape her hospital for two seconds and tweeted about her undying love for Drake.

Tweeting instead of watching T.V.

I only turned on the VMA’s yesterday because NSYNC was about to reunite and I just needed a reminder that boy bands are better than One Direction (no, a song entitled “best song ever” does not deserve to win the song of the summer). I just needed to hear “Bye Bye Bye,” the best song ever from when I was ten years old, so I didn’t really care about what else was happening. I certainly wasn’t planning on live-tweeting the awards, at least not until NSYNC took the stage. But the moment that Taylor Swift mouthed “Shut the fuck up” when Harry Styles started talking, I had to tweet about it. And, after that, I spent the entire awards glued to my phone while halfheartedly looking at the T.V. (although, let’s be real, I paid full attention to Miley Cyrus). And then tweeted about her. Although, I kinda refuse to be a part of the discussion about whether she was being too vulgar or racist because I’m not sure if I want to judge her or applaud her or just be really worried about her. I am grossed out by Robin Thicke, however, though I think that “Blurred Lines” was the true song of the summer.

Not only did my Tweeting alert me to the fact that my friend was watching too, so we could Facebook chat for the rest of the show, but my Twitter feed was awash with political journalists who suddenly had a lot of opinions about things that had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz. It made me happy that these journalists, who probably had better things to be doing, were sitting on their couches, doing the exact same thing that I was. 

And everyone had so many opinions. I was especially intrigued by Mikki Kendall (@Karnynthia)’s tweets. I hadn’t noticed that there had barely been any women of color on stage, and I had no idea that Miley or Lady GaGa’s performances had anything to do with race. Even if I disagreed with some of her Tweets (I’m sorry, is Macklemore really not allowed to sing about gay rights just because he’s white and straight?), I still learned from them. 

Through my Twitter feed, I was able to see the VMA’s from so many different perspectives. Sure, I had my own reactions to the performances, but it was fascinating to hear what everyone else had to say. And, most surprisingly, when the clock struck 10, I still didn’t see any Tweets about The Newsroom, even though it was an intense episode. I had gotten lucky enough to watch the episode earlier this week in an advanced screening so I didn’t need to watch it, but it was still good to know that other people were prioritizing NSYNC over Genoa (and a stoned Jane Fonda!)

How did we do anything without social media? I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to watch a large event like this on T.V. again without compulsively checking my Twitter feed. Should I be disturbed by that? Probably.