Why are the doggone streetlights blazing away in Central Park during the day? That’s a question I’ve been asking for months. I’ve asked the Central Park Conservancy, the NYC Department of Transportation, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal’s office. Crazy, right?
The title of the new, long anticipated, hugely important treatise from the leader of over a billion Roman Catholics in the world, Pope Francis, is Laudato Si‘. The title comes from his namesake’s “Canticle of the Creatures” in which St. Francis writes: “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.” Laudato Si’ – Praised be to you.
The G7 members were hosted in Germany this year and made some bold pronouncements relative to the future of energy and the climate system. I am manifestly not a cynic on the progress the world has been making on climate and energy over the past decade or so. That is certainly the premise of my book and this blog: that there are scores of important breakthroughs and initiatives being made every year, most everywhere. I have, however, taken a cautious approach to the importance of the global approach to mitigating greenhouse gases. A consensus has been building and continues to build about the need for action. There is absolutely no doubt about that. But the speed and depth of commitment from some of the leading actors remains in question. Continue reading
The annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner was the venue for one of the funniest, most totally in-your-face performances I’ve ever seen: Stephen Colbert just eviscerating nearly everybody in the room in 2006. (Start at 1:45 to skip the boring introduction.) There is an extensive Wikipedia page just for this performance. Continue reading
What can you say about a publication, the venerable “New Yorker,” that has brought us writers the likes of Rachel Carson, Bill McKibben and Betsy Kolbert? Easy: They’ve got their environmental worldview very nicely in order. But nobody’s perfect, so the editors responsible for accepting a recent essay, questionable (to be kind) in its logic and facts, by the novelist Jonathan Franzen, are to be forgiven.
There was, in fact, another reasonably bone-headed essay on the environmental movement from another distinguished writer, Nicholas Lemann, a couple of years ago that elicited responses from some worthy environmental leaders in whose company I found myself when the magazine printed my letter alongside theirs. Continue reading
Al Gore called them “subprime carbon assets.” More and more banks, companies, countries, pension funds, universities, churches, and many others are beginning to understand the considerable investment risks in the constellations of fossil fuel companies. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), the world’s biggest and most efficient sovereign wealth fund, last week jettisoned 32 coal mining companies, 5 tar sand producers, 2 cement companies and 1 coal-based electricity generator from its $850 billion portfolio. The Guardian quotes a GPFG rep here: “Our risk-based approach means that we exit sectors and areas where we see elevated levels of risk to our investments in the long term.” Continue reading
I went to a cool little rally last evening here in New York City. We were standing across from the David H. Koch theater at Lincoln Center to say “No!” to the KXL. We were there, of course, because the Koch Brothers have been the principal funders in recent years of any number of reactionary organizations, including Americans for Prosperity and ALEC, not to mention the Tea Party itself. Of course, they have a serious vested interest in the Canadian tar sands. By the time I left, we had a good 200 or so people out on a cold night. The excellent folks at 350NYC organized the rally and we knew that there were scores more across the country at the same time. Continue reading
There’s a lot of good energy, as it were, at Columbia University all the time: they’re working on climate and sustainability, and have a wealth of world-class educational programs. I went to this year’s tenth annual energy symposium staged by the students from the business school, law school, and SIPA. I’ve been to a few of these over time, including last year’s.
The night before the symposium, I went over to a “cleantech startups showcase” to check out some really innovative projects. I heard the mini-pitches from folks working on fuel cells and on cellulose for bioplastics. One startup has developed a cheaper and easier way to conduct energy Continue reading
The super motivated students of NYU Divest met with the University Senate yesterday. They marked that important step forward with a great visual display of their intention. I’ve had the pleasure of being involved a bit with these students over the past year. They have a goal, a plan, and are executing it smartly.