Tamsyn Jones’s very informative cover story this issue serves to remind us, among other things, that great civilizations of the past have prospered or withered depending upon their relationship with their natural environment. Vibrant, healthy economies survived where soils, because of sensible agricultural practices, remained rich and fertile enough to produce food—and fell when farming became unsustainable.
The global warming "points of light" featured in this issue represent a start—and just a start—in our epic journey to confront and turn around the massive climatic changes that are already underway around the world. As you"ll see, in the absence of any federal action in the U.S., cities and states are filling the vacuum with innovative programs.
When you hear horse enthusiasts, racers and breeders arguing that slaughter is a better option than other "disposal" methods for when their equine charges are old and tired, it becomes evident that the horse trade is yet another human enterprise driven by profits and with no good answer for what to do when its "product" has outlived its usefulness.
When Kanye West quipped on national television last September, as an astonished Mike Meyers looked on, that George Bush "doesn’t care about black people," he was only partly right. George Bush doesn’t care about white people, either. In fact, George Bush only cares about rich people.
If you’re like me, your head will be spinning reading Jim Motavalli’s cover story this issue (“The Outlook on Oil,” page 26). How can so many “experts” and “industry analysts” have such varying opinions as to when we will—or when we did—reach the world’s peak of oil production? What with predictions ranging from right now to 30 years hence to 30 years ago, I can only conclude one of two things: (a) only one of them is right; or (b) none of them are right.
I always found it amusing that New York Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio—"Joltin" Joe," as the sportscasters dubbed him—went on after retirement to stump for kitchen coffee makers. But one thing Mr. Coffee never jolted us with were the real facts about America’s favorite hot beverage.
If our "mega-cities" coverage in this issue doesn’t convince our readers and the substantial audience of international politicians and journalists also receiving it that the world has much bigger problems on its hands than terrorism, then I don’t know what will. On September 11, 2001 some 3,000 people died in one single savage act in one day. Yet around the world 10 times that many children die in one day, every day.
I’ve been seeing the terms "greenies" and "greenie rhetoric" quite a bit lately, most notably in the business press where one can sometimes find considerable verse seeking to trivialize the concerns of environmentalists (which, not coincidentally, often relate to irresponsible corporate behavior). The subtle jabs come in forms something like this (to wax poetic): "Business will save the environment, making moey at it too, we don’t need the greenies telling us what to do."
One thing I’ve learned from all the inclement weather we’ve been experiencing of late is that there is no force more powerful in nature than nature itself. From Hurricane Andrew to New England’s Nor’Easters to huge snowstorms in the West, when Mother Nature speaks in these ways it serves to remind me that she will endure, with or without our inputs (be they positive or negative)–indeed with or without us, period.
Noe that 12 years of Republican neglect of the environment have been consigned to the ash heap of history, some observers have found a new culprit behind the seemingly never-ending stories of our ailing planet: the environmentalists themselves. According to a recent series in The New York Times (the topic of this issue’s Forum), such groups as the Sierra club and Natural Resources Defense Council "are in danger of becoming the green equivalent of the military lobby, more interested in sowing fear and protecting wasteful programs than in devising a new course." In a time of huge budget deficits and a sputtering economy, they say, environmentalists should quit the Chicken Little game and accept that we live in a cost/benefits world where we simply can’t afford a return to the Garden of Eden.