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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.



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IPS Blog

Entries tagged "environment"

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Earthbeat Radio: We Did It!

September 9, 2010 ·

Daphne bag monsterI’m an accidental radio host. Seven years ago, while directing the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network at IPS, I was invited by Pacifica’s Washington, DC, radio station, WPFW, to host an environmental radio show, together with Mike Tidwell. Like me, Mike had a full-time job — he as the executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN). But we both were concerned that the American people just weren’t getting the facts on the climate crisis, which we viewed as the most critical environmental threat of our time. So we agreed to cohost a weekly one-hour broadcast, covering climate change and other environmental issues.

It was rough at first. Though both of us were published writers and former journalists, radio is an entirely different medium. Anything can — and does — go wrong. But bit by bit, we learned the ropes, finally generating enough of a buzz in the DC community to get a small donor to give us an unsolicited donation, followed by a larger donor, followed by a growing number of supporters.  With our funds, we hired a producer.

After our producer started professionalizing the show, one radio station after another starting adding us to their lineup.  Then in 2006, Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” came out, and we felt we could finally start to get beyond the basics — to the politics of the climate crisis. Before we knew it, we had over 50 stations airing our show, reaching over 2 million potential listeners in the US and Canada, and we started dreaming big dreams.

Then the crash of 2008 came along. And our largest donor informed us in May of this year that they could no longer fund our work. Mike decided he really needed to devote his time and energy to keeping CCAN going. And I, too, wondered if it were worth my time and effort to keep the show going. With no additional funding, I decided that at the end of August we would have to go off the air.

As word got out, one person after another began telling me that we couldn’t afford to lose Earthbeat, and offered to send out an appeal to their friends and contacts to keep it going. I was skeptical we could raise our target of $10,000 in a matter of days — in time to stave off job offers our producer would soon be forced to accept. But they drafted beautiful letters and the money started coming in. Before I knew it, we had raised $5,000. Then a major donor wrote and asked me how much we needed to raise to keep going through the end of 2010. I told her we were $5,000 short, and would probably not reach our goal. She wrote me back and said she would provide the remaining funds.

I am so moved by all of this: By our producer, Aries Keck, who has been willing to take a (temporary!) cut in pay, rather than other jobs, in order to keep the show going through the end of 2010.  She believes in the mission of Earthbeat that much.  By our volunteer of almost two years, Gerri Williams, who has shown up week after week, in record snow and heat, to help get the show on the air. By our amazing staff and board at IPS, who have cheered us on. By WPFW’s ongoing support of an idea that seven years ago was a pipe dream. And of course by all of you, who wrote letters of support and checks large and small in this time of economic crisis.

I am energized to be a part of a collective effort that is trying — despite the seemingly insurmountable odds — to turn the tide.

Mining Whistleblower Speaks out Against Massey

July 23, 2010 ·

Massey mineTo mine-safety whistleblower and former director of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration Jack Spadaro, the spills and mining accidents we have witnessed in recent months are entirely predictable

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout disaster in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, a spill that has yet to be fully contained and cleaned up, with 11 workers killed, has grabbed the majority of the headlines. But the  April 5 explosion of the Massey Energy coal mine in Upper Big Branch, West Virginia, the deadliest mining disaster in 40 years with 29 miners killed, is of particular concern to Spadaro.

That’s because Spadaro played a key role in an earlier investigation of Massey Energy. He believes, had his investigation and recommendations not been thwarted, those 29 miners might not have died. On the latest episode of my radio show, Earthbeat, Spadaro speaks out for the first time on the latest Massey coal disaster, government deregulation of the mining industry, and U.S. government officials who fired him for criticizing Massey’s failure to implement safeguards in an earlier incident: the discharge of toxic coal slurry -- a spill at least 25 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill -- in 2000. 

In that spill, more than 100 miles of streams were polluted, approximately 1.6 million fish were killed, and more than 27,000 people had their public and private water supplies contaminated. Spadero alleges that the same man who pushed him out under former President George W. Bush in 2000 for investigating Massey wrongdoing in the Martin County Coal Slurry Discharge spill in Martin County, Kentucky is now playing a key role in the investigation of the Massey coal mine explosion in 2010.

Jack Spadaro is no stranger to controversy. With over two decades as one of the federal government’s top mine-safety engineers, he has survived a 1980s Special Counsel who tutored Reagan’s Department of Interior Secretary James Watt in how to fire him. The case became infamous, because then Special Counsel (OSC) Alex Kozinski overruled his staff’s  recommendation to stay the termination, and then repeatedly tutored Watt’s attorneys in how to  rewrite the proposed termination to pass legal muster. When the truth about the abuse of power by the OSC under Kozinski came out several years later during confirmation hearings for Mr. Kozinski’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals nomination, the scandal drew 43 Senate opposition votes and subsequently prevented Kozinski’s planned upgrade to the Supreme Court.

On Earthbeat, Spadero shares his concerns about the inadequate number of well-trained health and safety inspectors for the country's mines, and suggests that better mine safety inspections could have prevented the Massey mining accident and others but for political interference from administration officials in league with coal state senators.

Our Latest: Calderon, Thailand, and the Myth of Overtaxation

May 25, 2010 ·

Nuclear test in Marshall Is., 1954Obama doesn't appear to be altering his predecessor's policy toward Mexico, Manuel Perez-Rocha says, after Calderon's visit last week.

"We in Haiti are committed to staying a county where organic, biological agriculture dominates. We know that Clinton and the multinationals, the IMF and the WTO, have another plan for us - one based on the import of GM seeds and food aid, one based on making us grow for export, including growing for agro-diesel. But we're putting on pressure to say: no, that's not what Haiti needs, here is what popular Haitian organizations want, here is our agenda." Part of an interview by associate fellow Bev Bell.

People in the Marshall Islands have sacrificed their health and their homeland for U.S. national security interests, writes Bob Alvarez. The Obama administration should correct this injustice.

FPIF columnist Walden Bello explains how and why the riots in Thailand occurred.

Is overtaxation our phoniest problem? Associate fellow Sam Pizzigati explores the myth in his Too Much Online blog.

IPS friend and ally Antonia Juhasz asks, "How far should we let Big Oil go?"

Love in a Time of Climate Crisis

May 20, 2010 ·


Do yourself a favor and check out this amazing 8-minute interview with poet, architect, activist and director of Friends of the Earth International Nnimmo Bassey. It sums up the mood of the Cochabamba indigenous moment and the climate crisis -- as a love story -- better than anything I've seen.

Senate Introduces Climate Bill

May 12, 2010 ·

A Coast Guard crew skims oil on the Gulf. CC license: Wikimedia commonsJohn Kerry and Joe Lieberman managed to introduce the climate bill today, despite both the growing off shore oil disaster in the Gulf (now with dying dolphins) and the recent coal mine tragedy. John Kerry believes the bill has a good chance of passing by the end of the year, despite Republicans throwing oil and gas industry fundraisers for some of their candidates. Lieberman said it "represents a market-driven partnership between the public and private sectors, to reduce carbon pollution and lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil."

How does this bill compare with the House bill and the clean energy bill? There's a great chart, via ClimateProgress, that compares the three.  

But this legislation, in whatever form the sausage-makers spit out, is far from perfect. Our own Daphne Wysham, who heads our environmental project (SEEN), is concerned that the bill does far too little. And in light of the BP oil disaster, it's clear that there needs to be much more regulation and oversight of corporations like oil companies that are involved with toxic substances. And Jeff Biggers wonders about the merits of "ensuring coal's future," as outlined in the bill.  

We need to hold up the BP and Massey incidents as evidence that we need to move beyond petroleum and get serious about alternative energy and curbing emissions. Especially since, according to The Onion, the stupid environment isn't even willing to meet us halfway.

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