grist.org — As members of Congress return from their August recess, they have three options when it comes to the farm bill, the multi-billion-dollar bill that shapes everything from food assistance to farm subsidies to farm conservation. They can pass, renew, or flake. Congress may still pass a new farm bill before the current bill runs out in September, but, frankly, the odds of this happening are awfully low. Though highly flawed, the Senate version of the bill — with its significant but fairly equal cuts to farm subsidies, food stamps, and conservation programs — has begun to look like an impossible dream. And, in the eyes of most sustainable food advocates at least, the version written by the GOP-controlled House is a straight-up nightmare.
thenation.com — On January 27, 2010, one year into his term, President Barack Obama used the occasion of his State of the Union address to issue a warning. The Supreme Court had just opened the “floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections.” He was speaking about the ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Court struck down nearly a century of law, granting corporations vast new leeway to influence the outcome of elections. In the months after Obama’s speech, the American Petroleum Institute, an oil industry trade association that represents hundreds of multinational oil and gas companies, would demonstrate just how prescient the president’s warning was.
inthesetimes.com — As a wildfire/flash flood cycle ravages the American heartland, “the climate bites back” may be the 21st century's karmic rejoinder to the hysterical screams of “freedom!” and “property rights!” when it comes to urban sprawl. No doubt, we've long understood the invisible dangers of such sprawl. For years, we've been warned by researchers of the direct connections between unplanned and gluttonous construction projects and human-created carbon emissions. We've been told specifically that suburbanization's spread of population into ever-larger swaths of wilderness inherently results in more roads, more cars, more carbon emissions, more climate change–and thus, more chances for nature-related disasters. But in go-go America, these scientific truisms were no match for McMansion fantasies.
alternet.org — Hurricane Isaac has inconvenienced a lot of people. Many thousands of Gulf Coast residents have boarded up windows and sought shelter inland. And many others are now facing the prospect of cleaning up and rebuilding flooded homes and businesses. But the inconvenienced people we’ve been hearing about most are the pundits and politicians who gathered in Tampa this week for the Republican National Convention. If you’re been paying much attention to the fairy tales of the far right in the past few years, it should come as no surprise that not everyone thinks it was merely a coincidence that the swirling mass of rain and wind known as Isaac appeared on the radar screen just in time to disrupt the GOP’s nominating party and the news coverage of it.
grist.org — “Carbon tax”: There’s something in that term for everyone to hate. For lefties and climate hawks, carbon — as in carbon dioxide, the largest contributor to climate change — is public enemy No. 1. And we all know what folks on the right thinks of taxes. Yet the notion of creating a carbon tax in the U.S. refuses to die — maybe because it’s a creative idea that also holds some appeal across the ideological spectrum. It’s a practical scheme to alleviate global warming — and it’s market-based! Here are some answers to the carbon-tax questions we know you have.
thenation.com — This week, the anti-disaster assistance party scrambled to shuffle its anti-government convention speakers in the face of Hurricane Isaac. Meanwhile, the New York Times reported, “As the American Petroleum Institute planned a concert and a party here to push its agenda, which includes expansion of oil exploration on federal lands, some of its members were ramping down production in the gulf and removing workers from platforms.” Welcome to Republicans’ “split-screen” convention week. On one side of your TV screen, competitive condemnations of the government boot on the American economy’s neck. On the other: a dangerous storm that dramatically symbolizes the need for strong infrastructure, sane environmental policy and solid emergency response. Unlike the Republicans, the storm won’t talk. But the contrast speaks volumes.
guardian.co.uk — There are no comparisons to be made. This is not like war or plague or a stockmarket crash. We are ill-equipped, historically and psychologically, to understand it, which is one of the reasons why so many refuse to accept that it is happening. What we are seeing, here and now, is the transformation of the atmospheric physics of this planet. Three weeks before the likely minimum, the melting of Arctic sea ice has already broken the record set in 2007. The daily rate of loss is now 50% higher than it was that year. The daily sense of loss – of the world we loved and knew – cannot be quantified so easily. The melting disperses another belief: that the temperate parts of the world – where most of the rich nations are located – will be hit last and least, while the poorer nations will be hit first and worst.
alternet.org — The Democrats have nothing to lose. And everything to gain--especially the health and lives of residents in the coal mining areas of central Appalachia. Calling it "Judy's plank," in honor of beloved West Virginia mountaineer Judy Bonds, whose untimely death in 2011 served as a wakeup call to the mounting humanitarian and health care crises from mountaintop removal mining, the Democratic Party platform should officially include a commitment for an immediate moratorium on the devastating form of strip mining at their national convention in Charlotte on September 4th.
thinkprogress.org — The Obama administration is about to promulgate fuel-economy and carbon-pollution limits for 2017 to 2025 model cars. These essential standards will reduce oil use, save families money from lower gasoline purchases, create jobs, and reduce emissions responsible for climate change. Under these new standards U.S. companies will produce vehicles that employ modern fuel-saving technologies and ensure that their cars remain competitive with foreign models during future oil and gasoline price shocks. Recent events reemphasize the importance of reducing dependence on oil with its volatile price. Gasoline prices are rising again due to supply concerns related to sanctions on Iranian oil. In addition, the anticipation of economic growth that increases demand could enable speculators to bid up oil prices.