Greenlike Spree: EnviroChic

No Impact Man

“During the past few years, one book after another has organized itself around some nouveau-Thoreauvian conceit. This might consist of spending a month eating only food grown in an urban back yard, as in ‘Farm City’ (2009), or a year eating food produced on a gentleman’s farm, as in ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ (2007). It might involve driving across the country on used cooking oil, as in ‘Greasy Rider’ (2008), or giving up fossil fuels for goats, as in ‘Farewell, My Subaru’ (2008).

“All of these stunts can be seen as responses to the same difficulty. Owing to a combination of factors—population growth, greenhouse-gas emissions, logging, overfishing, and, as Beavan points out, sheer self-indulgence—humanity is in the process of bringing about an ecological catastrophe of unparalleled scope and significance. Yet most people are in no mood to read about how screwed up they are. It’s a bummer. If you’re the National Academy of Sciences or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the Pope or Al Gore, you can try to fight this with yet another multivolume report or encyclical. If not, you’d better get a gimmick.”

Writing in, of all places, The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert examines the pretensions of EnviroChic as represented by Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man in“Green Like Me”.

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Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Neanderthal Fall

Homo sapiens neanderthalensis skull

Scientific American offers an interesting short (six minute) video on the demise of the Neanderthals.

Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Peakaboo Oil

Earlier this week, the New York Times carried an interesting opinion editorial from Michael Lynch, energy consultant and former director for Asian energy and security at the Center for International Studies at MIT. “‘Peak Oil’ Is a Waste of Energy” debunks the notion that global oil production is peaking or has peaked, with all its implications of impending socioeconomic catastrophe.

Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Senate Vacancies and Appointments

Capitol, Washington DC

USA Today offers an editorial on the question of the Massachusetts senatorial succession, arguing Let Voters Replace Kennedy; alternatively, the Boston Globe urges that the Massachusetts legislature quickly change the law and reinstitute gubernatorial appointment of an interim senator. It’s a subject that has been thrust into the news with increasing frequency in the past few years (think about the Illinois and New York situations most recently), as emphasized in yesterday’s item New Focus On Senate Succession Practices in RealClearPolitics.

Virtually every state has a different method for filling such vacancies (Kansas has largely unrestricted gubernatorial appointment powers). If you want to explore the nitty gritty details of the question (aside from picking up a free copy of the Constitution on our Citizenship & Constitution Day this next month), take a look at the Congressional Research Service report from March of this year, Filling U.S. Senate Vacancies: Perspectives and Contemporary Developments. You might also wish to see another Congressional Research Service document, from 2003, House and Senate Vacancies: How Are They Filled?

Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 11:10 am  Leave a Comment