Sierra Daily: August 2010
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15 posts from August 2010

Aug 16, 2010

You Get What You Pay For

Kudos to CNN's Fareed Zakaria for doing what many have tried but not yet accomplished--to get leading climate change denier Patrick Michaels to admit to being funded by the petroleum industry. Thanks to Think Progress for the catch.

Michaels unfortunately failed to identify which oil giants were financing his work, but ExxonMobil has been a key funder of professional climate skeptics. In case you missed it earlier this year, our friends at Greenpeace detailed the petroleum industry's 20-year campaign to undermine climate science in their report, "Dealing In Doubt." Worth a read.

--Paul Rauber


Aug 15, 2010

Welcome to Sierra Daily

As you can see, Sierra magazine's Web site has been given a facelift. Today, in this space, we also introduce our new blog, Sierra Daily -- a source of fresh environmental news from the magazine's editors. Our plan is to fill Sierra Daily with important, current, evocative, and occasionally quirky stories of interest to our well-informed readers. It will also serve as a curated conduit to the magazine's vast archives and to the many blogs, online communities, and green-living tips sprinkled throughout the Club's primary Web site. If you read something here that you like, or don't like, or that simply makes you want to voice an opinion, please join the discussion in our "comments" section. We welcome the feedback, even when it's less than friendly.

--Steve Hawk

"Why Aren't You in the Water?"


Reminiscent of the scene in Jaws where Mayor Larry Vaughn urges an elderly couple to be the first to re-enter the water after the initial shark attacks on Amity Island, on Saturday President Barack Obama and daughter Sasha scampered into a bay connected to the Gulf of Mexico to make the point that Gulf Coast beaches are safe for swimming and recreation.

Obama treaded between encouraging vacationing Americans to return to Gulf resorts and ensuring the country that now that the flow of oil from the Macondo well has been stopped, his administration isn't going to shake off the issue like a drenched Portuguese Water Dog. "Oil is no longer flowing into the Gulf, and it has not been flowing for a month," Obama said. "But I'm here to tell you that our job is not finished, and we are not going anywhere until it is."

The oily mayor of Amity learns the hard way that the waters aren't yet entirely safe, of course. Let's hope the President has better luck as the long-term effects of 4.9-million barrels of oil and at least 1.8 million gallons of oil dispersants are assessed.

--Reed McManus

"Millions of Barrels of Oil Safely Reach Port in Major Environmental Catastrophe"

Millions-Of-large PORT FOURCHON, LA—In what may be the greatest environmental disaster in the nation's history, the supertanker TI Oceania docked without incident at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port Monday and successfully unloaded 3.1 million barrels of dangerous crude oil into the United States.

According to witnesses, the catastrophe began shortly after the tanker, which sailed unimpeded across the Gulf of Mexico, stopped safely at the harbor and made contact with oil company workers on the shore. Soon after, vast amounts of the black, toxic petroleum in the ship's hold were unloaded at an alarming rate into special storage containers on the mainland. . .

What would we do without The Onion?

--Paul Rauber

Aug 13, 2010

Time to Pass the Ammunition

Climatologist Stephen Schneider, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (and Al Gore) and authored Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate (National Geographic, 2009) died last month of a heart attack while traveling in Europe. While sorely missed by those on the front lines of the climate wars, Schneider  left behind plenty of good advice for the scientists and environmentalists who will need to fill his shoes.

"Science is never-ending refinements of truth," Schneider told Sierra in a recent interview. Fully aware that his elegantly simple explanation of the scientific process is nerve-wrackingly unmanageable for media outlets driven by ideology or a desire to reduce complicated climate issues to sound bites, Schneider relished his ability to cut through the complexity, confusion, and obfuscation with metaphor. (“I never lose to these guys,” he said.) Schneider taught fellow scientists and students how to prevail in the communication wars. (To his colleagues too deep to be “debating with the Hannities,” he suggested: “You don’t have to be on the front lines in a bayonet fight. You can pass the ammunition.”)

It’s no surprise that the feisty Schneider also authored a book about his battle with lymphoma titled The Patient from Hell: How I Worked with My Doctors to Get the Best of Modern Medicine and How You Can Too (Da Capo Press, 2005). His recent climate book might as well have been titled The Scientist from Hell: How I Fought the Media to Get the Word Out on Climate Change and How You Can Too.

Two recent interview with Schneider are here and here.

To watch a brief video snippet of the pithy and pugnacious Schneider, click below:

--Reed McManus


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