Nuclear power plant flood risk: Sandy was just a warm-up

December 19, 2012

The Northeast seaboard is chock-full of nuclear power plants. Sandy, for all its wrath, was only a Category 1 hurricane. Climate change will drive more severe storms, raise sea levels, and increase flood risks. To what extent has the industry and its regulator taken these projected climate change consequences into account?

Environmental groups whistling past the graveyard?

November 01, 2012

In the face of gains by proponents of fossil fuels, some groups are in denial, and others are hunkering down. Only a few are exploring new strategies to go on the offensive to change the now-dominant media and political formula that environmental health and sustainability must take a back seat to job creation and economic growth.

Business-killing cuts to state court systems

October 03, 2012

According to data from the National Center for State Courts, 42 state legislatures reduced their state court budgets between 2008 and 2011. A variety of cutbacks ensued — including staff layoffs, reductions in courthouse hours, and pay cuts for courthouse personnel — and many state judicial systems have consequently slowed down. Businesses use the courts far more than anyone else. Are some businesses that have genuine grievances throwing up their hands and accepting their losses because of the prospect of increased delays and higher costs? 

Stanford researcher readily acknowledges limitations of study on organic versus conventional food

September 10, 2012

The recent study has gotten widespread press attention for the proposition that organic food is not safer to eat than non-organic food. But one of the study’s lead authors acknowledges that a series of health and safety issues relating to non-organic foods were not examined.

Robin Hood, nearing European victories, still struggling to awaken in the U.S.

July 30, 2012

A "Robin Hood" tax — a small fee on stock, bond, and derivative transactions that has been supported by some high-profile, center-right EU political leaders — is likely to be enacted soon by several EU countries, including Germany and France. Here in the U.S., an activist coalition that favors a financial transaction tax to help generate the revenue needed to protect and expand government programs — and to deter what it considers the destabilizing and unproductive role "high-frequency trading" — is just gearing up. Thus far, despite the introduction of several FTT bills, a majority of national Democrats have stayed silent on the issue.

What ever happened to “I think I can”?

June 26, 2012

The Cuomo administration is studying alternatives for improving train service between New York and Albany (and on to Buffalo), but the fastest options — true high-speed rail service — have already been ruled out. It turns out that the approach the administration describes as putting the state “on track to the rail system of the future” won’t go all that fast, abandoning the potential benefits that some say true high-speed rail would bring to New York.

Against the Grain

November 01, 2010

On April 28, 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard was mulling a desperate “controlled burn” of a giant oil slick then bearing down on the Louisiana coastline. For nearly a week, 42,000 gallons of oil a day had been gushing uncontrollably from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. There was no longer any doubt that the U.S. faced one of the worst environmental disasters in its history.

Slowed Food Revolution

July 06, 2010

Morse Pitts has been cultivating the same land in New York's Hudson Valley for 30 years. His operation, Windfall Farms, is the very picture of local, sustainable agriculture. From early spring to late fall, the farm's 15 acres are luxuriant with snap peas, squash, mint, kale, and Swiss chard. Its greenhouses burst with sun gold tomatoes and an array of baby greens. Pitts, who is in his 50s and is tall with gray hair, doesn't use chemical fertilizers or pesticides or any genetically modified seeds. He cultivates biodiversity, not just vegetables.

Carbon Offset Buyers Beware

May 03, 2010

Even though climate legislation is stalled in Congress, the business of voluntary carbon offsets is thriving, thanks to the abundant guilt and concern of the world's most wasteful consumers. Not only does Al Gore pay to counteract his heat-trapping gases; so do Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and high-profile gatherings including the Oscars. Companies have formed mostly in the United States, Europe and Canada to sell the notional product that is offsets.