Weekend Reader for Sunday, Dec. 3

Top news and notes for your weekend reading

Oysters, horse-trading the environment for tax bill votes, and much more.


According to the Washington rumor mill, the long-anticipated departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may be at hand. The cruel irony for environmental advocates is that they may long for the day when the ExxonMobil lifer and former CEO was in charge at state.

His potential replacement is CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson was a voice of relative moderation in the Trump cabinet, though his push to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate accord failed.

In his three-term congressional career, Pompeo earned a 4 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters. He has close ties to enviros' worst nemeses, the Koch Brothers, and his Wichita, Kansas, district means he was literally the Kochs' congressman.

A clever piece from Angus McCrone, chief editor of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, muses "If only I were a climate and clean energy skeptic. Then I could stop wasting time worrying about the planet." Then he demolishes the most common climate denial memes.

Check out other weekend newspaper editorials on the pesticide chlorpyrifos and pipelines, among others (below).

And from our friends at Living On Earth, a new kind of divided Congress: An interview with the co-founder of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, whose 62 members are equally divided between Republicans and Democrats.

Top Weekend News

The Senate has passed its tax reform bill over criticism that most Americans will lose ground. So might the Alaskan environment: Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski was a late convert to the bill when she attached a rider clearing the way for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And a piece in the Atlantic mulls how native villages could thrive or suffer if drilling is increased.

Ironic, since other reports show Arctic ice off the Alaskan coast at record early winter lows.

A nice piece for Sunday brunch: Mobile Bay Magazine on oyster farmers and their need for clean, fresh water. Alabama, Georgia, and Florida have been battling for 20 years about water use.

This Week In Trump

From Mashable's Andrew Freedman: The pick for top science advisor sticks out like a sore thumb among other Trump nominees -- he thinks global warming isn't a hoax.

And EPA's program to assess chemical risks is facing the budget chopping block.

EPA dropped an Obama-era rule requiring mining companies to prove that they have the financial means to clean up after themselves.

As if to prove that a lack of self-awareness is a political asset, convicted coal baron Don Blankenship is spending money on a campaign to get elected West Virginia's next U.S. Senator.

Opinions and Editorials

Good News

Generally, we're not the place to come for good news, but we're more than happy to share it when it comes around.

We thought we'd revisit this piece from summer on the promise of satellite technology to help monitor illegal logging, mining, and poaching, as well as offering more reliable data on some wildlife populations and behavior. Richard Conniff's piece for Yale Environment 360 is hopeful, and doesn't even get into the role of satellite monitoring of pirate fishing.

Deniers' Corner

If climate denial were an Olympic event, James Delingpole would be a gold medal contender. But alas, he'll have to settle for a denial merit badge for his linking climate concern to the Nazis. Shameless.

newrepublic.com

The Socialist win in Bolivia and the new era of lithium extraction

An apparent victory for Evo Morales’s Movement Toward Socialism shows that tomorrow’s green energy won’t look much like the old oil empires.

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www.newyorker.com

How should the media talk about climate change?

Genevieve Guenther, a former Renaissance scholar, studies how we discuss global warming—and how we don’t.
www.newyorker.com

The West Coast wildfires are apocalypse, again

In a year of lost normality, the fires’ outlandish size and reach signal that normal is gone for good. Yet these fires are not the end of the world.
www.dw.com

Celebrity endorsement of environmental causes: Does it work?

Famous people are often lauded for using their public image to raise awareness of environmental issues and causes. But do these campaigns make any difference?
thenarwhal.ca

B.C. election: where the NDP, Greens and Liberals stand on climate and environment issues

As Sonia Furstenau's Greens pledge to end oil and gas subsidies and Andrew Wilkinson's BC Liberals promise to expand LNG, John Horgan's NDP sticks to the middle road.

news.mongabay.com

Deforestation threatens to wipe out a primate melting pot in Indonesia

An evolutionary crucible in Indonesia that's given rise to a unique array of primate is at risk of disappearing due to rapid deforestation, a new study warns.

news.mongabay.com

Fire burns Pantanal’s upland heart and threatens nature’s fragile balance

2020’s record Brazilian fires, which devastated the Pantanal wetlands, also reached the Amolar Mountains in recent weeks, a refuge for jaguars and other wildlife, and home to traditional Indigenous villagers.