Monday, November 7, 2011


Clean coal is an oxymoron, and our addiction to coal is only hardening:
The world is in the middle of a coal rush. That is why last year — despite much political posturing about curbing greenhouse gas emissions — the 5.8-percent rise in global energy-related CO2 emissions marginally exceeded the global rise in energy consumption. Thanks to coal, the world’s economy is becoming more carbon intensive.
Cynics who said tougher carbon controls in rich nations might increase global emissions by outsourcing energy-intensive industries to poorer nations with laxer standards are, for now at least, being proved right. While many Western economies stall, many developing economies are growing fast. And the continuing heavy dependence of many of them on coal is pushing up the global economy’s reliance on the dirtiest fuel.
When the playing field is tilted in favor of polluters so that they mustn't pay the true costs, then dirty fuels will win. Especially when the supposedly free-market-worshipping Repubs seek to ensure that alternatives don't get a fair chance:
Let’s face it: a large part of our political class, including essentially the entire G.O.P., is deeply invested in an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels, and actively hostile to alternatives. This political class will do everything it can to ensure subsidies for the extraction and use of fossil fuels, directly with taxpayers’ money and indirectly by letting the industry off the hook for environmental costs, while ridiculing technologies like solar.
The EPA is failing to regulate some of the most flagrant violators of Clean Air rules. Good thing the Repubs want to scrap EPA regulations completely. After all, no more regulations means no more violations — dirty air problem solved!
Another reason many communities still face too much toxic pollution in their air is that companies self-report their own pollution, and many are allowed to estimate the quantity of toxic chemicals.
In a lot of cases, annual estimates are based on only one hour of monitoring the exhausts from a plant. For other facilities, no actual measuring is required.
"The monitoring is shockingly bad," says Eric Schaeffer, a former chief of an EPA enforcement office who now heads a watchdog group called the Environmental Integrity Project.
Policies and regulations aimed at curbing nutrient inputs into the Chesapeake Bay are showing success in reducing the severity of “dead zones.” Given that efforts to control run-off and other sources of nutrients have increased in recent years, there's hope yet for the Chesapeake.

A long commute is bad for your health. Down with sprawl; up with legitimate mass transit!

[B]roaden[ing] our definition of educational success” beyond the high-school-as-college-prep followed by B.A/B.S. model:
We should see equal worth and dignity in high school and post-secondary programs that include apprenticeships and contextual learning and that do not rely solely on the bachelor’s degree as a sign of skill mastery. The ultimate goal of education should be for individuals to discover things they love to do, and learn how to do them well. That’s the process and outcome we should value. We should stop assuming it only comes via a bachelor’s degree.
Ringling Bros. abuses its elephants. When will we realize that animal-based circuses are nothing but exercises in cruelty?

Looks like we were a bit too optimistic about applying the new method of measuring poverty — the new poverty measure actually shows that the poverty rate last year was higher than many had thought. Our minimal social safety net only goes so far.

And since douchenozzles from the Heritage Foundation and their ilk are glossing over the new poverty numbers, ignoring inequality, and pretending that poverty isn't a real problem (“The poor have refrigerators! And air-conditioning! Clearly, they're living the good life on as much as $22,350 for a family of four.”), it's probably time to re-visit this clip from The Daily Show.

One potential way to resolve the crisis in student debt.

Just when does partisan gerrymandering cross the line into unconstitutionality? It's not so clear.

Other than spending billions of dollars on pointless kabuki theater, it's not especially clear what else the TSA has accomplished. (Actually, that's not true — their agents have also racially profiled me on repeated occasions. They're pretty good at that.)

Really, NY Times? You gave in to the silly arguments of Tebow's religious defenders? Religious athletes are nothing new, so the defenders of Tebow who claim that the backlash against him is motivated by religious bias are claiming victimhood where it doesn't exist. The issue is not that Tebow is religious, it's that he's an overbearing, sanctimonious prick. Being over-hyped and completely awful sure doesn't help matters.

Sexual harassment is shockingly prevalent in middle and high school. As expected, girls suffer more than boys. The one area in which harassment of boys matches girls? Homophobia-based harassment.

Drink your water; your kidneys will thank you.

Two of my favorite things? Maps and profanity. So clearly I enjoyed this heat map of naughty word usage on Twitter.

Pictures of salt.

Given GOP efforts to intentionally sabotage the economy for electoral gain, this might be the only way to get a jobs bill passed.

What to get your favorite crafty friend for Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanza/Being Awesome? Ang has the answer from the JapanLand.

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