Category: Environment

Sticking Up for Society’s Most Unloved

We’ll never win a popularity contest, that’s for certain. We’re OK with that. To us, it’s more important to do what’s right than to be liked and admired and affirmed. That’s why we feel comfortable sticking up for society’s downtrodden, the friendless, powerless folks who bear the daily aspersions and derision of those who think...

Climate Change, Clean Coal, and Dirty Propaganda

In the days preceding the storm of the century, two candidates running for President of the United States strenuously assured voters that they would pump more crude, frack more natural gas, and burn more coal than the other guy. Whether or not an energy policy built on a fossil-fuel paradigm could or could not be...

In Praise of Barry Commoner

He had a name that you might call Dickensian, except Barry Commoner, who died this week at 95, was anything but his nomenclature. A man of the people, yes. Common, no. Barry Commoner was uncommon. Today, millions of Earth’s inhabitants believe that overpopulation, increased affluence, and advanced technology are the root causes of environmental degradation....

Litter Forensics

SINCE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHING THIS ESSAY, WE’VE COLLECTED NEARLY 3,000 PIECES OF LITTER IN RUNYON CANYON. The results are in! After nearly one week of highly un-scientific sampling, we’ve collected and analyzed the data. Literally. During the test period, we visited Runyon Canyon, Hollywood’s celebrated nature area, and collected as much trash as we could carry –...

Looking Back on 2012: An Oral History of American Values

I was young like you once. Don’t laugh. It seems impossible, I know. An old codger like me of 77! You probably can’t picture when I was only 47 and healthy, with all my own teeth and a libido that didn’t yet require boner pills. Sure, that was three decades ago, and I look a...

Perverse Priorities

Sometimes our chaotic, unknowable, seemingly random Universe arranges itself with perfect symmetry. In these moments of bracing clarity, authored by a Creator (in whatever guise or nomenclature you prefer) whose sense of irony is matched only by her/his/its sense of wicked humor, our innate foolishness and learned stubbornness are robbed of their pretensions. We see...

What the Frack!?

In 1969, the Cayahoga River, one of Lake Erie’s major tributaries, caught fire. This provided the kind of visual evidence boring old science never could. Folks got hip: Industry, they realized, was using American waterways as a massive free sewage system for their most noxious waste. Americans got serious about pollution in our water for...

Evolutionary Doubts

Mr. Darwin has some ‘splaining to do. Our species, which has managed to rise to the top of the food chain, conquer and colonize every region of the planet we care to inhabit, and control the fate of almost every other species unlucky enough to exist contemporaneously with humankind, seems to be partially exempt from...

Karmageddon

This weekend Los Angeles is enduring what’s being called “carmageddon.” A 10-mile portion of the 405 Freeway, one of the major North-South arteries serving the Westside of LA County (and beyond), including LAX, is closed for 53 hours while a carpool lane is constructed and half of a bridge is demolished and rebuilt. Various degress...

A Simple Plan to Save the World

Here’s how we feed everyone, repair our environment, and provide meaningful work: convert lawns into organic vegetable gardens. Imagine if all the property owners currently pumping water and fertilzer into their grass carpets used our precious natural resources to grow food — healthy, unprocessed, nutrient-rich vegetables. Imagine if vast swaths of public land currently serving...