"There are many quasi-religious practices in our increasingly secular era: consumerism, drunkenly cheering the local sports franchise, playing Quidditch at Ivy League universities, the 'Cult of Mac,' etc. Unlike these ritualized amusements, environmentalism is actually spiritual. It combines the oldest forms of nature worship with the Good and Evil of monotheistic faiths and the transcendence of Buddhism, all leading to a utopian goal of an Earthly Paradise—a state of grace with creation, which is exactly what saints and seekers have always pursued…. So what would happen if 10 million or 50 million religious environmentalists suddenly appeared on the national scene?"
"We’ve gone way beyond organic food, and Starbucks is passé. Organic cleaners have become a barometer."
"I used to get irked with Toyota Prius owners. These guys are notorious for driving below posted speed limits, slowing to a stop far out from a stop sign or light, taking their sweet time when the light turns green or creeping through parking lots so silently that they startle pedestrians. [...] Now, I'm one of those annoying Prius drivers. 'I can't believe you,' my lovely wife said to me the other day. 'You drive like an old man.'" —Why do Prius drivers drive like that? Because they are basically playing a video game with the mileage.
President Obama has been in a little bit of trouble lately for not having enough women and minorities in his cabinet. It's too bad he doesn't just point to himself and say, "Did you notice I'm a minority? Presidents used to own people who looked like me, until very recently, in geologic time." But instead, Obama is diligently trying to find women and minorities in their various habitats, such as corporate boardrooms.
Sally Jewell, a former oil company official and corporate banker, seems like the perfect candidate to protect our public lands from the greed and destruction of oil companies and Wall Street. But her business experience is not [...]
Good news, maybe, about our challenging situation here on the only available habitable planet: Today's climate change study (from Norway) says maybe the 1990s were worse for global warming than the 2000s, which means …. we can go back to five steaks a day, and McMansions, and Hummers?
New estimates from a Norwegian research project show meeting targets for minimizing global warming may be more achievable than previously thought. After the planet’s average surface temperature rose through the 1990s, the increase has almost leveled off at the level of 2000, while ocean water temperature has also stabilized, the Research Council of Norway said in a statement on its website.[...]
While the Republicans in Congress were distracted by Benghazi and tax cuts and being crazy old men, Barack Obama stealthily created a new national park in California. Is this the beginning of the Obama Administration's bold action on the environment and climate change, which until now hasn't been bold at all? Maybe.
Pinnacles National Park was also signed into existence over the lines of an existing national monument dating back to 1908, when Republicans were the environmentalists. The ragged volcanic landscape and habitat for the humongous (and critically endangered) California Condor runs along the San Andreas Fault, 80 miles southeast of San Francisco. But because [...]
"Biologists first encountered the cancer in the late 1990s. The tumors grew on the devils’ faces or inside their mouths, and within six months the animals were dead. The first cases appeared in eastern Tasmania, and with each passing year the cancer’s range expanded westward. When scientists examined the cells in the tumors, they got a baffling surprise. The DNA from each tumor did not match the Tasmanian devil on which it grew. Instead, it matched the tumors on other devils. That meant that the cancer was contagious, spreading from one animal to another." —Nature, in all its weird and terrifying glory, is killing off the already endangered Tasmanian [...]
"Bloomberg is expected to use part of his address to push initiatives that would increase the number of parking spaces for electric cars and begin recycling more plastics and food waste. The mayor who has taken on smoking, sugary drinks and salt is also expected to talk about working with the City Council to ban Styrofoam food packaging from stores and restaurants." —Just 12 years into his life term as mayor, Michael Bloomberg is now coming for your takeout containers.
Unless he is actually the Terminator, alleged maniacal killer and ex-LAPD cop Christopher Dorner died yesterday in a burning vacation cabin near the Southern California mountain resort town of Big Bear. And for the first time in probably forever, Big Bear is at the top of the news. As often happens when little-known places make the headlines, cable news hosts struggled to understand the mysterious place—did it have access to television or the Internet?—and people on Twitter mocked the confusion of the cable news hosts, while Big Bear residents used Twitter to say things like, "I was literally looking at the house Chris Dorner was at from the [...]
A common wild animal that lives throughout the San Francisco Bay Area is leaving local residents scratching their heads in utter amazement. The animal, a coyote, became trapped in a backyard in the popular Mission District. Who has a backyard in the Mission? Mark Zuckerberg? Let's say "Mark Zuckerberg." He trapped a coyote in his immense backyard behind his mansion, which violates your privacy.
"Mission District Coyote is telling no tales," reports the local CBS website. What did Mark Zuckerberg do to this coyote, so that it cannot tell tales? What is a wild member of the canine family if not a beloved storyteller? "A wayward coyote trapped [...]
Longtime American enemy Iran made another bold move in its passive-aggressive hostilities toward Washington by … let's see, by reportedly sending a monkey into space. Who would do such a thing, to a monkey?
Press TV, the state-run satellite broadcaster, said the animal was launched in a space capsule code named Pishgam, or Pioneer. The development coincided with continued stalemate in the unrelated Western effort to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear enrichment program, which Western powers maintain is designed to create nuclear weapons technology—an assertion Iran denies.
So, sending this animal into orbit for a moment "coincided" with the "unrelated" 35-year problems Iran has with its [...]
I think it's good to have a pet animal. I know there are people starving and war and stuff and we should probably focus on humans, but pets are highly therapeutic for a lot of people who are lonely or don't relate to other humans very well, and while I am not exactly a huge fan of those depressing abused-animal commercials with the Wendie Malick voiceover on TV, there are lots of abandoned animals that would make good pets for people. Mostly dogs, I think? Dogs are the most popular pet, yes? I mean, maybe fish could outnumber 'em on a pet-to-owner ratio, but if you did it on a [...]
Barack Obama said more about climate change in his inauguration speech—and expressed it more forcefully—than he did at any point in the 2012 election campaign and during much of his first term [...] He made a carefully calibrated appeal to Republicans, situating a transition from fossil fuels to clean energy in a religious and conservative framework of God and constitution.
The Earth and its many forms of life were thrilled to hear the American president mark his second inauguration with a long overdue promise to save the planet from human ruination. Since the Frankenstorm made it okay for centrist Democrats (and a handful of moderate Republicans) to acknowledge that [...]
"The male bear, known as M13, was shot dead by wildlife rangers on Tuesday, said Adrian Aeschlimann, spokesman for the Federal Office for the Environment. 'The cull was carried out according to the management plan for bears in Switzerland,' he told AFP on Wednesday." —Imagine that quote in the original German.
Where did the whole vegan thing come from? I always figured it was a 1970s thing, or maybe it went back to Berkeley in the early 1960s. According to the Vegan Society, the non-dairy/egg-free vegetarian craze began in London back in 1944. That was not a fun year to be in London, what with the aerial bombings and rocket attacks. Here's what they said in the very first issue of their newsletter:
That freedom has now come to us. Having followed a diet free from all animal food for periods varying from a few weeks in some cases, to many years in others, we believe our ideas [...]
You're not going to escape this one. According to this NASA satellite photo, the best thing to do is buy ALL the booze and cigarettes and pizza and batteries from the very nearest bodega and then just hope to Christ that Netflix Streaming doesn't go out. But it will go out, along with the power.
In positive news, it will be very beautiful after the storm. Just be careful not to step on frozen people and frozen stray pets, under the foot or three of fresh snow. What are your storm-coping tips?
"The Municipal Transportation Agency—and residents' love-hate relationship with the notoriously late and overcrowded public transit system—has been the bane of many mayors, with current Chronicle columnist and former Mayor Willie Brown once famously saying he would fix Muni in 100 days. That was in 1995." —Even though San Francisco has the only real public-transit system of the Western United States, it's still kind of a mess. It's also what New Yorkers talk about during the three months they spend shivering in the frozen dark of winter: "Oh but that Muni system, that's why I could never live in a beautiful coastal city where it never gets cold but ladies can [...]
If you do care about the poor dolphin in the Gowanus, our man Dave Bry has been out there for hours.
The biggest car market in America is California, and the top-selling car in California is now the Toyota Prius hybrid. Does this mean America has fallen out of love with the pickup truck that has dominated U.S. automobile sales since Reagan first made "living like Southerners who need a pickup truck" the keystone of his domestic policy? Maybe!
The F-series Ford pickup has been the best-selling American "car" since Reagan was president. The sales of Ford pickups even increased by 10% in 2012, because the recovery of the housing market allowed housing industry workers to replace their old pickups. We have a very weird (and completely unsustainable) economy in [...]