Climate Whine Fest?

Fred Pearce’s verdict on the Lisbon climate reconciliation:

Much time at the meeting was taken up bitching rather than conciliating.

Gee, what a surprise. Doesn’t Pearce read climate blog threads?

To be fair, this confab seems to have become Roshomon-like, according to Werner Krauss.

UPDATE: There’s a dust-up related to Pearce’s New Scientist dispatch that Joe Romm is all over here. Also, see the comment from grypo below.

Category: civil discourse, climate change

Why Do We Love the Suburbs?

That’s another way of framing this question from Kevin Drum:

Why Do We Hate our Cities?

But I’ll play along and just say there’s plenty of anti-urban bias to go around, including among nature-loving greens who have historically loathed cities. So the larger problem, I’d argue, is as much cultural as it is political.

Category: urbanism

The Egyptian Inkblot

The uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt continue to be a fascinating ink blot. Peak oil is now another instigator being thrown into the volatile mix. (It’s not clear to me if declining oil reserves would count as as trigger or underlying cause.)

As Andrew Revkin noted earlier this week, “everyone with an agenda seems to be able to find it reflected” in the unrest sweeping through the Arab world. However, one of the catalysts being claimed that didn’t make his list are the recent WikiLeaks embassy cables, which the New York Times and several other publications mined for revealing and titilating nuggets. In his cover story for last week’s NYT magazine, Bill Keller, the top editor at the Times, asserted:

WikiLeaks cables in which American diplomats recount the extravagant corruption of Tunisia’s rulers helped fuel a popular uprising that has overthrown the government.

Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi shares this belief.

But back to the peak oil link now making the rounds. Here’s the popular environmental website TreeHugger, starting to connect the dots (garbled grammar and all):

It may not seem on the surface of it all that the revolution sweeping the Middle East in the past few weeks only has a tangential green connection, but if you look just beneath the surface-as more people are beginning to do-that connection is right there.

I’m all for making connections, but be careful of digging too deep, or you could end up going down this rabbit hole.

Category: Egypt

At the Barricades

The big news and the big picture is captured by Anthony Shadid in his NYT dispatch, starting with this pitch perfect opening line:

The future of the Arab world, perched between revolt and the contempt of a crumbling order, was fought for in the streets of downtown Cairo on Wednesday.

His piece goes on to deliver terrific ground-level reporting (with an eye for the right detail):

The battle was waged by Mohammed Gamil, a dentist in a blue tie who ran toward the barricades of Tahrir Square. It was joined by Fayeqa Hussein, a veiled mother of seven who filled a Styrofoam container with rocks. Magdi Abdel-Rahman, a 60-year-old grandfather, kissed the ground before throwing himself against crowds mobilized by a state bent on driving them from the square. And the charge was led by Yasser Hamdi, who said his 2-year-old daughter would live a life better than the one he endured.

The story pivots deftly from the granular to a wide lens view:

From minute-by-minute coverage on Arabic channels to conversations from Iraq to Morocco, the Middle East watched breathlessly at a moment as compelling as any in the Arab world in a lifetime.

And here’s the kicker, which encapsulates the deeply felt theme of Shadid’s masterful story:

“I’m fighting for my freedom,” Noha al-Ustaz said as she broke bricks on the curb. “For my right to express myself. For an end to oppression. For an end to injustice.”

“Go forward,” the cries rang out, and she did, disappearing into a sea of men.

Category: Egypt