Headline of the Day

Romania my get even tougher on witches

That’s journalistic artistry.

Category: Journalism

Quote of the Day

Bart Verheggen, a climate scientist and an unfailingly temperate voice in the climate wars (who inexplicably was not invited to the recent Lisbon climate conference), implores:

I’m all for bridge building, but let’s at least make sure that reality remains somewhat in view while standing on the bridge.

Category: climate change

The Climax

It’s a good day when forest ecology and the prevalence of movie sex scenes can be discussed in the same breath.

Category: ecology

Quick & Dirty News

Charlie Petit flags an interesting divergence in coverage of a recent NGO report on mercury pollution. Actually, it’s a case where one environmental reporter seems to have done a little more-um, reporting.

Category: Journalism

The War Food Memoir

Annia Ciezadlo, a talented writer (and a former editor of mine) has just published her first book, which got a glowing review in yesterday’s NYT:

There are many good reasons to read “Day of Honey.” It’s a carefully researched tour through the history of Middle Eastern food. It’s filled with adrenalized scenes from war zones, scenes of narrow escapes and clandestine phone calls and frightening cultural misunderstandings. Ms. Ciezadlo is completely hilarious on the topic of trying to please her demanding new Lebanese in-laws.

These things wouldn’t matter much, though, if her sentences didn’t make such a sensual, smart, wired-up sound on the page. Holding “Day of Honey” I was reminded of the way that, with a book of poems, you can very often flip through it for five minutes and know if you’re going to like it; you get something akin to a contact high.

I can’t wait to read Annia’s book.

Category: Annia Ciezadlo, middle east

Global Warming & Kids

On Sunday, a NYT review of Mark Hertsgaard’s new book on global warming began this way:

I haven’t had the talk yet with my kids: my 11-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. I mean the one about global warming, about what’s coming. But then, we grown-ups haven’t had the talk yet among ourselves. Not really. We don’t seem to know how: the topic is apparently too big and scary. Or perhaps, for the uninformed (or misinformed), not scary enough.

There is no reason to have “the talk.” My six year old came home from school yesterday and promptly informed me that he learned about global warming. (Fortunately, they didn’t see fit to scare him senseless.) Several years before that, while still in preschool, he proclaimed one day that I had to stop driving our car because the teachers said that cars caused pollution, which killed animals.

I also send him to a weekly after school science class (and science camp in the summers), where he sometimes learns about the environment and various threats to wildlife.

I don’t have a problem with any of the aforementioned teachings, since I’m of the mind that budding awareness (put in proper perspective at such a tender age) is preferred to ignorance.  Of course, my wife and I balance all this gloomy stuff with celebratory nature walks and hikes, vacations in national parks, and so on. (We even had his 5th birthday party take place in an urban nature sanctuary.) A certifiable bug nut, the boy has a thing for worms and ladybugs. That’s the way it should be. I want him to marvel at an ant colony without worrying unduly about what life may be like in 2025.

My job as a parent (among the many!) is to keep stoking his curiosity and exposing him to nature’s wild side, while placing all those larger concerns he brings home from school in a context that doesn’t make him neurotic with fear for the future.

Category: climate change, environmental education, global warming

The Awakening

If you have time for only one long-form journalism story this week, read “The Apostate” by Lawrence Wright in the current issue of the The New Yorker. (The story is not behind a paywall.)

Wright’s piece is superb on multiple levels- as a profile of a wayward young man who goes on to become an acclaimed screenwriter and filmmaker; as a deep dive into one of the strangest and most successful religious cults; as a larger portrait of a subgroup within a famous entertainment community that has been brainwashed.

No doubt, Tom Cruise, the most famously outspoken devotee of this cult, will be called on for damage control.

Category: cults, Hollywood, scientology