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Earth Day: Now about as Green as St. Patrick’s Day? – April 22, 2014

From epic day of citizen action to marketing gimmick in just 40-odd years

It probably has something to do with the fact that I’m one of the last sentimentalists standing in this ironic age, but I’ll admit that I get a little misty eyed when I think about the first Earth Day.

Do you remember it? Can you imagine it? On April 22, 1970 some 20 million Americans in cities and towns across the country turned out for a coordinated day of action to express their desire for a society that would live more conscientiously with this one and only planet. People picked up trash on beaches and in streams, they planted gardens, they organized and attended environmental teach-ins, they marched and chanted and… more

by: Jason Mark

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A Way to Come Together on Public Lands Conservation – April 14, 2014

If Congress doesn’t like President Obama’s national monument designation, it should pass the dozens of pending wilderness bills

Late last month the House of Representatives passed a bill that would restrict the president’s ability to fulfill a key part of his stated agenda. No, this wasn’t the umpteenth vote to repeal Obamacare. Rather, the “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act” would severely constrain the president’s power to conserve wildlands via the Antiquities Act. As the bill’s sponsor, Utah Republican Congressman Rob Bishop, explains it: “The president ought to formally be required to consider the input of local communities and states prior to declaring new national monuments.”

Sleeping Bear Dunesphoto by more

by: Jason Mark

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Eco Euphemisms Confuse Our Understanding of Environmental Destruction – March 28, 2014

What’s in a word?

In his now-classic essay, “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell warned: “Political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. … But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.”

photo of a steam-shovel in the process of removing a verdant land to expose bare soilJulia Kilpatrick, The Pembina InstituteBoreal forest “overburden” being cleared for tar sands mining in Alberta, Canada.

Orwell’s insights are as true today as they were in 1946, when he wrote the piece. Calculated euphemisms clutter… more

by: Jason Mark

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Sharecropping 2.0 – March 3, 2014

Institutional investors eyeing US farmland. Beginning farmers often priced out.

There’s a global land rush underway. While human population continues to grow, the amount of arable farmland on the planet is essentially a fixed resource, and in recent years worries about long-term food security have spurred a drive to snatch up agricultural lands. Enterprising journalists and watchdog groups have revealed the ways in which poor farmers, often in Africa, are losing their land to big investment companies and giant agribusiness outfits that want to turn small landholdings into export-oriented plantations to grow food for wealthier nations. Here’s how reporter Andrew Rice explained the situation in an article published in The New York Times Magazine in 2009: “A variety of… more

by: Jason Mark

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Outgoing Greenpeace Executive Director Reflects on Lessons Learned – February 14, 2014

Exit Interview: Phil Radford

Last month Phil Radford announced that, after five years on the job, he was stepping down as executive director of Greenpeace USA. Before serving as ED, Radford was Greenpeace’s organizing director, during which time he more than doubled the group’s membership. photo of a man looking forwardIn the 10 years since he joined the Greenpeace staff, the landscape of social change activism in general, and environmental campaigning in particular, has changed dramatically. Just think: 10 years ago there was no Facebook, no Twitter. No one outside the oil and gas industry had heard of fracking and few people had seen Al… more

by: Jason Mark

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