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Sierra magazine
Up to Speed: Two Months, One Page

Van Jones, founder of the Oakland, California-based Green for All organization, joins the Obama administration as a special advisor on green jobs.

Right-wing radio host Michael Savage warns that Jones and his "greenshirts" are "on the verge of deputizing and arming an army of gangs who will threaten, intimidate, and arrest anyone who refuses to go along with the new green agenda."

First Lady Michelle Obama plants an organic vegetable garden on the White House grounds.

The Mid America CropLife Association, which represents the pesticide industry, tries to talk the First Lady out of it: "While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made [CropLife officials] shudder. . . . We sent a letter encouraging [the Obamas] to consider using crop-protection products."

The EPA requires pesticide manufacturers to test their products for their effects on human reproductive systems.

President Barack Obama orders a moratorium on new permits for mountaintop-removal mining until the EPA decides whether burying streams under rubble is a problem.

The birth rate for U.S. teenagers increases for the second year in a row. U.S. teens are ten times more likely to get pregnant than Dutch teens.

What's the Republican plan to deal with carbon emissions? asks George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week. "The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical," responds House minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). "Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you've got more carbon dioxide."

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 90 percent of the greenhouse-gas emissions from cows and other livestock (methane, by the way, not CO2) comes from burps, not otherwise.

Does burning coal contribute to global warming? asks CNN. "I don't know," responds Joe Lucas, spokesperson for the coal-industry-funded American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. "I'm not a scientist."

Announcing major new investments in research and innovation, Obama tells the National Academy of Sciences that "the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over."

The EPA declares that CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases endanger public health. If Congress doesn't pass climate-change legislation, the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases administratively.

Jon Wellinghoff, head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, says renewable-energy technology is so far advanced that the United States may never have to build another coal or nuclear plant.

California's Pacific Gas and Electric agrees to buy power from a company that plans to beam it to Earth from an orbiting solar farm.

China spends six times as much as the United States (as a percentage of its GDP) on greening its economy.

More people are taking public transportation than at any time since 1956.

Obama announces plans to pump $8 billion of stimulus funds into high-speed and intercity rail lines.

Ford Motor chair Bill Ford calls for a gas tax.

A federal court throws out a Bush-era proposal to allow .

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar agrees with a Bush-era rule limiting protection for polar bears from the effects of global warming. If nothing is done, polar bears could disappear from the wild by mid-century.

California closes its commercial salmon season for the second year in a row. At fault are water diversions to Central Valley farms, too-warm waters in the Pacific, and overreliance on hatchery fish.

Astronomers discover Gliese 581 e, a potentially habitable,

Earthlike planet. But it's more than 20 light-years away. — Paul Rauber


 

Photos and illustrations, left column, from top: iStockphoto/sbayram, iStockphoto/Andyworks, iStockphoto/Albachiara
Photos and illustrations, right column, from top: iStockphoto/uriash, iStockphoto/luismmolina

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