Good News/Bad News November 7, 2002

Despite this week being a horribly black one for the nation and the planet, you wouldn't really know it from looking at environmental news. We've not seen this many positive developments for months, although this week will almost certainly prove to be the calm before the storm. Let's just say that while we're definitely going to be keeping an eye on the ANWR, we’d also like to sit back and enjoy the moment!

Good News

Thanks to the right-wing's triumphant Tuesday, Bush is much more optimistic about his lousy energy bill. However, it'll take much more than a 2-vote majority to overcome congressional opposition to drilling in Alaska.

And then, in a completely unexpected development, the U.S. this week signed a treaty to protect seed diversity. Call us cynical, but there's gotta be some kind of profit for Monsanto et al. in there.

In judicial trumping of the right-wing agenda this week, several promising events: first, a federal court in Indiana refused to throw out a coal-plant pollution lawsuit. Next, the federal court in San Francisco (the folks who brought you the Pledge of Allegience brou-haha) has issued an injunction to block the Navy's new sonar system, which has the unpleasant side effect of killing sea life with its high-intensity signals. And finally, five years after the fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed activists to sue police for pepper-spray abuses. That's the fascist trifecta that got softly spanked this week: corporate rule, military supremacy, and the police state.

However, here's some more cynicism: If/when Bush gets all his judicial appointments, this sort of development will most likely go to hell ... example! The federal gov't is seeking immunity for the next five years from any lawsuits stemming from their unwillingness to protect manatees.

Hooray for nature! A microbe living in the bottom of the Hudson River can neutralize toxic chemicals in groundwater.

Now, when the headline says "Viagra Swells Scarce Animal Count," it's not what you think. It's not even bad news! When we read that, we figured Merck or Eli Lilly were going to find a way to sell Viagra to the Forest Service, and then those exotic beasties would, you know ... well anyway, it turns out that people who have in the past turned to ancient Chinese medicine for aphrodisiacs, which include rhino horn, elephant tusk, and seal penises (seriously), are instead looking to Viagra to get their jollies. Whatever works, folks. Whatever works...

Amidst all the laughing here, let's not forget that there is now, and will continue to be, plenty of Bad News:

Among the many disappointing results of this year's elections, Oregon's pioneering GM-labeling bid failed mightily, as did Berkeley's organic, shade-grown, fair-trade coffee measure. Shocking reminder that we're still in the minority, even in that capital of hippiedom...

Water news: China's Three Gorges Dam project has begun, and it is supposed to "Tame the Yangtze." Much like the Colorado River got tamed so well that it doesn't always flow to the sea these days.

You thought the water in [insert your town here] was bad? Water in Maricopa County, Ariz., is so bad it can cause headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance and bodily control, seizures and hallucinations. That's pretty bad. Except maybe for them hallucinations.

Here's the most creative use of putting a happy face on a sad situation. Australian officials have found the positive side to that country's crippling drought: Aussies! It is your civic duty to shower together! That sort of water-saving tactic could even work in some parts of the U.S....

Meanwhile, a report released this week by the Natural Resources Defense Council showed that at least four California cities' water supplies have deteriorated to the point that pregnant women and infants should most likely refrain from drinking water from the tap. No reports of hallucinations just yet, but since we live in one of the affected areas, we'll be sure to keep you all posted. Thirty bucks a gallon should be the going rate for “da kine” water.

Some parties are trying to claim that growing non-genetically modified soy beans is destroying the rain forest in Brazil, but they seem to be missing out on this facet of the argument: thanks to widespread genetic drift from the accursed biotech beans, conscientious farmers have to continually move their crops to keep them pure. Zot! Living clean is a double-edged sword, now and always.

Matt Wheeland is getting spammed for having his email address here. Won't you write him and make it all worthwhile? He's also an AlterNet Fellow.

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