Category Archives: Climate Change

Yes, Mr. Revkin, we are stuck with “Blah, blah, blah, … bang.”

A series on the environmental movement’s quandaries with framing and staying on-message

By Eleanor Burke

The Tortoise beat the Hare. David took down Goliath. Charlotte’s web-weavings saved Wilbur’s bacon (so to speak). A great story’s lessons enthrall us: Tenacity and wits can overcome arrogance and strength. Know your enemy’s weaknesses. Use your gifts for good purpose. These lessons weave themselves into the tapestry that becomes our cultural worldview—not because of childhood naïveté, but because, at any age, a good metaphor sinks a taproot into one’s soul. Continue reading →

Climate Change–Why Such a Media Hot Potato?

By Eleanor Burke

Whether you are a red voter or a blue one, if you sit inside a closed car in the sunshine on either a cold winter’s day or a 95˚ summer’s day, you know the greenhouse effect is real. No matter that the car’s windows are made of glass, while the Earth’s atmosphere is made of gases, the heat-trapping effect of either is a scientifically proven fact. Since the 1850’s, scientists have demonstrated that certain substances, such as glass, CO2, and methane, trap heat and cause temperatures to rise inside their domain. The science on this phenomenon is, as they say, “settled.”

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Going Viral

A series on the environmental movement’s quandaries with framing and staying on-message

By Eleanor Burke

image from gregcraven.orgIndependence, Oregon is a one-traffic-light town about an hour and a half south of Portland. It seems an unlikely place to launch a viral video campaign about how not to argue the truth or falsehood of climate change, but then again, it’s Oregon. People here can hold both blue and red beliefs at the same time. I made the trip from Portland to meet the third “different kind of environmental communicator” in this series. Greg Craven, a science teacher at the local high school, is a man on a mission. It all started five years ago with what he calls an “Oh, shit! moment.”

(Image from

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On the first day of Lyme Season…


On the first day of Lyme season…

My backyard gave to me: five nymphal ticks, four white-footed mice, three chipmunks, two shrub-eating deer, and the acorns from an oak tree. Each of these factors, not just the deer and the ticks, plays an important role in current epidemic levels of Lyme disease in the northeastern U.S. Many towns in the region are culling, or considering culling the deer population in an effort to lower the incidence of Lyme. Studies indicate they may be shooting at the wrong critters. Continue reading →

Offsetting your carbon footprint? RECs? Huh?

How effective and/or practical are U.S. “voluntary markets” to curb carbon emissions?

by Eleanor Burke,  August 2010

Carbon Markets: Venturing into the Labyrinth

Carbon offset economic theory is a labyrinth that would confound even the Minotaur who lives within it. Theseus, a mythological Athenian hero, managed to slay the Minotaur while it slept, and found his way back out of the maze by following a golden thread. We will follow Theseus’ golden thread into the labyrinth to attempt to conquer—by understanding—the beastly notion of what it means to “offset” one’s carbon footprint.

First we will distinguish between the mandatory carbon markets and the voluntary markets. This will allow us to narrow our focus to the voluntary market, which can be a leaping off place to understand the bigger global one. We will consider its tools, how—or if—they work, and whether this economic instrument is an effective way to promote clean energy production and diminish dirty[i] energy production, that is, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and begin setting the ship of climate changing on a less disastrous course. Continue reading →