- September 27, 2008 6:50 PM
By Glenn Hurowitz
"There's always a bull market somewhere," goes the old Wall Street saw, and it's a principle that Washington needs to keep firmly in mind as it contemplates its trillion dollar financial bailout. Today, that bull market is in green investing, which includes everything from wind and solar power to forest conservation.
Since 2001, the wind industry has grown 339 percent; the solar industry has grown a whopping 579 percent, and both are projected to continue their blockbuster double digit annual growth into the forseeable future. In contrast, the Dow Jones average has climbed just 2 percent during the same period, and is only barely hanging on at those levels because of the artificial boost produced by talk of the bailout.
Instead of shoveling good money after bad, Congress should put its money into developing this booming green economy even further.
Truly green companies aren't just providing returns to investors. They're also an employment engine that is offsetting the job losses related to the high price of oil and the housing collapse. Tens of thousands of people are today employed making wind turbines, installing solar panels, and making American cars more efficient. But those jobs could be only a very small beginning compared to what is possible.
A recent report by the Center for American Progress estimates that investing just $100 billion in the green economy (or one seventh the amount contemplated in the administration's proposed Wall Street bailout) would create 2 million new jobs, with a significant percentage of those coming in the struggling manufacturing and construction sectors. In contrast, investing that much money in the financial services sector would generate just 1.1 million jobs, according to an analysis conducted by the study's authors, Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier of the University of Massachusetts. In other words, Wall Street's offering about half the jobs for the same money: hardly a smart bet for the taxpayer.
- August 17, 2008 2:04 PM
Illustration: Dale Stephanos
By Jeff Inglis
....The people who back Obama may be energetic young progressives, but they are not unlike the vast majority of Americans when it comes to what they look for in a candidate. Glenn Hurowitz, a longtime progressive activist, explains in his book Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party that a major factor determining any voter's choice is whether the candidate fights well (a characteristic described in polling data as being a "strong leader").
That trait, Hurowitz argues, trumps most other concerns -- even differences of opinion on major policy questions (though not party affiliation). His book, based on a new analysis of 40 years of election and polling data, suggests that the reason the far-right conservative movement has risen to control the American political system is not due to any particular intelligence or ability on the part of right-wing activists, who espouse positions vastly divergent from most Americans' values. The rise of the right has happened because Democrats and progressives refuse to stand and fight for what they believe in...
Hurowitz's research shows that when progressives and Democrats take and hold principled stands on issues, they gain respect from voters (even those who disagree with the particular position) and emerge as popular leaders, even if their stand fails. So if Obama had objected, fought, and voted against the bill, people's opinion of his leadership abilities would have increased, whether or not the bill ultimately became law.
- July 21, 2008 5:39 PM
By Glenn Hurowitz
Pope Benedict XVI, like many world leaders, has spoken passionately about the urgent need to protect the planet from climate catastrophe. But unlike his fellow heads of state, the pontiff has actually created a carbon-neutral economy -- and done it cheaply and quickly.
The Vatican announced last year that it would restore 37 acres of forest in Hungary that had been cut down in the Middle Ages. Those growing trees will absorb enough carbon dioxide to offset all the pollution from the fossil fuels used to power Vatican City.
The reason this "Vatican model" succeeded while other countries struggle to achieve even modest emissions reductions is because of the unique qualities of forest conservation and restoration. Compared with other methods of reducing climate-changing pollution, such as switching to wind, solar or geothermal power, it's fast and relatively cheap. That's true on a small, Vatican City scale as well as a massive American scale.
- June 27, 2008 10:53 AM
By Glenn Hurowitz
It's no secret that over the past several months, John McCain's Straight Talk Express has become the Zig Zag Local. After a career as a maverick, McCain suddenly decided to embrace the conservative establishment in hopes of building something like the money and grass-roots machine that powered President Bush to victory.
The weird thing about this newly obedient McCain, however, is that he's drawing close to the Bush establishment at the very moment when it and its policies are widely blamed for America's deepening malaise. At a time when the rest of the country is experiencing a Bush hangover, McCain is just popping the champagne. He's gone from being a maverick who defies the establishment to a kind of gonzo maverick who defies the people -- and that's a very dangerous thing for a presidential candidate.
When, for instance, President Bush pushed his tax cuts for the ultra-rich during the early years of his administration, McCain opposed them, even though the tax cuts enjoyed relatively strong public support. Now, when Bush and his economic policies have fallen into disrepute, McCain is campaigning to make them permanent.
- May 23, 2008 10:49 AM
UPDATE: Featured on NPR's Bryant Park Project. Check out www.theproblemwithpalmoil.org for more information.
By Glenn Hurowitz
While showering a few weeks ago, I realized I had run out of conditioner. So I reached up and grabbed my wife's bottle -- Clairol Herbal Essences Rainforest Flowers, "with essences of nourishing palm."
The label caught me slightly by surprise. As an environmental journalist, I've been writing about the ecologically destructive effect of palm oil for some time now.
Whether it's used as an additive in soap, cosmetics or food, or processed into a biofuel, palm oil is one of the worst culprits in the climate crisis. Most of it comes from the disappearing, ultra-carbon-rich rain forests of Indonesia and Malaysia, of which a whopping 25,000 square miles have been cleared and burned to make way for palm oil plantations.
That burning releases enough carbon dioxide into the air to rank Indonesia as the No. 3 such polluter in the world. It also destroys the last remaining habitat for orangutans, Sumatran rhinos, tigers and other endangered wildlife. So what was this deadly oil doing in our otherwise ecologically friendly apartment?
I started to inspect other items on our shelves. Despite our efforts to keep our family green, we'd admitted into our home several products containing palm oil: Burt's Bees soap, chocolate truffles from Trader Joe's, Kashi breakfast bars, Whole Foods water crackers and many others.
Read more articles by Glenn Hurowitz.