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Tumblr-er faithskilee defends Arch Coal’s lawsuit win, which I posted about earlier today. She states that West Virginia needs jobs, and that Arch Coal’s new permit to blow-up mountains and fill streams will create jobs - and jobs are all that matter. You can read her defense, here and below.

"Here’s the deal. This is the company my Dad works for. He knows the soon-to-be manager of this site. I’m frustrated when people are pissed over things like this. Arch has made significant improvements to be more environmentally friendly. Ultimately, in one of the poorest counties in West Virginia, families can be secure to have an income. Families of workers will never fear mine explosions and our nation can still grow and people can use their computers and turn their lights on. #dealwithit #workingwithnotagainst

She’s wrong.

Overlooking that her tags are in direct contradiction with each other, the facts are that:

  1. Arch Coal has laid off workers nearly every year since 1999
  2. The coal industry has not produced the economic gains it promised WV as far back as 1997. Coal has argued that blowing up the mountains of West Virginia will make the state more prosperous. But, WV is still deeply poor. Why? See Shear Madness, written in 1997.
  3. Arch Coal only employs around 1,000 people in West Virginia
  4. Arch Coal has operations around the world, and is the 2nd largest coal miner in the U.S., yet it employees less than 7,000 people (Wikipedia has it at 3,600 employees, but I’ll take the 7k from a recent PR by Arch Coal) (for context, Exxon has about 90,000 employees, Coke about 150,000, Apple about 45,000).
  5. Only 2% of WV’s jobs are in coal mining (see here, PDF). Of WV’s 790,000 people employed, only 19,000 mine coal. 2%! This mine will do nothing for WV families. (And that 19k number is old, from 2008. Since then, thousands have been laid off and more are on the chopping block.)
  6. Coal kills people.

Arch Coal, despite providing light to people’s homes, is not producing jobs nor improving people’s lives.

</second rant of the day>

I’ve written three pieces for GOOD, and probably will write no more. I’ve covered Egypt’s climate change troubles post Mubarak, the deep irony of Oil companies adapting to climate change impacts, and the little discussed Executive Order by President Obama on climate change.  

I am calling on GOOD to apologize to its readers for publishing this piece of trash:  

Disclosure: These views are my own. 

GOOD magazine has jumped the shark. Once sailing a lean tack, the magazine now seems mastless, grasping for both attention and direction. Their front pages are filled with regurgitated aggregates of schlock and candy.

Just last week, GOOD published a piece on how cigarettes are cool. I’m not kidding you. “The Upside of Smoking,” was posted June 14 by Nona Willis Aronowitz. Nona is no guest blogger, she’s one of GOOD’s associate editors. She helps shape the magazines content (granted, her column is pure fluff that trolls for page views).

In The Upside of Smoking, Nona wrote smoking helps girls lose weight. She argues that smoking is cool. She states that smoking keeps your brain sharp. And that smoking can help you avoid awkward social moments - just fire up a butt and your talkative friend will auto-close his gabber. 

Look, my understanding is that GOOD editors pre-approve content during weekly and/or morning meetings. If so, then this piece got the green light from the masthead. This tells me that GOOD doesn’t give a shit about human health, a rats ass about its reputation, or the effect the article would have on future collaborations with other writers, like me.

Does GOOD or Nona really believe that cigarettes have an upside? No. I think they’re tactlessly trying to stoke flames to increase pageviews, which is just plain trashy.

It also shows that, to my mind, not one of their mastheads has experienced the deep emotional and financial pains from losing a loved one to cancer. And if they have, shame on them! Further, the fact this garbage was published also shows the editors probably do not have kids of an age susceptible to picking up smoking for the first time in their young lives. 

Disingenuous fluff pieces have no place in the pages of GOOD. It’s disrespectful of the type of readership GOOD deserves. Dangerous to its young readers. This trash chips away at the magazine’s credibility. This is the road to failure.

If people at GOOD read this rant and claim ignorance of the content its own editors publish, then clearly there are much deeper problems at the management level. (GOOD, I prefer you reply to me publicly. But if you wuss out, you can reach me here.)

Cigarette smoking is not cool. It fucking kills people. It causes miscarriages and birth defects. The ag-waste and littered-butts pollutes the environment. Growing tobacco causes deforestation, uses loosely regulated pesticides, and is socially stigmatizing. And, apparently, it makes men impotent. To say otherwise is stupid and indefensible. GOOD needs to publicly apologize. 


Why China’s Ghost Towns Matter For the World Economy

It’s no surprise that the global recovery is facing a new round of setbacks, as the IMF reported in a new report issued today. But after high food prices, slow growth, and heavy debt, there’s another potential force emerging that could block the global recovery. 

This one starts with metal. Too much, as it’s turning out. China’s property market is showing signs of rusting. Home buys in major cities are slowing down. Construction outside the megatrapolises has infamously produced dozens of “ghost” towns that are actually more like stillborn cities, because they were designed for residents that never materialized

The People’s Bank of China has raised interest rates four times in the last two years and raised bank deposit requirements 11 times since January 2010, reports Caixin, a Chinese business magazine. This will slow down investment and make it more difficult for the country’s emerging middle class to move out to these theoretical cities. Few analysts are anticipating a full-scale meltdown of the Chinese housing market. But even a moderate dip reverberates.

Read more at The Atlantic

Wrong! The Atlantic gets Chinese growth wrong. The author barely whispers of a connection to the global economy to these handful of empty cities, and to thread interest rates and CPI together based on one IMF report - without question - is just poor reporting. For example, it’s disingenuous to say that the People’s Bank of China raised interest rates four times in the past year without providing context. In 2008, the rate was 5.58%. It’s currently at 6.31%. Big f’n whoop, Atlantic.

How quickly the Atlantic forgets that China just implemented it’s 11th five-year plan, which focuses on slowing growth. So of course they raised interest rates - they announced it months ago, and have been planning it for years.

As for housing bubbles, the Chinese do not have a history of mortgaging property - it’s brand new concept to 100s of millions of people. For the Chinese that do know, they’ve overpriced certain markets vis a vis speculation. But, to say that these regional effects are suddenly impacting global markets belies the fact that the markets were sans such ‘influence’ less then a decade ago! 

Why so much deference to the IMF?? Is the Atlantic a PR firm?? Do some reporting, or at least use google. The rural Chinese aren’t moving to these cities because there isn’t the infrastructure to bring people in. Rural residents barely know these new cities exist. Nor do they have incentive to move to them compared to existing cities, which are thousands of years old, are proven centers of economic stability, and are highly likely to contain family, friends, and other contacts - not to mention well developed routes to get there. New highways to these new cities are just that - new, nothing more. Why expect the poor to instantly be able to purchase a home, or even be interested in it? Certainly not just because they were built. So, yeah, of course they’re empty. The Atlantic can do better than regurgitate reports by the IMF. 

As for high food prices, China’s CPI is relatively and historically pretty low. It’s especially low considering such explosive growth. Does the Atlantic have a better idea as to where it should be considering this type of growth? Yes, it should be way higher, and way more out of control. But it’s not. It’s pretty darn stable. And the Chinese are aggressively regulating and tamping down prices (not to mention purchasing irrigable land in Africa). Further, China is extremely lucky that CPI hasn’t completely exploded due to several several extreme natural disasters impacting the agricultural sector. 

Agreed, China’s empty new cities are a problem. But they’re not a global problem. They’re a regional problem with respect the provinces and to report it as such is not cool. (And don’t get me started on regional corruption!). The Atlantic should stop exciting its readers with fluff pieces like this. 

The Tea Party has a powerful voice, and are supremely skilled at getting their message out. More superior than any group on the left, or the environmental advocacy groups, to my mind. If the response to the Tea Party’s rhetoric is dismissive (or the tired liberal moniker “OMG I’m shocked!”), the benefits of sustainable anything will be overshadowed by successive electoral wins.

I believe that environmentalists are underprepared for the strong offensive gaming of the Tea Party. Repeating facts is good. But, at this point repetition comes at the cost of winning the battle. In other words, the left needs to learn to play offense, and avoid perpetually playing defense.

Environmentalists, again in my opinion, need to master rhetorical argumentation. The facts are on your side, so there’s no exposure to be had by your opponent when arguing rhetorically. Indeed, facts are just more ammunition. Can environmentalists speak with a clear, uniform voice? Can they agree on tight, clear, positive messaging? As it stands, environmental messages are lost. There are too many issues to track, and any benefits are obscured or subssumed. “Fight global warming,” doesn’t create in the minds of the listener a direct, positive benefit, for example.  

"Sustainability means socialism," are three words packaged into a clear message, and delivered by one group. The response from environmentalists is a collective mess of goo. So, what’s the game plan? 


Because the American Dream is alive and well?

Pretty sure the “American Dream” died a few decades ago. We have an opportunity to develop a new “American Dream” or “World Dream” as I like to call it. The future of sustainable development will harness this dream by providing innovative jobs that are paramount to an evolving society.

Did you know that the seemingly geeky, mild-mannered profession of urban planning is actually a breeding ground for social engineers — part of a sinister international plot to rob you of your American Dream?

Well wake up already, people!

The East Bay Tea Party is here to tell you all about it. They have the true story behind the Sustainable Communities Strategy in the Bay Area, a planning effort that would encourage transit-oriented development and density.

And it’s scary! You can tell, because in their video about a recent meeting about the plan, they use the theme from “Also Sprach Zarathustra” as this text flashes on a black background:

The ‘New World Order’ is here … and it has many names … Agenda 21 … Sustainable Development … Smart Growth … Social Justice … Green Energy … Carbon Free … Livable Communities … One Global Vision … Designed by the United Nations … To Strip you of Your Freedom … Your Prosperity … Your Privacy … Your Property Rights … Your Choice of Transportation … Your Piece [sic] of Mind … Your American Dream … They’re Planning Your Future … Right here in the Bay Area … ‘For the Greater Good!’