a greener washington?

by jennifer mccharen
This year will surely bring welcome changes in the environmental realm. With the end of the Bush era finally at hand, environmental action groups are chomping at the bit to secure the Obama administration’s support for more responsible policy.
  Not that Obama and his team will have to do much to improve upon the Bush environmental legacy. For a fascinating timeline of Bush administration crimes against the planet, check out this document, compiled by the National Resources Defense Council: sierraclub.org/sierra/200409/bush_record_print.asp

It’s a pretty sick read. Here are a few excerpts:
“MARCH 20, 2001 – Bush withdraws proposed stricter limits on arsenic in drinking water…
“MARCH 28, 2001 – Bush administration rejects Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change…
“OCTOBER 17, 2003 – EPA announces it will not regulate dioxins in sewage sludge dumped on land…”
Some of the most important changes to come will be the appointment of new leaders to policy groups such as the US Department of Agriculture. Lately, in the sustainable food blogosphere, there has been a rumble of hope for Michael Pollan, everyone’s favorite ethical-eating evangelist and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, to be appointed secretary of the USDA. While it doesn’t make perfect sense for a celebrated author with no political experience at all to head such a cavernous department, the sentiment is sound. The small farmers and concerned eaters of the nation want an intelligent leader to help craft healthy food policy for the future. Check out The Ethicurean (ethicurean.com), one of the most entertaining and informative food-policy blogs, for updates on the USDA appointment and the next Farm Bill.
  From the foodie perspective, better government support for small family farms, sustainable agriculture and local food initiatives are key. But no matter who you are, changes to our national food policy are imperative. Reducing support for polluting, exploitive agri-business behemoths who produce unhealthy food is a must. Hopefully, we can look forward to increasing support for organic, local vegetable farms, better food for public school children and more food security.
Another important office up for reappointment is head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Agency has long been a nimble tool of the Bush Administration, helping to decimate protective rules for wildlife, clean air and National Park lands, as well as editing scientific documents on climate change to make them seem less dire. Obama is considering New Jersey chief of staff Lisa P. Jackson to lead the EPA. Instead of a trained bureaucrat or lawyer, Ms. Jackson is an engineer with a degree from Princeton–which is certainly a welcome change.
Not all of the coming changes are entirely optimistic, unfortunately. The specter of global warming isn’t going away, and rippling effects from this slow, pervasive shift are coming to our awareness at an ever-increasing pace. Here are just a few:
The first mammal to succumb to climate change, the Australian white possum, has become extinct. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are currently at 385 parts per million by volume, well above the 350 ppm that scientists deem safe. Permafrost, now no longer worthy of the name, is releasing methane and CO2 as it melts. This is a particularly dangerous positive feedback that could further accelerate warming trends.