Category Archive: Opinion

Op-Ed: Bag the Ag Gag Law

(Photo/Jessica Farris)

(Photo/Jessica Farris)

In 2012 Utah became one of eight states to pass so-called “ag gag” legislation, criminalizing undercover investigations at factory farms, but it is the first state where this law is being challenged in the courts.

In July the Animal Legal Defense Fund, with advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and several reporters, filed suit to overturn the ag gag law, calling it a violation of constitutionally protected freedoms of speech.  The official title of Utah Code 76-6-112, “agricultural operation interference,” belies what the plaintiffs say is an attempt to quash the journalistic tradition of exposing unlawful industry practices for the benefit of society.

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Covering the Ivory Crush

IMG_5888Last week I had the privilege of covering the United States ivory crush in Commerce City, Colo. for the Center for Environmental Journalism and OnEarth.

The U.S. has been stockpiling confiscated ivory — from tusks to idols to bangles and bracelets — for over 20 years. Until now, the bulk of this ivory was stored in the repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

But on November 14, officials from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lugged the six tons of ivory out of the warehouse and into a rock crusher. While many other countries have burned their stockpiles, this is the first time the U.S. has destroyed its ivory — and the first time ivory has been mashed into pebble-sized pieces.

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Who Should be Rocketed into Space?

Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), captured during the 'Opening Remarks' at the Annual Meeting 2008 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Jan. 23, 2008. (Photo/World Economic Forum). (via commons.wikimedia.org)

By Tom Yulsman (originally posted at CEJournal, Dec. 20, 2011).

As anyone who used to read CEJournal probably knows, I went into semi-retirement from blogging last spring. The time commitment played a role. But so were doubts I harbored about what I was contributing to move conversations forward on issues like environment and energy. But as the year draws to a close, a breach of journalistic standards by Grist has gotten me out of the rocking chair.

In their eagerness to toss red meat to their readers, Grist and Mark Hertsgaard, author of its story about the “Extreme Climate Risks and California’s Future” conference, accepted uncritically the idea that Rajendra Pachauri jokingly advocated that climate change deniers should be rocketed into space. When it was shown that Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, never said such a thing, Grist sort-of kind-of corrected its story — but not its screaming tabloid headline.

(see Grist’s updated story for editor’s note and apology).

So forever more, Grist’s readers and countless other climate activists, will think of Pachauri and the IPCC as being on their ‘side.’ Climate change skeptics will be confirmed in their false suspicion that the IPCC is a hopelessly biased activist organization, rather than a policy-neutral scientific assessment body. Pachauri and by extension the IPCC have yet again had some of their credibility chipped away. And thus the cause of climate change mitigation Grist and Herstgaard so passionately advocate for has been undermined.

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