Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a journalist based in New York.

Recent Articles

Marching on the White House to Protest Keystone XL

[Back in September]( ), the writer and climate activist Bill McKibben joined with other leaders in the environmental community in a call for ideas on direct actions the climate movement could take to jostle Americans into caring about climate change. Now [he's inviting like-minded people]( ) to come to Washington in mid-August for a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline, which will bring tar sands oil from Canada to Texas oil refineries. McKibben explains: > "*[T]he Keystone Pipeline would also be a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous.* > How much carbon lies in the recoverable tar sands of Alberta? A recent calculation from some of our foremost scientists puts the figure at about 200 parts per...

Time for Al Gore to Be Quiet About Climate Change

In the new issue of *Rolling Stone*, Al Gore [writes at length]( ) about climate change, climate change deniers, and the media's role in affirming them. I think it's time for Al Gore to be quiet about climate change. In his article, he comes off as accusatory and ranty. He goes after the media for being an unfair referee of the climate debate, then rattles of a series of facts that some parts of the media, at least, have been instrumental in uncovering and disseminating, like how wealthy deniers have financed quack climate science or hired an army of lobbyists. He also goes over the same points he's been peddling for years. Thanks, Al, but at this point our consciousness has been raised. Anyone who's receptive to this message has received it, I think, and those who aren't receptive are resistant in part because they don't like Al Gore or the politics he stands for. Gore is doing what he knows best: getting on...

Do Motorcycles Belong in Nature?

I never thought of hiking and biking and swimming and picnicking, the activities that draw me to mountains and lakes and forests, as a privileged category of outdoor recreation. But to off-highway vehicle enthusiasts, the federal government is unfairly supportive of my type of "non-motorized recreation," while it restricts access to or closes the motorized trails that they prefer. One of the things that Republicans want to do with national forests, parks, BLM territory and other public lands, [instead of conserving them]( ), is ensure that off-highway vehicle users get a crack at using them for recreational purposes. A series of witnesses representing OHV interest groups or businesses [are testifying before Congress this morning]( ) that "OHV recreation is an important part of what defines our people and needs protecting through...

Making Conservation Energy Efficient

Farmland in America, particularly in the Northeast, has been disappearing for decades, ceding to suburban and industrial development, track homes, malls and McMansions. States and nonprofits have pushed back against these pressures by using tools like conservation easements, which separate development rights from the land. Some states, like New Jersey, have spent more than $1 billion on buying up development rights. This strategy doesn't necessarily keep land affordable or in active use as farmland, but it has kept a place like New Jersey from succumbing completely to sprawly houses and corporate campuses. Now New Jersey is facing a dilemma: Should it allow wind turbines on farms in its conservation program? Unlike suburban housing or parking lots or malls, wind turbines could can be built on a farm without disrupting its work: the base of the turbines take up an acre of land, which on mid-sized farms leaves plenty of room to grow vegetables or graze livestock. They would also provide...

How Big are Subsidies for "Big Wind"?

I wrote [the other day]( ) that, in terms of lobbying expenditures and political contributions, "Big Wind" is trailing far behind Big Oil. [Via Clean Technica]( ), this graphic from a 2010 report by the Environmental Law Institute illustrates how much smaller subsidies for "Big Wind" and other renewables have been than subsidies for fossil fuels. The chart only covers subsidies from 2002 to 2008. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act put some money towards wind and solar that's not included. But recent subsidies would have had to be huge to catch renewables up with fossil fuels; in the period covered in the chart, the federal government gave more money directly to fossil fuels than it gave to renewables in both direct spending and in tax breaks.