Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a journalist based in New York.

Recent Articles

Living and Working in One New York Neighborhood

One reason that New Yorkers use so much less energy than other people? A lot of us don’t go very far to get to work. In its annual study of New York City housing and neighborhood, New York University’s Furman Center looked for the first time at commuting patterns and found that “11.5% of employed New Yorkers work in the same neighborhood in which they live.” They also found that in neighborhoods that provided a lot of jobs -- neighborhoods that many people from other neighborhoods travel to in the morning and leave at night -- an even higher proportion of residents stay put for work. In Greenwich Village and the Financial District, for instance, the Furman Center found that 30.2% of the workers who live in the neighborhood also work there. Most of these neighborhoods, however, are really expensive to live in: Chelsea, Midtown, Stuy Town, Williamsburg, and the Upper East Side are all on the list. And people living in the more affordable boroughs, Queens and...

No Money for Land Conservation

I wrote back in March that Republicans were unhappy with the administration's "wild lands" policy, which lets the Department of the Interior use public lands for conservation. The policy doesn't put public lands out of commission permanently but provides the option to keep the land wild, instead of developing it for uses like recreation or mining. According to the fact sheet the House Appropriations Committee put out this morning, Republicans have found a way to squelch this idea. The new budget bill, the release says, "includes a limitation on the use of funds to implement the Bureau of Management's 'Wild Lands' policy." It just goes to show that, since Republicans now have the power of the purse in Congress, they can do more than just complain about their dislikes.

Weird Weather Led to Texas Wildfires

The Christian Science Monitor does a good job of putting the wildfires raging across Texas into context: Drenching rains from hurricane Alex last July caused a huge plant bloom, which was largely killed off by this year's uncommonly cold winter across the southern US and northern Mexico. Added to the driest March in state history, those factors set up a massive tinderbox that has exploded with devastating effect. ... So far, up to 650 blazes have scorched 400 square miles of rolling plains in west Texas. ... By comparison, Texas saw 167 wildfire blazes last year. What the Monitor doesn't say, though, is that these extremes -- uncommonly cold winters, hurricanes, and droughts -- are exactly the sort of weird weather patterns that climate change engenders. Scientists can't tie any one dramatic weather event (Hurricane Katrina, say) to climate change, but they do know that patterns of extreme and unusual weather will become more common as average global temperatures rise.

Large Spending Cuts Come When Wars End

The White House wants everyone to know that the deal President Obama cut with Speaker Boehner over the weekend counts as " the largest annual spending cut in our history. " That's as measured in total dollars, of course. The cuts account for less than 1 percent of the government's overall spending and can't compete with massive cutbacks after World War I or World War II, when spending decreased by fewer dollars but in leaps and bounds as a percentage of the budget. In theory, the Iraq War is ending, but we are still increasing spending on defense , albeit at a slower rate. But the government still needs to spend money to save money on Iraq, and the White House reported that "we avoided deep cuts in international programs that, among other things, threaten our transition out of Iraq." As Think Progress points out , the U.S. is spending almost twice as much as it was on defense a decade ago, when we were already spending a lot on defense. It's mind-boggling to think about what would...

The End of the Cheap Beach Vacation

Most of the time, we hear about how climate change is going to engender destruction, create refugees, and generally wreak havoc. But it's also going to create all sorts of little disparities in privilege, like, for instance, who gets to go to the beach. In the new issue of Orion magazine, writer and climate activist Bill McKibben writes about the irony of holding last December's United Nations climate conference at Cancun, where beautiful beach-front hotels were built on a shaky compromise with the environment: To make the white sand beaches more gringo-friendly, the beaches were stripped of coconut trees, and indeed of all native vegetation…[The hotels] are so heavy that they're literally pressing the peninsula into the sea, which is of course rising. This setup has left the beach even more vulnerable to storms and erosion than it would be otherwise. And because Cancun's economy now depends on providing sand for tourists to stretch out on, anytime storms sweep away sand, the...