Monday, September 30, 2019

Maine launches its Climate Council, charged with slashing emissions

Last Thursday I covered the opening launch event of the Maine Climate Council, the 39-member body charged with coming up with detailed plans to slash Maine's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 (a requirement set in statute) and to make the state carbon-neutral by 2045.

The event, keynoted by Governor Janet Mills and former US Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy, was attended by what became a standing room only crowd of more than 200, most of them movers and shakers of one sort or another: department commissioners, top officials at agencies, non-profits and municipalities, legislators and business leaders. The emphasis was on taking real, concrete action, rather than talking about it.

Details in the story. Hope you enjoy.

For background on the governor's commitments to make the state carbon-neutral -- made at her speech before the United Nations General Assembly last week -- start here.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Maine's governor in effect represents US at UN Climate Conference

This week, as the Trump administration has become mired in impeachment proceedings, I've been knee deep in climate coverage for the Portland Press Herald, much of it the result of Maine Governor Janet Mills being invited to speak before the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.

Mills, who took office in January, was the only official from the US among the 93 people invited to speak before the General Assembly at Monday's summit. She was also the first sitting Maine governor to address the body.

Here's what she said to the world there. (Please follow Maine's lead.)

Here's what she did the following day. (Meeting lots of foreign officials who now know they'd best spend their time speaking to state and city leaders, rather than the US federal government.)

Last week, I wrote updated about how climate change is affecting the Gulf of Maine and how Maine is finally responding after years of inaction under former governor Paul LePage, a volatile Trump-Tea Party-wing Republican.

Tomorrow's story is also on climate change, which makes six in a row. There may be a pattern here.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Covering Climate Now and the Gulf of Maine

Ahead of United Nations Climate Summit in New York next week, more than 170 news outlets have signed on to Covering Climate Now, an effort organized by the Columbia Journalism Review, The Guardian, and The Nation to have reporters release local, national, and global climate stories in a singe week. This week in fact.

The Portland Press Herald signed on to the effort, and the first two stories -- by yours truly -- appeared in yesterday's Maine Sunday Telegram and today's Press Herald.

The first is on the unfolding climate crisis in the Gulf of Maine, the second fastest warming part of the world's oceans, a phenomenon scientists have linked to the rapid meltdown of the Arctic region and Greenland ice sheets, with have altered the qualities of the currents that feed the Gulf. This is essentially an update on what has been learned or experienced since our six-part series on the issue, "Mayday," appeared in 2015. (It got some additional national attention after being named a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.)

The second -- in today's paper -- is on the policy response. After years of inaction under Republican Gov. Paul LePage and his partisan allies in the legislature, Maine is now moving aggressively to make up for lost time, under a new governor and Democratic-controlled legislature. Congress, however, is still stalled. Details within.

My Press Herald colleagues continue the series this week, starting tomorrow with a story on woodlot owners and carbon sinks.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

United States nationhood and my forthcoming book

I recently completed my sixth book, which I expect will be on sale in the summer 2020. It's on the struggle to create a story of United States nationhood, told via the lives of the key figures who fought it out in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

I'll have a lot more to say about it in the coming months, but I riffed a little on some of the themes in this blog post for the Law & Liberty blog, "The fraught battle to create an American nationhood." (That should really read "United States Nationhood," of course.) Hope you enjoy this small hors d'oeuvre.

This was itself a product of an academic symposium I participated in out in Boulder, Colorado this winter on "Liberty and the American Character." Some of my fellow participants have blog posts on their takes on this topic, including Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen, Villanova's Colleen Sheehan, and Michigan State dean emeritus William B. Allen.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Reviewing DeParle's book on migrants in Washington Monthly

Jason DeParle, a George Polk Award–winning reporter for the New York Times, embedded with a family of Manila slum dwellers thirty-three years ago and has kept contact with them ever since, allowing him to do something remarkable in his new book. A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves tells the story of global migration through the experiences of a single migrant family over three generations in intimate, often eyewitness detail. It’s a journey that starts in a one-room shanty open to rats and rain and ends on a cul-de-sac in a newly constructed Texas City subdivision. 

I had the privilege of reviewing  the book for the new issue of Washington Monthly and hope you'll take the time to read it and the book. It's a story that will leave you better understanding how the world works today and where we’re likely headed.