From a skybox, on a clear day you can see forever

May 26, 2004

Julius Caesar, the Roman emperor, would have perfectly understood the fetish of building sports stadiums in America.

Consider Miami, the poorest big city in America, where politicians recently promised a professional baseball team 130 million tourist-tax dollars for a new stadium. A few years ago, elected officials in Miami answered the question of what to do with a new basketball arena that couldn’t attract enough revenue or people by building another one a few blocks away, so taxpayers and tourists are paying for two arenas. Read the rest of this entry »


Before the day, the day after tomorrow

May 20, 2004

Then it took a book, not a movie. People could look around and see for themselves how industrial pollution had wrecked the countryside. When enough people looked, back in the 1960s, concern for the environment reached a tipping point. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring struck a chord whose time had come to be played.

Once the public’s imagination had been engaged, in a decade the U.S. Congress passed the nation’s most important federal environmental laws protecting America’s clean air and water. For President Nixon—who did support those laws—the environment helped to deflect attention from a war that dragged the nation down.

It was the stuff of Greek tragedy: how a bad decision, uncorrected by better judgment, sets off a chain reaction whose consequences might have been stopped if not for flaws of character. Read the rest of this entry »

Oceans infested by worms of misdirection

May 6, 2004

The heart of the preliminary recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, appointed by President Bush, is that oceans should be adaptively managed to protect ecosystems of great commercial, recreational and wilderness value.

The language mirrors the original intent of Everglades restoration. Congress needs to understand what has happened in the few short years since it authorized measures to restore the Everglades or risk an outcome to our oceans that our nation cannot afford. Read the rest of this entry »

So long, thanks for the fish

May 1, 2004

Time flies. It has been 35 years since the Stratton Commission reported to Congress on the state of our oceans. From its conclusions grew measures like the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act, intended to protect our marine environment and species of immense commercial, recreational, and wilderness value.

In 2000, Congress authorized the Oceans Act, and, as a result President Bush appointed the U.S. Commission for Ocean Policy to provide the first federal update in decades. The commission’s preliminary report is now in the hands of the nation’s governors and soon will be delivered to Congress. Read the rest of this entry »