'/> Uncommon Hours: September 2011
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

SAT reading scores hit an all-time low

A few months ago I posted an article entitled “The Decline of Reading and Who Benefits from It.” This week the College Board released more hard evidence of that decline.

SAT reading scores among college-bound seniors have now hit an all-time low:

Still, in the warped alternate universe of the Republican/Tea Party, the best thing to do in times like this is to cut education programs, even ones with names like "Striving Readers" and "Reading is Fundamental" and "Improving Literacy Through School Libraries." But then, an educated public would not be healthy for a corporate state in which people are "consumers" and corporations are "people."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bush 2.0? Obama Delays Smog Protections until at least 2013

Polluters win, kids with asthma lose

Washington, D.C. – Today, President Obama announced that he has requested that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards that would have protected Americans from air pollution.

In response, Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, issued the following statement:

"The Sierra Club condemns the Obama administration's decision to delay critical, long-overdue protections from smog, an acidic air pollutant that when inhaled is like getting a sunburn on your lungs. By putting the interest of coal and oil polluters first, the White House seems to be saying that 'clean air will have to wait.'

"A healthy economy requires clean air and healthy people, and these protections from smog would have improved our communities and saved billions of dollars in health costs. Half of U.S. families live in places where it is literally unsafe to breathe the air, and kicking the inhaler down the road will do nothing to protect our children.

"We thank the scientists and public health professionals at the EPA for their commitment to science, and we look forward to the day when strong clean air protections will prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of asthma attacks. The Sierra Club and the millions of Americans who have suffered through orange and red-alert air quality days this record-breaking summer will continue to push the Obama Administration to improve this protection in order to save lives and clean up our air."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Al Gore: The Dirtiest Fuel on the Planet

The leaders of the top environmental groups in the country, the Republican Governor of Nebraska, and millions of people around the country—including hundreds of people who have bravely participated in civil disobedience at the White House—all agree on one thing: President Obama should block a planned pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

The tar sands are the dirtiest source of fuel on the planet. As I wrote in Our Choice two years ago, gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil. This pipeline would be an enormous mistake. The answer to our climate, energy and economic challenges does not lie in burning more dirty fossil fuels —instead, we must continue to press for much more rapid development of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and cuts in the pollution that causes global warming.

Cross posted from Al Gore's Journal.