Jaeah Lee

Jaeah Lee

Associate Interactive Producer

When Jaeah isn't coding, researching, or writing for Mother Jones, she's usually reading about foreign policy, climate change, or new dinner recipes. A lover of mass transit, she can pretty much navigate the New York City subway blindfolded.

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Prior to joining Mother Jones, Jaeah worked as a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, focusing on China. Her writings have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Global Post, Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, and Movements.org.

New Report: CO2 Emissions Cost Way More Than You Think

| Wed Aug. 3, 2011 8:04 PM EDT

Since the Bush years, government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Council on Economic Advisers, and Department of Transportation have been calculating the economic costs of the damage caused by carbon dioxide emissions and the resulting climate change. Depending on who's running the calculation and their methodology (economic modeling based on projected growth, climate behavior, and related physical damages), these estimates currently range from $5.50 and $72 per ton of CO2. A new report, however, says that these estimates are way too low.

In 2010, one ton of CO2 in the atmosphere cost up to $893 in economic damage—more than 12 times the government's highest estimate.

After running an independent analysis, Economics for Equity and Environment (E3), the network of economists that published the report (PDF), found that in 2010, one ton of CO2 in the atmosphere did up to $893 in economic damage—more than 12 times the government's highest estimate. By 2050, the group says, these costs could rise up to $1,550 per ton of CO2 emitted. (A ton of CO2 is approximately what you release into the atmosphere by driving a car for two-and-a-half months.) While the government agencies acknowledge that their estimates are "imperfect and incomplete," E3 says they also omit "many of the biggest risks associated with climate change" and downplay "the impact of our current emissions on future generations."

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Langhorne Slim Hits the Alt-Country Road

| Fri Jul. 22, 2011 9:30 PM EDT
Langhorne Slim (front) and The War Eagles.

Years ago, Sean Scolnick would have told you he's the bastard child of Hasil Adkins, the Appalachian country-and-blues legend known for birthing rockabilly songs like "No More Hotdogs" and "Chicken Walk." He wasn't far off, since, like Adkins, Scolnick spends most of his time on the road, often solo. And with a boyish frame usually found under a vest and a tilted porkpie hat, he's a natural fit against a backcountry landscape.

But Scolnick, better known as Langhorne Slim, hails from the suburbs of northeast Pennsylvania, where he didn't get out much, he says, and was once kicked out of school. That might explain his sidewalk-scuffed style, which transcends the traditional blues genre. Some time after moving to New York for college, Scolnick hit the road and his nomadic career has saved him for most of his adult life from having to to pay rent. Reviewers have compared the 30-year-old singer-songwriter to Bob Dylan and The Avett Brothers (with whom he has toured), and his last album, 2009's Be Set Free, was produced by Chris Funk of The Decemberists.

Scolnick distinguishes himself, meanwhile, with heartbreaking lyrics sung over punk-rock country blues with a dash of Kurt Cobainesque angst. "I’m not sure that there’s any other kind, but the songs I write are love songs," he says. I caught up with Mr. Slim in advance of his July 22 show at The Independent in San Francisco. (Click here for his full tour schedule.) The singer, battling a cold, put up with my questions about hunky bachelorhood, vegetarianism on the road, and why he named his act after his hometown. 

Mother Jones: You grew up in Langhorne, a big Philly suburb, as well as New York City. How'd you get into folk and blues?

Langhorne Slim: I love all kind of music and I think there's a bit of a lot of different styles in my own music. Early blues and folk are to me as raw and real as it gets. I'm most drawn to the roots of various musical styles whether it be blues, rock 'n' roll, jazz, or whatever. For me it's at the beginnings of these forms that they are at their most primitive, honest state.

How I (Almost) Became an Air Guitar Fan

| Mon Jul. 4, 2011 6:30 AM EDT
Contestants and crowd mingle at the US Air Guitar regional championships in San Francisco.

Going to an air guitar show is like going to a three-drink-minimum comedy club. You're never sure how you ended up there. You walk into a room where "Jessie's Girl" is playing, sparsely crowded with Saturday-night patrons borrowed from sports bars, heavy metal shows, comic conventions. Things are running an hour late, and you have to wonder why you're waiting around to watch a bunch of people get on stage and pretend to play the guitar. The merchandise is also pretend: They're selling "air vinyls" at $5 a pop. Air vinyls? "There's nothing on it," explains the woman behind the table. "You can take it home and smash it if you want." (None have sold thus far.)

You consider leaving before the show starts. It's still early. You could probably still make the next screening of the new X-Men movie, and by next weekend you'll already have filed away the experience as just another one of those weird encounters. But ultimately you can't justify leaving, because you just paid $20 to get in. So you go to the bar.

RJD2's Four-Handed Vinyl Orchestra

| Mon Jun. 20, 2011 6:50 AM EDT
RJD2 spins at 103 Harriet in San Francisco.

Somewhere between late Friday and early Saturday, an atrium overflowing with dedicated RJD2 fans waited out the last stretch of a long anticipation. They had driven in from out of town, endured brisk winds standing in line behind velvet ropes, and hurdled testy bouncers outside San Francisco's 103 Harriet nightclub. Once inside, there was more waiting but much sensory stimuli to be occupied with, from the three fiery opening acts and accompanying laser-and-strobe-light shows, to the dance parties in adjacent rooms, three wet bars, and girls twirling around in glow-in-the-dark hula hoops. It seemed only fitting when a guy asked me if I had any cocaine.

Why Bolivia Still Won't Sign a Global Climate Agreement

| Wed Jun. 8, 2011 1:31 PM EDT

Pablo Solon, Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations, might be the world's most ambitious climate negotiator. But his reputation is more notorious than renowned. In 2009, when Bolivia (with one other country) boycotted the Copenhagen Accord, Solon said his country would not support a proposal based on voluntary carbon emission reductions rather than legally binding targets. A few months later, the US denied climate aid to nations that did not support the accord, including the $3 million Bolivia requested. By the time negotiators reconvened in Cancun last December, Bolivia was the only country to oppose the proposed global deal.

While the Cancun Agreements have since been applauded as pragmatic (if modest) for focusing on country-specific targets and zeroing in on tangible mitigation efforts like combating deforestation, Bolivia has continued its unlikely campaign for stringent and binding targets. The next round of talks in Durban, South Africa is just six months away, and some pundits are arguing that mandatory targets are not only unrealistic but also akin to climate diplomacy suicide. With the existing Kyoto Protocol set to expire next year, there is no comprehensive replacement in sight. "In Durban it’s almost impossible to see a legally binding agreement," Japanese delegate Akira Yamada told Reuters last week. (Read MoJo reporter Kate Sheppard's analysis for more on the international negotiations.)

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