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.

5 Ways to Sip a Cocktail and Save the World

| Thu Apr. 14, 2011 2:50 PM EDT

Getting tipsy might not be the first idea that comes to mind when figuring how to help out poor farmers in Bolivia. But it is a pretty good one, say the fair-trade wine and spirits folks I met over the weekend. At the San Francisco Green Festival last Saturday, Fair Trade Spirits's Danny Ronen and wine importer Michael Hutchinson unveiled a few brands of alcohol that prove a fine Merlot can also be socially conscious. Since we've already told you how to minimize your carbon footprint at the wet bar, why not improve your social impact too? Try out a few of these recipes at your next party* and tell us what you think.

Photo courtesy Fair Trade USA.Photo courtesy Fair Trade USA.A Caïpirowska that creates jobs: Consider it a lazy mojito, made from fair-trade quinoa vodka (yes, quinoa) that is cultivated by more than 1,200 small-scale producers in the Bolivian Altiplano and gathered in the Anapqui cooperative, the country's main association of farming producers. Thanks in part to the new craze for quinoa in the US, fair-trade quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) production has generated an additional 2,675 jobs in the Bolivian highlands, and increased profits have gone to support the coop's new vehicles purchases and agricultural training programs. It tastes better than potato-based vodka, too.

  • 5 centilitres fair-trade quinoa vodka
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 spoons of fair-trade sugar

Cut the 1/2 lime in 4 pieces and crush in a mortar with the sugar. Top with crushed ice and add the vodka. Shake well and serve with two short straws. (Recipe from Fair Trade Spirits.)

Ivo Posthumus/Flickr.Ivo Posthumus/Flickr.A White Russian that puts kids through school and combats cancer: The liqueur in this drink, otherwise known as the "Jackie Caucasian," is made from coffee grown by small-scale farmers in Huatusco, Mexico, and sugar harvested by independent cane growers in Malawi. Profits from the coffee have funded some $21,000 in scholarships and helped build a cancer screening clinic in Huatusco, and sugar sales have helped install 10 safe drinking water wells in Malawan villages. The Dude would be proud.

  • 2 ounces fair-trade quinoa vodka
  • 1 ounce fair-trade cafe liqueur

Pour over rocks in a rocks glass. Top with organic half-and-half. (Recipe from Fair Trade Spirits.)

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The EPA's Moment of Truth

| Wed Apr. 6, 2011 5:24 PM EDT

Tension is running high in both chambers of Congress. "It's a sad day," said Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) on the House floor, where Congressional representatives are sparring over the future role of the Environmental Protection Agency. As we've reported previously, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Kent.) introduced H.R. 910 as an effort to reverse the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Now, all is coming to a head.

The main thrust of the bill is that Congress, not the EPA, should have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, but the debate is heating up as Republicans and Democrats clash over larger implications of bill, including accepting the science behind climate change, the effects on health, and local economies. In their last line of defense, some House Democrats are pushing back by introducing a dozen amendments that would "clarify" the H.R. and retain some of the EPA's powers, some of which failed to pass by a voice vote. Dems are motioning to send them into a roll-call vote.

Meanwhile, the Senate just rejected Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Kent.) amendment to a small business bill mirroring H.R. 910, by a narrow 10 votes. The Senate is now proceeding with three similar small business bills.

Watch the action live on C-SPAN (for the House) and C-SPAN2 (for the Senate).

[Update: The Senate has rejected all four motions. Read more on this at Nature.]

 

Senators' "Sneak-Attack" on the EPA

| Wed Mar. 16, 2011 3:00 PM EDT

Today the Senate will consider two bills that would clamp down on the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to enforce the Clean Air Act. This comes on the day after the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted in favor of Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) Energy Tax Prevention Act, or HR 910, which would overturn the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Today, the Senate will vote on two items: an amendment introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that essentially attaches HR 910 as an amendment to an unrelated small business bill, and a bill by Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), which puts a hold on the EPA's regulatory powers for two years.

Rockefeller, who racked up $31,200 in campaign contributions from Peabody Energy from 2005 through 2010, claims he's "not for" a bill "which abolishes the EPA" and "strips them all of funding"—it's simply that Congress needs an opportunity to enact climate legislation. If last summer's fizzling of the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill is any sign, the chances of Congress doing so in the foreseeable future are slim to none. Nevertheless, Rockefeller's bill won the support of six other Democratic senators. (MoJo's Kate Sheppard has more on this.)

In essence, McConnell and Rockefeller's motions represent a "sneak-attack" on the EPA, as the Natural Resource Defense Council's Dan Lashof puts it. And according to NRDC's Pete Altman, these actions are moving forward despite strong opposition from public interest groups including the American Lung Association, the Consumers Union, and the Small Business Majority.

Meanwhile, a recent poll from NRDC found that 63 percent of likely voters agreed that Congress should not stop the EPA from updating air quality standards, and 69 percent thought that "EPA scientists, rather than Congress, should set pollution standards." And in California, where GOP members are now trying to pre-empt a strict carbon-emissions law, voters just swatted down an oil-industry-funded initiative to suspend that law by a 62 percent to 39 percent margin.

In Arctic, Warmer Climate Means More "Beavers Defecating" And Disease

| Fri Mar. 4, 2011 8:00 AM EST
Kivalina, Alaska.

Two new studies by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium report that warmer climates are threatening the Northwest Arctic's food-cooling and water-treatment systems, and posing various food- and waterborne health risks to nearby communities.

According to the studies, two small communities in the region, Kivalina and Point Hope, are experiencing longer warm seasons that cause sanitary water systems to flood, damage "washaterias" (places where people can get clean water to bathe or wash clothes), and worsen algae blooms. In 2004, Kivalina had to close its washateria after the belated freeze-up damaged its leach field system for the winter; during the shut down, the village reported a rise in respiratory and skin diseases. In Point Hope, algae blooms between 2007 and 2008 became so frequent and large in the nearby lake that the village's water that technicians had to clean filters more than a dozen times daily.

Worse, warmer temperatures have meant longer growing seasons, triggering a spike in the number of wood-chewing beavers, which are suspected of contaminating local riverways with solid waste and elevating the risk of giardia, a stomach infection commonly known as "beaver feaver."

"In general, people could drink from [the creeks and rivers] freely," Michael Brubaker, director of the health consortium's Center for Climate and Health, told the Arctic Sounder. "Now they have beavers defecating into the river."

Longer warm seasons also mean shorter periods in which villagers can dry caribou, fish, and seal meat before rotting, the studies say, along with melting ice cellars that usually store raw meat. That can lead to more stomach infections from botulism, salmonella, and E. coli, not to mention the more immediate threat of attracting polar bears close to town as milder temperatures expose the odor of raw meat.

The Arctic's problems are not entirely isolated: Warmer temperatures have resulted in some 10,000 cases of food poisoning in the United Kingdom (PDF) as warmer weather breeds bacteria and other pathogens in meats. And both food regulators and scientists in the US are increasingly concerned about food contamination caused by germs that like heat. In the remote corners of the Arctic, however, where temperature swings can be more dramatic than other regions, the research is only getting started, and funding for adaptation projects has been slow to come. "We can't wait around for 15 or 20 years to make sure people have adequate water and sanitation," Brubaker said.

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