Tim McDonnell joined the Climate Desk after stints at Mother Jones and Sierra magazine, where he nurtured his interest in environmental journalism. Originally from Tucson, Tim loves tortillas and epic walks.
My Place is a pizza joint and bar just off the main drag through Newtown. It's a microcosm of this town: Everyone knows everyone, knows where they live, who their brother is dating, what their favorite microbrew is. Framed photographs of Babe Ruth cover the walls. Having a smoke outside, Alex Helfer, 26, recalls the days when high school partiers knew they were safe if the town's two post-midnight cops busted the other party. After spending the day reeling from the Sandy Hook murders, last night locals here did what they always do: head to My Place for a pint. Only this time, Nancy wasn't there to join them.
Nancy Lanza, mother of alleged shooter Adam Lanza, was one of My Place's most popular regulars; she was found dead in her home yesterday. "She was wonderful, beautiful, classy…everyone knew her," says waitress Laurie Champagne. Proprietor Louise Tambascio seconded the words of the local school superintendent that yesterday's reports of Nancy being a teacher at Sandy Hook were wrong. But Nancy was involved with the gun community, she says, belonging to a club and taking her sons shooting.
Losing Nancy is a devastating blow to this close-knit community, Tambascio says. She's known Nancy for 12 years, and remembers hiring Adam Lanza's older brother, Ryan, as a busboy a couple years back. When initial reports came out that he was the shooter, she says, she knew they had the wrong brother.
Meanwhile, across town, outside Sandy Hook Elementary (or as close as police would allow anyone to get), a media feeding frenzy approached critical mass, swarming with reporters speaking English, French, German, and Japanese into TV cameras and bright lights. The few locals who braved the main street quickly found themselves circled by microphones and lenses, asked to share their shock with the world. Nick Verderame, 20, had come from a few towns over to lay flowers outside the fire station where children and teachers had fled for cover as the shooting unfolded. "I thought there was going to be more of us," he says. "And less of you."
Everyone here is anxiously awaiting the release of the names of the dead, to find out which neighbor, or neighbors, suffered an unimaginable loss. Champagne circles around My Place delivering beer, pizza, and hugs to folks in the crowd, whom she addresses by name. Despite the horror that unfolded yesterday, she says, looking forward to the coming weeks is almost worse: "There are going to be 28 funerals in this town before Christmas."
Less than 12 hours after a gunman took the lives of 20 schoolchildren in the tiny, picturesque community of Newtown, Connecticut, locals gathered outside a Methodist Church for a healing vigil. Nearly all were in shock, hardly able to articulate their bewilderment. But many were in agreement on one point: Lax gun laws were partly to blame.
There's no clear view of the burnt wreckage of Breezy Point, Queens, from Judith Rodin's 21st-floor corner office in midtown Manhattan. But she's got locals there on her mind, and wants to make sure their experience teaches the city a lesson: "We don't want to waste that pain," she says.
As president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Rodin is among the corps of urban policy sculptors carving out the shape of the climate-adapted cities of the future. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo handed down her latest assignment: to ensure the nation's biggest city is ready for the next Sandy.
Rodin is co-chair of NYS 2100, a commission Cuomo built after hearing what he described as a "wake-up call" issued by the storm. Its task is to translate the governor's demand for heightened protection from future extreme weather into actionable infrastructure improvements that can start to roll out before the next storm clouds start to roll in, a climate-conscious overhaul of everything from subways and airports to electric transformers and sea walls that the state estimates will ultimately cost $9.1 billion.
Today Barbara Buchner, a market analyst for Climate Policy Initiative, arrived at the UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar, not to offer solutions, but to figure out how we're going to pay the tab. In her hand is a new report from CPI adding up just how much money the world is spending on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The good news, she says, is that global climate investment is greater than ever before. The bad news: It still might not be nearly enough.
"The gap really is still large," she says.
Buchner's measuring stick is a report released this summer by the International Energy Agency showing that to stay within the internationally agreed-upon two degree celcius warming limit set in past iterations of the UN's climate talks, humanity will need to spend an additional $1 trillion a year between now and 2050 (on top of what current policies already stipulate) on climate-related investments like renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate-proofed infrastructure. Today's CPI report pegs current global climate investment at $364 billion, for 2010-11:
In the waning days of the George W. Bush administration, Utah college student Tim DeChristopher was angry about the ravaging of public lands by drilling companies, so he monkey-wrenched a federal oil lease auction, bidding $1.8 million for drilling rights with no intention of paying. Facing 10 years in federal prison (and ultimately receiving 2), DeChristopher became an overnight cause célèbre. In Bidder 70, a husband-and-wife documentary team delves into DeChristopher's personal history and taps a roster of activists, scientists, lawyers, and politicians to explore how civil disobedience plays into the modern environmental movement.