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Weekly Mulch: Countdown to Copenhagen

On Wednesday, President Obama pledged to cut U.S. carbon emissions “in the range of” 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. Obama also confirmed that he will attend the international climate conference in Copenhagen next month, as Aaron Wiener notes for the Washington Independent. But here’s the catch: It’s a one-day deal. Obama is only planning to stop by Copenhagen on Dec. 9 before flying to Oslo to accept his Nobel Peace Prize. The climate talks, on the other hand, span Dec. 7 to Dec. 18.

Still, Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly writes that “Obama’s in-person lobbying efforts will give the talks a boost, and signal to the world that the United States intends to lead.”

Obama also announced plans to send a large delegation to Copenhagen, including his “Green Cabinet,” notes Talking Point Memo’s Christina Bellatoni. Former Vice President and global warming expert Al Gore will also attend the conference. Gore wrote that “[Obama's attendance] is another example of the significant change in policy on the climate crisis…Those who feared that the United States had abdicated its global responsibility should take hope from these actions and work towards completing a strong operational agreement next month in Copenhagen and guidelines for negotiators to complete their work next year on a comprehensive treaty.”

Meanwhile, climate skeptics had a field day last Friday after hundreds of private emails from prominent climate scientist Phil Jones were leaked. Naysayers claim that the emails suggest that climate scientists have overstated how much humans impact climate change. In the video below, the Real News reports that Jones stands by the data but admits that his emails were poorly worded.

Finally, in Mother Jones, Tristram Stuart suggests how we can be less wasteful this Thanksgiving. According to Stuart, about 50% of all food in the U.S. is wasted, which is “enough to feed all the hungry people in the world three times over.” Yikes! Although the biggest food wasters are farms, restaurants, supermarkets and warehouses, there are ways that the average consumer can conserve more. When looking at expiration dates, it is key to know the difference between “sell by,” “best before” and “use by” dates. Stuart writes that “sell by” dates should be completely ignored by consumers, “best” dates are simply a suggestion and “use” indicates when the food will start to spoil and is no longer safe to eat. And to make some foods last longer, Stuart suggests keeping your house cool, which has the added benefit of reducing your energy use and cutting your heating bill.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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