Image by Grist / Amelia Bates
The barriers built into Alabama’s energy market are just one example of the political, financial, and regulatory dynamics that can block low- and middle-income households from using rooftop solar power in the Southeast. But this tug-of-war between utility companies, regulators, and solar advocates isn’t just about money.
“It’s a real social justice issue,” says Greer Ryan, a renewable energy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based environmental organization. “Anything that makes it less economical for people to go solar is going to be harmful for low- and median-income consumers,” she says. It’s like raising taxes on people who can least afford it — putting green energy out of reach for everyone but the wealthy.
Image: Robert Burns / Texas A&M Agrilife
Is glyphosate benign, does it pose some kind of clear and present threat, or is the truth somewhere in between? That’s where things get complicated. In theory, scientific research should be able to provide a sober, objective assessment of the risks. But the intensity of the debate has made it very difficult to sort out science from personal bias and industry spin.
When each concerned faction accuses the other of distorting the facts, and even independent organizations and regulatory bodies have struggled to stay above the fray, it can be hard to know what to believe. The result is that, while glyphosate everywhere in the global food system, there’s little consensus about what that actually means for human health. And so the question isn’t just whether or not the world’s most popular herbicide is safe. It’s also about how we determine what “safe” is in the first place, and who gets to decide.
Image: Alisa Schulman-Janiger
But so far this year, at least three flukeless gray whales have been spotted migrating northward along California‘s coast—a spike that has Schulman-Janiger concerned for their well-being.