Posted in Uncategorized on December 18, 2012|
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New York Times
We are constantly bombarded by memes in our daily lives. Some spontaneously flare up and then burn out as quickly as they appeared, while others stick around for decades. We hardly consider their presence, much less contemplate their possible influence on our lives.
Researchers in the emerging field of meme science are digging deeper, however, investigating how and why these sticky phrases or trends sink into our cultural psyche and subconsciously influence the way we process the world around us.
Despite what U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says about their loss of influence, rural Americans managed to string together an impressive array of successes during President Barack Obama’s first term.
Political pressure from farmers and ranchers played a big role in stalling key parts of Obama’s agenda that they don’t like, including cap and trade, stringent new meatpacker rules and the proposed removal of four dams from the Klamath River.
At the same time, producers have managed to push forward things they do like, such as estate tax rates that are more favorable to growers than when Obama took office and finalizing trade agreements that were opposed bitterly by the president’s union allies.
The worst drought in half a century has brought water levels in the Mississippi close to historic lows and could shut down all shipping in a matter of weeks–unless Barack Obama takes extraordinary measures. It’s the second extreme event on the river in 18 months, after flooding in the spring of 2011 forced thousands to flee their homes. Without rain, water levels on the Mississippi are projected to reach historic lows this month, the national weather service said in its latest four-week forecast.
(December 9, 2012)
Wildfires and weather share a common problem: We all talk about them, but what can we do about them? The federal government hopes to answer the wildfire question with a three-year strategy session that’s wrapping up this month. But there’s no guarantee the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy will save an acre of forest. In fact, it might force the nation to decide how much it’s willing to let burn.
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Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2012|
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On December 3, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider who is best suited to set national environmental policy – the experienced scientists and regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency or activist trial lawyers. In Decker v. NEDC the justices will review a 2011 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that overturned 35 years of EPA Clean Water Act regulation of the logging industry, the source of 2.5 million American jobs.
Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, leading countries have pledged to keep global warming from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. A report released last week by the UN Environment Program said nations’ current pledges were too weak and greenhouse gas emissions were increasing at a rate that put the world at risk without immediate action.
The U.N. climate talks are currently underway in Doha, Qatar. “Negotiators and experts all warned that the two-week session would only lay the groundwork for a potentially ambitious global-warming pact by the end of the decade.” A few charts layout what negotiators are trying to do.
The New York Times
Longmont became the first town in Colorado to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, the oil-drilling practice commonly known as fracking. The ban has propelled Longmont to the fiercely contested forefront of the nation’s antifracking movement, inspiring other cities to push for similar prohibitions. But it has also set the city on a collision course with oil companies and the State of Colorado.
At a recent event, engineering, disaster preparation and climate science professors at Columbia University urged lawmakers to take advantage of the public’s post Hurricane Sandy interest in global warming and push through bold policies. Many of the infrastructure investments that the scientists suggested would cost tens of billions of dollars. Although the professors didn’t present a comprehensive plan, they all agreed that a combination of mammoth infrastructure projects would be essential for preparing the United States‘ coastal communities for rising sea levels.
An Idaho environmental group wants the U.S. Forest Service to reconsider allowing more exploration for gold near the headwaters of the South Fork of the Salmon River. The petition by the Idaho Conservation League marked its first public step to oppose plans by Vancouver, Canada-based Midas Gold to develop an open-pit mine in a historic mining district in Valley County. Payette National Forest administrators recently approved construction of another 139 drill pads and 178 drill holes at the Golden Meadows project site.
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