Friday, May 9, 2014

What We Learned This Week - Hurry Up and Wait

Some states giveth; some states taketh away
Scientists seem to be reaching consensus on declaring 1950 as the year when  humans began to permanently alter the basic makeup of Earth, launching the Anthropocene geological epoch. On a related matter, human-induced climate change is producing dramatic effects in every part of U.S., including the Mississippi River Basin.  However, the American public routinely ranks dealing with global warming low on its list of priorities for the President and Congress to pursue. The drought conditions in the Southern Plains are looking more and more bleak.  After six months of negotiating, House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on an $8.2 billion water resources bill to fund construction, research and environmental work in U.S. ports and waterways.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed and controversial "Waters of the U.S." rule continues to stir the political waters of the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made progress during its first 90 days of implementing the 2014 Farm Bill.  USDA's twice-per-decade agricultural census was released, revealing some new and some not-quite-so-new agricultural insights. Parts of Iowa are losing up to twelve times more topsoil into its streams and rivers than the government typically estimates.  After analyzing public comments, the Army Corps of Engineers concluded that there are widely diverging opinions on how to deal with invasive species moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins, and that it will wait for some direction from Congress and the White House on the topic.  When it comes to federal funding, some states are "givers" (i.e., Illinois and Minnesota) and some states are "takers" (i.e., Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee).   And last but not least, in China, the world's biggest polluter, about 64 percent of people identify themselves as environmentalists, more than double the number in Europe and the United States, where an ethos of "cosmopolitan environmentalism" predominates; a movement frequently supported by liberal, highly-educated and politically active people.

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