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February 14, 2016
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Welcome to the sustainability revolution

A relentless drumbeat of news in recent months suggests that climate change is for real, that it is happening faster than expected, and that it is largely caused by human actions. For instance, according to the National Ice and Snow Data Center, arctic ice is at record summer lows, shrinking in early September to an area 45% smaller than lows reached in the 1980s and 1990s. The rate of loss this summer was 50% worse than projected. And August was the 330th month in a row worldwide with temperatures higher than the 20th-century average.  Read more

Government for the people

In this polarized society, in which the population seems to be pretty much evenly divided on practically every issue from the federal to the local level, it is immensely surprising to get a result as lopsided as that in the recent survey on natural gas drilling sent out in the Town of Callicoon. About two thirds of the respondents said they were opposed to drilling and fracking, about one third in favor. The margin is big enough that it is hard to ignore regardless of any imperfections in method with which the process might be charged.  Read more

Preserving local jurisdiction

There’s been a lot of controversy at Upper Delaware Council (UDC) meetings recently with regard to private property rights, and their primacy in the River Management Plan (RMP). The controversy came to a head in the discussion leading up to the adoption of the UDC’s five-year plan last week. The document is prefaced by the results of a poll on the council’s top priorities that had been taken at a workshop in June, which in draft form listed “protect and respect private property rights and land use” as number one.  Read more

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as in-kind matching

At a town board meeting last month, the audience greeted with snickers a board member’s response to a query about how the town was going to come up with matching funds for a six-figure state grant without raising taxes. Her statement? She said the grant would be matched by in-kind contributions.  Read more

Scientific consensus

From a political point of view, one of the things that makes it hardest to do anything about climate change and its impacts is the fact that a substantial portion of the general populace refuses to believe the scientific consensus that such a thing is happening. Others concede it is happening, but refuse to believe the scientific consensus that it is related to human activity, especially carbon emissions. This refusal is a boon to the major multinational corporations who benefit from the status quo, like the heavily taxpayer-subsidized fossil fuel industries.  Read more

Isolationism at the UDC

At the last meeting of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC), several town representatives evinced fear at the idea of the council joining the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW) (see “UDC not a joiner—for now” in the August 16 issue). The isolationism favored by these parties is ironic, given that rivers in general are a symbol of interconnectedness—and that the designated river corridor administered by the UDC is, in fact, ruled by a complex system of institutional interrelationships of varying geographic scope.  Read more

Of corn, genetic modification and the lowly honeybee

In the article “Gillibrand asks for expedited pesticide review” in our August 2 issue, Paul Towers is quoted as saying, “This is a reminder of the power and influence of pesticide corporations.” Towers represents one of the parties that had petitioned the EPA unsuccessfully to have the pesticide clothianidin banned due to its probable connection to Colony Collapse Disorder in honeybees.  Read more

Hypocrisy in milk pricing

Congress went on its August recess without taking action on the federal Farm Bill—a piece of omnibus legislation that comes around once every five years or so containing policies and programs in a variety of different agricultural areas—which expires on September 30. But for dairy farmers, whether and when the bill passes won’t make much difference anyway. For years they have pressed for a milk pricing system that is set to cover their costs of production.  Read more

Let it all hang out

In batting around ideas for editorials, we occasionally come across topics that seem to merit support or condemnation, but are nevertheless not good editorial fodder because they seem just too obvious.  Read more

Some pretty simple math

For those just stumbling for the first time into the issue of voter ID laws like the one that has recently been passed in Pennsylvania—and is now being challenged by the ACLU—the matter can be a bit confusing. Both sides are wrapping themselves up in the flag to defend their side of the argument. One side says it is protecting democracy by preventing fraud, making sure that the will of legitimate voters is not being overridden by those who have no right to vote, or are voting twice. The other side says it is protecting democracy by making sure no legitimate voter is denied the right to vote.  Read more