“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Isaac Asimov

Category: Climate Change

This Land Is Our Land

One little known fact about Woody Guthrie’s iconic song is that the earliest known recording from 1944 includes the following verse:

There was a big high wall there, that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing;
This land was made for you and me.

This verse was stripped from the song and largely forgotten until 1997, when an archivist at the Smithsonian heard a master version as it was being transferred to a digital recording for preservation in the National Archives.

This summer, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Parks Service, we must not take our public lands for granted. There are those who would turn these magnificent places over to private interests to exploit the land for its resources or develop and wall off areas for the benefit of a few. We should take note of the nearly forgotten verse from Guthrie’s song and heed its warning.

From EARTHJUSTICE: Leaders in Washington, D.C., largely dismissed the militants involved in the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as law-breaking fringe elements. But at the same time, some in Congress were quietly working up legislation that would indeed sell America’s birthright to the highest bidder.

America’s Water Crisis Extends Far Beyond Flint

Crisis: Clean water is a basic human right. Why are we charging so much for it?

Clean water is a basic human right. Why are we charging so much for it?

America’s water crisis: as with all environmental injustices, this one falls especially hard on non-whites.

Aging infrastructure + warming climate = rising prices. That’s the basic conclusion of a new report showing that clean water is getting more expensive in cities across the country — in some cases, far more expensive than what poor residents can reasonably afford for what should be a basic human right.

Rates vary hugely across the country — water will cost you five times as much in Seattle as in Salt Lake City, for example — but on average, the cost of clean water and wastewater services has risen 41 percent over the last five years, according to an examination of national data by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, a human rights advocacy organization.

The new report blames rising water costs on a variety of factors, including:

  • Pollution from industry, agriculture, and fossil fuel production, requiring more communities to clean and treat their drinking water. Climate change, by increasing salinity and algal blooms, makes the problem worse.
  • Population growth and drought in the arid Southwest and elsewhere (the new normal due to climate change), which means water is traveling farther to reach consumers, increasing costs accordingly. Drought surcharges can bring a family’s bill above $300 per month in some places.
  • Increased rainfall from climate change in the East and Midwest, which causes flooding and fills water systems with pollution. Detroit struggles with overflowing sewers during heavy rainfalls, while New York City has to discharge sewage into its harbor after a storm. These situations can require costly upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities.

As with all environmental injustices, this one falls especially hard on non-whites. “Today, one in every two African-American Michiganers live in cities that violate their human rights to water and sanitation,” the service committee reports. Detroit and Flint, whose water problems have made national news over the past year, have majority black populations, as does Lowndes County, Ala., which has no functioning sewer system.

From an article at GRIST

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