Friday, July 25, 2014

Filling in an Empty Quarter (III)

There's a story making the rounds this week about an apartment complex in New York City that has separate entrances for poor and non-poor residences. I don't know if it's true or not, and don't much care. It's such a perfect metaphor for America's struggles with difference and inequality. (For the record, research on mixed-income housing developments in Chicago by Robert J. Chaskin of the University of Chicago, published in the May 2013 special issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, documents strong re-segregating tendencies, though maybe not at the door level.)

These struggles color my reading of the Cedar Rapids MedQuarter Master Development Plan, rolled out this week after much planning and consultation. The plan contains a lot of good ideas and hits a lot of the right notes. After all that, I'm not sure to what extent the group is making a priority to integrate with their surroundings, or even is concerned whether or not they contribute to development of the city.

The background: As downtown Cedar Rapids has developed since the 2008 flood, it has become increasingly apparent that a huge area immediately surrounding it is "empty": mostly devoid of interesting places, or even uninteresting places, mainly featuring several medical complexes and a huge series of parking craters. It is possible to walk for a long time in this area (though why would you want to?) without ever seeing another human being. It needs help. Without that help, I don't know how long downtown can sustain its development. But given the lately-burgeoning interest in urban life, especially among younger adults, there is a lot of potential here.
3 p.m. in the MedQuarter; US Post Office in background
The MedQuarter plan aims at developing the region roughly between 5th and 12th Streets, between the Wellington Heights neighborhood and downtown, that includes Mercy and St. Luke's Hospitals and the Physicians Clinic of Iowa complexes. It hopes to take what is currently a regional medical center and make it more aesthetically pleasant as well as commercially viable.

In doing so, it draws on a lot of current wisdom about what makes places successful. Though it will retain existing zoning designations it will work around their stultifying regulations (p. 40). It adopts the idea of "complete streets" (p. 13) the city has already bought into, which means buildings oriented to sidewalks and streets rather than parking lots, wide sidewalks, traffic calming, landscaping, and accommodation of bicycles and pedestrians (pp. 18-21). The 4th Avenue greenway (pp. 30-31) will be a vast improvement over most of what's there now, and provide beauty and recreational opportunity.

The 4th Ave Greenway can only improve block after block of surface parking...
...though can it accommodate these houses?
Rerouting truck traffic off 10th Street and adding bike lanes (p. 34) will be a start towards transforming what is now a hard border between the empty quarter and Wellington Heights. I'd like to see it reduced to two lanes of auto traffic as well, with a simple intersection at 8th Avenue. There are some interesting plans/hopes for developing a commercial district along 1st Avenue (pp. 32-33). Depending on what commercial development ensues, there is likely to be improved job opportunities for people in the surrounding neighborhoods. All are reasons to support implementation of this plan.

[And yet, declaring a street "complete" and walkable, or even building wide sidewalks, doesn't make it so. There need to be places to walk to, within reasonable walking distance. The picture of the future 7th Street on page 33 is absurdly optimistic, showing able-bodied pedestrians striding amidst very large buildings. Where are these people going? And why? Certainly it doesn't look like a very pleasurable walking environment. And where in this medical center are the sick people?]

Improving directional signs (pp. 23-25) is important and looks tasteful. Branding the district by frequently deploying red Q's on banners and even a Q-shaped bench is silly, but I can take it.

I'm more concerned that nowhere do the promoters of this plan take any responsibility for bringing this section of the city to its current state. The medical complexes expanded their facilities, spread parking lots and needlessly demolished historic buildings without regard to anyone's interests but their own. It's great that they've now got the urbanist religion, but their history makes it difficult to take seriously their goal to "respectfully integrate MedQuarter development with adjacent neighborhoods and districts" (p. 3).
More than two years on, the neighborhood adjacent to PCI is still looking at this
A statement like "Certain developments are poorly situated on their sites, some strip centers look outdated, and several areas are in disrepair" (p. 2) does not bode well for existing structures that don't fit with the MedQ program, regardless of what they contribute to the community. I'm less concerned about Firestone's lovely Art Deco building, which I think is safe, than I am with several scruffy old houses throughout the area that are currently used for rental housing.
Rooms for rent, 6th St SE, on the edge of the MedQ district
These homely structures can be worked around, accommodating the diversity of the district and contributing to a variety of uses throughout the day. Or they can be knocked down, with their lower-income residents moving Somewhere Else. If our project is about moving the poor Somewhere Else, in the name of either conformity or safety (pp. 2, 27), that's not respectful integration. It's just building a shiny medical kingdom.

Whether efforts at inclusiveness benefit the entire community is a subject in itself. I have argued elsewhere that it does, that the strongest community is one that treats all its members as equal and affords them all economic opportunity. To be sure, this doesn't happen automatically. Gentrification, even done with the best intentions, can price people out of the market. As the MedQuarter report points out, "Because of high land prices driven by proximity to major medical institutions, the potential for market-rate residential development within the MedQuarter is limited. Residential developers are not willing to pay as much for land as are to office and medical users" (p. 2). All that means is that inclusion and diversity require affirmative, coercive* effort.

[*P.S. [8/6/14] I didn't mean "coercive"--oh dear!--and now it's made it through the week, and onto "We Create Here" and into the Gazette. I think I meant "concerted." Oh deary, dear.]

ADDITIONAL READING:

MedQuarter Master Development Plan: http://www.themedquarter.com  /Handler.ashx?Item_ID=57BF8E7B-50EA-4663-914A-F83FCEB0AA0A

Chelsea Keenan, "MedQuarter Transformation Continues in Cedar Rapids," Cedar Rapids Gazette, 20 July 2014, http://thegazette.com/subject/life/health/medquarter-transformation-continues-in-cedar-rapids-20140720

My earlier posts:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Urbanity Playlist II: More Urbanity


In the year since I posted my Urbanity playlist, I've thought of enough songs that should be on there that I'm ready for a Volume II. These are songs that celebrate urban living, not pinned to a specific place. Why not pinned to a specific place? Good question. That sounds like the goal for Volume III!
  1. Bus Stop -- Hollies
  2. Dancing in the Street -- Martha and the Vandellas
  3. What Colour Are You? -- Danny Michel
  4. Somewhere Down the Crazy River -- Robbie Robertson
  5. The Old Part of Town -- James McMurtry
  6. White City -- Erin McKeown
  7. Let the River Run -- Carly Simon
  8. The Boys are Back in Town -- Thin Lizzy
  9. Late in the Evening -- Paul Simon
  10. Steppin' Out -- Joe Jackson
  11. Don't Ever Change -- Amy Rigby
  12. Marrakesh Night Market -- Loreena McKennitt
  13. Only a Song -- Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore
  14. Sunset Grill -- Don Henley
  15. Joy to You Baby -- Josh Ritter
  16. Saturday in the Park -- Chicago
  17. Coles Corner -- Richard Hawley
  18. Pearly Blues -- Roger Manning
  19. I'm Staying Here and I'm Not Buying a Gun -- John Wesley Harding
  20. The Bike Song -- Mark Ronson and the Business International
Suggestions welcomed for future lists!

EARLIER POST: "An Urbanity Playlist," 12 June 2013

Friday, July 18, 2014

Yonder comes the train?


California Zephyr pulls into Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

It had been a few years since I'd ridden Amtrak, what with the nearest station being 75 miles away and me always coming up with some reason to drive. But driving and parking in Chicago are getting old, and Eli was game, so the two of us took the train to Chicago and back last week. The pleasant and unpleasant aspects of the journey leaves me with no clear answer to "Is there a future for passenger rail travel in the United States?" All I can say is, "There could be."

The positives: It was a very pleasant mode of travel, far more relaxing than driving in metropolitan traffic jams, and more with more room to move around than a car affords. Certainly trains are far more spacious and comfortable than flying in a commercial airplane.There's more room for luggage, and you can bring your own drinks.
Passengers packed into a commercial airplane. Note the "fasten seat belt" sign is lighted.
As the usual driver, I had the luxury on the train of reading, looking out the window, or fiddling with my iPod. Once we arrived we could be on our way, with no parking fees or hassles.

The negatives: With a car you can leave whenever you wish, instead of having to conform to the train's schedule. You can also stop for refreshments wherever you wish; the train has an on-board restaurant and snack bar, but by the time we boarded the snack bar was thoroughly picked over, with only beer and one can of Red Bull remaining to drink. You can also not stop: The train made four scheduled stops between Mt. Pleasant and Chicago, which would be unnecessary unless you're traveling with very small children. You can smoke in your car, though your lungs and any fellow passengers would rather you didn't. Costs are hard to compare; using the current IRS compensation rate for driving (55 cents per mile), and adding tolls and parking fees, two round-trip train tickets are more expensive, but only slightly (if you discount the 75 miles we had to drive to get to the station).

Trains are much slower than airplane for long-distance travel, and training is slower than driving, especially since--and this was the most negative of the negatives--the train left more than two hours late both going and coming, and was running even later by the time we arrived at our destinations. Our train into Chicago, scheduled to arrive at 2:50 p.m., actually arrived at 6:30. This was not an exceptional experience; every other run of the California Zephyr I observed while in the Chicago was profoundly behind schedule.

In Mt. Pleasant the train's lateness meant we spent a couple unanticipated hours exploring a charming small town. In Chicago it meant we spent a couple unanticipated hours packed into Union Station's waiting room...
...with everyone else waiting for various trains that were all running late. It's worth noting that all these people, for whatever reasons, were willing to endure considerable hardship in order to travel by train. How much ridership could trains expect if they were somehow able to mitigate this hardship? You see why I'm stuck on "There could be" when contemplating the future of passenger rail travel.

There's been a lot written about Amtrak of late, some of which are listed and linked at the end of this post. Most indicate both the positives and the negatives I identified are widely perceived. Most suggest solutions to the problems, as opposed to closing the system altogether. The principal remaining obstacle is identifying the source for those solutions. Here we have a product for which there is substantial demand (see above picture) and widely-credited public goods, yet neither the private sector (which favors short-term return over long-term investment) nor the public sector (which favors distributing benefits widely over rational allocation) are oriented to grasping the opportunity.

[Note: This glib formulation skips over parts of both sectors that are overtly hostile to intercity rail. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), for example, is committed to blocking federal funding for that state's proposed high-speed rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles. He wants to use scarce transportation funding on highways. Some of the congested highways we traveled on during our recent California vacation are already 12 lanes wide.... Similarly, here in Iowa, the unremitting hostility of legislative Republicans, eventually joined by Governor Terry Branstad, led to blocking the Iowa portion of a proposed Chicago-to-Iowa City route ("Iowa Slams Door on Amtrak" (2013)).]

If I were Emperor of Transportation, with no worries about congressional approval, I would:
  • close on some lines in the 46 states currently served by Amtrak, and reduce runs on the long-distance lines. This would allow focus on the more profitable routes, and entering into the world of bullet trains, while leaving occasional adventure options for serious train enthusiasts. Eventually we could add more frequent runs on the profitable lines, as well as add routes once our now-excellent performance stimulates demand.
  • build and operate tracks everywhere Amtrak runs. Except for a few megalopolises, Amtrak rents track from freight operators, which means slower and more interrupted runs on degraded tracks. Owning our own tracks means we could quickly address scheduling issues, and probably improved safety as well.
  • upgrade service on trains. We shouldn't run out of food. There should be Wi-Fi. (Jarrett Walker cheerfully posted to his "Human Transit" on the Cascades line, but the only Wi-Fi on my train was when we stopped briefly in Galesburg, Illinois.) I'm not pro-frills, but there are ways to make trains more comfortable and attractive.
  • upgrade the human face of Amtrak, which currently is uneven. There is no reason to begin a trip by berating passengers who have been stuck in train station limbo for two hours, as our conductor on the return trip did. All Amtrak staff should use words accurately with the intent of informing passengers. The words "brief" and "momentarily" have specific meanings in the English language, and should only be used to convey those meanings.
America seems to me to be no longer taking for granted that single-occupancy automobiles are the answer to every transportation need. An intercity rail system that is comfortable, reliable, and affordable could be an important part of our future. Could be.

A COUPLE STOLEN MAPS...
On-time performance by route, from washingtonpost.com/wonkblog


Population density of US counties, from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/media/uploads/2010/02/usa-2000-population-density.gif via seattletransitblog.com

MORE ON THIS SUBJECT

"Amtrak Unlimited" site includes a discussion forum: http://www.amtraktrains.com/

Christopher Ingraham, "The Sorry State of Amtrak's On-Time Performance, Mapped," Wonkblog, 10 July 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/07/10/the-sorry-state-of-amtraks-on-time-performance-mapped/

Jeremy, "Transforming Amtrak to a Useful and Sustainable Network," Critical Transit, 26 May 2013, http://www.criticaltransit.com/2013/05/26/transforming-amtrak-to-a-useful-and-sustainable-network/

David Levinson, "Travels through California: Berkeley to Davis via BART and Amtrak," Transportationist, 6 February 2014, http://transportationist.org/2014/02/06/travels-through-california-berkeley-to-davis-via-bart-and-amtrak/

Christopher MacKechnie, "Review of Waiting on a Train," Public Transport, n.d., http://publictransport.about.com/od/Transit_War/a/Review-Of-Waiting-On-A-Train.htm

James McCommons, Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service (Chelsea Green, 2009)

Bruce Nourish, "Talking Sense About Amtrak," Seattle Transit Blog, 18 April 2013, http://seattletransitblog.com/2013/04/18/talking-sense-about-amtrak/

Tanya Snyder, "Jarrett Walker: Empty Buses Serve a Purpose," Streetsblog USA, 14 August 2013, http://usa.streetsblog.org/2013/08/14/jarrett-walker-empty-buses-serve-a-purpose/

Monday, July 14, 2014

Book review: "Dark Age Ahead"



The title of Jane Jacobs's last book (Random House, 2004) might well be punctuated with a question mark, because the articulate ur-urbanist manages to be both prophetic about America's present and hopeful about America's future.

She describes five signs of crisis as our culture enters the post-industrial era, which must be addressed to prevent slipping into a "dark age" like the prehistoric hunter-gatherers, ancient Romans, or modern farm belts. These are "pillars of our culture" which are in serious decay, and of which other widely-acknowledged bads like economic inequality and environmental destruction are mere symptoms (pp. 24-25):

  • community and family (ch. 2): atomized and stressed as incomes haven't kept up with the costs of (in particular) housing
  • higher education (ch. 3): real learning has given way to intellectually and spiritually empty credentialing
  • science and technology (ch. 4) have been misused to validate prejudices or serve powerful interests
  • governmental powers (ch. 5) exercised and taxes collected by distant, national governments instead of those directly in touch with people's needs and possibilities
  • the professions (ch. 6) serve powerful interests and no longer police themselves effectively
Declaring ourselves to be "exceptional" is not a good sign; the future belongs to the self-aware, not the self-deluding. The Romans probably declared themselves exceptional, too, and for all we know so did groups of hunter-gatherers. But history has several examples of successful adaptations, too, and Americans can profit by those examples. "Is suburban sprawl, with its murders of communities and wastes of land, time, and energy, a sign of decay? Or is rising interest in means of overcoming sprawl a sign of vigor and adaptability in North American culture? Arguably, either could turn out to be true" (pp. 169-170).

This is less specifically prescriptive than her major work from the early 1960s, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which focused on city planning. This is political theory, constructing an argument around why some cultures sustain themselves while others disappear. It works to that end, providing descriptions of selected, well-known phenomena by way of illustrating the general argument. I myself am very receptive to this type of argument i.e. moralistic yet inclusive, with prophecy pointed at the powerful. She should at least provoke some interesting discussions. As an older woman she brings the perspective of time to the cultural changes she describes, though I'm not sure that a skeptic would find that determinative. Hasn't power always corrupted? Haven't the poor always suffered? Doesn't American individualism mean we always get the technological fix in time? Maybe so, but in times like these we need all hands on deck and some sense of restraint on our self-regard.

The subsidiarity issue (Jacobs, along with many others, argues that policies ought to be enacted at the level of government as close to the people as possible) is complicated, and probably worth a post in itself.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

While you were denying... (part 2)

South Africa endures a brutal drought. (Picture swiped from SABC)
As promised in part 1 of this post, these are items I've noted in the last few months' news that show scientists (as well as businesses) who are using the accumulated knowledge about climate change in their own research and planning. The point: people who deal with climate change in their work have moved well past the debate over its existence in which contemporary politics is stuck.


             Homebuilders in Alaska are trying to adapt to climate, particularly widespread melting of permafrost, which has caused extensive damage to roads and houses. Temperatures in Alaska have risen twice as fast as those in the “lower 48.” (USA Today, 12/16/13)

            After a decade of increasing damage to Coca-Cola’s balance sheet as global droughts dried up the water needed to produce the soda, the company has embraced the idea of climate change as an economically disruptive force. Coke reflects a growing view among American business leaders and mainstream economists who see global warming as a force that contributes to lower G.D.P’s, higher food and commodity costs, broken supply chains and increased financial risk. (NYT, 1/24/14)

            Life has never been easy for just-hatched Magellanic penguins, but climate change (intense storms, warmer temperatures) is making it worse, according to a decades-long study of the largest breeding colony of the birds. Lead author is P. Dee Boersma of University of Washington. (NYT, 1/30/14)

            Extreme weather, along with dwindling habitat, has caused shrinking in the annual winter migration of monarch butterflies, according to the World Wildlife Fund. (NYT, 2/4/14)

            Despite record cold temperatures in the eastern United States, January 2014 was the fourth-warmest January on record planet-wide. It was the 347th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average. (NYT, 2/25/14)

            A study published in the journal Geology finds that for 500 years the size of the Quelccaya ice cap of Peru has varied with temperature (as opposed to snowfall amounts or ice accumulation). The glacier is now melting at an accelerating pace consistent with global warming. Authors are Justin S. Stroup and Meredith A. Kelly of Dartmouth College. (NYT, 2/26/14)

            Scientists are studying the effects of climate change on Svalbard reindeer on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen. Warmer temperatures have led to more rainfall, which freezes and makes it difficult for the reindeer to forage for food in the winter. (Smithsonian, 3/14)

            Pennsylvania’s Climate Impacts Assessment Update (2013) expects state climate to be more like Virginia’s by 2050. U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Maps have been revised with many places a zone warmer than in 1990. National Audubon Society’s 2009 Birds and Climate Change report found 70 percent of bird species observed in Christmas bird counts had shifted their ranges north since 1970 by an average of 35 miles. (National Wildlife, 3/14)

            During the past 39 years, global warming has added more than a month to the wildflower season in the southern Colorado Rockies, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences tracking the local effects of global warming on plant life there. Impacts on plant and animal species are unknown. Lead author is Paul CaraDonna of University of Arizona. (CSM, 3/19/14)

            A number of economists work to estimates the likely future impact of climate change and, based on that, what would be a rational response in current policy. Most (though not all) economists argue the future benefits of spending to limit climate change outweigh the current costs. (NYT, 4/29/14)

            Biologists studying plants’ response to climate change note that the average beginning of the growing season has moved forward about three weeks in some places. Individual plant responses vary widely, and some bloom later due to increased CO2. These include Richard B. Primack of Boston University (in Concord MA), Amy M. Iler and colleagues of the University of Maryland (in the Colorado Rockies) and Heidi Steltzer of Fort Lewis College (on a prairie in Wyoming). (NYT, 4/29/14)

            Scientists studying coral reefs have noticed many (though not all) coral species have been devastated by warmer ocean waters. (NYT, 4/29/14)

            The National Climate Assessment Report released this week notes seas levels have risen eight inches since 1870. Meanwhile, business owners in Miami Beach’s Alton Road commercial district note a sudden increase in the incidence of flooding. While local officials have announced projects to attempt to mitigate the effects of flooding, statewide Republican officials are maintaining a studied silence (NYT, 5/8/14)

            A large section of the West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable. In one paper, Eric Rignot of the University of California-Irvine and co-authors used satellite and air measurements to document an accelerating retreat over the past several decades of six glaciers draining into the Amundsen Sea region. In another, Ian Joughin of the University of Washington used computer modeling to study the slow collapse of one glacier from warm water eating away at the ice. Papers in Science and Geophysical Research Letters analyze the increasingly destructive impact of warmer ocean waters on the Thwaites glacier in western Antarctica. (The Guardian, 5/12/14; NYT, 5/13/14)

            Water vapor in the lower atmosphere over the United States has increased by 3-4 percent since the 1970s, which translates to nearly two trillion gallons of extra water in the air. Predictions made in a 1995 paper by A.M. Fowler (University of Auckland) and K.J. Hennessy (Australian national research program) that such increases would lead to more intense rains across the world have been borne out. (NYT, 5/13/14)

            The Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board, a leading government-funded military research organization, has concluded in a report published this week that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes, and that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies at risk in southern and southeast Asia, which could lead to a new wave of refugees. (NYT, 5/14/14)

            Radar measurements by the European Space Agency’s Crysosat satellite show the melt loss rate from Antarctic ice during the period 2010-2013 has doubled since observations made 2005-2009. Paper published in Geophysical Research Letters (BBC, 5/19/14)

            Light-colored species of butterflies and dragonflies are taking over areas of Europe once dominated by their darker counterparts, in response to warming in the traditional range of the darker insects, according to research reported in the journal Nature Communications. (NYT, 6/3/14)

            A paper in Journal of Climate finds accelerating melting in the Northern Hemisphere leading to higher sea levels (cited in skepticalscience.com, 6/10/14)

            Scientists studying the Greenland ice sheet’s unusual meltage in 2012 have found evidence in ice cores of unusual amounts of “black carbon” from forest fires. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (cited in skepticalscience.com, 6/10/14)

           A paper in Science finds more intense winds along the coasts of the Americas and South Africa, to which climate change is a likely contributor. The impacts on coastal marine life may be both beneficial (more nutrients and greater populations of prey) and harmful (greater turbulence, acidification and lower oxygen levels) (LA Times, 7/3/14)

While you were denying...

Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park. Three years of drought have reduced it to a trickle.

Climate change continues to be a prominent political issue in the United States, with the debate in large part remaining focused where it was 25 years ago: Is this, or is this not, a real phenomenon? Rod Blum, the Republican congressional candidate from this district, told Iowa Public Radio before his June 3 primary election victory:
I remember the 1970s, and there was a cover of Time magazine that showed the polar ice caps of the planet. And it said that scientists were thinking that we should spread ash on the polar ice caps, and that dark color, that black color would absorb the heat because we were heading into a period of global cooling. They were afraid our planet was going to be frigid and frozen. That was in the 1970s, during my lifetime.
We go from that, to now global warming, and that’s been changed to climate change. I’m not a scientist, and I know most scientists’ paychecks come from the federal government, and so right away that makes me a bit skeptical.  Thirty  years ago we were going into a global cooling period.  That makes me skeptical. The planet is 4.5 billion years old.  Billion.  I guess I say, how long of a time frame does it take to make a trend? Does 20 years make a trend? I don’t believe the planet has warmed in the last 17 years, so is that a trend now? I even look at 20, 30, 40 years out of 4.5 billion and think, well, is that a trend? So, I’m not sure, I’m not sure. 
Blum is arguing that climate change is (a) a current and passing fad, just like the "new ice age" stuff I also remember from the 1970s; (b) a government-sponsored racket; and (c) disproven by simply looking at recent climate trends. (The warmest year on record was 1998, so things have arguably been cooler since?). Never mind that current scientific pronouncements on climate change are based on decades of accumulated research, that there are such things as moving averages, or that most climate concerns are based on future rather than recent impacts. (See this brilliant info-graphic from the xkcd site.)

I bring this up not to pick on Blum, but because his way of thinking is quite widespread in contemporary American politics. While there have been some efforts to shift the focus of opposition to the economic costs of policy responses, or whether climate change is due to human activity, outright denial remains a common element of election-year rhetoric. In May, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would prevent the Department of Defense from spending money to research the national security implications of climate change. The sponsor was Representative David McKinley (R-WV). This was a largely symbolic vote, because it will surely be blocked by the Senate, but it's notable that even if rising incidence of floods and droughts are caused randomly or by sunspots DOD would be prevented from planning for it. Similarly, the State of North Carolina refuses to plan for rising sea levels. Meanwhile, the National Parks Service is putting out rhetoric like this at Yosemite National Park:
Perhaps they too should be silenced? (Or at least ignored? I understand they too get a lot of their money from Washington. Smearety-smear.)


For some time now, however, I've noticed that the scientific community has moved on from this stage . As with the theory of evolution, a lot of scientific research builds on "anthropogenic" (human-induced) climate change, instead of just pushing the Washington line as Blum alleges they do. This is true in the business and military spheres as well. I began to keep track of what I was hearing about, and in six months have accumulated quite a list. I haven't gone to any special effort to hunt these down; I've just noted them when I saw them. The list is in part 2 of this post.

SOURCES

Ryan Koronowski, "House Votes to Deny Climate Science And Ties Pentagon's Hands on Climate Change," Climate Progress, 22 May 2014, http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/22/3440827/mckinley-climate-pentagon-climate-change/

Lindsey Moon and Katherine Perkins, "Candidate Profile: Rod Blum," Iowa Public Radio, 29 May 2014, http://iowapublicradio.org/post/candidate-profile-rod-blum

Imagine Mound View

Imagine Mound View, the Cedar Rapids neighborhood festival organized by Corridor Urbanism, drew a steady and significant crowd to a norma...