Sea Turtles Benefit from Legal Protection

ocean shore

When animals are put under the protection of the United States’ Endangered Species Act (ESA) the protected species tend to rebound. Recently a new study found that when sea turtle populations were put under protection that the population soared upwards by 980%. This follows the success of the Hawaiian humpback whales resurgence under the ESA from a low of 800 whales to roughly 10,000 today. This is further evidence that when we do act as a society to protect species (or the planet) that we can do so rather effectively. All that’s needed is political will.

A team of researchers looked at 31 marine populations and found that the populations of 78% of marine mammals and 75% of sea turtles rebounded after receiving protections under the law.

The median sea turtle population increased by 980% following the regulations established by the ESA, and the median increase for mammals was 115%.

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Enforcing Environmental Laws can Save the Planet

Nations around the world have been putting more and more environmental protection laws on the books. This has been good to see. However, with many new things it takes awhile for people to get used to them, accordingly the enforcement of these laws has been lax. This means that if want to stop corporations from causing massive environmental we need to actually enforce the law, thankfully this is easier than it might sound.

“It really is something that all countries share,” Carl Bruch, the director of International Programs at the Environmental Law Institute and one of the authors of the report, said in a phone interview. “We do have a lot of environmental laws that are on that books that could be so much more effective if they were actually fully implemented.”

On the justice front, sometimes a lack of proper training and education for judges can disrupt the systems in place to enforce environmental law. In Ecuador, for example, a non-government organization sued to prevent a pine tree plantation from being erected in a native grassland ecosystem. But the judge, unaware of Ecuador’s constitutional provisions that allow anybody to bring forward a suit in protection of the environment, dismissed the case and allowed the plantation to be built, the UN report noted. 

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Deny Climate Deniers Political Opportunity

protest

Should we mock and deride people who lie about climate change? Yes, according to a recent op-ed in the Washington Post. At the very least it’s time to stop listening to people who deny reality. The rationale for denying deniers is that they are legitimate threats to our wellbeing. It’s time we get to improving our world instead of listening to people who are trying to hold us back.

In both the Cold War and the debate over climate change, ideology has won out over empirical reality, and those opposed to spending any time or money on either problem have preferred to wish it away rather than engage in good-faith arguments that entail policy trade-offs. Deniers have disqualified themselves from holding power since willful blindness puts Americans at risk, and their propensity to disregard reality makes one question both their judgment and honesty.

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California Launches Improved Reverse Income Tax Scheme

work and smile

California’s welfare system (EITC) includes subsidies sent annually for people living without income and that’s about to change. Under new rules the money given to people who earn less than minimum wage will be sent monthly. This is really good since it provides a stable, reliable, and regular sum every month; in theory this will reduce stress for the recipients.

The plan is more like reverse income tax than it is universal basic income. Regardless, it’s good to see one the world’s largest economies delivering financial care in a more efficient manner.

“The typical pattern with the EITC is that you get deeper and deeper into debt over the course of a year,” Ruben says, “and then you use the big payment at tax time to try to pay everything off and break even.” Giving people the option to receive the credit on a monthly basis will help people plan their budgets on a more immediate basis. Benefits like food stamps are delivered monthly, so families receiving both will have a more accurate sense of their financial landscape. And in months when a household finds itself on more stable financial footing, they might be able to put some of the tax credit money aside in savings. “What we’re seeing is the idea of the importance of a steady drumbeat of financial security throughout the year,” Ruben says.

Newsom’s budget proposal aims to tackle these challenges. It will raise the household income threshold to over $30,000 (or what someone would take home working full-time at the projected $15 per hour minimum wage) to include more families. And the expanded funding will grant parents with children under six an additional $500 per year. That may not seem like a lot, Ruben says, but in focus groups run by the ESP over the past year, one woman said anyone who looks at that money and responds in that way “has never had to choose between paying rent and buying food.”



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To Change Politics for the Better we Need to Change Suburbia

the suburbs

The Canadian province of Ontario just elected a new government that’s focussed on making Ontario worse. In a few short months they’ve done a lot of damage including messing with municipal elections (making them harder to participate in), removing a carbon plan at a cost of $3 billion, and defunded governmental roles that monitor effectiveness. In short, they are behaving like anarchists. Clearly, none of these things are good.

This led to University of Waterloo urban planner Pierre Filion wondering what happened. His conclusion is that the suburbs did it. The actual physical environment of the suburbs is a source of support for this destructive party to gain power. So if we want to build a better world step one might be to dismantle the current infrastructure supporting suburban lifestyles.

“When the planning solutions are put forward, they need to be put foward in a way that is adapted to the suburban lifestyle, to the people who are living in suburbs, and that really takes into consideration what is going to help them,” said Filion.

“I don’t mean to say that suburbs are totally negative to work with — this is certainly not the case — but it needs to be shown that what is going to be put in place is going to help them,” he said.

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