forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
There is quite a bit of talk going around about a potential new federal infrastructure bill. I want to talk about what infrastructure actually is, and how federal infrastructure spending shapes the US landscape. Infrastructure is complex and we need to not to treat it all as one thing and also to understand the secondary effect of building certain types of infrastructure.

Infrastructure includes lots of things some of these are have positive impacts on society and others negative. For example oil pipelines, high speed rail, highways, and solar energy plants are all infrastructure, but investing in each one of these would clearly have different impacts on society and the built environment. Politicians and the media have a tenancy to lump all of these things together and treat them like one thing, but this is really not helpful and can obfuscate the effects of government actions.

And government actions in infrastructure really do matter. Infrastructure funding is a major way the federal government plans the US built environment. The federal government leaves a lot lower levels to government – they don’t tell cities how to zone for example, or make it illegal to build on flood plains. But they do invest in big projects that make things possible. The Central Valley Project brings water from northern California to Southern California and means that more people can live there and there can be more irrigated agriculture in the south. The interstate highway system made it easier for people to drive and contributed to urban sprawl (it didn’t help that they knocked down a bunch of intercity neighborhoods to build freeways). As these examples show the federal government doesn’t have to do central planning to have a huge impact on the landscape.

So if you are thinking about contacting your reps please tell them you want to invest in mass transit and clean energy not new highways and pipelines. Tell them about the already existing infrastructure that you use and could use more money. Ask them not treat infrastructure like it is all one thing that always good, but to think carefully about what the federal government builds and how it will shape our future. Because infrastructure might seem boring but it shapes the world we live in.
forestofglory: a small plant in a clump of dirt  (eco-geek)
This answer is part of the Environmental Science FONSFAQ. This was going to be part of Three Weeks for Dreamwidth, but it took longer then planed to write.

Q: Should I worry about genetically modified crops?

I’m going to assume that by genetically modified crops you mean transgenic crops. Some people argue that all domestication is a process of genetic modification. This is true but also a bit like saying all chemicals are natural. I think transgenic crops are clearly different from other forms of plant breeding. Transgenic crops are crops where genes from another species have been added to the original crop’s genome (the set of all of an organism’s genes). Two genes are most commonly used in modern agriculture: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) a bacteria derived insecticide, and Roundup Ready – a gene which confers resistance to Monsanto’s herbicide: Roundup.

Read more... )
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
So May and June are not the same month. The UK election is in May; the California primaries are in June. Somehow I got mixed up about this. So sorry for any confusion I've cased.

The scary thing is I've been hearing about about the CA primary for longer then they've know about the election in the UK. And that's just the primary -- the election isn't till November.

The parliamentary system of having elections when the government decides (vast over simplification), rather then having fixed terms still strikes me as odd. However I can certainly see the advantage to less time being spend campaigning. Still I like predictability.

We have our voter's pamphlet now. They cut down on mailing and are issuing one per household rather then one per voter. I have to take the time to read it soon.


forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)

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