Environmental problems?

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Nov 302009
 
Authors:

I am writing in response to Alex Stephens’ editorial from the Collegian on Nov. 5 titled, “Recycling no match for hyper consumption.” Stephens says hyper capitalism is to blame for all the environmental disasters we hear about every day.

He says we are in an age of hyper consumerism which leads to all of us using up earth’s natural resources. Stephens goes on to ask what would happen if all 350 million Americans wanted a new cell or a gallon of milk all at once. Well, one thing is for sure if this kind of demand hits the market: Prices will skyrocket, which will naturally reduce demand. Price structures in free markets act as a natural regulation for limited, scarce resources.

Despite this, I agree that we have environmental problems today. But as Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas, says, “To condemn free-market capitalism because of anything going on today makes no sense. There is no evidence that capitalism exists today. We are deeply involved in an interventionist-planned economy that allows major benefits to accrue to the politically connected of both political spectrums. One may condemn the fraud and the current system, but it must be called by its proper names – Keynesian inflationism, interventionism and corporatism.”

Therefore, Stephens should be arguing for capitalism and against our current system of corporatism.

David Ballantine
Senior
Political Science major

 Posted by at 8:08 am

False factory farming

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Nov 302009
 
Authors:

I am writing regarding to Robyn Scherer’s column from Friday titled, “The real, not so ugly truth behind factory farms.” In her article, Scherer responds to an author who gives some “untrue” facts about factory farming, in Scherer’s opinion.

Although I am not familiar with the specific claims that this author made about factory farming, I find Scherer’s article concerning because it addresses some of the negative aspects of factory farming very shallowly. Scherer said that she doesn’t agree with “standard commercial hog practices,” but she “can understand why they are raised the way they are.”

Scherer, I think most people can “understand” why animals like hogs are raised in confinement — it takes up less land, less maintenance and less money. Instead, people are concerned about the ethics of the animals’ well-being and environmental issues involved in raising animals in close confinement. Scherer says that “Hogs require shelter and would struggle to live out on open pasture.” I’m pretty sure that open pasture isn’t the only alternative to keeping hogs in crates in a warehouse-type building for either most or their entire lives. She says the same thing about chickens and that keeping them inside “helps to keep them healthier.” It is pretty well-known that keeping any animal in close confinement with hundreds or thousands of others contributes to a serious increase in disease. To counter this, you have to feed much higher amounts of antibiotics to the animals.

In this article, and others she has written this year, Scherer has often admitted that the agricultural industry is flawed, but she then proceeds to support its actions. We need more than an apathetic view of the agricultural industry as it is today.

The agriculture industry is very powerful in this country, and there are many more ethical, healthy and environmentally safer improvements that could be made if enough political support could be raised for them.

Joanna Harter
Senior
Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism major

 Posted by at 8:07 am

The drug war is bad, mmmk

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Nov 302009
 
Authors: Collegian Editorial Board

The government is looking to do something good for once: Loosen the reigns on its evil, long-standing war on drugs.

According to an Associated Press story filed Sunday, U.S. officials have been talking about ramping up drug treatment programs and decreasing the potency of the country’s incarceration practices — a move that studies show would cost far less taxpayer money than the current drug war model.

The AP story said new top-level appointees in President Barack Obama’s administration have indicated that the new leadership is planning to reduce the far-reaching effects the federal government has on the industry and move to a more reactive model.

Aside from fostering a more economically feasible program, an initiative to revamp the American philosophy in governing citizens’ drug habits would mirror the better model of more democratic European countries where it has been proven that government control on drugs is imprudent.

On a fundamental level, American political philosophy is based on personal freedoms — a concept the right wing, which is largely responsible for the drug war, has pretended to champion over the last three decades.

But the war on drugs is a prime example of American politicians backsliding against that philosophy.

The discussions to weaken the government’s efforts against the drug industry could lead to many social and financial benefits for the United States, including having to spend fewer taxpayer dollars on incarceration and implementing a much healthier system of trying to correct the problem that has so many peoples’ lives in shambles.

So applause and a tip of the hat are due for Obama the administration.

 Posted by at 7:54 am

Shameless conservatives still exploiting fear and hatred

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Nov 302009
 
Authors: Kevin Hollinshead

For all their talk about how Democrats’ policies will screw them in 2010 and beyond, conservatives in Congress and the media seem to be shooting themselves in the foot. Two events last week showed how the old Republican political tactic of fear and hate-mongering is still alive and well.

While “Tea Parties” have sprung up across the country since President Obama took office, Thursday’s gathering on Capitol Hill was the first explicit endorsement of these rallies by Republicans in Congress. After plugging the rally for days beforehand, they spoke and stood behind the podium at the event, playing to the protesters and smiling for cameras.

Last week, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-NC, shamelessly played the 9/11 card in vilifying President Obama’s health care plan, stating that “so-called health reform is more of a threat than any terrorist in any country.” She was rewarded with a front row seat behind the podium.

Though Republicans finally released their alternative to the Democrats’ health care bill, it was mentioned only in passing. You have to think the GOP realized that touting their useless money-drain of a bill would be less effective than continuing to bash Mr. Obama and playing to the Tea Party crazies.

Most disturbing about this particular protest, however, were the signs at the event. In addition to the tried and true “Obama is a Socialist/Kenyan/Communist/Muslim” drivel, a few particularly offensive signs took center-stage. A blown-up picture of a pile of bodies at a Nazi death camp with the caption “National Socialist Health care” made headlines.

One place card read, “Ken-ya Trust Obama?” Another read, “Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds” — a reference to an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory holding that one evil Jewish family has manipulated events worldwide for decades. Yet another depicted Mr. Obama as Sambo, the main character of a children’s book published in 1889, whose name later became a racial slur.

A poster of President Obama with a Hitler mustache is too silly to offend. To equate government-run health care with the Holocaust, however, is a disgusting insult to survivors and their families. Not a single Republican representative or senator would condemn the signs, choosing instead to flip it around and lie about how the media never covered (much more tame) anti-Bush signs.

Republicans aren’t done exploiting tragedy for their own agenda either, apparently. The morning after Thursday’s shootings at Fort Hood perpetrated by a Muslim Army Major, the disgraceful hosts of Fox News’ morning show, Fox and Friends, implied that the incident indicated some kind of Muslim problem in the military.

Co-host Brian Kilmeade asked if “special screenings” of all Muslims in the military should commence, and Gretchen Carlson yelped about how political correctness regarding treatment of Muslims in the military basically allowed the shootings to happen.

Even Rep. Michael MaCaul, R-Texas, got into the act, spouting an inflammatory gem of his own: “Whether it was domestic or foreign, clearly when a U.S. military base is attacked in this fashion, that is an act of terror in my book.”

When a white man killed five people at Camp Liberty, Iraq this past May, it didn’t lead to calls of “special screenings” for all white men in the military. When two Neo-Nazis murdered a black couple near Fort Bragg in 1995, it wasn’t considered an “act of terror.” The pathetic individuals mentioned above are among many using this tragedy to try to set off a new wave of anti-Muslim hysteria.

It looks like Conservatives in both Congress and the media have resumed using fear and hate-baiting politics. The Tea Party rallies and record ratings for Fox News suggest that these messages are resonating with some. But they would be wise to note that voters remember this tactic from the Bush days; after all, that’s one of the reasons President Obama was elected.

Kevin Hollinshead is a junior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 7:46 am

USDA gives CSU $1.2M to address water crises

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Nov 302009
 
Authors: Lauren Leete

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded CSU professors Mazdak Arabi and Reagan Waskom a total of $1.2 million to fund projects concerning Colorado’s water resources.

Since Colorado’s 2002 drought, Colorado stakeholders have raised concerns about how much water the state will retain for itself and how much water it will allocate to the other 18 states which rely on its supply, including Arkansas, Utah, California and Kansas.

But quantity is not the only issue of the water crisis rearing its head, and the lack of education concerning the pollution affecting water quality is concerning, said agricultural and resource economics professor and Colorado Water Institute member Chris Goemans.

“In the western United States, the predominant issue is water quantity – ‘Are we going to have enough?’ — but lurking in the darkness, about ready to explode is the water quality issue,” Goemans said.

Waskom, a professor in civil engineering and crop and soil science and director of the Colorado Water Institute, received a $667,000 grant from the USDA for his project in its second year.

It aims to address the water quality issue through working with five other land-grant institutions from North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and Montana.

“We are coordinating across the six states of EPA Region 8 to learn from each other, avoid duplication of effort and to bring a collaborative approach to water research, outreach and education,” Waskom said in an e-mail interview.

Waskom said he hopes their efforts, collaborating with more faculty, students and partners, will help educate the public and inform them of the impact their actions carry in a more cost-effective manner.

He said Colorado is lucky as an upstream state to have very good water quality, but there are still pollutants that enter back into the stream from:

  • mercury deposits in lakes,
  • selenium due to irrigation return flows and runoff,
  • nitrogen deposits in high altitude lakes,
  • sediment runoff from
  • construction sites, and
  • pharmaceuticals and personal care products in waste water.

“I’d like people to understand the footprint that their choices place upon our environment — choices about consumption, energy, waste disposal, recycling and water use,” Waskom said. “I believe that if people understand the impact of their individual actions and if they are given viable alternatives, many will choose to make wiser choices.”

Arabi, a civil and environmental engineering professor, developed an online support tool with a $615,000 grant from the USDA called eRAMs to help alleviate the flow of sediments, nutrients and pesticides into water that affect not only the stream ecology but also human health.

The water quality issue can be overcome through preventative conservation practices to minimize these types of pollutions, Arabi said. Such practices include reducing the rate of use for fertilizers and pesticides and building detention basins for sediments.

The eRAMs Web site will fuse together all sides of the water issue including socioeconomic, environmental and institutional factors to assist in sound decision-making when planning landscape positions and types of abatement strategies, he said.

“While each year billions of dollars in federal, state and local funds are spent to implement conservation practices, the eRAMS technology will provide scientifically sound solutions to maximize the environmental benefits gained per dollar spent on implementation of practices,” Arabi said.

The innovative aspect of eRAMs is the user doesn’t need any additional software or hardware to use the program. It’s an open-source Web site available to the community and can be applied to a variety of watersheds.

The program now is focused on the South Platte River basin in Colorado, and will be further expanded to the St. Joseph River basin in Indiana and Neuse River basin in North Carolina, Arabi said, where elevated levels of sediments and nutrients are major water quality concerns.

“Models like this allow us to understand the impacts of the choices that we make … (and) identify which particular policies we use (and) how they impact water quality,” Goemans said. “(They) catch us up on what we need to do in order to make these decisions.”

Staff writer Lauren Leete can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Pollutants enter back into the stream from:

  • mercury deposits in lakes,
  • selenium due to irrigation return flows and runoff,
  • nitrogen deposits in high altitude lakes,
  • sediment runoff from
  • construction sites, and
  • pharmaceuticals and personal care products in waste water.
 Posted by at 3:16 am

Gov. releases Colo. budget for FY 2011

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Nov 302009
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

Despite a proposed $56 million cut from Colorado’s higher education budget announced Friday, Gov. Bill Ritter’s spokesperson Evan Dryer said overall funding for higher education will increase due to projected increases in tuition revenues.

In an e-mail to the CSU community, university President Tony Frank said the proposed budget carries both positives and negatives, but compared to initial expectations, the new proposal isn’t so bad.

Although higher education will receive $282 million less in federal stimulus money than last year, Dryer said an increase of $226 million from the state’s General Fund will help make up the difference. Tuition dollars, which the proposal only allows to increase 9 percent over last year, will make up for the rest, Dryer said.

Overall, the higher education budget will increase from $1.959 billion for the fiscal year 2010 to $1.984 billion for the fiscal year 2011.

But, as Frank said, “Silver linings don’t come without clouds.”

Because the state had to spend its federal stimulus money quicker than it intended, Frank said CSU would probably receive only about $20 million in stimulus money rather than the $30 million the state had hoped would be available.

“(The federal stimulus money) is not going to have the long life it did before,” said CSU System Board of Governors spokesperson Michele McKinney in a phone interview with the Collegian last week.

Frank said because of the shortfall, the plans university officials had formulated for fiscal year 2012 will no longer work, and they must look at ways of “modestly accelerating” revenue flow increases and find areas of the university where expenses can be cut.

The CSU System Board of Governors has looked at “hypothetical” models that would alleviate the repercussions of future budget cuts, McKinney said.

The preliminary ideas include:

Restructuring funding to the university,

Privatizing portions of the CSU System and removing it from state control,

Consolidating all colleges into research or community college systems,

Partnering with other Colorado colleges to save higher education and,

Designing legislation that gives the board funding flexibility to ensure the system’s survival throughout the cuts.

Allowing universities more flexibility in deciding tuition increases is another option some state universities have lobbied for, but Dryer said Ritter proposed the 9 percent cap on tuition to “control tuition increases and keep college affordable for all Coloradans.”

“If the governing boards are given complete carte blanch to deal with tuition, it’s likely to rise more rapidly,” CSU political science professor John Straayer said in an interview last week.

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:10 am

CSU professors to discuss climate change

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Nov 302009
 
Authors: Sara Michael

Tonight, CSU professors will offer their insights as to the outcome of the much-anticipated United Nations’ December conference that will reveal the future of climate change and global warming policies.

The symposium seeks to educate attendees as to the importance of slowing global warming and climate change.

“People think because they can’t stick a weenie out their front door and roast it that global warming isn’t happening. But it is,” said Michael Manfredo, head of the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. “People don’t like to believe in what they can’t see.”

Sponsored by the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, the event will feature a panel of speakers who have attended former international climate conferences or will attend the United Nations meeting in Copenhagen. The speakers — each boast differing expertise in the realm of climate change — will offer their insight as to the outcome of the U.N. conference next month.

World leaders will meet in Copenhagen for the U.N. Climate Change Conference to establish a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The treaty will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first treaty developed to fight global warming, when it expires in 2012.

As of October 2009, the Kyoto Protocol, signed in Kyoto, Japan, has united 184 states under the goal of reducing four greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulphur hexafluouride and the two groups of gases produced by them-hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons.

Students are encouraged to attend today’s presentation in the Lory Student Center Grey Rock Room from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and ask questions or offer possible solutions to solving the climate change dilemma.

“I feel like (global warming) is over-exaggerated,” said Eric Shockley, a sophomore natural resources major. “Yeah, it’s important, but it’s been proven that climate change has happened over the course of the Earth. It’s happened before, it’s happening again.”

Fellow sophomore Matthew Petersen, a sociology major, agreed.

“Global warming is a big issue, but there isn’t really anything I can do differently that will make a difference,” he said, adding, “It gives me some warmer weather.”

Jill Baron, a Natural Resources ecology lab researcher, has some information that she think could change people’s perception on the issue.

In December, she will speak on the topic of the Global Nitrogen Cycle.

“Nitrogen is essential for life on earth,” she said. “But we have too much of a good thing.

Humans have increased the amount of usable nitrogen on Earth by 100 percent. This has resulted in the creation of the Dead Zone — bodies of water with reduced amounts of oxygen —in the Gulf of Mexico and in many of the world’s other estuaries.

“It’s a frightening time to be a human on this planet, given all we are doing to disrupt its natural cycles,” Baron said, adding, “It’s a very exciting time to be a scientist.”

Staff writer Sara Michael can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:04 am

Ink

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Nov 272009
 
Authors: Jenna Allen
 Posted by at 9:03 am

Aisle 9

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Nov 272009
 
Authors: Jenna Allen
 Posted by at 9:02 am

Life on the Edge

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Nov 272009
 
Authors: Jenna Allen
 Posted by at 9:02 am