Articles by Maywa Montenegro
Maywa Montenegro is an editor and writer at Seed magazine, focusing mainly on ecology, bidiversity, agriculture, and sustainable development.
This little radio story, from NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, tells the story of a sprawling ranch in Texas. It was the single largest recipient of federal farm subsidies between 1999 and 2005 -- receiving some $8.3 million, not for cattle, but for cotton. Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group says this:
It's the exact opposite of what most taxpayers have in mind when they think of how their farm subsidy money is supporting agriculture.
The farm is so big and so profitable, apparently, that it only applies for subsidies because "other cotton growers do," and because "the federal subsidy program provides the framework for the whole cotton growing industry."
Ironically, while King Ranch is virtually forced to accept Washington's cotton money, it can't get any federal support for the conservation acreage that is now its most rapidly growing sector. It's too big, says the Farm bill, to qualify for that type of funding.
With everyone weighing in on this year's Nobel Peace Prize, it's been revealing to see what the media makes of it, and how oddly misdirected their questions have been: Will Al run for president? (Argh.) What has climate change got to do with peace? (Huh?) Is this merely a political jab to the current U.S. administration? (So what?)
But the editors of the NYT pretty much nailed it:
What the citation didn't mention but needs to be said is that it shouldn't have to be left to a private citizen -- even one so well known as Mr. Gore -- or a panel of scientists to raise that alarm or prove what is now clearly an undeniable link or champion solutions to a problem that endangers the entire planet.
That should be, and must be the job of governments. And governments -- above all the Bush administration -- have failed miserably.
There will be skeptics who ask what the Peace Prize has to do with global warming. The committee answered that unhesitatingly with its warning that climate change, if unchecked, could unleash massive migrations, violent competitions for resources and, ultimately, threaten the "security of mankind."
There will also be those who complain that this prize -- like the committee's earlier awards to Jimmy Carter and the chief United Nations nuclear inspector, Mohamed ElBaradei -- is an intentional slap at President Bush. It should be. We only wish that it would finally wake up the president.
What has your favorite Nobel coverage (good or bad) been?
Today, in an address to the Carnegie Institution for Science (timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Sputnik), Hillary rolled out her science agenda. After some strong rebukes to the Bush administration for its "war on science," she offered this course of action:
Expand human and robotic space exploration and speed development of vehicles to would replace the space shuttle.
Launch a space-based climate change initiative to combat global warming.
Create a $50-billion strategic energy fund to research ways to boost energy efficiency and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Comply with a legal requirement that the executive branch issue a national assessment on climate change every four years. She would also expand the assessment to reflect how U.S. regions and economic sectors are responding to the challenges posed by climate change.
Name an assistant to the president for science and technology, a position that was eliminated in the Bush White House.
Re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment.
Sounds pretty good, even if it's disconcerting that the space-based climate change initiative appears higher up than boosting energy efficiency. Let's hope that was just a hat tip to Sputnik.
Matthew Nisbet of Framing Science and his colleague, T. Myers, trawled through two decades of data on public opinion about global warming (sounds fun, huh?). The results will be published in the fall issue of the journal Public Opinion Quarterly.
Over the past 20 years, there have been dozens of news organization, academic, and nonpartisan public opinion surveys on global warming, yet there exists no authoritative summary of their collective findings. In this article, we provide a systematic review of trends in public opinion about global warming. We sifted through hundreds of polling questions culled from more than 70 surveys administered over the past 20 years. In compiling the available trends, we summarize public opinion across several key dimensions including (a) public awareness of the issue of global warming; (b) public understanding of the causes of global warming and the specifics of the policy debate; (c) public perceptions of the certainty of the science and the level of agreement among experts; (d) public concern about the impacts of global warming; (e) public support for policy action in light of potential economic costs; and (f) public support for the Kyoto climate treaty.
Unfortunately, the full text isn't available online, but Nisbet says that if you drop him an email, he'll send you a PDF. I look forward to reading it myself tonight.