Weekly Links

Georgia Lawmakers Look to Ban Offshore Drilling

Weekly Links: brief commentary on local, state, and national stories from (roughly) the past week

Environment

Georgia Lawmakers Push for a Ban on Offshore Drilling

From The AJC. A bi-partisan group of lawmakers has put forth a resolution in the Georgia House calling for a ban on offshore oil drilling. This comes in response to President Trump’s indication many months ago that he would like to open the waters off the eastern coast of the U.S. to oil drilling. That move was met with widespread disapproval from governors and attorneys general from coastal states, as well as from mayors and local officials of cities along the coast.

Democratic State Representative Carl Gilliard of Garden City and Republican State Representative William Ligon of Brunswick believe the resolution, HR-48, has a better chance of passing this year thanks to a change in governors. Last year, a similar resolution failed largely because of Governor Nathan Deal’s disinterest in opposing offshore drilling. But current Governor Brian Kemp pledged on the campaign trail to take a firm stance in opposition to such drilling.


Climate

This Moss Was Buried Under Ice for 40,000 Years. Not Anymore.

From Popular Science. According to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, this is the warmest century in 115,000 years. Simon Pendleton, a P.h.D student in geology at the University of Colorado Boulder and lead author of the study, analyzed moss and lichen on the rocks of Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic only to discover that they had been covered in ice for the last 40,000 years – since the last ice age. Since such organisms continuously collect carbon-14, researchers can determine when they became covered in ice and for long by figuring out when they stopped collecting carbon-14.

Warming is literally uncovering layers and layers of history.
Each layers of melted snow reveals something new, such as the half-frozen and mummified human from 5,300 years ago that was discovered in the Alps in 1991. But in addition to seemingly innocuous things like new moss and lichen that were previously covered in ice, scientists are worried that melting ice could uncover less-fun things like viruses that were once thought to be extinct.


Urban Planning

The Western US is Growing Up

From Washington Post. The western US has long been known as the land of low-density sprawl, but that is changing quickly. Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Sacramento, and Long Beach could all see new buildings that will be each city’s tallest. Denver has plans for a 1,000 story skyscraper while Los Angeles has plans for a 77-story tower.

The major concern, though there doesn’t seem to be too much opposition, is how these buildings will impact views of the natural environment. That’s particularly true in Denver where residents place great emphasis on being able to see the Rocky Mountains. This is welcome opposition compared the backlash received by California lawmakers when they attempted last year to pass a state law that would override local zoning laws to require higher density development around transit stations. That opposition was largely from NIMBY activists in San Francisco who vehemently oppose any new development.

While many western (and southeastern) cities do need to get taller, opposition focused on obstructing the beauty of the natural landscape and not on denying others decent housing is refreshing.


Atlanta/Transit

MARTA Will Pass In Gwinnett . . . If People Show Up to Vote

From The AJC. A new poll from the AJC and Rosetta Stone Communications founds that 48 percent of people oppose Gwinnett County joining the MARTA rail system while only 41.5 percent support transit expansion. Other polls, though, have found much more support for MARTA in the county. Voters go to the polls in March to choose whether they want to join Fulton, Dekalb, Clayton, and Atlanta in the MARTA rail network.

The difference in poll results is that this latest poll overwhelmingly polled white Gwinnett County residents over the age of 40 – the demographic least receptive of MARTA expansion in the county. However, less than 43 percent of registered voters in Gwinnett are white. Over 90 percent of respondents in the Rosetta/AJC poll were over age 40 while 62 percent were white.

The reason for this is that pollsters wanted to match the demographics of those who turned out for the December runoff election – not the demographics of those who turned out for the general election in November (which was more representative of the actual population of Gwinnett – a population that supports MARTA expansion). The assumption being that turnout for a random election in March will more closely match the demographics of a special election vs. a general election.

Remember that there was significant outrage over the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners choosing to hold a separate referendum on MARTA expansion this year instead of including it on the November 2018 general election ballot. The poll numbers show why.

Cover Photo: Tybee Island Lighthouse


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