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Micah Leinbach

Is the US Army "situating?" - 1 views

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    Sure, its a word that can mean a lot of things, but it sure looks like the US Army is taking a more situated approach to their tactics in the coming years. They're combining many means of approaching an area or situation (special ops, disaster relief, conventional combat, etc...) and combining teams to focus on regional areas (they'll receive language training, cultural training, and even equipment specific for regions where they can develop expertise).

    Even their training has the "mixed up" look of situated studies: "The training will focus on what the military calls 'hybrid' scenarios, in which a single battle space may require the entire continuum of military activity from support to civil authorities to training local security forces to counterinsurgency to counterterrorism raids to heavy combat."

    It isn't exactly academia, but I see some similarities...
Thomas Wilson

Amazon.com: Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possib... - 0 views

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    Shellenberger and Nordhaus' first big essay The Death of Environmentalism stated that in order for us to take more productive action on the ecological issues of today and tomorrow we must move past environmentalism to post-environmentalism. In their book The Breakthrough: from the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility they argue that the environmentalism that got us this far, is now failing to address the major ecological issues of our time including climate change, and that we must move past this "politics of limits" (what they claim traditional environmentalism is) and move forward to the what they call the "politics of possibility." This is the idea of harnessing all of our human innovation, technology, creative ideas, and passion and pushing for a new modernization, one in which there is more prosperity for all. This they claim will allow us to properly address and take action on the major ecological issues of our time, like climate change. It's a compelling argument but one that seems to have some holes in it. If we are to push for a new modernization, and increase everyone's prosperity, how exactly do we go about doing that? Modernization had terrible effects on the people who didn't have the resources to fight it, would this be round two of that history? How do we make that transition in a more manageable and civil way? Regardless, this book is a must read for environmental studies/science/policy students and teachers, as well as people who consider themselves environmentalists and those who do not. Shellenberger and Nordhaus are clearly trying to reach across the divide, meeting the political left, center and right, and have already influenced some politicians and big names in our society. Could this be the direction we head in? The Politics of possibility?

Micah Leinbach

An Overview: Altering Environmental Strategy - 0 views

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    Mainstream environmentalism is trying to modify both its image and its approach - some focuses included radicalizing actions, localizing focuses, and antagonizing political and corporate opponents. It also focuses on how information is conveyed, focusing more on quick, easy to interpret, pretty imagery and less on pessimistic facts and figures. Bill McKibben is cited as one of the acclaimed leaders of this approach, particularly given the Keystone XL Pipeline issue (discussed earlier in the year in 220). Notably, another headline sharing the papers this week is on that very pipeline - a recent payroll tax move passed by the senate requires a final decision on the project within 90 days. Given that the success was for the decision to be postponed until after the elections, that has been largely undone. It will be interesting to see how that success plays out, and if that reflects on the themes of this article. It bears the question: if you were the political adviser to the environmental movement, what advice would you give?
Jim Proctor

Game Changer | This American Life - 1 views

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    Just heard this podcast, and it's a really great example of situated research, in this case on fracking in Pennsylvania. The story is divided into two acts: the first concerns the role of scientists in the controversy, and the second concerns the politics of small towns caught up in gas exploration. I'd strongly recommend it, if only to suggest to your families over the winter break what situated research can look like!
Micah Leinbach

Me vs. Rachel Carson - 3 views

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    After getting some fairly audible gasps in class after questioning Silent Spring today, I wanted to justify myself a little bit lest I be burned at the stake as some sort of heretic. The paper above is a brief and neat explanation of American academia's role in legitimizing ecology as a science, and touches on how Carson (and other's) pushed it back towards being a values-oriented natural history built heavily out of ideas that one could perhaps fit under the framework of "romanticism."

    Just to back myself up further, here (http://onlineethics.org/CMS/profpractice/exempindex/carsonindex/kroll.aspx) is another article highlighting Carson's work as "subversive silence", i.e. very value/advocacy driven. Also highlights her focus on critiquing a certain type of laboratory science for being controlling - notably, one of romanticism's main tenants is a criticism of the rationalization of nature.

    Neither of this takes away from the fact that Carson was a) a decent scientist and b) wrote a book that did a lot of good. I'm not trying to dive into the "we could've stopped malaria" arguments she gets a lot, because I think that is a straw man argument. Nor do I think that it is bad to combine knowledge and values - quite the opposite. I simply think that a work that forced scientific depictions of its subject to change in response to public frameworks of thinking should be regarded as a great political work, not a great scientific one.

    I think it may be time to move beyond Silent Spring, certainly as a work of science, and perhaps even as a work of politics, and place it on the pedestal of history that it rightly deserves.
Micah Leinbach

Political Science, but for real this time. - 2 views

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    A (humorous - but maybe kind of serious) op/ed on testing political philosophies scientifically. Quote that helps sum it up:

    "What do politicians do when they think they have a great idea? They just go and implement it. It's like someone thinking he's got a cure for cancer and immediately injecting it into everyone he can. That's a madman, not a scientist. You always have to at least try out your idea on monkeys to make sure it doesn't kill them."
Kathryn Yeh

East African Participatory Environmental Governance - 2 views

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    This is an in depth look into how we need to change the way we look at changing government in the context of East Africa
Kristina Chyn

Congress, in a First, Removes an Animal From the Endangered Species List - 0 views

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    In accordance to our recent 160 readings, the Rocky Mountain Wolf has been removed from the endangered species list. This is the first time Congress has gotten directly involved in the Endangered Species Act. What are your thoughts on government and political control "rather than a science-based federal agency, remove endangered species protections?"
Micah Leinbach

Budget Cuts: an environmentalist take - 0 views

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    For anyone looking to see what the proposed budget cuts might mean for national parks, the EPA, various clean this-and-that regulations, and more.
Micah Leinbach

Cities, Politics, Suburbs, Republicans, Democrats, and so forth... - 1 views

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    Everyone's favorite players and the battle over cities that probably won't happen. Interesting article on the politics of cities, and how environmentalists have indeed been killing some forms of condensed living in favor of "viewsheds" and suburban dwellings for exurbanites. Draws into a lot of topics discussed this week in ENVS.
Caitlin Piserchia

Democrats Lament Demise of a Committee - 1 views

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    More on the death of the Select Committee on Energy Independence. Details the reasoning behind eliminating the committee and the "laments" of people who supported the committee.

    Republicans argue that the committee was a waste of money because it overlapped with the House Committees on Natural Resources and Energy and Commerce. The opposing point of view: the committee was worth the money, it was influential in passing the first vehicle efficiency legislation in 30 years as well as other climate change-related legislation, and it was essential for initiating bi-partisan movement on climate change and in educating/persuading legislators that climate change does exist. Daniel Weiss (Center for American Progress Action Fund): "We're one of the only countries of the world where leading government officials deny settled science."

    Will likely be a major roadblock for future climate change legislation.
Micah Leinbach

Goodbye House Global Warming Committee - 1 views

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    Short, but significant. Jim Sensenbrenner has announced that his committee on energy independence will be shutting down. The Select Committee on Energy Independence was called a waste of money.

    Calls to mind Julie Guthman's call to turn to policy and work on policy for environmental issues. Granted, that was agriculture, and this is energy, but ultimately I wonder if in this climate that is a waste or resources, or if because of the antagonism efforts to work on policy were never more necessary. I tend to lean toward the former camp, but still.

    This may not be all bad news, due to Jim Sensenbrenner. I can't help but do a little bashing. He's from my district, and I've never seen a politician get into so many flustered arguments with high school student's - and adult constituents. Commonly he has given the response "its a complicated issue, you wouldn't understand" to those who have question some of his policy decisions. He also made headlines for storming out of a committee meeting, gavel in hand, after members of the committee asked him to follow the rules of parliamentary procedure.

    I digress, but this committee was never being run in a way that was tremendously supportive of the climate change initiatives environmental groups tend to desire, and would likely have returned to that state. So it may not be such a bad thing that it is out of the way.

    Still an important foreshadow of where energy policy has fallen in the political landscape - clearly less of a priority than in the past, for both parties.
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    I think it's depressing. Although climate change and energy independence could arguably fall under the committees on natural resources and energy/commerce, the fact that there is no longer a committee that specifically targets these issues means they can more easily be ignored. What types of climate change initiatives was the committee against? I don't agree that it might be worth it to cut a somewhat effective committee that specifically targets climate change when there's no replacement for it. Passing climate policy in this climate will probably be difficult. But it will probably be a lot more difficult now that there isn't a group of people working on it directly. I think it was important in changing the view that climate change is a "Democratic" concern and getting Republican support for climate initiatives. At minimum, I think its presence was important in making sure the debate continues to be about what the largest concerns are/ what we can do to address them rather than whether or not climate change exists or not.

    Sensenbrenner: "While I was initially skeptical of the select committee's mission, it ultimately provided a forum for bipartisan debate and an opportunity for House Republicans to share a different view on the pressing energy and environment issues that we currently face."
Julia Huggins

Senate passes sweeping food safety bill - 0 views

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    A follow up to the post I made earlier in the semester about the food safety bill. As far as I can tell, it has been passed.

    This article highlights an important variation to the bill (from the October version) though; exemptions for small farms and those who sell directly at farmers markets. My original posting was in response to scare propaganda claiming that the food safety bill would outlaw small farming and farmers markets, so this new variation definitely changes things. The other side of the issue is covered here as well though, which questions if this will be the most effective solution, or just an opportunity for loopholes. Come on PoliSci majors, a little insight here?
Julia Huggins

Rep. John Shimkus: God decides when the "earth will end" - 0 views

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    Energy policy doesnt need to take environmental concerns into account because God will decide when the world will end.

    He cites these biblical excerpts as the infallible, perfect word of God. Yet let me also note that in his excerpts, God also declares that all inclinations of man's heart is evil from birth. Hmmm.... what, then, must this say about his motives? Obviously, I'm kidding, but I just wanted to share and highlight some of the absurdity I see. Yes, we can write this off as absurd and clearly not logical, so why prod so much at things that are clearly not worth our time? It's an important reality check to remember that this is happening in the world outside of LC's progressive bubble though, and despite how obviously absurd this seems, somehow it's still here, has power, and it is being taken seriously... by someone at least.
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    "There is a theological debate that this is a carbon starved planet."

    Like many, I'm tempted to simply poke fun at this guy and laugh at his obscenely ridiculous propositions (I'd wager to say that not too many priests or pastors would agree with the quote from Rep. Shimkus above), and to dismiss him as uneducated and spewing the same sort of tired "job-losing" rhetoric that seems to be the platform of conservatives in America these days.

    Yet -- he was elected. Maybe this is a flaw of our electoral process. Or maybe it truly does underscore how conflicted our country is ideologically. Somehow though, I don't buy the reliance on the Bible silliness that these guys spew out. It's really just another sentimental framework to hide their utmost faith in the actual religion of the 20th century -- the citadels of free-markets.

    An important reality check for sure.
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Peter Vidito

COOL IT Official Movie Website, NOW PLAYING | Videos - 1 views

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    The trailer for the new documentary from everyone's favorite environmental bete-noire, Bjorn Lomborg. What do you think?
Julia Huggins

Nothing Grows Forever - 0 views

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    Economics and Politics.

    "In essence, endless growth puts us on the horns of a seemingly intractable dilemma. Without it, we spiral into poverty. With it, we deplete the planet. Either way, we lose.
    Unless, of course, there's a third way. Could we have a healthy economy that doesn't grow? Could we stave off ecological collapse by reining in the world economy? Could we do it without starving?"

    An old idea revisited with a slightly lengthy (but easily read) background on limits to growth and it's place in economic history, plus a new perspective on how a limit to growth might actually work, and what that might look like.

    I find the concept of ' "uneconomic" growth-growth that actually drives living standards downward' (to improve happiness, nonetheless), and the argument behind it, intriguing. This is on page 4.

    After page 5 it starts to look like an idealistic no-grow-utopia. But then this is addressed in the conclusion, as well as some theories about the psychological changes that would have to happen. Then they bring it on back home to politics, and last but not least a reminder of our biological-ecological pending doom. Oh, all the environmental interdisciplinary-ness!

    "When it comes to determining the shape of our economy, the planet may possess the most powerful invisible hand of all."
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    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/03/18/the-no-growth-fantasy.html

    A counter. The ghost of Malthus will forever haunt no-growth economists, as the ultimate "we tried that already". And the train of thought is reasonable. Malthusian fears about population are one example. There is also a long list of oil/energy scares where people claimed prices were going up and supplies were going down, but adjusting for inflation proved the error of the former and time proved the error of the latter. When history, politics, and economic theory all oppose the no-growth idea, its no surprise that its viewed with a lot of healthy skepticism.

    That said, I'm a big fan of Herman Daly and the idea that the economy needs to be reformed. Because GDP is an awful way to measure prosperity. But to have an alternative is equally difficult - what should the standard of success be for the great human experiment? Happiness is normally the benchmark. And to academics that sounds all right, because happiness is generally seen as people spending time amongst their families, art, and high culture. But is that naturally what makes people happy? Consumerism was in a large part rooted in a desire for happiness also. Growth was meant to make people happy by making their lives better - and it has. Higher standards of living all over do have economic roots, though that is not neccessarily inherent to them.

    There is a lot more to say on this, but its a long enough comment as it is, so I'll leave that for another time. I do feel its one of the more serious debates of our (all?) time though, and I'm really glad you brought it up.
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    Obviously, I don't know or care too much about economics. I dont know how my conversations keep ending up here.

    But. "Growth was meant to make people happy by making their lives better - and it has."
    Really?

    Who, to you, qualifies as "people"? And how do you define better? Soaring rates of depression, chemical dependency, and obesity? Or maybe it's these lives that are better (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL0U_xmRem4)?
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    Perhaps because it relates so much to the various issues we have declared to be running rampant in the world today? It is very much connected to any environmental issue. Among a range of other issues.

    Anyways, I wrote a pretty lengthy response to your questions. I'll post the primary response to your questions here. A lot of it is based on the differences between economics, politics, industrialism, capitalism, and consumerism.

    In the tradition of Diigo debates, I have crafted a google site.

    https://sites.google.com/site/economicresponse/home

    The main page directly answers the question. The other page sets up some distinctions I see, personally, beteen various economic systems. I do not cite academic sources there, and I'm sure it would not take long to find economists who disagree with me, for what it is worth. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to flesh it out with other's ideas, and I apologize for that.
Peter Vidito

India's Microfinance Crisis is a Battle to Monopolize the Poor - Vineet Rai - The Conve... - 1 views

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    "Last month the Andhra Pradesh state passed the AP Microfinance Ordinance, "suspending operations of MFIs in the state and for all intents and purposes allowing borrowers to stop repaying their loans. The announcement of the Ordinance stressed the need to protect the poor - but the move might well, in the long term, leave them far worse off."
Micah Leinbach

Midterms and environmentalism - a more moderate voice - 0 views

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    Last of my posting on the political situation, just wanted to provide some variety. This is a more moderate view. It points out the fact that all things considered, the Obama administration has not been a huge help with environmental issues in so far, so the change will be tough on the environment, but not neccessarily dramatic. And it also has a touch of optimism at the end, that bills supporting certain aspects of energy issues may pass via compromise. But all told, its a lot of the old bad news, and more. Funding cuts seem to be a big worry - if you can't get rid of a committee, department, or what have you, its not as hard to make sure it has no money.

    I'd be interested in seeing how the elections at the state level might play out as well. The state parks system in my home state is under threat now, and I imagine the same might be true in other places. Anyone from other states know anything personally about whats going on at that scale?
Micah Leinbach

Midterms and environmentalism - why things are bad after all. - 0 views

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    A different look at the impacts the midterm will have on the varying aspects of the environmental movement, with a far more negative outlook than that of the Huffington Post blog. I found this article to be much more nuanced than the last, and it covers a broader range of issues. Even for those who aren't politically inclined, it wouldn't hurt to read just to have a general sense of what we can expect from the federal government in certain issues.

    I have to ask, is now the time for getting into Guthman's policy-based approach to solving agricultural issues? More broadly, should one always try and engage in policy issues, or is it more productive to apply energies elsewhere until the political climate is favorable to change?
Micah Leinbach

Midterms and clean energy - why things won't be so bad. - 0 views

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    Analysis of why the heavy democractic defeats this week won't neccessarily be a major impediment to progress on clean energy - something at admittedly was not progressing anyhow. Also argues for a private sector approach, turning clean energy into a commodity American's will want to make a part of their regular lives.
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