Harvard Forest conservation finance initiative seeks to protect water

first_imgThe Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET), one of the largest funding sources in Massachusetts for water quality projects, recently conferred a $25,000 grant to Harvard’s center for research and education in forestry and ecology, the Harvard Forest.The grant signals a new understanding of the links between preserving forest landscapes and strengthening freshwater resources in the Commonwealth, and will help Harvard Forest researchers develop new, more effective methods to finance forest conservation. Two major conservation finance prospects have already been identified: the aggregation and protection of adjacent conservation areas as large, intact watersheds, and the use of mitigation (or offset) mechanisms to fund new protection for public and privately owned land in the state.Funding Harvard Forest’s initiative is only one step in the MET’s acknowledgement of the critical linkage between land protection and water resource security.The Harvard Forest’s finance study for forest conservation is led by James Levitt, director of the Program on Conservation Innovation at the Harvard Forest and research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Levitt is working on this project in conjunction with David Foster, director of the Harvard Forest and faculty member in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.last_img read more

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Voicing the moods of Langston Hughes

first_imgIn 1931, Langston Hughes penned “The Black Clown,” a scathing expression of the African-American experience. Nearly 90 years later his words still sting.“Black — in a white world / Where cold winds blow. / The long struggle for life: / No schools, no work — / Not wanted here; not needed there — / Black — you can die. / Nobody will care,” reads a section of Hughes’ 17-stanza poem.From the start, Hughes was eager for the piece to have a life beyond the page. Alongside the text, he included vivid mood descriptions as well as instructions calling for his “dramatic monologue” to be “spoken by a pure-blooded Negro in the white suit and hat of a clown, to the music of a piano or orchestra.”The American Repertory Theater’s world premiere of “The Black Clown” has taken up Hughes’ challenge. Adapted by Davóne Tines ’09 and Michael Schachter ’09, and directed by Zack Winokur of the American Modern Opera Company, the work’s haunting score, staging, and choreography give the poem a renewed urgency, despair, and, ultimately, hope.,Tines, a bass-baritone and a member of AMOC, said he hopes that audiences leave the theater moved by a sense of common humanity and alert to the “importance of engaging with a person’s entire history when they engage with an individual, minorities, people from backgrounds that are different from the majority.”“I think one of the only ways that we can move toward a better society where people actually care for each other is by having an understanding of where people come from and the humanity that that imbues them with,” he added.,The origin of the collaboration behind the performance goes back several years, to when Tines sent his College friend Schachter a note saying that he wanted to “sing something that I feel deeply connected to.” The pair quickly gravitated to Hughes’ work, recognizing the dramatic potential of “The Black Clown.” AMOC’s open-endedness makes for an audacious, engaging residency A whirlwind of opera “From that very first moment it really jumped off the page for its immediacy, for the fact that having been written in 1931 it still read as if it were yesterday,” said Schachter.The final product is a complex, charged work that has both dazzled and challenged audiences.“Performing this piece and being allowed to present it with such an incredible family of collaborators is being empowered to make a statement that I feel is most crucial and critical in our world today,” said Tines.The show and Hughes’ words touch a nerve, he added, “because inequality and disparity in terms of racial life, in terms of minority experience, still exist.” Matt Aucoin ’12 returns to Harvard as co-artistic director of boundary-pushing company Modern opera with an old soul Relatedlast_img read more

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Think different, act more

first_imgThe threat of climate change is dire, but Hal Harvey sees a path forward.In “Getting to Zero on Climate Change,” a stirring presentation recently at the Harvard University Center for the Environment, Harvey, the CEO of Energy Innovation Policy and Technology in San Francisco, stressed both the urgency of the problem and specific steps that could, he said, make the difference between accelerating toward destruction or innovating toward prosperity.Citing “a massive problem with horrifying dimensions,” Harvey, the co-author of “Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy,” said that today, “extremes have become the norm.” From drought and wildfires to unprecedented floods and cold snaps, he detailed the effects we have already begun to experience. More terrifying is how close we are to climate tipping points, such as the thawing of the tundra — what used to be known as “permafrost” ­— which would release massive amounts of methane and carbon.“After a certain point you unleash natural systems and there’s no going back,” he said.But Harvey also laid out a series of steps that could counteract the problem, including policy recommendations that could be effected by concerned citizens.Rejecting small-scale, feel-good campaigns — “We shouldn’t have a strategy about plastic straws,” he said — Harvey broke down the problem into four major sectors that contribute the most to climate change: energy and the electric grid, transportation, buildings, and industry. Again pushing for efficacy, he suggested moving for change in the top 20 countries that contribute to climate change, specifically global heavyweights such as the U.S., China, E.U., India, and Russia. He then isolated specific policy changes here that could make a difference for our country and, ultimately, for the globe.One is the electrical grid. Harvey noted that green energy sources such as solar and wind are already becoming more cost-effective. In fact, with new technologies, such as larger wind turbines and turbines that can float and thus be placed farther from land, off-shore wind power is on the verge of becoming a major industry.However, these sources are intermittent, leaving many green-energy proponents focused on expensive and, thus far inefficient, battery technology. Instead, Harvey suggested that smarter and more flexible grids can enable municipalities to share resources, leveling out supply and demand. He said demand can also be managed, for instance by cooling skyscrapers in advance of extreme weather, thus using less energy during peak demand times.He also supported the wider use of renewable portfolio standards that would reward those who invest in these green power sources.Turning to transportation, Harvey applauded but dismissed the electric vehicle movement, which he said has too small a share of the market to make a difference. For vehicles already on the road, he suggested increasing incentives such as tax rebates and nonfinancial rewards, such as free parking. For the billions of cars that will be built in coming years, however, Harvey argued for super fuel-efficiency, pointing out that in addition to changes in engine technology, efficiency can be increased by making vehicles lighter and less wind-resistant.For buildings, Harvey said low-emission windows, coated with an invisible metallic layer, already greatly decrease demands for heating and cooling. He called for stronger building codes, like California’s, that focus on annual percentage gains in efficiency. Such continuous and expected progress does not need to be revisited legislatively, he noted, and creates a stable environment that let businesses plan for future construction. As a corollary, Harvey also called for stronger appliance efficiency, a trend that has already proved popular with consumers.Harvey said industry can also take steps to reduce waste. New 3-D technologies are already helping, as they define the specific components of building projects, eliminating the waste of concrete and other materials. In industrial engines, variable speed settings that use smart technologies to adjust automatically save on power as well as costs.Harvey pointed out that “most of the money [to make these changes] is there already.” While many climate change activists spend time trying to raise funds to help emerging countries, Harvey said the “world already spends about $5 trillion dollars a year on energy and another $6 trillion for infrastructure setting up consumption.” Reallocating these resources, rather than battling for new ones, is an achievable goal, he said. To effect the change, concerned citizens need only find out who is really in charge. Public utility commissions, for example, often have more practical impact than legislative bodies and regularly hold open meetings.Do the triage,” Harvey said. “Understand which policies make a difference and pay attention to who makes the decisions.“With a modest amount of work, a few tens of hours, you can become a player.”last_img read more

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Unemployment fraud audit creates fresh questions for Newsom

first_imgSACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is facing another scathing audit about the state’s failure to prevent billions in unemployment insurance fraud. It’s the latest political headache for the Democratic governor, who is also under pressure over the state’s coronavirus restrictions and vaccine rollout. The audit found the Employment Development Department paid out at least $10.4 billion in fraudulent claims due to “significant missteps and inaction.” Newsom’s administration is blaming the federal government and declining to share details about how often he was briefed on the problems. A spokeswoman points to actions he’s taken like creating a strike team and a fraud protection task force.last_img

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Notre Dame to hold Ally Week

first_imgThe fifth-annual Ally Week began Monday with a new focus on intersectionality, in addition to encouraging engagement from students who want to be allies. Director of the Gender Relations Center (GRC) Christine Caron Gebhardt said the focus on allies was intended to change University culture. “We realized that for our students who are LGBTQ to have a sense of belonging, their peers have to be involved and understand the path they’re walking and participate in a way where we’re all doing this together. We’re a community together,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for allies to understand the complexity of issues, be able to participate with students and to stand in solidarity with them. “Some students aren’t sure as to what it means to be an ally, and this helps to answer some questions as to how you can support students who are LGBTQ.”Sara Agostinelli, who is in her first year as the assistant director for LGBTQ student initiatives at the GRC, said Ally Week sought to accomplish several goals. “We’re looking for education, for opportunities to engage — to be social,” she said. “We’re looking for opportunities to pray and reflect together. We’re always striving to live up to that spirit of inclusion.”A T-shirt giveaway started off Ally Week Monday morning, followed by “More Color, More Pride,” a talk by Amber Hikes, executive director of LGBT affairs for the city of Philadelphia.The Philadelphia pride flag includes black and brown stripes, in addition to the rainbow stripes, to encourage racial intersectionality. “[Hikes is] going to talk about how marginalized people and communities be allies for one another and how we can do that work to be really intentionally welcoming and inclusive and being allies across that spectrum of social identities, of racial identities, of faith identities,” Agostinelli said. Right to Life, one of Ally Week’s co-sponsors, is hosting a Transgender Day of Remembrance on Tuesday at the Grotto from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.; the event is also part of Right to Life’s You Are Loved Week. Agostinelli said the event was a prayer service for “those who have been murdered because of their identity.” On Wednesday night at 7 p.m., an interfaith LGBTQ and ally Mass will be held in Sorin College, followed by a reception. Gebhardt said they tried to make the week more proactive and create opportunities for service, like Thursday’s event: assembling “Blessing Bags” to be donated to the Center for the Homeless in South Bend. Agostinelli said that because the rate of homelessness in the LGBT community is higher than average, the GRC wanted to assemble bags with various basic-needs items from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in 106 Duncan Student Center. To close out the week, two events are planned for Friday: an ally social at noon at Fieldhouse Mall and Greendot bystander training at 5 p.m. in the Notre Dame Room in LaFortune Student Center. The idea to deliver Greendot training with an LGBT perspective came from the GRC’s Firestarters. “This idea came out of students who asked if we could do the training from the LGBTQ lens,” she said. “The examples and the training … will help our ally students realize that these situations exist in all communities but will help them see what they look like.”Gebhardt said the GRC chose to do an Ally Week instead of a Pride Week because of the role allies play in shaping the community.“One of the reasons why we do the Ally Week is we do have a sense of standing up for the LGBT community as part of Stand Against Hate Week. … We really are wanting an Ally Week because without allies, you can’t change the culture,” she said. “There’s an intentionally as to why it’s an Ally Week. There are different events during the year where we feel like we are bringing visibility to the LGBTQ community.” Tags: Ally Week, Gender Relations Center, LGBTQ, StaND Against Hate Weeklast_img read more

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Drought Continues

first_imgIn spite of some May rains, severe drought continues across parts of Georgia. The northeast mountains, as well as central and southeast Georgia, are having severe drought conditions, based on the Palmer Drought Severity Index, calculated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center. The rest of the state is in moderate drought, except in the northwest corner. There, borderline drought conditions prevail. Continuing dry conditions These warmer days will increase the soil moisture loss and the stress on plants that lack well-developed root systems. The Climate Prediction Center calls for an increased likelihood of warmer-than-normal weather for June through August. That would increase the loss of moisture from the soil. The precipitation outlook for June through August is for an equal chance of below-normal, normal or above-normal rain amounts. Results and long-term predictions Soil moisture could quickly become inadequate if the state doesn’t have a major rain in the next week. Unfortunately, the prospects for moisture are poor. Cool nights and mild days have kept soil moisture loss from evaporation and transpiration at a minimum this spring. However, temperatures in south and central Georgia will be in the middle to upper 80s by the end of the week. Plantable but not recharged Recent rains have increased upper soil moisture and allowed farmers to continue planting in southwest and south-central Georgia. However, the rain has not been enough to recharge the soil moisture. The soil moisture has declined, especially across middle and southeast Georgia, during the past week. last_img read more

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Vermont joins antitrust lawsuit against credit card companies

first_imgVermont has sued American Express, Visa, and MasterCard to stop them from restricting merchants from offering consumers discounts, rewards, and information about card costs. Attorney General William Sorrell joined the US Department of Justice and nineteen states in filing an amended complaint late yesterday challenging the credit card companies’ rules which ultimately result in greater costs to consumers and merchants. Vermont also joined a proposed settlement with two of the companies. Although Visa and MasterCard have agreed to settle the case, American Express continues to fight the allegations.‘Vermont has been a leader in taking on the credit card industry for practices that stifle competition ‘ first through legislation and now through litigation. In these tough economic times it’s more important than ever to protect our businesses and consumers from unfair fees and costs,’ said Attorney General Sorrell.All three companies must also comply with a Vermont law that goes into effect on January 1, 2011, which eliminates restrictions on merchants that have been in place for many years. Under the new law, credit card companies must allow merchants to offer discounts and incentives based on the customer’s form of payment. For example, a merchant will be able to offer a 3% discount if the customer pays in cash. The companies also must allow merchants to accept certain cards at some locations and not others, and to impose a credit card minimum of $10 if it is clearly disclosed to consumers.Credit card acceptance fees, also known as ‘swipe fees,’ cost U.S. merchants approximately $35 billion each year. Merchants pay swipe fees each time a consumer uses a credit card to make a purchase. American Express has the highest swipe fees of any credit card network, charging merchants 3% on some transactions. Merchants pass on these billions of dollars in fees to consumers through higher retail prices. Vermont’s existing law and the amended complaint filed yesterday seek to remedy the credit card companies’ practice of suppressing competition by forbidding merchants from rewarding consumers who use less expensive credit cards or cash. Allowing merchants to do this should foster competition among credit card companies by encouraging them to lower fees.The settlement is subject to the provisions of the federal Tunney Act, which requires that the U.S. DOJ accept public comments during a 60-day period. The court will then review and determine whether to enter the proposed consent decree. December 21, 2010last_img read more

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Fridays on the Fly | The Mysterious Musky

first_imgThe musky is the heavy metal of flyfishing.“It’s a badass fish,” says fly fishing guide Matt Miles. “They’re mean. They’re extremely tough to catch. They’re almost impossible to figure out. They’ll scare you half to death when they eat. I’ve seen a 38-incher come out of the water three of four times during a fight.”Known for small stream and wild brook trout, the Blue Ridge is certainly a strange place to find a game fish that can reach upwards of four feet. Musky are closely related to northern pike and are native to the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region. The federal government began stocking Virginia rivers with musky in the 1930s, but the state did not begin managing the population in earnest until 2000. Changes in the stocking strategy have allowed musky populations to thrive in Virginia, especially on the New and James rivers.Joe Williams, a fisheries biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, has been managing the musky population in the New River and small lakes of southwest Virginia for the past 20 years. He said musky are reproducing naturally on both the James and New, prompting him to decrease his stocking numbers by nearly 80 percent.“The musky is more of a cool water fish,” he said. “They’re not native to Virginia, but they do well here. We’ve got a lot of cooler water creeks and springs that feed the [New] River so they thrive out there.”Miles has seen this boom first-hand. Originally from Lynchburg, Va., he moved to Colorado to become a fishing guide before returning to his native waters and starting his own guide service (mattmilesflyfishing.com). He puts clients on trout, smallmouth bass and land-locked stripers, but musky have held a special place in his heart since he first caught one on the fly.“I made maybe 50 casts and the fish didn’t follow,” he recalled. “Instead, he came directly off the bottom and out of nowhere. The fish literally ate the fly five feet from the boat. I had actually turned my head to say something to my buddy rowing and I just caught the flash out of the corner of my eye and was able to set the hook.”One is immediately shocked at their size: who wouldn’t want to fight a 40-pound fish on a fly rod? But that is not the only thing that draws anglers to go after musky. They are as elusive as they are menacing, a challenge all too familiar to the fly fisherman.“They’re mysterious. That’s what drives me to fish for them,” said Miles. “It’s such a challenge, trying to catch one of the hardest fish there is in fresh water.”Casting for musky on the fly is not your typical outing: it requires the biggest rod you can buy, the biggest fly you can tie, and the heaviest line you can throw. While 12 wt. rods and 10-inch hot pink streamers on sinking line may not appeal to the conventional fly fisherman, they are essential if targeting musky, an activity not for the faint of heart. Musky are notorious for their huge mouths of sharp teeth – they are known to eat ducklings off the water surface – powerful runs and spectacular aerial displays, but what defines this warm water trophy the best may be its erratic behavior. Miles has seen musky attack a fly immediately and without warning, but he has also seen a musky follow a fly all the way to the boat and not eat it.“I’ve never seen a fish put forth the effort they do and not eat. Never,” he said. “I’ve never seen a fish travel as far as they will following a fly and not eat the damn thing. Trout won’t do it; bass won’t do it. That’s the craziest thing about it.”This can make fishing for them frustrating, but frustration is not a stranger to the fly fisherman.“If we were going fishing to catch fish, we would not fly fish. We would do it an easier way. It’s kind of fitting to go after a musky with a fly. It’s kind of the hardest thing you can do.”Muskie Fishing from Summit Publishing on Vimeo.Where to FishNew RiverThe lower New River in southwest Virginia and West Virginia is the best option for musky in the area. The state record musky was pulled out of these waters in 2007.James RiverThe upper James River above Lynchburg is not quite a big a river as the New, but is rapidly gaining a reputation as a musky fishery of equal production.Shenandoah RiverThe VDGIF stocks both forks and the main channel of the Shenandoah, adding an intimidating predator lurking just under the surface of one of the East’s most beautiful rivers.Cave Run Lake The “Musky Capital of the South” is located just east of Lexington, Ky. and is famous for its large fish and consistent feeding action. The 54-inch state record was caught here in 2008, but you can also fish the tailwaters.Melton Hill LakePart of the Clinch River system in Tennessee, Melton Hill Lake is nearly 5,500 acres of prime predator habitat. The tailwaters are another great option, and a 50-inch limit is a testament to the behemoths that lurk there.last_img read more

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Rio de Janeiro hurries to prepare big New Year’s Eve party to open Golden Decade

first_img Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second-largest city, announced that it is preparing a party that will pull out all the stops to ring in 2011 as the start of what it considers its “Golden Decade,” in which it will host soccer’s World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, among other events. At a press conference at the famous Copacabana Palace hotel, the tourism secretary and president of Riotur (a public tourism-promotion agency), Antonio Figueira de Mello, announced a “spectacular event” for the ‘Reveillon’ (New Year’s Eve celebration) at the Copacabana beach (in the southern part of the city), popular with tourists. The principal novelty will be the launch that night, minutes before the countdown to midnight, of the logo for the Rio 2016 Olympics, on screens set up along the beach. The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Belgian Jacques Rogge, and the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, will be invited, and it is planned that Lula da Silva will activate the electronic system that will display the logo, in a symbolic formal act to conclude his administration, since he will leave office on 1 January. Figueira announced the firm that won the bidding to put on the traditional show, which will include a battery of twenty tons of fireworks launched from eleven rafts positioned off-shore, facing the coast. The event will cost 17.5 million reais (10.3 million dollars) “entirely contributed by the sponsors.” The winning firm, SMR – which put on a similar show in Valparaíso (Chile) ten years ago and won the pyrotechnic competition held in Vancouver (Canada) in 2010 – will develop the theme of a “Golden Decade” for the occasion, in reference to the events that Rio will host: the Olympics, the World Cup, the 2013 Confederations Cup soccer tournament, and the World Military Games. Figueiro emphasized that the aim is to further promote Rio, the largest and best-known port of entry for tourists to Brazil, abroad. There will be a special tribute to the “glamour of Copacabana,” the “Little Princess of the Sea,” which rang in 2010 with almost two million people and sixteen tons of fireworks. As a preview of the festivities, it was announced that at Christmas there will be a show on the main stage by the popular crooner Roberto Carlos, ‘The King.’ By Dialogo September 16, 2010last_img read more

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Can credit unions break the 4 minute mile?

first_img“To make technological break-throughs, we need to reconstruct the mental model we have about technology. We can’t look at technology based on how it affects what we do, in our daily lives or in the credit union industry. There are concepts people have heard of, understand somewhat, but still view them through today’s lenses, instead of a view to the future.” Google Solutions Architect Loren Hudziak gave a historic example of this concept to the 350+ credit union attendees during the 2017 CSCU annual conference.“Medical student Roger Bannister was the first person in recorded history to run the mile in under four minutes. Up until he did it in 1954, most people thought the four-minute mark was impossible to break. They thought the human body couldn’t physically go that fast – that it would collapse under the pressure. They thought ‘No-one could run a mile in less than four minutes.’ ‘It was impossible.’ It was a physical feat for Roger, but more importantly it broke a mental model that this was impossible. Once it was recognized that a four-minute mile was possible, Roger’s record was broken 49 days later, and now it is expected of even high school runners.”A specific example Hudziak gave is the way people view the cloud. “5% of all organizations are on the cloud today. We have a mental model about how we manage IT, and the cloud is a new and different model for computing. Benefits include paying only for what you need, and the ability to expand as needed. Another benefit is security. Some people still naively think that having systems in-house is safer than processing in the cloud. But the truth is that most individual IT systems are far less protected than that provided by cloud vendors. Ransomware and malware are becoming rampant in in-house IT systems, but cloud vendors have multiple methods to thwart these types of attacks.” continue reading » 14SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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