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6 cute animal friendships that will make you love science

Grist.org - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 21:46

I knew it. I should have been a scientist — then I could watch all the cute animal friendship videos I want and call it WORK! (I guess, technically, that’s also what I’m doing here #journalism.)

In the New York Times this week, Erica Goode writes about the potential knowledge to be gleaned from a virtual treasure trove of adorable animal friendships, pointing out that “the alliances could add to an understanding of how species communicate, what propels certain animals to connect across species lines, and the degree to which some animals can adopt the behaviors of other species.” Believe it or not, this seems legit:

“There’s no question that studying these relationships can give you some insight into the factors that go into normal relationships,” said Gordon Burghardt, a professor in the departments of psychology and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, who added that one video he liked to show students was of a small and persistent tortoise tussling over a ball with a Jack Russell terrier.

You’re right, Dr. Burghardt, that is a good one. On that note, here are our favorite animal buddy videos and what we think science can learn from them:

1. This one where the elephant and the dog are chill bros

Hypothesis: Elephants never forget how much you mean to them.

Bubbles and Bella (I know, I know, it’s TOO CUTE) became friends when they learned to play in the water together. And while we might not know anything definitive from the anecdotal, if adorable, evidence of one bomb elephant and his canine pal, we can definitely see hints of some kind of symbiotic relationship. Unlike the partnerships between animals in the wild — such as groupers and moray eels, who often hunt together to catch more food — these wacky friendships seem to have no value other than pure social bliss.

2. This one where the seal is not that chill, still a bro

Hypothesis: Seals are the dogs of the sea, sometimes more than actual dogs.

It’s cute! But are they really friends? Anthropologist Barbara King proposed some criteria for assessing friendships between other species: It must be “sustained for some period of time; there must be mutuality, with both of the animals engaged in the interaction; and some sort of accommodation must take place in the service of the relationship, whether a modification in behavior or in communication.”

Sorry, Lucille. That dog can pant on the beach with or without you.

3. This very happy dog and his chill iguana buddy

Hypothesis: A dog will befriend literally anything.

After all, with a few millennia of practice dealing with humans, these domesticated wolves are old pros when it comes to communicating across the species barrier.

4. That time the giant gorilla and tiny kitten became best friends, and we cried about it.

Hypothesis: Gorillas are cat people by and large; orangutans, on the other hand, prefer dogs.

Humans aren’t the only animals to have pets. Koko — the gorilla who famously set out to that anything we could do, she could do better — added “having adorable kittens” to a list that already included “communicate with other apes” and “hang out with celebrities.”

5. This clumsy cheetah cub learning to play nice with a wrinkly puppy

Hypothesis: Cheetahs are strictly dog people.

Even if we don’t learn too much about the social psychology of the Great Cats, we could stand to learn something about ourselves from all this animania. As ecologist Mark Bekoff of the University of Colorado, Boulder, told the New York Times, “People are really craving to be ‘re-wilded … They’re craving to be reconnected to nature, and it’s these odd examples that are really seductive.”

6. The time this Scottish cat watched over a herd of baby sheep. ( function() { var func = function() { var iframe_form = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-form-bd620fa9df74620e8a7b316179817d84-54cbfbc535a45'); var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-bd620fa9df74620e8a7b316179817d84-54cbfbc535a45'); if ( iframe_form && iframe ) { iframe_form.submit(); iframe.onload = function() { iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( { 'msg_type': 'poll_size', 'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-bd620fa9df74620e8a7b316179817d84-54cbfbc535a45' }, window.location.protocol + '//wpcomwidgets.com' ); } } // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) { var origin = document.createElement( 'a' ); origin.href = e.origin; // Verify message origin if ( 'wpcomwidgets.com' !== origin.host ) return; // Verify message is in a format we expect if ( 'object' !== typeof e.data || undefined === e.data.msg_type ) return; switch ( e.data.msg_type ) { case 'poll_size:response': var iframe = document.getElementById( e.data._request.frame_id ); if ( iframe && '' === iframe.width ) iframe.width = '100%'; if ( iframe && '' === iframe.height ) iframe.height = parseInt( e.data.height ); return; default: return; } } if ( 'function' === typeof window.addEventListener ) { window.addEventListener( 'message', funcSizeResponse, false ); } else if ( 'function' === typeof window.attachEvent ) { window.attachEvent( 'onmessage', funcSizeResponse ); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )();

Hypothesis: Bodacious, cat shepherd extraordinaire, possesses all the necessary traits to be a social media superstar. (Oh, wait, we’ve already confirmed that one.)

If you’ve learned anything today, I hope it’s that humans — yes, scientists are people too — have a near-infinite capacity for “squeeee!”


Filed under: Business & Technology, Living
Categories: Environment

Want free public transportation? Here’s what would happen

Grist.org - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 20:14

This story was originally published by The Atlantic and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

About 500 subway riders in Stockholm have an ingenious scheme to avoid paying fares. The group calls itself Planka.nu (rough translation: “Dodge the fare now”), and they’ve banded together because getting caught free-riding comes with a steep $120 penalty. Here’s how it works: Each member pays about $12 in monthly dues — which beats paying for a $35 weekly pass — and the resulting pool of cash more than covers any fines members incur. As an informal insurance group, Planka.nu has proven both successful and financially solvent. “We could build a Berlin Wall in the metro stations,” a spokesperson for Stockholm’s public-transit system told The New York Times. “They would still try to find ways to dodge.”

These Swedes’ strategy might seem like classic corner-cutting, but there’s a dreamy political tint to their actions. Like similar groups before them — Paris’s Métro-cheating “fraudster mutuals,” for example — they argue that public transportation should be free, just like education, parks, and libraries (and healthcare, in some parts of Europe). Planka.nu in particular laments the superiority of the car in what it calls “the current traffic hierarchy.” “The pure act of putting oneself behind the wheel seems, for almost everyone, to lead to egotistic behavior,” the group writes in one online manifesto. “We are confident that one is not born a motorist, but rather becomes one.”

These fare-dodging collectives’ egalitarian dream happens to align with some hopes of U.S. policymakers. There’s an intuitive, consequentialist argument that making public transit free would get drivers off the road and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the U.S., where government subsidies cover between 57 and 89 percent of operating costs for buses and 29 to 89 percent of those for rail, many public transit systems are quite affordable, costing in most cases less than $2, on average. If it might make transit more accessible to the masses and in the process reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, why not go all the way and make transportation free?

The earliest urban experiment in free public transit took place in Rome in the early 1970s. The city, plagued by unbearable traffic congestion, tried making its public buses free. At first, many passengers were confused: “There must be a trick,” a 62-year-old Roman carpenter told The New York Times as he boarded one bus. Then riders grew irritable. One “woman commuter” predicted that “swarms of kids and mixed-up people will ride around all day just because it doesn’t cost anything.” Romans couldn’t be bothered to ditch their cars—the buses were only half-full during the mid-day rush hour, “when hundreds of thousands battle their way home for a plate of spaghetti.” Six months after the failed, costly experiment, a cash-strapped Rome reinstated its fare system.

Three similar experiments in the U.S. — in Denver, Colo., and Trenton, N.J., in the late ’70s, and in Austin, Texas, around 1990 — also proved unfruitful and shaped the way American policy makers viewed the question of free public transit. All three were attempts to coax commuters out of their cars and onto subway platforms and buses. While they succeeded in increasing ridership, the new riders they brought in were people who were already walking or biking to work. For that reason, they were seen as failures.

A 2002 report released by the National Center for Transportation Research indicated that the lack of fares attracted hordes of young people, who brought with them a culture of vandalism, graffiti, and bad behavior — which all necessitated costly maintenance. The lure of “free,” the report implied, attracted the “wrong” crowd — the “right” crowd, of course, being wealthier people with cars, who aren’t very sensitive to price changes. The NCTR report concluded that eliminating fares “might be successful for small transit systems in fairly homogenous communities, it is nearly certain that fare-free implementation would not be appropriate for larger transit systems.”

Another report followed up 10 years later, revisiting the idea of a fare-free world. The report reviewed the roughly 40 American cities and towns with free transit systems. Most of the three dozen communities had been greatly successful in increasing ridership — the number of riders shot up 20 to 60 percent “in a matter of months.” But these successes were only to be found in communities with transit needs different from those of the biggest cities; almost all of the areas studied were either small cities with few riders, resort communities with populations that “swell inordinately during tourist seasons,” and college towns. In other words, slashing fares to zero is something that likely wouldn’t work in big cities.

Despite that, one big city has tried. In January 2013, Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, announced that it was making public transit free to all of its citizens. A study released a year later revealed that the move only increased demand by 1.2 percent — though it did inspire Estonians that year to register as Tallinnian citizens at three times the normal rate. The authors of the Tallinn study reached the same conclusion as the NCTR: Free subway rides entice people who would otherwise walk, not people who would otherwise drive.

What makes more sense than implementing free transit on a grand scale is deploying it as a specialized tool. By the summer of 2013, officials in Singapore, for example, noticed that the city’s subways were getting unsustainably crowded during peak hours, between 8:15 and 9:15 in the morning. In response, the city comped rides for anyone who got off the train in a city center before 7:45. The shift made a significant difference. Before the rule change, peak-hours riders outnumbered off-peak riders about three to one; after, that ratio was closer to two to one.

Getting people less frustrated with the concept of paying for public transportation, though, might just be a matter of telling them about its operating costs. Public transit is wildly expensive, but also, as noted above, heavily subsidized. A 2014 study in Transportation Research found that simply telling people just how heavily subsidized their subways and buses were made them willing to pay more money to ride. (Perhaps the recent price hike in New York’s public transit system would have gone over more smoothly had the system’s subsidies also been publicized.)

Perhaps the cost of public transportation shouldn’t be looked at from an angle of reducing traffic and emissions. Sure, that’s a noble question, but those turnstile-hopping Swedes might have a point. Maybe free public transit should be thought of not as a behavioral instrument, but as a right; poorer citizens have just as much of a privilege to get around conveniently as wealthier ones. If the debate shifted from means-to-an-end thinking to pure egalitarianism, the hope of free public transit might actually be realized. Until then, there’s always Planka.nu.


Filed under: Article
Categories: Environment

Can urban foraging actually feed poor people?

Grist.org - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 19:58

What if we connected the people most in need of healthy food with the expensive, nutrient-dense greens that just happen to be growing between the cracks in their driveways? A project at UC Berkeley is testing out this idea. Philip Stark, chair of the Berkeley statistics department, has organized a team of researchers to map edible plants in low-income neighborhoods, with the goal of creating a website that will show residents how to find food close to their homes.

In the U.S., poverty is highly correlated with obesity and diet-related disease. If poor people actually found it feasible to eat foraged greens, the public health benefit could be immense. And incidentally, the places labeled as food deserts — the low-income neighborhoods without markets, but plenty of overgrown yards — are also the places where Stark is finding the most edible weeds. “The hypothesis is that the food is already there,” he said. “It’s just not recognized as food.”

I asked Stark if I could tag along with him some time when he went out looking at plants, which he said he does nearly every day. We met at his home in the Berkeley hills and strolled the winding roads.

A walk with a forager is not a leisurely expedition. Stark did not gaze out at the vistas, nor remark on the architectural details of the houses we passed. Instead, he stared intently at the margins of the road, and regularly broke off mid-sentence to dash to one side or the other and inspect something green and nondescript. He is tall, lean, and balding, with close shorn hair and a week’s worth of bristles on his face. He wore sandals (a simple sole attached to his foot with leather laces), loose gray pants, and an unblemished rust-orange Arc-Teryx windbreaker. He rattled off Latin and common names faster than I could write them down. “Lactuca virosa,” he said, squatting and plucking a hairy leaf. “Opium lettuce, or bitter lettuce.” He put it into his mouth and chewed. I did the same. It was bitter, not overwhelmingly so, but also not something I’d want to eat in bulk. “I actually quite like things with stronger flavors,” Stark said. He’ll use a bitter leaf or two like a spice, to punctuate an otherwise conventional omelette or piece of meat.

Wild onion.

 

A little farther on we came to a little sloping triangle of dirt between a driveway and the road. Stark began listing the edible species there. “Bristly ox tongue, curly dock, miner’s lettuce, mallow, fennel, chickweed, sow thistle, cow parsnip, wood sorrel, nasturtium … Here’s a 10-ingredient salad, more than you could get in a mixed mesclun bag at the farmers market. And it’s free.”

On the second day of official fieldwork for the project, Stark told me, he and his compatriots bumped into another team looking for precisely the same plants. It was a team of city workers in hazardous-materials suits, spraying herbicide to kill the greens. They were in West Oakland, where lived people whose diets would surely be improved by eating those weeds. Here were two problems — people in need of free health food, and weeds in need of removal — that might be combined to form a single solution.

Let’s call it a potential solution for now. There are still issues to sort out. First, is it safe to eat greens growing amid herbicide, auto exhaust, dog poop, and the mystery fallout of urban grime? Second, will the people who most need more greens in their diet have the time to forage, and wash, and cook them?

Stark is running a battery of tests to answer the first question. Plants do absorb pollution, but it’s unclear if they take in enough to cause a concern.

The second question is tougher. Foraging makes perfect sense if you are cash poor and time rich. But it makes no sense when you’re working three jobs and still broke. Several attempts to fix food deserts have failed because the problem isn’t simply that people lack access to vegetables — they also may not have the skills to make them delicious, or the time to prepare them.

Let me admit here to some skepticism about urban foraging. It’s a skepticism that comes from listening to the edible-plants people, who share valuable knowledge but always seem to insist on mixing in a liberal helping of dubious claims. The foragers who are particularly prone to making assertions that are fantastic (if you want to be polite) or obviously false (if you don’t) can be divided into three categories: the survivalists, the herbalists, and the tastebud-less.

Broad-leafed dock.

The survivalists were the ones with the conviction that they could someday subsist on plantain heads and dock leaves. Rebecca Lerner carried out that experiment, and described it in her book, The Dandelion Hunter. After a week of living off the land in Portland, eating salads and weak, vegetative teas, she wrote:

My body was achy and limp. My legs were so weak that I had to brace myself against the wall like an old lady who lost her walker.

She wisely gave in, and cut off her experiment to gorge on Thai food, noting, “There’s a thin line between badass and dumbass.”

The herbalists are the ones who insist on telling me that such and such is good for the liver or will flush out my toxins. I’m a fan of alternative medicine, but when I’m trying to learn something I like my information to be evidence-based. When someone tells me earnestly that Echinacea cures colds (even though I know it’s been studied to death and ultimately looks like a good placebo) it makes me doubt everything else I’m learning from them.

Then there’s the tastebud-less: The folks that munch on tough old dandelions and proclaim them delicious. As Tama Matsouka Wong writes in her book Foraged Flavor, it’s easy to find books to tell you what is edible, but the “existing books offered recipes with instructions such ‘parboil in water three times to remove bitterness’ or ‘braise the milkweed shoots for two hours.’ It sounded too much like space shuttle or survival food — the kind of thing you would only eat if you were starving in the wilderness!” The highest praise in many guides is “mildness” — the ability of a plant to pass through your mouth undetected. One of the books in that vein is Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America, by Alfred C. Kinsey; it contains a comprehensive listing of species, but doesn’t tell you what to do with them. (The same might be said, incidentally, of Kinsey’s more famous reports on human sexuality — plenty of facts, but no advice for the lay reader on putting them into practice.)

The foraging literature frequently ignores flavor — there’s a touch of the apocalyptic asceticism in many of the guidebooks. They carry the implication that, come the cataclysm, there will be no place for those who hesitate to scarf down hairy bittercress.

These three breeds of forager specialize in promising far more than is reasonably possible. So if you’re skeptical about the possibility of low-income Americans foraging in cities for bitter greens, I get it.

But we shouldn’t let the hyperbolic foragers out there spoil what, done right, can be a truly good thing. The people who stick with it eventually figure out that dandelion greens won’t feed the starving, and that edible does not equal delicious. (Sadly, though, it seems harder to shake the habit of pronouncing herbs cure-alls.) Experienced foragers understand that you can’t actually survive on wild salads alone: It’s fruits, nuts, seeds, roots, and meat that provide the calories. In her book, Lerner eventually finds her foraging groove; with the help of a small village of friends, she assembles a Thanksgiving dinner which she calls “an impressive display: rose hips sauce, roasted cattail, nettle, mushrooms, wapato, venison, scones, and even wild beer.”

I’d be pleased to get that at a fancy San Francisco restaurant.

Fennel.

And of course, the finest restaurants are serving foraged weeds already. Daniel, the New York eatery with two Michelin stars, and Copenhagen’s Noma, often called the best restaurant in the world, both rely on foraged foods — tapping the flavors and textures of things people normally don’t think of as food.

The success of those restaurants renewed my interest in foraging. I have no desire to be the sort of guy who tries to serve his family survivalist salads of the “actually, starvation is sounding pretty good right now” school. But Wong, who forages for Daniel, has published a book full of recipes and advice for turning weeds into high cuisine.

We’ve reached a strange moment when foraging is firmly associated with upper class food — so much so that it’s impossible to say you are serving, for example, foraged sheep sorrel or wild fennel sprigs without it sounding a bit pretentious. This is strange, because foraging was once a refuge for the desperately poor, and still is in many places.

In 1922, Euell Theophilus Gibbons was 11 years old, and his family was starving. His father had left their homestead in rural New Mexico to look for work, and his mother was sick — she was giving the food she had to her four children, rather than eating herself. They ate their animals, one by one. The horse died, and the family dog ate her. The 11-year-old Gibbons went out looking for food — and he found it. He found rabbits and prickly pears, mushrooms and berries. He fed his family every day for a month until his father returned. And he never stopped foraging.

Forty years later — 40 years spend hoboing, and cotton picking, and bronco busting, and working as a communist agitator — Gibbons wrote a book about foraging titled Stalking the Wild Asparagus. It was a bestseller. It’s this book that seeded the idea of foraging into the nascent environmental movement, setting the taproot for the later success of restaurants like Daniel. The root of our current fussy fascination with foraging was a hungry kid in New Mexico, searching the desert for something he could give his mother.

Gibbons counsels that deep wilderness is a poor place to go looking for food. The best spots, he writes, are “old fields, fence rows, burned off areas, roadsides, along streams, woodlots, around farm ponds, swampy areas and even vacant lots.” The plants that are good for people to eat travel and live with us. Dandelions came to the New World on the Mayflower, though historians don’t know if they were meant to be a medicine or food. (Dandelions can provide real sustenance if you dig up their starchy roots, rather than trying to eat their leaves.)

Sourgrass or wood sorrel.

I’ve been researching the plants and animals that thrive alongside humans, and that’s what got me interested in foraging. My research is for a book I’m writing — a sort of urban field guide to the species that are so common they’ve become invisible. I tend to dislike invasive plants, because they take over and crowd out diversity. But when I began to look closely at these weeds I saw a lot to admire. They grow in incredibly hostile environments, without water, fertilizer, or even soil. They grow despite the fact that people frequently pull them up and poison them. They are tough, versatile, and resilient. And, as Wong points out, the chemicals that make these weeds so strong also give them the powerful flavors prized by chefs. There’s something about these flavorful plants that seems to endow the people who eat them with health — these phytochemicals are mysterious because they are frequently poisons, produced by plants to keep themselves from being eaten. But the theory is that, because we evolved eating low doses of these toxins, we need them: They create a stress response, much like exercise does, and give your system a work out.

Eating weeds has allowed me to engage with the natural world in a new way. I chew on peppery nasturtium leaves on my way to work. When I’m making a sandwich and realize we’re out of greens, I just go outside and grab some. I pluck unfamiliar plants and take them home for identification.

“Once your brain registers that there’s food out there, your brain starts interacting with the environment in a different way,” Stark told me. I believe it. What was once just a green jumble in every unmown verge has began to gain focus for me.

My 3-year old, who never learned not to see these plants, can identify almost as many species as I can. As a game, I’ll sit on our stoop and send her off to search for oxalis or dock, and a few minutes later she’ll come running back with the correct leaf. She normally hates to eat anything green, but she’ll happily sample what she gathers. It still seems miraculous to me that toddlers — and all of us actually — can pick one nondescript plant out of many. When you learn an edible plant, there’s something that clicks into place. Here’s how Gibbons described it to the writer John McPhee:

It’s exactly like recognizing someone’s face; once you know a person, you know that person from all other people. If you came home at night and a woman you had never seen was standing in your house, you wouldn’t think it was your wife. God help you anyway if you would.

The contemplative pleasure of getting to know my natural neighbors is a middle-class luxury. I don’t think I’d be taking the time to learn and taste my weeds if I was a single parent, hustling to get my kids fed and into bed. I might, however, have the time if I were a child of that single parent — like Gibbons. There’s often at least one person in a household who could make time to forage if they knew how, or had a good mentor.

There’s a sense of rootedness that comes with knowing the wild things in a place, and a satisfaction that comes with finding food to help support your family. I’m not talking like a survivalist here — there’s no way people in West Oakland are going to get the bulk of their calories from weeds any time soon. I’m just pointing out that a small helping of foraged greens each day could make people healthier, even if it’s layered in a fast-food hamburger to provide some crunch.

Chickweed.

There’s no need to make airy claims about the detox powers of wild plants, when we can instead point to the clear, well-established, and powerful benefits of eating leafy green vegetables. Perhaps we’d all be better off, poor and middle class alike, if we could open our eyes to the natural world around us and see the richness there that we usually miss.

I’d say that urban foraging is a long shot, in terms of its chances to be an effective intervention against obesity. But is foraging any more of a long shot than urban gardens? When the Obamas planted a garden on the White House lawn it became a symbol of the struggle to get fresh healthy food into the hands of ordinary Americans. I’m a supporter of gardens in general, and that garden specifically. But I’d like to point out that it was preceded by other symbols on the White House lawn. Once, many years before anyone knew the name Obama, Euell Gibbons put his arm through the fence surrounding the White House to pick four different edible plants. The food is there, if we have eyes to see it.


Filed under: Article, Cities, Food
Categories: Environment

What a Huckabee nomination would mean for the climate

Grist.org - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 19:18

As soon as they raised the possibility of running for president in 2016, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney gathered waves of attention from the national media. And now that Romney’s flip-flopped his way back out of the race, he’s getting another wave. Meanwhile, a potential candidate who might stand an even better chance of winning the Republican nomination is being largely overlooked. And while Bush and Romney are supposedly moderate, this other guy is the only likely Republican candidate ever to have supported cap-and-trade.

I’m speaking, of course, about Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor is undoubtedly conservative, especially on social issues. But he has a softer side, with the amiable charisma of an avuncular Southern preacher. This geniality — and emphasis on reaching out to non-traditional Republican constituencies, like the younger voters who helped him win the 2008 Iowa caucuses — has led him to sometimes take unexpected positions in favor of education investment and carbon regulation.

It also could lead him to victory in the Republican primaries. Bush (like Romney) comes from the GOP’s monied establishment wing, and that gets him a lot of attention from the East Coast establishment media. But neither Wall Street nor the mainstream media will solely determine the Republican nominee. The Republican primary electorate is a lot more Evangelical, rural, and socially conservative than the country as a whole. That is to say, it looks a lot more like Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher from Hope, Ark., than like Bush. That’s why in 2008, despite being vastly outraised and outspent by Romney, Huckabee came from nowhere to win the Iowa caucuses and finish second in delegates overall to John McCain.

This time, Huckabee is vastly better known, and he will therefore be better-funded. Huckabee has an email list with hundreds of thousands of names. He has just stepped down from his Fox TV show, which was watched by over a million viewers, to consider a presidential campaign. In 2012, a relatively dour candidate from Fox, Rick Santorum, came from far behind on the strength of the Evangelical conservative vote to beat Romney in Iowa.

Early polls show Huckabee is strong nationally and in key early states. In Iowa, a Public Policy Polling survey found Huckabee had the highest approval rating among Republicans of any presidential contender. He led the entire field in the three most recent Iowa polls, including a nine-point lead in a CNN poll and four in a poll from Fox. The candidate who came in second in those last two Iowa polls, Paul Ryan, isn’t running. Huckabee is second to Bush in South Carolina. Nationally, with Ryan now out, Huckabee is bunched up in a three-way tie with Scott Walker and Rand Paul for third place, behind Bush and Chris Christie, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.

But Huckabee is likeable and an Evangelical, while most of his main competitors are neither. In both Iowa and South Carolina, more than 60 percent of Republicans voting in the primaries or caucuses will be born-again or Evangelical Christians.

So Huckabee is a serious, underrated contender for the GOP presidential nomination. But would he protect the climate? Probably not. While Huckabee appears to have actual, unwavering beliefs, such as his opposition to abortion rights, environmentalism is not one of them. When Huckabee ran for president in the 2008 race, the Evangelical “creation care” environmental movement was at its peak and the GOP in general was more accepting of climate science. As The New Republic noted in 2011, “Between 2006 to 2008, creation care seemed poised to transform evangelical politics. 86 evangelical leaders initially signed the Climate Initiative in 2006 — it had more than 100 endorsers by the next year.”

And so at a 2007 climate change conference in New Hampshire, Huckabee backed climate action. “Climate change is here, it’s real,” he said. “I also support cap-and-trade of carbon emissions.” Huckabee framed it as a “moral issue,” saying, “We have a responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to conserve energy, to find alternative forms of energy that are renewable and sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

But the Evangelical dalliance with creation care was brief. As Republicans turned away from climate science in 2009, an Evangelical backlash against environmentalism brewed, and Huckabee fell into line. In 2010, Huckabee falsely claimed that he had never backed cap-and-trade, saying, “I never did support and never would support it — period.”

Now white Evangelicals have cemented their status as the most anti-environmental religious group. As The New Republic observed on Thursday, “Recent polls suggest evangelicals are more likely than any other religious cohort to chalk worsening natural disasters up to the apocalypse, instead of human impacts on the environment.” And Huckabee gives them what they want. In 2013, he hosted leading climate science denier James Inhofe on his radio program, while contributing a few whoppers of his own. “When I was in college, all the literature at that time from the scientific community said that we were going to freeze to death,” said Huckabee. He also claimed that the 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland spewed more CO2 into the atmosphere than all human activity over a century. Both claims are wildly untrue.

So it looks like Huckabee’s stance on climate change will continue to be determined by his political interest. That will mean appealing to the religious social conservatives who have propelled him into the national spotlight. Huckabee is already working to suck up to them with ridiculous culture-war complaints about how women in New York City swear too much and how the Obamas shouldn’t let their daughters listen to Beyoncé. If this all sounds stupid to you, that means Huckabee’s doing it right. He’s going after the crowd that gets bent out of shape about things like the “War on Christmas.” That’s bad news for the climate, because “creation care” is no longer a driving force among Evangelicals, if it ever was.


Filed under: Climate & Energy, Politics
Categories: Environment

Movers in Vancouver Now Provide Moving Tips on Their Website

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 18:46

Moving can be a hectic job; but moving without effective planning can turn out to be a nightmare. Ferguson Moving Company now provides tips for hassle-free moving on its website at...

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12453371.htm

Categories: Environment

2015 Mother of the Bride Dresses from Weddingshe Offered at Discounted...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 18:46

Recently, Weddingshe has announced its new collection of 2015 Mother of the Bride Dresses, and launched a special offer for all its customers.

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12464607.htm

Categories: Environment

Hilton Concord Earns Green Business Certification and Green Building...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 18:46

Hilton Concord has been honored with two prestigious and coveted designations for its ongoing dedication and commitment to sustainability.

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12478156.htm

Categories: Environment

Fecbek’s Lingerie Sale For The Upcoming Valentine’s Day: It Was Even A...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 18:46

Fecbek finds that the sexy lingerie is another expression for love. So, it is now announcing its lingerie sale for the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/02/prweb12483869.htm

Categories: Environment

Benjamin Obdyke Announces Release of Slicker® HP Housewrap

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 18:46

Single solution combines commercial-grade housewrap with detachable rainscreen, offering maximum moisture protection with simplified installation

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/02/prweb12484146.htm

Categories: Environment

Women In Trucking Association launches Smart Phone App designed by...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 18:46

The Women In Trucking (WIT) Association has partnered with uFollowit™ , a leading provider of mobile applications to offer an application designed to connect the organization’s current and potential...

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12481865.htm

Categories: Environment

USAirPurifiers.com Announces Complimentary Allergy Resource Ebook...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:46

USAirPurifiers.com announces free Allergy Resource Ebook offering top tips for allergy relief and more. This 86 page quality Ebook is loaded with information and tips for relief from burdensome...

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12469505.htm

Categories: Environment

Larson Electronics Releases a 1000 Watt Metal Halide Light Fixture...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:46

Larson Electronics announces the release of a 1,000 watt metal halide light fixture equipped with external ballast. Constructed of die cast aluminum and U.L. listed for marine use, this fixture...

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/larsonelectronics/explosionprooflights/prweb12482693.htm

Categories: Environment

Global Produced Water Treatment Market at 6.3% CAGR to 2019 - New...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:46

ReportsnReports.com adds “Produced Water Treatment Market by Application (Onshore & Offshore), by Treatment Types (Physical, Chemical, Membrane and Others) & by Geography - Global Trends &...

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/produced-water-treatment/market-forecast-to-2019/prweb12482435.htm

Categories: Environment

Tacoma Public Schools Begins Paperless Flyer Distribution with...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:46

Peachjar improves school-to-home communication for Tacoma Public Schools by streamlining school flyer distribution and delivering eflyers directly to parents.

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12483483.htm

Categories: Environment

Global & China Glyphosate Industry 2020 Analysis Report, Now...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:46

DeepResearchReports.com announces the addition of the new report “2015 Deep Research Report on Global and China Glyphosate Industry” of 177 pages to its research database.

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/glyphosate-industry/global-and-china-report/prweb12483915.htm

Categories: Environment

FiltersFast.com Enhances Winter Blast Shipping Offer

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:46

FiltersFast.com is offering free shipping on all orders totaling over $50.00. This is a limited time offer between now and February 3, 2015.

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01enhancedwinterblastoffe/prweb12475048.htm

Categories: Environment

Climate Change, Carbon Emissions Threaten Human Health Reports Fresh...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:46

Bio-Logic Aqua® Research founder and host of Sharon Kleyne Hour™ Power of Water® radio show to discuss dry eye, dehydration and other climate related diseases.

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12480112.htm

Categories: Environment

Conference on Mesothelioma Co-Hosted with National Cancer Institute

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:46

On March 2-4, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will co-host the annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma at the National Institutes...

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12483077.htm

Categories: Environment

2015 Aquaponics Training Schedule Announced

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:46

Nelson and Pade, Inc.®, the Most Trusted Name in Aquaponics™, has announced their 2015 training schedule. The purpose of these course offerings is to share science-based knowledge of aquaponics...

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12483576.htm

Categories: Environment

Travelling in Tibet During 2015? Lhasa Based Travel Agency TCTS...

PR Web - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:46

Experienced travelers agree that travelling in Tibet is a unique experience that requires special preparation. Tibet Ctrip Travel Service-TCTS...

(PRWeb January 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015-travel-Tibet/01/prweb12483768.htm

Categories: Environment

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