Mississippi residents flooded out for four months think ecosystem-devastating pumps could save them

“There are layers of reasons why this is a bad project,” said Melissa Samet, senior counsel at the National Wildlife Federation, who has followed the project for decades, ”but worst of all is it really gives a false promise of hope to people who are suffering from flooding.”

…Many residents believe there is a solution to their persistent, yearly flooding woes — if only the government would cut through the red tape to enact it. Locals like Deere believe that an unfinished Army Corps of Engineers project known as the Yazoo Pumps, a potential drain for the levee system that protects the Delta, would hold back the floodwaters that regularly threaten almost 20,000 people here.

…Residents of the region, local farmers and Mississippi politicians are calling for the revival of the pumps — a project vetoed by then-President George W. Bush’s administration, called “one of the worst projects ever conceived by Congress” by the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain in 2004, and endlessly decried by environmental advocates.

…The project has been debated for almost 80 years, with frustration and anger building with the passing time.

….Environmental advocates and longtime civil servants who have worked on the project, however, argue that the pumps come at a high cost, potentially draining tens of thousands of vital wetland acres that supports one of the most unique wildlife habitats in the country.

…Conservationists say the Delta’s bottomland hardwood wetlands create one of the most important ecosystems in the country. Twenty percent of the nation’s ducks, 450 different species, including 257 species of birds, rely on these wetlands’ natural resources.

They [would] be devastated by the pumps, according to the EPA’s veto, which said that [up to] 67,000 acres of wetlands could be drained if the pumps were installed.

…“It was a hard decision because EPA knew the area needed flood protection but our analysis of widespread environmental impacts, costs, and other complications fully justified the veto.”

…Buyouts, wetland reforestation and raised homes and roadways are ideas proposed by Shabman in another report that he produced for the EPA about potential alternatives. Environmental advocates, however, claim local leaders were never curious to explore such ideas because they didn’t come with expensive construction contracts benefiting a small number of people in Mississippi.

…Because of those rising waters, Branning entered his property into the Wetlands Preserve Program in 1999, which provides him compensation for the land that he can’t farm if he allows it to be reforested.

“We did that because the program added value, in my opinion, to the land because the land had been cleared and being farmed unsuccessfully numerous years,” he said. “It may do okay for two years and then in two years the high water comes.”

…Branning said he’s happy that it’s helping the environment and noticed that some wildlife has returned, which is good for him as a hunter.

Mississippi residents flooded out for four months say the EPA could save them but won’t



Elon Musk vs. Jeff Bezos: How their space plans are different, similar

Musk, the tech mogul behind Tesla and the founder of SpaceX (a now-$33-billion rocket company), wants to establish a permanent, self-sustaining city on Mars.

Meanwhile, Bezos — the founder and CEO of Amazon — has his own space company, Blue Origin. Its work so far focuses on building a “road to space” with new rockets that could ultimately pave the way for floating colonies.

Elon Musk vs. Jeff Bezos: How their space plans are different, similar – Business Insider


How Walking Fosters Creativity: Stanford Researchers Confirm What Philosophers and Writers Have Always Known

Walking, Jabr writes in poetic terms, works by “setting the mind adrift on a frothing sea of thought.” (Hear Dr. Oppezzo discuss her study in a Minnesota public radio interview above.)

Oppezzo and Schwartz speculate that “future studies would likely determine a complex pathway that extends from the physical act of walking to physiological changes to the cognitive control of imagination.” They recognize that this discovery must also account for such variables as when one walks, and—as so many notable walkers have stressed—where. 

 “The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting with Nature” …documents a study in which, writes Jabr, “students who ambled through an arboretum improved their performance on a memory test more than students who walked along city streets.”

How Walking Fosters Creativity: Stanford Researchers Confirm What Philosophers and Writers Have Always Known | Open Culture



The surprising benefits of talking to strangers

Humans are inherently social animals, who are made happier and healthier when connected to others. Feeling isolated and lonely, in contrast, is a stress factor that poses a health risk comparable to smoking and obesity.

Having positive social relationships has been put forward as a key ingredient for happiness, more significant even than how much we earn.

The surprising benefits of talking to strangers – BBC News


Pope says indigenous people must have final say about their land | Environment | The Guardian

In the 15th century papal bulls promoted and provided legal justification for the conquest and theft of indigenous peoples’ lands and resources worldwide – the consequences of which are still being felt today. The right to conquest in one such bull, the Romanus Pontifex, issued in the 1450s when Nicholas V was the Pope, was granted in perpetuity.

How times have changed. [Pope Francis] said publicly that indigenous peoples have the right to “prior and informed consent.” In other words, nothing should happen on – or impact – their land, territories and resources unless they agree to it.

…The UN’s Declaration – non-legally-binding – was adopted 10 years ago. Article 32 says “states shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.”

Pope says indigenous people must have final say about their land | Environment | The Guardian