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Miami can have one last Super Bowl, as a treat

The San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs will face each other in the Super Bowl on Sunday in Miami. The game will only last a few hours, but Florida is just beginning a decades-long war with a foe that can’t be beat: sea-level rise. If emissions continue to rise unchecked, Miami’s football stadium could be flooded with standing water and America’s holiest championship game will have to be played somewhere else.

For a sneak peek at what Miami Garden’s Hard Rock Stadium, the venue for Super Bowl LIV, could look like in a few decades, look no further than Florida’s coastline. Nearly 600,000 people in South Florida face “extreme” or “high” risk from sea-level rise, according to the Trump administration’s 4th National Climate Assessment. Already, the sea level around Florida is 8 inches higher than it was 70 years ago. Over the past decade, the rate of acceleration has sped up. Florida seas are now rising an inch every three years. Floods are inundating low-lying cities like Miami even on sunny days.

A new report from Climate Central — an organization that analyzes how climate change affects the public — shows that Hard Rock Stadium, between 4 and 6 feet above sea level, is likely to experience some of this flooding in the coming century. It’s not just the football field that’s at risk of getting swamped by climate change. Local roads, the stadium’s $135 million training facility, the tennis center, and parking lots will face higher odds of being submerged.

Developers recently completed a three-year-long, $500 million renovation of the stadium. But the stadium’s state-of-the-art canopy and high-definition screens won’t save it when the floods come. The Hard Rock Stadium property has at the very least, a 1 percent chance of being submerged by rising seas every year by 2070 if the world continues emitting greenhouse gases business-as-usual. By 2090, the risk of the stadium experiencing serious flooding each year rises to 10 percent.

Remember, this is likely an underestimate. A 2019 U.N. report found that the kind of floods this report is talking about will occur in Miami every year as soon as 2050. Plus, the Climate Central analysis didn’t account for rain-induced flooding, seepage, backed-up storm drains, or other reasons why water might make its way into low-lying areas.

Nickolay Lamm / Climate Central

Flooding isn’t the only climate-related issue facing American football teams and their legions of dedicated fans. Extreme heat and bad air quality also threaten players’ abilities to pass, tackle, and run. Another Climate Central analysis that looked at temperatures during football season shows that all 30 National Football League cities have warmed, on average, 2.3 degrees F over the past 50 years. Miami is in the middle of the pack when it comes to rising temperatures, but the home cities of the Nevada Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, and Arizona Cardinals have all warmed more than 4 degrees since 1970.

Hard Rock Stadium is taking some measures to reduce its impact on the planet. In November, the home of the Miami Dolphins announced it aims to eliminate 99.4 percent of single-use plastics by the end of 2020. The move would divert 2.8 million pieces of plastic from landfills every year. And at the upcoming 54th Super Bowl, fans will sip drinks out of aluminum cups instead of plastic ones, pee in waterless urinals, forgo straws, and make their way out to the parking lots under LED lights. It’s a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t address the outsized carbon footprints of events like the Super Bowl. Fans attending a mega sporting event have carbon footprints about seven times larger than people going about their daily lives.

After Sunday’s game, Miami will have hosted 11 Super Bowls, more than any other city. It doesn’t matter how many single-use plastics the Miami Dolphins ban from their stadium — if the world keeps emitting carbon business-as-usual, Miami won’t be able to hold onto that record for long.

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Miami can have one last Super Bowl, as a treat

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This GIF shows how far the 100th Meridian has shifted since 1980

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Climate change works in mysterious ways; it isn’t limited to wildfires and melting ice. Today’s climate exhibit: The 100th Meridian — the famous dividing line that separates America’s wet East from the dry West — has migrated 140 miles east since 1980.

The boundary passes through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — America’s breadbasket. Once you cross the divide, the rain-soaked grasses of the East turn into dusty plains, with the occasional cactus dotting the landscape.

“Passing from east to west across this belt a wonderful transformation is observed,” remarked John Wesley Powell, famous explorer of the West, in 1890. The conservationist was the first to mark the transition line, which became known as “100th Meridian” because it closely follows the 100th meridian of longitude (a vertical line that stretches from the North to South Poles).

But we may have to change the line’s name someday. The shift is the result of rising temperatures drying out parts of the northern plains and less rain falling further south, YaleEnvironment360 reports. This could be due to natural variability — changes caused by nonhuman forces — but the migration aligns with what researchers tell us to expect from global warming.

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This GIF shows how far the 100th Meridian has shifted since 1980

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The future of food: droughts, wrecked crops, and empty plates

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More droughts. More punishingly hot days killing farm workers and livestock. More allergen-spewing weeds. More crop-wrecking storms. And ultimately, more hunger.

According to the recently released National Climate Assessment, global warming is already making farming in the United States more difficult, and it’s likely to get worse. A steep decline in U.S. harvests would spur a worldwide crisis, because grains, oils, and meat from the United States ship to every continent. It would increase pressure to clear rainforests around the equator and the boreal forests of Canada and Russia to grow food. Falling yields would also drive up food prices, making it harder for the poor to afford meals.

“Food security, which is already a challenge across the globe, is likely to become an even greater challenge,” the report’s authors wrote.

The short-term outlook doesn’t look so scary. Climate change means a longer growing season, and conditions might actually improve in places like the Dakotas, where cold weather currently limits farming. Warming should also boost wheat and barley harvests. But rising temperatures and CO2 concentrations will also “enable ragweed and other plants to produce allergenic pollen in larger quantities,” for more months out of the year. And in the long term, harvests of all food crops, including wheat, are expected to decline unless farmers take unprecedented steps to adapt.

Radical adaptation could improve harvests and help solve the larger climate problem. Crops can suck carbon dioxide out of the air and store it in the soil. The report notes that “agriculture is one of the few sectors with the potential for significant increases in carbon sequestration.”

What would radical adaptation look like? The corn belt might move north from Kansas to Saskatchewan with the weather. Farmers could synch planting times and fertilizer application with precise weather forecasts. Governments might pay farmers for locking up carbon in their fields instead of maximizing profits. They could also provide the funding necessary for scientists to breed climate-adapted crops and animals.

In short, there are plenty of ways that agriculture can provide hope in place of worry. But without action, there’s going to be misery in farm country, according to the report. By 2050, climate change could shrink Midwestern harvests all the way down to the size they were during the farm crisis of the 1980s, when a surge of foreclosures led many farmers to take their lives. And with our global food market, misery in farm country would mean misery around the world.

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The future of food: droughts, wrecked crops, and empty plates

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What is the Impact of Voting on the Environment?

With the close of the midterm elections, many are glad to end the discussion on voting. With the constant barrage of political ads on TV and even via text message, the next proposition or candidate is the last thing on many voters? minds.

Even though election fever has subsided, one of the often-forgotten pieces of elections is the environmental impact of voting. Our society gets so caught up in policy and candidates that we fail to think about the impact that the physical process of voting has on the world around us.

How Does Voting Affect the Environment?

Almost all states use some form of paper ballot. There are only five states that run their elections without paper ballots ? Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, New Jersey, and Delaware. There are also nine other states that use a combination of both paper ballots and electronic machines ? Pennsylvania, Texas, Kansas, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

Although the most secure, paper ballots generate plenty of waste. From the envelopes used for mail-in ballots to the physical ballots themselves, an election is a very paper-intensive project. After an election, ballots are stored for about 22 months, at which point local authorities can dispose of them, usually by shredding.

While it may not seem like a lot of waste, in the 2014 midterm election, there were over 83 million ballots counted. Current projections for the 2018 midterms put that figure in the 114 million range. And the examples above only include midterms. Turnout in presidential elections is generally much higher and local city elections happen all the time. Therefore, every year we are forced to scrap and attempt to recycle millions of pounds of paper, adding to the 71.8 million tons of paper waste that the US generates each year.

Are Electronic Voting Machines Any Better?

Some argue that electronic voting machines can have a positive environmental impact. While this is true regarding paper waste, there are a few important caveats with electronic voting machines:

-??????? Electronic voting machines need power. Unless they run on solar power, they would still be using resources.

-??????? With the pace that technology advances, these devices will become quickly outdated or need to be replaced, thus generating e-waste. In the United States, we already scrap about 400 million units of consumer electronics every year.

-??????? The simple act of driving to the nearest polling place likely does more environmental damage that the ballot you cast. Unless voters are able to walk or bike to the polls, they are still burning fuel and generating carbon dioxide to reach the ballot box.

What is the Best Option for the Environment?

Other than cutting down on paper waste, which can only be seen as a positive, electronic voting machines do not represent a large step forward for the environment. Coupled with the fact that electronic voting machines are not seen as secure, electronic voting machines do not seem like the right answer.

The most environmentally friendly form of voting would be to vote via the internet. Voters would not have to rely on paper ballots, drive to the nearest polling station, or use any devices other than the ones they already own. Moreover, even though 29 states have laws that allow you take time off work to vote, internet voting would reduce the transaction cost of participation and have a positive impact on turnout.

That said, the security technology is simply not there yet for a country as large as the United States and likely will not be for some time. With such high stakes, it is not a risk the country can afford to take. Estonia does have an e-voting system that has been in place since 2005, but it is a country of only about 1 million eligible voters with a national ID card system. Even then, a 2014 team at the University of Michigan found that interfering with Estonia?s election is possible, even though it may not have happened yet.

Therefore, it appears that until the technology is created, we are stuck with the traditional paper ballot methods that have been around since ancient Roman times. Hopefully with the rapid pace by which technology advances, one day soon we will have a voting system that maximizes both efficiency and care for the environment.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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What is the Impact of Voting on the Environment?

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Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland – Miriam Horn


Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland

Miriam Horn

Genre: Nature

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: September 6, 2016

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Now a feature-length documentary on the Discovery channel narrated by Tom Brokaw. “Lush, gorgeously written…A profoundly hopeful book.” —Tina Rosenberg, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award A Kirkus Best Book of 2016 Many of the men and women doing today’s most consequential environmental work—restoring America’s grasslands, wildlife, soil, rivers, wetlands, and oceans—would not call themselves environmentalists; they would be too uneasy with the connotations of that word. What drives them is their deep love of the land: the iconic terrain where explorers and cowboys, pioneers and riverboat captains forged the American identity. They feel a moral responsibility to preserve this heritage and natural wealth, to ensure that their families and communities will continue to thrive. Unfolding as a journey down the Mississippi River, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman tells the stories of five representatives of this stewardship movement: a Montana rancher, a Kansas farmer, a Mississippi riverman, a Louisiana shrimper, and a Gulf fisherman. In exploring their work and family histories and the essential geographies they protect, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman challenges pervasive and powerful myths about American and environmental values.

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Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland – Miriam Horn

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We can now see how humans have altered Earth’s water resources

For millennia, humans have harnessed rivers, built dams, and dug wells to quench our growing civilization. Now, for the first time, we have a picture of what all those generations have wrought on our blue planet’s most defining resource.

Newly analyzed data from groundwater-detecting satellites “reveals a clear human fingerprint on the global water cycle,” according to a study out Wednesday in the journal Nature. It’s the kind of result that is equal parts terrifying and long-expected in its implications.

“We know for sure that some of these impacts are caused by climate change,” says lead author Matt Rodell, chief of the Hydrological Sciences Laboratory at NASA. “We are using huge parts of the [Earth’s] available water.”

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The authors used the satellite data to construct a map of 34 rapidly changing regions around the world, painting a unified picture of current hot spots of water scarcity and excess. Nearly every activity that involves people requires water — rice farming, nuclear power, aluminum smelting, you name it — so the lives of people living where reserves are being rapidly depleted are under grave threat.

“The resulting map is mind-blowing, and has staggering implications for water, food, and human security that we are just not aware of or prepared for,” says study co-author Jay Famiglietti, a water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We are very literally seeing all of the hotspots for climate change, for changing extremes of flooding and drought, and for the impact of human water management define themselves.

“Our future challenges could not be more clear from looking at this map.”

Rodell et al, 2018

The map offers a powerful first glimpse of what climate change and over-exploitation of water resources looks like — a “global pattern of freshwater redistribution, due to climate change,” according to Famiglietti. It’s stark, visual evidence that the way humans use water is unsustainable.

The study’s authors took 14 years of data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which measures minute fluctuations in the Earth’s gravitational field as water moves around the planet. They then tried to track down the root causes of the biggest changes they found — an analysis that took eight years to complete. In two-thirds of the cases, the researchers discovered a direct link to human activity. And in some of those, especially in remote regions of southern Africa and China, the colossal scale of the shifts was previously unknown.

The footprints left behind by massive feats of engineering are also visible in the new map. You can see the consequences of the filling of major reservoirs, like the one bound by the massive Three Gorges Dam in China, of the diverted rivers in India, and of the exploitation of the High Plains aquifer in the central United States for agriculture. Long-predicted climate shifts are also apparent, such as the rapid warming and moistening of the Arctic, melting ice in mountain glaciers, and increasingly extreme cycles of droughts and floods.

To be sure, there are drawbacks to this study, says Kate Brauman, a water researcher at the University of Minnesota who was unaffiliated with the research. The main problem is related to the fact that the GRACE satellite’s output is not very geographically specific.

“Relatively small changes in weather make a big difference” on the huge regions the study covers, says Brauman. She says the method the authors used identifies only large-scale changes — roughly the size of Kansas or larger. That’s too coarse a view to spot individual water-wasters, but it’s possibly accurate enough to raise hope for monitoring and governing previously untracked and unregulated large-scale abuses.

The next generation of GRACE satellites, launching on Saturday, should provide additional evidence of exactly how humans are altering the planet’s water cycle, and with more accuracy. And in another 15 years or so, Rodell says, his team should be able to draw even bolder conclusions about exactly which parts of the world are being affected most by shifts in rainfall and changing water policies.

For Famiglietti, the research was life-changing. The work inspired him to leave his job at NASA for a role at the University of Saskatchewan studying “the forces that drive water insecurity in the major hotspots revealed by this map.” A year from now, Famiglietti hopes to be working to assemble local groups around the world focused on water conservation in each of the affected regions. For him, the message behind the data is clear: It’s time to act.


We can now see how humans have altered Earth’s water resources

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Kansas farmers tried cutting water use, and guess what? They saved money.

In Sheridan County, farmers managed to slash irrigation by 20 percent without taking a punch in the wallet, according to a new economic analysis.

The wells in Sheridan County sip from the Ogallala Aquifer, an underground lake that stretches from South Dakota to Texas. It happens to be rapidly depleting.

“I’d rather irrigate 10 inches a year for 30 years than put on 30 inches for 10 years,” farmer Roch Meier told Kansas Agland. “I want it for my grandkids.”

Compared to neighbors who didn’t cut back, Sheridan farmers pumped up 23 percent less water. While they harvested 1.2 percent less than their neighbors, in the end, they had 4.3 percent higher profits.

Using less water, it turns out, just makes good business sense. It takes a lot of expensive electricity to lift tons of water up hundreds of feet through the ground. The farmers frequently checked soil moisture with electronic probes, as Circle of Blue reports. They obsessively watched weather forecasts to avoid irrigating before rain. Some switched from soy to sorghum, which requires less water. Some planted a little less corn.

If farmers in western Kansas sign on and cut water use just a bit more (25 to 35 percent), it might be enough to stabilize the aquifer.

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Kansas farmers tried cutting water use, and guess what? They saved money.

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It’s OK that Democrats don’t have a national climate policy

More than a year after the election of Donald Trump, the opposition Democratic Party still hasn’t found its voice on climate change.

That’s according to an essential overview of the situation from the Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer. Taken at face value, it’s not good news: Despite consistent rhetoric that climate change is among the most important challenges of the century, the Democratic Party has no large-scale cohesive plan to tackle it.

OK, that fact is worrying.

However, while Meyer is correct in his assessment of national politics, he makes one glaring omission: Climate action at the local and state level around the United States is, if anything, healthier and more ambitious than ever before. And it’s more often than not driven by Democrats. After a two decade-long quixotic quest for a unified federal climate policy, party members are finally willing to admit that their climate strategy can’t rest on economy-wide national legislation alone.

“We need to do everything we can to fight climate change,” says Keith Ellison, a congressman from Minnesota and deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee. “That means having a bill ready for passage when we take power, and it also means pushing for more immediate wins to lower carbon emissions at the state and local levels by building upon the work of aggressive climate policy in states like Minnesota, California, and New York.”

In city halls, boardrooms, and statehouses across America, what’s (not) happening on climate in today’s Washington is mostly a sideshow. The science is clear, climate-related disasters are happening now, and in most cases, it makes economic sense to take action immediately. So on the front lines of climate change, from San Juan to San Francisco, Minneapolis to Miami, the message is clear: This problem is too important to wait for Congress and the president to get their act together.

Since President Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement back in June, more than 2,500 local leaders from all 50 states have signed a pledge saying, “We are still in.” In aggregate, those leaders — mayors, governors, CEOs, university presidents, etc. — represent more than half of all Americans. As an independent nation, they’d rank third in the world in terms of share of total emissions — nearly 10 percent of the global total. But this collective is pushing some of the most ambitious climate policy anywhere on Earth.

And contrary to what you might hear in Washington, pro-climate efforts don’t come at the expense of the economy. In New York City, emissions are down 15 percent since 2005. In the same timeframe, the economy has grown by 19 percent. In Minneapolis, emissions are down 18 percent while the economy is up 30 percent.

Even in red states like Kansas and Texas, bipartisan coalitions are emerging to take advantage of tremendous renewable energy resources in wind and solar. In 2005, Kansas sourced less than 1 percent of its electricity from wind. Now, it’s at 25 percent and, like California, is on pace to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources in the next few years. There is now a nationwide job boom in construction and installation of renewable energy.

If you ask Democrats and advocates directly, this kind of progress has changed the prevailing wisdom of what effective U.S. climate policy looks like.

“We know it’s possible because we’re doing it,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement from Bonn, Germany. “The West Coast offers a blueprint: This is how you build a thriving, innovative economy that combats climate change and embraces a zero-emission future.”

Inslee is helping lead a sizeable, but unofficial, U.S. delegation at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn. Dan Firger of Bloomberg Philanthropies, whose boss, Michael Bloomberg serves as an outspoken U. N. special envoy for cities and climate action, calls it a “shadow climate government.”

“We’re less concerned about a silver bullet bill in Congress than we are about how best to get near-term carbon reductions done,” Firger told Grist, adding that the former New York City mayor believes in “bottom-up climate action.”

Lou Leonard, a senior vice president at the World Wildlife Fund, points to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based approach to reducing carbon emissions among several northeastern U.S. states. Already, one of the largest carbon schemes in the world, it stands to expand after this month’s elections resulted in Democratic victories in the Virginia and New Jersey governor races. Those states are now set to join the initiative.

“We cannot put all our chips in a federal solution,” says Leonard from Bonn, where his organization is helping support the We Are Still In delegation. “That’s not the way the U.S. economy works, that’s not the way politics works, and it’s certainly not the most obvious path to success.”

Still, The Atlantic’s Meyer has a point: Democrats need to be able to combine all these local policy victories into a national and global win. After all, worldwide carbon emissions are on pace for a new record high in 2017. But this inside-out approach has precedents for yielding real results.

Climate change inherently is a problem that requires local action. And increasingly, those working for climate policy have shifted their efforts to support local early adopters. It’s a strategy specifically designed to build an eventual national consensus.

“There’s more happening than many people are aware of,” says Steve Valk, the communications director for Citizens Climate Lobby. “City and state initiatives — as happened with gay marriage — can drive a national policy.”

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It’s OK that Democrats don’t have a national climate policy

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Kansas Court Orders Governor to Fund Public Schools

Mother Jones

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The bad news keeps piling up for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his radical budget-cutting experiment. The state Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Republican governor and state legislature had—yet again—failed to adequately fund public schools by hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

The court ordered lawmakers to devise a plan that would meet constitutional standards by the end of June and mandated a new formula to increase government spending on the state’s public education system. The demand for extra education funding couldn’t come at a worse time for Brownback, as the governor and Republican-held state legislature are caught in a stalemate on whether Kansas should repeal Brownback’s landmark income-tax cuts in order to solve shortfalls that have plagued the state budget in recent years.

“We conclude the state’s public financing system, through its structure and implementation, is not reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed the minimum constitutional standards of adequacy,” the court wrote in an unsigned, unanimous opinion. By underfunding education, the judges said, the state system failed in one-fourth of all its public schools to appropriately educate students in basic reading and math skills and shortchanged half of the state’s black students and one-third of its Hispanic students.

John Robb, an attorney representing the school districts involved in the lawsuit, told the Wichita Eagle that the ruling represented “justice for kids,” noting that the state could be forced to spend anywhere from $431 million to $893 million per year in additional education funding, depending on how lawmakers decide to calculate per-pupil spending levels.

The state’s current legal trouble dates back to 2010, when four school districts sued the state, alleging that Kansas provided “inequitable” and “inadequate” funding to its public education system. The lawsuit attacked state funding from two angles. It alleged that the overall pool of money that the state devotes to education was far too low, violating the state’s constitutional guarantee of an adequate education. And as Kansas reduced overall school funding, the school districts behind the lawsuit noted that the state’s cuts were inequitably distributed. That distribution, they alleged, hurt the state’s poorest districts and discriminated “based upon district wealth.”

Those concerns have only intensified since the lawsuit was first filed, as Kansas has struggled to climb out of a fiscal disaster. After Brownback took over as governor in 2011, he passed historically large tax cuts, promising that lower income taxes would spur economic growth—a preview of what Donald Trump and fellow Republicans now want to do at the federal level. But those cuts have since been disastrous, leaving the state with a vast budget gap as tax revenue continually comes in below expected levels.

In 2013, a three-judge panel ruled against the state, ordering Kansas to provide an additional $400 million in education spending. “It seems completely illogical,” the court noted, “that the state can argue that a reduction in education funding was necessitated by the downturn in the economy and the state’s diminishing resources and at the same time cut taxes further.” Brownback slammed the ruling for increasing the tax burden on Kansas residents, adding that the legislature, not the court, should make school funding decisions.

In 2014, the state Supreme Court weighed in on the equitable funding side of the lawsuit, ruling that the state’s decades-old funding formula did not dedicate enough funds to low-income districts and violated the state constitution. At that time, the Supreme Court declined to rule on the question of whether the state’s total per-pupil spending was adequate and instead remanded that question back to the lower court. A year later, Brownback signed a law that replaced the state’s formula with a two-year block grant system intended as a stopgap until a permanent formula could be devised. But last February, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s block grant effort was inequitable. The court ordered lawmakers to increase funding for poor school districts or risk a statewide school shutdown. Six days before a June deadline, Kansas lawmakers passed an education funding measure that gave $38 million to poor districts and staved off a shutdown. Now, another shutdown looms if legislators fail to come up with another plan to change the state’s formula.

The decision marks a blow for Brownback and the Republican-led legislature tasked with drafting a funding plan by the court’s new June deadline. In early February, Republican state senators proposed a 5 percent cut to public education spending for the rest of the fiscal year—cutting $120 million in spending through June—and raising income taxes as part of a plan to close the state’s budget gap. That decision quickly fell apart after it drew the ire of educators and activists. Lawmakers eventually passed an increase to the state income tax, but Brownback vetoed it.

Read the court’s decision below:

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Kansas Supreme Court Ruling on Gannon Education Funding Case (PDF)

Kansas Supreme Court Ruling on Gannon Education Funding Case (Text)

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Kansas Court Orders Governor to Fund Public Schools

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President Obama is giving us a parting gift: a bunch of new national monuments.

New California Sen. Kamala Harris grilled Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo about his views on climate change during a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday.

She asked if he has any reason to doubt current CIA director John Brennan’s assessment that climate change is a contributing factor to rising instability in the Middle East and other areas. Pompeo, a prominent tea partier, said he was unfamiliar with the analysis Harris mentioned. When Harris followed up, asking about whether or not he believes climate change is even happening, Pompeo was equally noncommittal.

Pompeo essentially argued that climate change isn’t relevant to the job he’s being vetted for: “Frankly, as the director of CIA, I would prefer today not to get into the details of the climate debate and science,” he said.

In the past, Pompeo has directly denied the reality of climate change. He has also called President Obama’s environmental agenda “radical” and “damaging,” and said that Obama’s signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan, would not provide “any measurable environmental benefit.”

Unsurprisingly, Pompeo is friendly with the Koch brothers and has deep ties to the oil and gas industry, which has donated over a million dollars to his campaigns.

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President Obama is giving us a parting gift: a bunch of new national monuments.

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