Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Climate Change Theory Affecting Local Policy

The Herald yesterday reported on a proposed $1.5 billion project to upgrade Miami-Dade's antiquated water and sewer system.  That system, according to the report, consists of 7,500 miles of sewer lines, "a good portion" of which "regularly rupture[s] and spill[s] millions of gallons of raw waste into local waterways and Biscayne Bay."  The federal government has sued the county for allowing the system to fall into such disrepair, threatening the assessment of millions of dollars of fines.

The system includes a "controversial" waste water treatment plant on Virginia Key, an island along the beautiful causeway that connects the mainland, just below the Brickell area of the City of Miami, with Key Biscayne.  The plan calls for renovating that plant at an estimated cost of $550 million. 

The Biscayne Bay Waterkeepers, clean-water activists who filed to join the federal action against the county, say spending hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild on Virginia Key is a waste, because the spit of land is likely to be under water within 50 years. 

The group points to a recent study by the journal Science that showed the polar ice caps in Greenland are melting at three times the rate originally believed. They also say a climate change compact Miami-Dade agreed to with three other counties — which accepted a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study that shows sea levels will rise 3 feet by 2060 — shows the Virginia Key plant could be in peril.
“Doubling down on Virginia Key the way they’re doing it is just stupid,” said environmental attorney Albert J. Slap, representing the Waterkeepers. “There’s not a dime in it for armoring the plant, or raising it. It’s on a barrier island.” 

Doug Yoder, deputy director of the county’s water and sewer department, didn’t dispute the Army Corps findings, and said the county could abandon the Virginia Key plant for a new plant on the western edge of the county if federal regulators make such a demand.

“We certainly don’t want to spend a lot of money fixing up a facility we’ll soon abandon,” he said. 

It makes no sense to me to have a water treatment plant on such a jewel as Virginia Key, but for reasons that have nothing to do with climate change.  My guess is that it is convenient to invoke that spectre as county officials seek to put themselves in a position to get federal funds to move the plant somewhere else.  The rising of the sea doesn't appear to be affecting another giant project near downtown.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/02/3124200/miami-dade-proposes-spending-15.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/02/3124200/miami-dade-proposes-spending-15.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy


American Heart Association reports that a healthy diet may help prevent recurrent heart attacks and strokes.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Childbirth in Rural (and Not So Rural) America 100 Years Ago

I live sixty-five miles from a Dr. and my other babies (two) were very large at birth - on 12 lbs., and the other 10 1/2 lbs.  I have been very badly torn each time through the rectum. . . . I am 37 years old and I am so worried and filled with perfect horror at the prospects ahead.  So many of my neighbors die at giving birth. . . . I have a baby 11 months old in my keeping now, whose mother died.  When I reached their cabin last Nov. it was 22 below zero, and I had to ride 7 miles horseback.  She was nearly dead when I got there, and died after giving birth to a 14 lb. boy - Will you please send me all the information for care of myself before and after and at the time of delivery.  I am far from a doctor, and we have no means.

-from a letter by Mrs. A-C-P of Burntfork, Wyoming, in 1916 to Julia Lathrop, a "maternalist reformer" and chief of the Children's Bureau within the Department of Labor.  Congress passed legislation creating The Children's Bureau in 1912.  This passage from the letter is quoted in Wertz and Wertz, Lying-In: a History of Childbirth in America (Expanded Edition) (Yale Univ. Press 1989), p. 205.

My dad's father, Walter Levi Stokes (June 6, 1877 - December 20,1949), was married before he married my dad's mother, Hettie Louise Johnson Stokes (October 24, 1884 - July 14, 1959).  His first wife died in childbirth, as did the baby.  My dad said that Grandfather Walter stopped working when my dad was 15 or 16. Dad had to go to work to support the family.  They moved from a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta to a house on the outskirts of that city.  I remember that old wooden house, with its privy out the back.  Neighbors, the Cooglers, helped feed the family.  My dad believes that his father stopped working because the trauma of Grandfather's first wife and baby dying caught up with him.  I think that means he suffered from depression.  You don't get over losing a baby at childbirth.  I can't imagine what happens to a young man who loses his wife and baby both.