Thursday, December 8, 2011

Detroit, Plastic Oceans, and Civil War (Link Round-Up 12/8/11)

Detroit "blotting" - residents developing empty property that the city won't sell
In Detroit, Cleveland, New Orleans and many other cities, residents already get first dibs on adjacent empty lots. The idea is to stabilize neighborhoods and bring land back on the tax rolls. So for instance, some Cleveland homeowners can buy an empty side lot for as little as a dollar. In Detroit, it's as little as 200 dollars. But the city owns 60,000 parcels of land, most of it vacant. "We haven't really promoted the program," says Rob Anderson, Detroit's new planning director. "I think that's why we have such small numbers."
Microplastics from fabrics leak into the oceans
Ecologist Mark Browne, University College Dublin, and several colleagues gathered sand samples from 18 beaches on six continents for analysis. It turns out that every beach tested contained microplastics (particles about the size of a piece of long grain of rice or smaller). Of the samples collected, nearly 80 percent were polyester or acrylic, though without further research, it's impossible to know exactly which type of clothing -- whether it's your stretchy yoga pants or that super-soft fleece blanket -- is causing the most problems. Currently, textile manufacturers are not required to test their fabrics for shedding.
Five Truths About Our Energy Future
IEA numbers have shown that globally over the past couple of years, we're emitting more carbon per unit of economic output. That's mean we're traveling in the exact opposite direction from where we need to be going, recarbonizing instead of decarbonizing, thanks chiefly to increases in dirtier energy such as coal and inefficient manufacturing in rapidly growing countries like China and India. It's a sign of just how difficult the clean-energy transition will be.
Why so few blacks study the Civil War
For that particular community, for my community, the message has long been clear: the Civil War is a story for white people—acted out by white people, on white people’s terms—in which blacks feature strictly as stock characters and props. We are invited to listen, but never to truly join the narrative, for to speak as the slave would, to say that we are as happy for the Civil War as most Americans are for the Revolutionary War, is to rupture the narrative. Having been tendered such a conditional invitation, we have elected—as most sane people would—to decline.

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