Posts tagged California
The Skeptical Environmentalist #1: Are “shade balls” the last hope for California’s water?

When we think about large-scale geo-engineering, we likely imagine the more permanent (or at least virtually irreversible) methods of changing the environmental features of our biosphere, such as shooting aerosol particles high into our atmosphere to mitigate the effects of a warming climate.  And not surprisingly, such initiatives strike much controversy, even among prominent environmentalists – and understandably so.  There are dozens of potential unintended consequences that could occur, not to mention the ‘unknown unknowns’ – adverse events we are not even able to fathom and thus cannot account for in the planning phase of such projects. 

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The importance of faux green.

I have recently read in The Wall Street Journal an article about the precedence of painting lawns in the drought cursed California. As ridiculous as it might sound, it is true. The author of the article wrote that grass lawns of many Californians are drying off, causing their regular green colour to turn into a brownish one. Because the state of California has imposed a water saving policy that negatively influenced the use of water for lawn irrigations, many homeowners in the state decided to paint their lawns with a non-toxic (as they claim, but who knows?) grass paint concentrate. All to keep pre-drought appearances and their lawns green.

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The raisin law.

The US Supreme Court hearing regarding raisins is not a public matter that one reads about very often in the daily press, but this year is an exception. The current raisin related news comes as a result of the old raisin law that came to life in 1937 (The Great Depression era) and has been obligating US raisin producers to hand the US government a part of the yearly crop of this commodity for which government could compensate the producer or not. This law binding "government seized" part of raisins' crop is not trivial and could be even as high as 47% of the total yearly crop, depending on the year. The main purpose of this federal law was price stabilization in order to keep prices of raisins over years as steady as possible. The famous Adam Smith's "invisible hand" had been aided by the government intervention to bring higher benefits to the society. But did it really help? Supposedly this law has been set up in order to benefit producers and processors of raisins, to soften price fluctuations. Consumers' welfare? Well, nobody mentioned that. Not everybody agrees that this law has really helped all raisin producers. Some claim that this policy imposed unnecessary hardship on at least some of them and has been violating the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that says that the government should provide a "JUST COMPENSATION" when it takes "PRIVATE PROPERTY FOR PUBLIC USE".

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