Despite action by Congress to address the opioid addiction epidemic, hard-hit areas of the country like this one in the Midwest are finding it difficult to keep up with the fallout from the unfolding situation.In July, here in Wisconsin’s Jackson County, for instance, 34 children who were taken out of their homes, many a result of a parent’s opioid addiction, remained in foster care. Those placements resulted in a $35,000 cost for the county that month.While down from a year high of 40 in January, the epidemic has presented serious cost concerns for the local health department. The county spent over $1 million in 2015 on child welfare placements, a staggering amount for a health department with a roughly $9 million annual budget.For the growing number of teenagers entering out of home care, the cost is even higher — up to $70,000 a month to cover seven young adults.
The number of people living in rural continues to slide, according to the latest population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. People have left rural America in decades past. The big difference now is that the number of births in rural areas isn't keeping pace with the number of deaths. The population in rural America (nonmetropolitan counties) has declined for a record-breaking sixth straight year.Population growth rates in rural counties have been significantly lower than in urban (metro) counties since the mid-1990s, and the gap widened considerably in recent years. Between 2006 and 2016, annual rates of population change in rural areas fell from 0.7 percent to below zero, while urban rates fell only slightly from 1 to 0.8 percent.
Intense wildfires plaguing much of the West have rekindled controversy over logging restrictions and fire management practices that critics say have created explosive fire seasons. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, took to the floor of the Senate on Thursday to describe the toll the fires have taken.Efforts to thin dead and dying trees have been inadequate, he said as he stood next to a large photo of flames leaping from trees in the majestic Columbia River Gorge.“This is a years-long pattern in the West,” he said, calling for smarter policies and criticizing the “broken system of fighting wildfires.” He complained that federal funds earmarked for fire prevention are instead used for firefighting.
Whether they’re part of the mainstream media’s 24-hour news cycle or not, disasters are hitting multiple parts of the United States right now. States in the Pacific Northwest are fighting scores of wildfires, while Hurricane Irma’s rise through Florida has drawn most of the attention over the weekend. And though Harvey itself may no longer be an acute threat to Texans, there’s is plenty of relief that needs to be done there. We’ve brought together many of the major ways you can help our brothers and sisters in agriculture in these devastated regions. If there are others that you know of, we invite you to include them in the comments to help raise awareness for any organization or fund that’s hoping to help people, as well as reaching all of those in need of help.If you are considering donating to a group you haven’t heard of before or to a fund that isn’t administered by a reliable source, please check out the list of legitimate charities on Charity Navigator or GuideStar to make sure that you’re not getting scammed.
The East Coast of the United States is threatened by more frequent flooding in the future. According to this study, the states of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina are most at risk. Their coastal regions are being immersed by up to three millimeters per year -- among other things, due to human intervention.
Biodiversity is proving to be one of humanity's best defenses against extreme weather. In past experiments, diversity has fostered healthier, more productive ecosystems, like shoreline vegetation that guards against hurricanes. However, many experts doubted whether these experiments would hold up in the real world. A study offers a decisive answer: biodiversity's power in the wild surpasses experimental predictions, in some cases topping even effects of climate.
“Pet store and veterinary hospital groups, manufacturers and distributors, and associations and organizations within the pet industry are pooling their resources and working with lead disaster and shelter officials to coordinate the logistics of providing much-needed supplies, including sharing warehouses, facilities and distribution centers for storage until affected areas can be accessed,” said the Pet Leadership Council. “They are also tapping resources to help provide vehicles and helicopters to assist with evacuations and providing financial assistance to rescue organizations.”
The manufacturer of the Fire Ball ride that broke apart at the Ohio State Fair, killing one person and injuring seven others, could be protected from liability by a state law approved more than a decade ago. What was then called “tort-reform” legislation now will “make the fight for justice much more difficult to achieve” for the victims of the ride failure, said Columbus attorney Michael Rourke. He represents Tamika Dunlap, a 36-year-old woman whose legs were shattered when one of the ride’s gondolas broke loose and crashed to the ground on July 26.Lawsuits that are certain to be filed in the case will be affected by legislation that took effect in 2005, Rourke said.That legislation got much of its attention for placing caps on jury awards for businesses and individuals in lawsuits. But the law also set a 10-year limit on a manufacturer’s liability for a product’s defects.The limit, known as a statute of repose, would appear to protect KMG, the Netherlands-based manufacturer of the Fire Ball. The ride that broke apart was built in 1998.Under the law, “No cause of action based on a product-liability claim shall accrue against the manufacturer or supplier of a product later than 10 years from the date that the product is delivered to its first purchaser or lessee.”
State and federal environmental regulators issued a blanket waiver on Monday for Florida electricity companies to violate clean air and water standards without penalty for the next two weeks.
A bubble in Oregon’s revered craft beer industry? Sales have slowed and some breweries have closed, but the state Office of Economic Analysis isn’t going on a bender about it. Senior Economist Josh Lehner, who has written extensively about the economic impact of the state’s “alcohol cluster,” said it’s likely the industry is maturing. Some shakeout is not unexpected.In a post on the department website, Lehner said making good local beer, as breweries and brewpubs around the state do, is no longer enough to assure success.As craft beer sales slow, however, more breweries will struggle to retain market share, he said.“I do think the brewery closure rate will increase in the coming years,” Lehner reported. “It is likely to converge toward the rates seen in other industries.“Currently, the growing and largely successful beer industry is enticing even more breweries to enter,” he said. “Eventually this will lead to (over)saturation and for closures to rise as a result.”