Water Warning: South Florida is Drying Up, so Watch Your Water Wastage

Recently, the South Florida Water Management District issued a water usage warning affecting all 8.1 million people who inhabit the area spanning from Orlando to Key West. The warning comes after an unusually dry season which is expected to  last through June 1. More austere restrictions may follow if the dryness continues.

This dry season began around Nov. 1, leaving South Florida significantly more dry than previous years. During winter, the area only received 44 percent of its normal seasonal rainfall, about 6.75 inches less than the average. Temperatures are expected to rise as well, with forecasters projecting a 40 to 50 percent chance of temperatures above normal for the next three months.

Still, the warning is not meant to alarm residents, rather make them aware. Those who live in the area are asked  to be mindful of their water usage this season and try to conserve it as much as possible.

“The purpose of this warning is to urge South Florida families to voluntarily conserve more water,” said Dan O’Keefe, chairman of the South Florida Water Management District governing board. “This effort will help your water supply last through the remainder of the dry season.”

 In order to most effectively comply with the warning, residents may visit sfwmd.gov to find the seasonal and year-round water restrictions for all 16 counties in the district. Compliance with current county water restrictions is being heavily enforced— in certain areas, like Broward, violators may incur a fine of up to $250.

“We are asking residents to take it pretty seriously,” said Pete Kwiatkowski, water shortage manager.

According to Kwiatkowski, the last time the South Florida Water District issued a water warning was in 2011.

As of now, the dry spell has resulted in  significant consequences for Florida. According to the most recent drought data collected by CBS 4, about 34 percent of the state is suffering from severe drought conditions.

Other natural effects include decreased water levels in Florida’s back-up water supply, Lake Okeechobee, whose current 12 foot water level is one foot below the average for this time of year.

Additionally, wildfires that flared up due to the dry conditions caused Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency. Florida wildfires have already caused the loss of 250 percent more acreage of land in the past three months than has been seen during the same time in previous years, leading the water department to temporarily ban open burning on their lands, including those for recreational use in Hendry, Glades, Okeechobee, Osceola and Polk counties.

Residential cooperation from now into the foreseeable future has been deemed crucial in determining the extent of the drought conditions and water restrictions.

Alan Garcia, director of Broward County Water and Wastewater Services, states: “This is the dry time, and we do need to conserve water.”


19 reported dead, 50 injured in Manchester explosions

A Series of Fortuitous Events

At least 19 are confirmed dead along with 50 others injured as a result of a bombing in Manchester Arena in England where Ariana Grande was performing on Monday night, according to the Greater Manchester Police.

Hundreds of traumatized fans fled the scene, many of them children.

The incident, which occurred before 10:35 pm, is being treated as a terrorist attack until proven otherwise, Manchester police said through twitter. Investigators are considering the possibility that the explosion may have in fact been a suicide bombing, according to a Western and US law enforcement official.

The incident took place as people were leaving the concert, taking place outside the venue in public space.

Social media broadcasted the commotion and panic within the arena. Ivo Delgado, a witness, told CNN that he had heard an explosion as the concert was ending. He also reported seeing smoke within the main corridor.

Josh Elliott…

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Minority Christian Governor of Jakarta Jailed for Blasphemy

After a controversial statement in his mayoral campaign, Christian Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has been sentenced to two years in prison for blaspheming the Quran.

A conservative group reported Ahok to the authorities and others have been protesting for the past six months; however, the ruling comes as a shock as protesters only requested two years on probation.

Still, crowds outside of the courthouse rejoiced as “the judge has upheld justice” and is doing God’s work.

Ahok’s lawyer is seeking an appeal, though it is not clear whether Ahok will be released in the event of one.

It is understood that when living in a theocracy there are restrictions and citizens should abide by religious laws or move to a different country, but I still feel that measures like these are too extreme.

It shouldn’t matter whether or not a person believes in any religion, state recognized or not. The rights to freedom of speech and religion are inalienable for all people, and that should be respected in areas beyond America and the rest of the Western world.


Pro-immigrant Protestors Converse With Border Patrol Officers

Peaceful pro-immigrant protesters wielding signs with slogans such as “No human is illegal” and “Keep families together,” gathered outside of the Border Patrol station in California on Monday.

After protesting for an hour and a half, officials went outside to speak to the protesters. “I have no illusions that when we leave here we are probably not going to agree on everything, and that’s fine,” said Special Agent David Kim in an interview with USA Today. “At least we can exchange ideas.”

This protest is probably the best example of exercising our First Amendment right that I’ve heard. The protesters assembled to make their point and there was no violence outbreak from protesters or law enforcement.

The fact that they even conversed with each other makes it better because the exchange of ideas can at least give each side an understanding of the other, even if they don’t agree and the protesters grievances aren’t addressed.

More protests should be this peaceful because if people are rallying against people who are violent, oppressive, or otherwise morally wrong, they should do so without succumbing to the same violence they are fighting against.

Lowering Your Carbon Emissions

The other day I took a Buzzfeed quiz to estimate the size of my carbon footprint and I was surprised to find out that it is fairly large. I’m aware of the problems our carbon footprints can cause and I liked to think that I was doing fairly well with keeping mine a reasonable size, but as I was taking the quiz I thought, Oh no, this is very bad. So, because it’s Earth Day and because the quiz brought to my attention how large my footprint is and how simple it would be to decrease it, I’ve decided to share some tips on how to decrease your carbon footprint.

  • Avoid personalized motor vehicles. Instead, opt for walking, riding a bike, or public transportation.
  • Turn off lights (when they’re not in use obviously). When you are using them, be sure to use compact fluorescent or LED lightbulbs instead of incandescent ones.
  • Mind your thermostat settings. Make sure not to set it to high or too low and to turn it off when you’re not home.
  • Watch what you eat. Avoid beef and dairy (especially from areas such as Brazil where cows graze on formerly forested areas cleared for agriculture) because it takes a lot of resources to raise cows. Also, purchase locally grown, organic food to reduce fossil fuel emissions from transporting the goods and from certain fertilizers.
  • Recycle! Reusing and recycling reduces the need for the “provision of goods” resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and disposal of consumer goods which accounts for an estimated 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

These are just some tips that I thought would be easiest to fit into my lifestyle, but for more click here.

A Surge in Solar Power

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, solar power in the California Independent System Operator made up 40% of net grid power for three hours on Tuesday, which is a major first.

California’s growing solar energy market is evidenced by wholesale energy prices which dropped to negative figures last winter and spring. The solar energy market is also creating a lot of jobs, especially in California, which is the number one state in America with the leading number of people employed by the solar energy industry.

Though the falling wholesale prices don’t translate to retail prices, the fall is still good news. It means that California is relying more on solar energy— a cleaner, renewable source which will ultimately be better for the environment and is already showing economic benefits.

The solar industry is experiencing exponential job growth after a “breakneck” growth of 25% last year, making the industry currently employ over a quarter of a million Americans.

According to Andrea Luecke, the executive director of the Solar foundation, “The solar industry currently has more (U.S.) workers that Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon combined.” This job growth is proof that the industry is strengthening the economy and is incentive for more companies and individuals to switch to solar power.

The End of the Flint Water Crisis is Near

An agreement between Flint residents and the state of Michigan has been reached regarding the persisting issue of the Flint Water crisis. The issue is to be presented to U.S. District Judge David Lawson who is expected to agree to its terms and oversee its enforcement.

The agreement will require Michigan to give 87 million dollars to the city of Flint so that it may repair 18,000 damaged pipelines by January 1, 2020. It will not require Flint to offer door-to-door water delivery service as many requested, but the free water and filters currently being provided to residents will continue to be a service so long as demand is high.

This agreement has made the best of a bad situation. It was made through the process of mediation between the state of Michigan and those who brought a suit against Michigan, which I find especially nice because it means that the two parties took time out to plan an agreement they each felt was fair. It’s also fortunate that this horrible situation is ending peacefully, since Flint residents have suffered and fought for three years.

Though I’ve only read an abridged version of the agreement, I feel that the deal is almost perfect. The only downside I can find is that it doesn’t seem that Flint is required to fix all of the damaged pipelines because the agreement only mentioned 18,000, indicating to me that there are more.

However, there is a lot of good, including the fact that Medicaid expansion for Flint residents will continue through March 2020 and will cover pregnant women and children under 21 for up to 400% of their poverty level. Additionally, after pipelines that provide water to homes are fixed, the homeowners will receive a year’s supply of water filters for free.

“Sesame Street” Introduces Julia, its First Puppet with Autism

After 46 seasons, Sesame Street is finally introducing an autistic character for its 47th. The puppet, named Julia, has appeared in Street books and the app, but she will not make her television debut until this April.

Julia is part of the “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children”campaign by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit education organization backing Street. The organization paired with experts in the autism community to make Julia a truly accurate portrayal of  a child on the autism spectrum and to lessen the stigma of autism seen in children and adults.

Recently, the media has been trying to portray diverse characters from all walks of life, especially in children’s programs. This is wonderful because it helps children learn from a young age how to be accepting of people who are different from them, and it can teach their parents as well.

Not only that, but when kids see themselves represented in their favorite movies, shows, and books it helps them accept themselves, especially if they are somewhat different and don’t necessarily fit in with other children. So, Julia coming to Sesame Street, during Autism Awareness Month no less, is one of the best things that can happen.

According to Autism Speaks, a 2015 government study says that 1 in 45 American children between the ages of 3 and 17 are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Since Sesame Street  is one of those shows that everyone grows up on, no doubt there are plenty of autistic children who watch the show now; with Julia, they’ll finally see themselves represented.

And those children who aren’t autistic that watch the show will be introduced to a new character with a disorder that one of their friends or future friends may have. Having been introduced to the kind of behavior a child with autism exhibits, they’ll likely have no problem accepting autistic children; as opposed to the stigma there is about them today.

Hopefully, Julia will help us stop thinking of autism as something so bad that it’s an insult, and instead show us that there is amazing in all children.

More Babies are being Born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

The number of babies being born that suffer from withdrawal of opiates, a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome, is increasing.

Babies born with the condition scream out in pain, are irritable and uncomfortable, have difficulty sleeping, and suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. Other more serious side effects include problems with growth and development as well as seizures.

Coupled with the increasing frequency of neonatal abstinence syndrome is a growing divide in the number of babies born with the condition as well as complications of births involving maternal opioid use between rural and urban women.

Rural women are giving birth to more babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome than urban women and they are experiencing more compilations, prompting some to call for better and more accessible methods of treatment for addicts in rural areas.

As I was researching the topic I thought that mothers who were addicts should be prevented from having children, and then I realized that that solution was not an option. No institution can force a woman not to have a baby if she chooses to (rightfully so), and there’s nothing that can be done to take the baby out of a dangerous environment until after it’s born.

then realized the only solution would be to rehabilitate addicts to prevent their babies from having neonatal abstinence syndrome or any other birth defect. If the treatment is made accessible it is likely that many women will opt to take it, because if they really do want to keep their children they would do everything in their power to make sure that they were healthy and safe.


The Great Barrier Reef is Still in Trouble

For the second year in a row the Great Barrier Reef has experienced widespread bleaching. This marks the first time that the reef has not had several years to recover from bleaching events. Though not all of the affected corals will perish, the bleaching is still alarming.

This bleaching is a direct effect of global warming and it’s not confined to the Great Barrier Reef. If corals die, other species will lose their habitats and food sources and it’ll cause a chain reaction that will destroy one of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems.

This is why it worries me that we have leaders that don’t believe in climate change. The Trump administration wouldn’t be able to make any laws regarding the Great Barrier Reef, but they probably won’t use their power to make changes in the U.S. either.

Trump has already called climate change a hoax, threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement, and appointed Scott Pruitt, who denies climate change, as head of the EPA.

During the Trump administration we may see an exponential increase in environmental degradation, at least in the U.S., which adds to my alarm that we are already using Earth’s resources faster than they can replenish.