Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Republicans and The Gay Block

Right now there is a document that is being circulated to be sent to the Supreme Court. It is a legal briefing asserting the constitutional right to equality for marriages between same sex partners. The action is for the upcoming hearings on California's Prop 8 which as you may recall, defined marriage in California as solely between a man and a woman. The surprising or "inconceivable" element here is that it is being supported and pushed by many prominent Republicans.

Republicans, if you will recall, had as a party previously asserted the need to protect traditional marriage for a number of reasons. In fact, many of those who have signed onto this briefing have seemingly completely reversed their position on the subject.

This new-found belief in equality may be a coming of these individuals to conscious. With the upcoming CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) coming up, this may be a breaking away of a moderate conservancy out of the radical right we have been seeing as of late into a new and more evolved party or, it could be a largely political motivated move.

The truth of the mater is that the Republicans lost the most recent Presidential election as a direct result of a few key voting blocks and issues. Social issues that conservatives traditionally oppose, such as Marijuana legalization and Homosexual Marriage won big and had huge National support. Supporting the rights for gays to marry may represent a continuing trend of the Republican party to back-peddle from the platform of the Romney election and seek out ways of attracting blocks that such as the Latino communities (though some may argue they are still bumbling with the women's issues).

The Gay community was, in fact, a critical block for the Obama win. Apparently Republicans in Congress have stated “behind closed doors” that supporting marriage equality is the future of the party but it "wasn't the time" to publicly go there. Apparently  there are those in the party that have started to think the benefit of gaining support from that community by promoting equality outweighs the cost of loosing those staunchly against it but on a Party-Wide platform, they are still the Black Sheep

This issue is something I have written about a lot and it is just interesting to see if this becomes an accepted issue. Hope that Climate Change and Eco-Sense is next on the same path towards total American acceptance.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sea Urchins, Acidification and BioMimicry

There is an awesome development in the world of climate change and ocean acidification news and it comes in the form of a tiny, globular marine animal.

Ocean acidification is a term that refers to the changing pH balance in the ocean as a result of CO2 absorption. The ocean naturally takes in carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, as part of the carbon cycle (see 5th grade science) and is expected to slow down as a result of there being far too much pollution to cope with.

While the concept of acidification is relatively new to the public (according to the almighty Google) it has actually been a fear for a number of years that ocean absorption would fail to keep up with our pollution and been part of the international discourse for a while. Though it seems that the ocean is still guzzling up about 50% of our carbon pollution, the effects have been showing their ugly head.

As more and more CO2 is introduced into the ocean, the very chemistry of the ocean changes putting sea-life at risk. We have been recognizing that the increase in the pH in the ocean makes the habitat inhospitable for many animals, even causing shells to erode or alter drastically,  for years and the effects don't seem to be improving. There is even the fear that the coral reefs may be extinct by 2050.

One animal in particular has recently risen to the national discourse, both for it's surprising resilience to acidification and for a recent discovery of how these spiny creatures convert CO2 from ocean water. Researchers were specifically "looking at how organisms absorb CO2 into their skeletons and in particular the sea urchin which converts the CO2 to calcium carbonate" when the discovery was made and a good thing too as "near-future" CO2 levels may retard the urchin's reproductive cycle and possibly cause them to die out.

This process of looking at nature for scientific innovation is called "Biomimicry" which has affected design in everything from textiles, to social organization, to solar power to many different ways of adapting to the changing climate. The applications of biomimicry seem endless and it would be only fitting if the way we solved our CO2 problem was with the help of the modest and prickly sea urchin.