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Rural News

How Fentanyl Changes the Opioid Equation

Pew Trust | Posted on October 17, 2018

More than a decade into the opioid epidemic, illicit fentanyl and related synthetic drugs are now driving the nation’s spiraling overdose death toll. Involved in nearly half of the roughly 200 U.S. drug overdose deaths every day, fentanyl appears to be here to stay. “Even if we do a really good job at the border and start making a serious dent in shipments from China and Mexico, we need to anticipate that people will simply start cooking it here. It’s already happening,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations manager Stephen McConachie said in an interview.As governors in the hardest-hit New England, Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states call for intensified law enforcement efforts and stiffer penalties for fentanyl dealers, public health officials are saying this latest drug scourge underscores the urgent need to get more people into treatment, particularly those who use heroin.With lethal amounts of fentanyl showing up in heroin and other drug supplies throughout the country, active drug users are at a greater risk of dying than ever before

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease detected in Minnesota deer for first time

Outdoor News | Posted on October 17, 2018

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health has confirmed the first cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in Minnesota deer. Six of seven animals in a small herd of captive white-tailed deer in Goodhue County died of the disease earlier this month. The remaining buck appears healthy at this time and is showing no clinical signs associated with this disease.This is the first detection of this disease in a Minnesota deer, yet it is widespread across North America. It has previously been detected in two Minnesota cattle in Brown County (2012) and Murray County (2013).“This virus is transmitted between deer by biting midges, or gnats, which are most active in the fall before they are killed by the first frost of the season,” said Board of Animal Health Senior Veterinarian, Dr. Mackenzie Reberg. “These bugs can’t travel far on their own and we’re concerned by this detection because the herd owner hasn’t moved deer onto the property for several years.”The quick and suspicious deaths of the animals earlier this month alarmed the owner, who worked with their veterinarian to submit tissues from the carcasses to the Iowa State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to determine the cause of death. EHD was confirmed by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

Humanity is ‘cutting down the tree of life’, warn scientists

The Guardian | Posted on October 17, 2018

Humanity’s ongoing annihilation of wildlife is cutting down the tree of life, including the branch we are sitting on, according to a stark new analysis. More than 300 different mammal species have been eradicated by human activities. The new research calculates the total unique evolutionary history that has been lost as a result at a startling 2.5bn years.Furthermore, even if the destruction of wild areas, poaching and pollution were ended within 50 years and extinction rates fell back to natural levels, it would still take 5-7 million years for the natural world to recover.Many scientists think a sixth mass extinction of life on Earth has begun, propelled by human destruction of wildlife, and 83% of wild mammals have already gone. The new work puts this in the context of the evolution and extinction of species that occurred for billions of years before modern humans arrived.

Can a California town move back from the sea?

High Country News | Posted on October 17, 2018

Broadly speaking, though, those practical things are limited. According to the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, or SPUR, a city can undertake one of several strategies: Build a barrier, armor the coast with levees and seawalls, elevate land, create “living shorelines” to absorb flooding and slow erosion, or retreat. This last strategy, “managed retreat,” SPUR warns, “is a political quagmire. It involves tremendous legal and equity issues, because not all property owners are willing sellers. And in many places, shoreline communities are already disadvantaged and lack the adaptive capacity to relocate.” It is into this quagmire that Dedina has decided to wade.Other cities have proven unwilling to take on the idea of managed retreat, mostly because the very mention of it can tank real estate prices. Besides, there are alternatives. A favorite in California is sand replenishment, where sand is added to a beach as a buffer against rising tides, erosion and other natural forces. Six years ago, Imperial Beach added 300,000 cubic yards of large-grain sand across four miles of beachfront. But the practice has many critics: Waves, tides and currents can wash the sand away, and what remains can damage or destroy ecosystems. Surfers hate it because it alters breaks — and, indeed, Imperial Beach has seen fewer surfers since it added sand. “Sand replenishment is lame,” a surfer named Brian Valdez told me when I caught up with him after a morning session. “But I bet it’ll be impossible to find a California beach without it in the future.” Dedina does not see a future in sand. His city, he believes, will have to do what was once unthinkable: It will have to retreat. Managed retreat represents a planned move away from the coast, allowing the beach to erode for the forces of nature to take over. This, of course, is a gargantuan task. How does a city take all the homes and businesses along its coast and relocate them inland? It has never been done in the Western U.S. before, certainly not on the scale that would be needed — even for a city as small as Imperial Beach.

Ocean temperatures rise, boosting odds of El Nino ahead

Capital Press | Posted on October 17, 2018

Pacific Ocean temperatures are rising along the equator, a signal that winter likely will be warmer than normal in the Northwest.Federal climatologists peg the odds that an El Nino will form in the next couple of months at 70 to 75 percent, a 5 percent increase since mid-September. The warm ocean should influence late winter weather, but El Ninos historically have had little effect on snow accumulation in Washington before Jan. 1, State Climatologist Nick Bond said.“Here’s hoping that holds true to form, and we get reasonably wet and cold weather in the mountains pretty soon,” he said.The Climate Prediction Center revised its El Nino outlook on Oct. 11. The federal agency reported that surface temperatures rose across the Pacific during the previous four weeks and that warmer water spread over a larger area.Winters are generally warm and dry in the northern tier of the U.S. during an El Nino. 

Poll: Rural Americans Rattled By Opioid Epidemic; Many Want Government Help

NPR | Posted on October 17, 2018

Rural Americans are profoundly worried about the opioid crisis and their local economies and many are hoping government can help, according to a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.One-quarter of rural Americans say opioid and other drug abuse is the biggest problem that faces their local communities. A similar share, 21 percent, say economic concerns are the biggest problems in their areas. No other topic even comes close after that. "People" and "government" are the next biggest problems, both registering at 5 percent.Among rural Americans who say their community will need outside help to solve its major problems, similar proportions of Trump voters (about 6 in 10) and Clinton voters (7 in 10) believe that federal, state or local government will "play the greatest role."The major difference between these groups is the role they see for big business — and even then, the difference is modest. Among those who say their community will need outside help, Trump voters are more likely than Clinton voters (18 percent versus 8 percent) to say they think big businesses will play the greatest role.The opioid problem is not viewed uniformly across all of rural America. Opioids and other drug abuse rate with an especially high share of people in Appalachia — 41 percent of people there said drug addiction and abuse are the biggest problem in their communities, compared with around 1 in 5 in the Midwest, and around one-quarter in the South and rural areas nationally.

Study Shows How Recovery From The Great Recession Transformed The Geography of U.S. Economic Well-Being

Economic Innovation Group | Posted on October 17, 2018

Study finds it took under five years for prosperous communities to replace lost jobs while distressed ones are unlikely to ever recover on current trendlines.  The Economic Innovation Group (EIG) released a new report, From Great Recession to Great Reshuffling: Charting a Decade of Change Across American Communities, tracking changes in the well-being of U.S. communities during a tumultuous decade that included the Great Recession and the subsequent economic recovery. The report is based on findings from the 2018 Distressed Communities Index (DCI), a research project that measures and maps the economic well-being of U.S. zip codes, cities, counties, and congressional districts.The Great Reshuffling has had both positive and negative implications for American communities. Prosperity and population are becoming more closely linked, as the best-off communities are home to a rapidly growing number of Americans. Prosperous zip codes alone saw an increase of over 10 million residents between the two periods studied. However, even as the number of Americans living in a distressed zip code shrinks, the gaps in well-being separating communities are growing wider.“Ten years after the financial crisis, these findings are a sobering reminder that far too many communities have yet to see a true recovery,” said EIG President and CEO John Lettieri. “While there is much to celebrate about the strength of the U.S. economy, the national numbers are becoming less reflective of local realities. We must do far better at ensuring opportunity spreads to every corner of the map.”The study found that the U.S. experienced a widely-shared recession followed by a deeply fractured recovery. Communities across the board saw a surprisingly similar decline in absolute number of jobs during the recession, but prosperous areas dominated the recovery, generating more net new jobs and businesses than the rest of the nation combined, while increasing their human capital advantage in the process.

Drug addiction tops list of rural concerns

The Daily Yonder | Posted on October 16, 2018

A quarter of rural Americans say that drug addiction is the biggest problem their communities face, according to a new poll of rural residents. A lot of that assessment is based on first-hand information. About half of rural residents say they personally know someone, like a friend or family member, who has struggled with opioid addiction. Younger adults were even more likely to know someone struggling with addiction.While drug addiction topped the list of community problems, a slightly smaller percentage of rural residents think that economic concerns are the biggest issue in their communities, according to the poll. When it comes to family matters, however, rural people are more concerned about money and financial problems. Twenty-seven percent said economic issues were their biggest family problem (as opposed to community problem), while only 1 percent said drug addiction was their family’s biggest problem. Health concerns overall (including drug abuse) were the second biggest family problem on the open-ended list, at 16 percent of respondents. The third highest group said their families had no “biggest problem.” 

Rural America is on the frontlines of low-emissions electricity

Science Line | Posted on October 16, 2018

he 6,000 residents of Alaska’s Kodiak Island are used to being on their own, and paying for it. A 10-hour ferry ride separates them from the nearest mainland town, keeping grocery prices high and tourism low. But the one thing the fishing port doesn’t overpay for is electricity. While the typical Alaskan forks over 21 cents for each kilowatt-hour to power their home, the island’s isolated inhabitants get away with around 15. What’s more, Kodiak’s one-of-a-kind power grid now delivers that energy from a 98 percent renewable blend of hydro and wind power, ending a decades-long reliance on pricey and polluting diesel. Cutting-edge energy systems are increasingly finding their way into remote communities like Kodiak, where the harsh economics of seclusion make new strategies that replace costly fossil fuels especially appealing. Kauai, Hawaii, and Greensburg, Kansas, also overhauled their electricity infrastructure in favor of renewable sources. But even at the right price, transitioning to clean energy sources is far from a foregone conclusion. It often takes external pressure to push communities to embrace new energy systems.

Energy Companies In Alaska Fight Controversial Salmon Initiative

NPR | Posted on October 15, 2018

In Alaska, a ballot measure is cutting right to the heart of the state's identity. It's pitting Alaskans' love for salmon against another powerful force - the oil and mining industries. The ballot measure pits the state's love for salmon against its need for oil and mining revenue. The controversial measure has drawn more money than all three gubernatorial candidates combined.