Instead of fighting, Georgia businesses work with environmental groups to save gopher tortoise

January 30, 2018 by  
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350 species of animals reside in burrows created by gopher tortoises,  but the tortoises are in trouble. Protecting them under the Endangered Species Act in Georgia could create red tape and extra costs for Georgia businesses, so they’re taking what NPR described as an unusual approach: not fighting the listing but joining forces with several environmental groups, wildlife agencies, private foundations, and the Department of Defense to save the keystone species. Over 80 percent of gopher tortoise habitat is privately or corporately owned, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Georgia . The reptile is already considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act in its western range in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and environmental groups aim to protect at least 100,000 acres of the creatures’ habitat in Georgia so the reptile won’t need to be listed under the Environmental Species Act there under a project called the Georgia Gopher Tortoise Initiative. Related: This flipped-over giant tortoise gets by with a little help from his friend The tortoises – which are Georgia’s state reptile – flourish in longleaf pine forests. In the Southwest, there was once around 90 million acres of longleaf pine – today, there’s around three million acres. Habitat destruction hasn’t helped the gopher tortoise population. NPR reported the state’s biggest electric company Georgia Power is the largest business involved. Georgia Power is a major landowner, per the publication, and gopher tortoises reside at some of their plants. The company’s wildlife biologist, Jim Ozier, told NPR, “We’re glad to have them here. Gopher tortoises do very well right next door.” He said the company, in addition to planning around gopher tortoises so they’re not impacted by maintenance, is restoring longleaf pine forests. According to the Georgia Conservancy , protecting the species could help protect water sources, create new public recreation areas, and “provide assurances for a more compatible economic environment for Georgia’s business community.” The state, federal government, and private foundations and donors are, per NPR, raising $150 million for the initiative to protect healthy populations where they are. Funding could go towards acquiring new public lands or “conservation easements on private lands.” Via NPR Images via Depositphotos and U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.

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Instead of fighting, Georgia businesses work with environmental groups to save gopher tortoise

Stockton, California is launching the first basic income experiment in the US

January 30, 2018 by  
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Stockton, a city of 300,000 located in California ‘s Central Valley, will soon become the first city in the United States to launch a universal basic income experiment. Certain citizens will receive $500 a month, no strings attached, with the idea of helping people who are struggling economically to thrive. One in four people in Stockton live below the poverty line, thanks to wage stagnation, job loss and rising housing costs, and this move will be an experiment in seeing how a little help can make a big difference in the lives of people who need it. With support from the Economic Security Project (ESP), a basic income advocacy group co-led by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, Stockton is starting a trial program known as  Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration  (SEED) to test how basic income may impact city residents and the local economy. Stockton’s 27-year-old mayor Michael Tubbs first encountered basic income in the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who supported a guaranteed income . Elected in November 2016, Tubbs is the city’s first Black mayor and its youngest mayor ever. “I can see the radicalness, but I’m trying to solve the questions that every community has,” Tubbs told Business Insider. Tubbs envisions universal basic income as one component of a local economic development plan, including investments in education, to empower workers to get ahead in an economy that has otherwise been skewed against working-class Americans . Related: Cities in Scotland to start universal basic income trials Tubbs is skeptical of the idea that basic income would cause people to become lazy and inactive. “In our economic structure, the people who work the hardest oftentimes make the least,” Tubbs said . “I know migrant farm workers who do back-breaking labor every day, or Uber drivers and Lyft drivers who drive 10 to 12 hours a day in traffic. You can’t be lazy doing that kind of work.” The specific structure of Stockton’s basic income program is still being developed. However, Tubbs has said that he wants the trial to include people with middle-class and upper-middle-class incomes as well as those in need. He believes that what’s happening in Stockton reflects a broader movement in the United States . “For whatever reason, in this country, we have a very interesting relationship with poverty , where we think people in poverty are bad people,” Tubbs said . “In the next couple years, we’ll see a larger national conversation.” Via Business Insider Images via Deposit Photos ,  Jason Jenkins/Flickr and  Michael Tubbs for Mayor

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Stockton, California is launching the first basic income experiment in the US

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