by German Lopez
Local politician faces charges, Ohio boosts solar jobs, Obamacare enrollment improves
State Rep. Peter Beck, a Republican from Mason, now faces 69 felony counts
and increasing pressure to resign. Beck is accused of helping mislead
investors into putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into an
insolvent West Chester startup company and putting some of the funds
from the company into his own campaign. Beck says he's innocent, but
that hasn't stopped top Ohio Republicans from calling for him to resign
to avoid a potential scandal and losing a seat in the Ohio legislature.Ohio ranked No. 8 in the nation for solar jobs in 2013, with solar employment growing by roughly 31 percent over the year, according to the latest census from the Solar Foundation. The report found that U.S. solar jobs grew 10 times faster than overall employment across the country. Environment Ohio applauded the numbers, praising Cincinnati in particular for its own solar-friendly efforts. But the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate is looking into ways to weaken or undo the law that makes many solar projects possible across the state. A report from the Ohio State University and the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy indicates that repealing the law could end up costing Ohioans $3.65 billion on their electricity bills between 2014 and 2025.The federal government reported slightly better enrollment numbers in January for Obamacare's once-troubled website, but Ohio and the nation still fell short of key demographic roles previously perpetuated by the federal government. Specifically, monthly enrollment actually beat projections for the first time since HealthCare.gov launched. But the cumulative amount of young adults signing up through January only reached 25 percent in the country and 21 percent in Ohio — far below the 39 percent goal the White House previously deemed necessary to avoid filling the insurance pool with older, less healthy enrollees who tend to use more resources and drive up costs. With Obamacare's online marketplaces mostly fixed, some groups are now doubling efforts to get the uninsured, particularly young adults, enrolled. CityBeat interviewed Trey Daly, Ohio state director of one of those groups, here.Explainer: Everything you need to know about responsible bidder.Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected a Democrat-backed petition that would create a statewide ballot initiative for a Voter Bill of Rights, but proponents of the initiative say they'll come back with tweaked language. In a statement, DeWine said the proposal ran afoul of federal law in two places. Even if DeWine approved the language from a legal standpoint, supporters would still need to gather roughly 385,000 valid signatures before a July deadline to get the issue on the ballot in November. CityBeat covered the Voter Bill of Rights in greater detail here.Following the large amount of charter school closures last year, State Auditor Dave Yost is launching an investigation into three Ohio charter school sponsors and the Ohio Department of Education.The Cincinnati area could get 2 inches of snow.A Ky. auditor says the former finance director of Covington stole nearly $800,000.Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes posted pictures of downtown Cincinnati circa 1968 here.Sam Adams is pouring millions into a Cincinnati brewery.Grizzly bears could offer a better solution for weight loss.Watch Dale Hansen, a Texas sports anchor, take on the NFL and Michael Sam’s anti-gay haters:
Video | News | Weather | Sports Mon Feb 10 20:43:08 PST 2014Hansen Unplugged: Celebrating our differences Michael Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL; says he knows there will be problems... and they’ve already started. view full articleFollow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopezGot any news tips? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by German Lopez
City’s rule for MSD projects attempts to increase local employment, job training
Following county commissioner’s Feb. 12 meeting, the
dispute between Cincinnati and Hamilton County over contracting rules
for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) projects appears to be heading to
The court battle comes after the county dismissed multiple
concessions from the city and put MSD’s revamp of the local sewer
system on hold in protest of the city’s rules. With a federal mandate
looming, both sides agree a resolution is needed soon to avoid costly
fines from the federal government.
For many across the city and county, the conflict is
understandably confusing. The debate has often been mired down by biased
media reports and political talking points that obfuscate the issue.
Jargon referencing “responsible bidder,” “local hire,” “local
preference,” unions, apprenticeship programs, a pre-apprenticeship fund
and contractors make it even more difficult to grasp what is going on.
Cutting through the politics, here is what the responsible
bidder rules actually do and why the city and county seem incapable of
What is responsible bidder?It’s a city ordinance that essentially forces MSD
contractors to adopt job training measures known as apprenticeship
programs and pay for a pre-apprenticeship fund. By requiring the
training options, the city hopes workers will be able to improve their
skills and successfully transition to other jobs once their MSD work is
Apprenticeship programs take workers through extensive
on-the-job and classroom-based training in which they can hone their
skills in a specific craft, such as electrical or plumbing work. Because
workers get paid for their work while participating in an
apprenticeship, the programs are typically characterized as an
The pre-apprenticeship fund will put money toward programs
that will teach newcomers basic skills, such as math and reading, so
they can eventually move up to an apprenticeship program.
The rules don’t apply to every MSD contractor. Contracts
worth less than $400,000, which make up roughly half of MSD’s sewer
revamp, are exempted.
What about local hire and local preference?Those are ordinances separate from responsible bidder that
give preference to Cincinnati-based businesses. They try to keep MSD
contracts within local companies.
What’s the conflict about?
The conflict is between Cincinnati and Hamilton County,
which jointly run MSD. The Democrat-controlled city supports the rules,
while the Republican-controlled county opposes them.
The city and county also dispute which governing body can
set policy for MSD. Under a 1968 agreement, the county owns and funds
MSD, and the city operates and maintains it. City Council argues the
agreement allows the city to set policy for MSD, but the county
disagrees. Both sides acknowledge the set-up is far from ideal.
So, did the city’s rules halt MSD projects?
No. Nothing in the city’s ordinances forces MSD projects
to stop. County commissioners singlehandedly halted MSD projects in
protest of the city’s rules. If it were up to the city, work would
Why are these projects so important?
By federal decree, the city needs to revamp the sewer
system to bring it up to environmentally safe standards. The project
will cost $3.2 billion over 15-20 years, making it one of the most
expensive in the city’s history.
If the city and county don’t carry on with the revamp
soon, the federal government will begin issuing fines. By some guesses, the fines could begin rolling in by the end of the year.
Why does a majority of City Council support responsible bidder?
Councilman Chris Seelbach, the Democrat who championed the
rules, says they will boost local employment and create more job
training options for the city’s struggling workforce.
Other Democrats on council agree, although some, like Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, believe the ordinance is “imperfect.”
Does responsible bidder benefit workers?
Some research suggests it would.
The left-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP) in a
December report argued apprenticeship programs provide an opportunity to
revitalize the U.S. workforce.“By 2020, America is projected to experience a shortage of
3 million workers with associate’s degrees or higher and 5 million
workers with technical certificates and credentials,” the report
claimed. “Compounding our inadequate workforce development system,
research shows that employers are now spending less on training than
they have in the past. At the same time, industry surveys show that a
lack of qualified workers is a top concern for many employers.”Citing a 2012 study from Mathematica Policy Research, CAP
estimated apprenticeship programs alone can boost a worker’s lifetime
earnings and benefits by more than $300,000. Over 36 years of
employment, that’s an average gain of nearly $8,400 a year.Why do county commissioners oppose the rules?
In terms of policy, county commissioners say the responsible bidder rules favor unions and burden businesses.
On a legal basis, the county argues the city’s responsible
bidder rules conflict with state law and the local hire and preference
rules enforce unconstitutional geographic preferences.
Does responsible bidder actually favor unions?
Since unions tend to offer better and more apprenticeship programs, yes.
But the rules don’t exclude non-union businesses from
participating. For example, Ohio Valley Associated Builders and
Contractors maintains some non-union apprenticeship programs that would
qualify under the law.
Still, most of the union favoritism debate centered around
a regulation the city actually offered to give up. Specifically, under
current rules employers are only eligible to contract with MSD if they
have apprenticeship programs that have graduated at least one person a
year for the past five years. In October, Seelbach offered to strip the mandate and replace it with an incentive program. The county
seemed unmoved by the proposal.What about businesses? Does responsible bidder burden them?
By requiring businesses to adopt apprenticeship programs
and put 10 cents for each hour of labor into a pre-apprenticeship fund,
the law certainly places more regulations on businesses. Whether the
requirements are a burden is subjective.John Morris, president of the Ohio Valley Associated Builders and Contractors and an opponent of the law, told CityBeat the pre-apprenticeship fund’s requirement will increase business costs by $2-3 million over 15-20 years.Citing MSD estimates for the cost of labor, Rob
Richardson, regional manager of the Laborers’ International Union of
North America, said the fund will cost businesses $1.5 million.Even if someone accepts Morris’ estimate, the requirement adds up to at most 0.1 percent of the $3.2 billion project.
More broadly, some supporters of the city’s rules question
whether placing a burden on businesses is innately a bad thing. The
basic point of government regulations is to make the economy and
businesses work better for the public. In that sense, regulations are
always going to burden businesses to some extent.For example, financial regulations burden big banks and
financial institutions. But many Americans agree the regulations are
necessary to avoid another financial crisis like the one that plunged
the country into the Great Recession.Still, critics argue the extra regulations would increase the cost of business, and the impact could ultimately be felt by MSD ratepayers.Why don’t the city and county just compromise?
They kind of tried, but it seems the philosophical split
between Hamilton County Republicans and Cincinnati Democrats is too
strong to reach a substantial agreement.The city, for example, has offered multiple concessions to
the county. In May, City Council modified the law to ease some
requirements and add an exemption for contracts worth less than
$400,000, which covers half of the contracts involved in MSD’s sewer revamp. In
October, Seelbach offered to replace a strict mandate with a looser incentive
program. Seelbach also told CityBeat on Feb. 6 that he would consider raising the contract exemption from $400,000 to $750,000.In return, the county rejected the concessions and instead
offered to establish aspirational inclusion goals and some funding for
local job training programs — as long as the city repealed its rules
altogether.Which side would win the court battle?
It’s hard to say. Both sides — and their lawyers — seem pretty confident about their legal standing.
So what’s next?
At the current rate, it looks like the city and county are
heading to court. Whether the process involves a full-on legal battle
or mediation between the city and county’s lawyers remains uncertain,
but it’s clear something will eventually have to give.This blog post will be regularly updated as the situation develops.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 02:19 PM | Permalink
Proposal would let poor buy a slice of pizza, while top 1 percent could buy a trip to Italy
Gov. John Kasich's income tax proposal would disproportionately favor Ohio's wealthiest, an analysis from Policy Matters Ohio and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found.Specifically, the proposal would on average cut taxes by $2 for the bottom 20 percent of Ohioans, $48 for the middle 20 percent and $2,515 for the top 1 percent.The proposal "may allow low-income Ohioans to buy a slice of pizza a year, on average," Policy Matters claims. "Middle-income Ohioans could purchase a cheap pizza maker. For the state's most affluent taxpayers, on average it would cover round-trip airfare for two to Italy, with some money left over to pay the hotel bill and buy some real Italian pizza."Under the model, Kasich's proposal would cut Ohio's income tax rates across the board by 7 percent. The goal is to bring Ohio's top tax rate, which kicks in only for income above $208,500, under 5 percent, as the governor previously proposed.Although a plurality of Americans oppose tax cuts for the wealthy, Kasich and other Republicans consistently push the tax cuts to help what they call "job creators." In the most recent state budget, Kasich and Republican legislators approved another series of across-the-board tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the state's wealthiest.In the aftermath, economic indicators from conservative, liberal and nonpartisan analysts show Ohio's economy is consistently among the worst performers in the country.The story is typical for Ohio: In 2005, the state cut income taxes across the board by 21 percent. Since then, Policy Matters found Ohio to be one of just a dozen states that actually lost jobs.Other research backs up Policy Matters' findings. In a report analyzing tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) found tax cuts for the wealthy aren't correlated with increased economic growth."There is not conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth. Analysis of such data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth," CRS concluded. "However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution."Meanwhile, Cincinnati's poorest continue to struggle in a vicious cycle of poverty that consumes about 34 percent of the city's population and more than half of the city's children. CityBeat covered poverty and its effects on Cincinnati in greater detail here.
by German Lopez
Solar sector grew by 31 percent between 2012 and 2013
Ohio ranked No. 8 among states for solar jobs in 2013,
with solar employment growing to 3,800 from 2,900 over the year,
according to the Feb. 11 census report from the Solar Foundation.Still, the state actually dropped five spots to No. 23 in
per-capita rankings, which measure the amount of solar jobs relative to a
state’s overall population.The U.S. solar industry employed more than 142,000
Americans in November, representing an increase of nearly 24,000 over
the year, according to the Solar Foundation. At nearly 20 percent
growth, the solar sector grew more than 10 times faster than the overall
economy, which on average increased employment by 1.9 percent.Advocacy group Environment Ohio applauded the latest numbers.“The sun is an unlimited energy source that could provide
all of our energy without the air and water pollution associated with
coal, oil and gas,” said Christian Adams, state associate at Environment
Ohio, in a statement. “This report shows that the solar industry is
putting people to work to meet a growing percentage of our energy needs
with a pollution-free energy source that has no fuel costs.”Environment Ohio praised Cincinnati in particular. In
2012, Cincinnati became the first major city in the nation to support
100 percent renewable energy through electric aggregation. Last
year, City Council adopted a motion to put solar panels on one in five city
rooftops by 2028 and develop new financing programs to support the goal.In a 2012 report, Environment Ohio found Cincinnati could become the solar capital of the region and lead
a boom of solar jobs.Under a 2008 state law, utility companies must meet benchmarks
that require them to get 12.5 percent of their electricity from
renewable sources, such as wind, hydro, biomass and solar, and save 22
percent of electricity through new efficiency efforts by 2025.A 2013 report from the Ohio State University and the Ohio
Advanced Energy Economy found the law will save Ohioans $3.65 billion on
their electricity bills between 2014 and 2025.Pressured by Akron-based FirstEnergy and the
ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, the Republican-controlled Ohio
Senate is currently looking for ways to weaken the renewable energy and
efficiency standards. The renewed effort comes after attempts to
dismantle the law by State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who
often compare Ohio’s energy law to Stalinism, failed to gain support.Meanwhile, Environment Ohio says the state should actually
increase its standards to help combat global warming and boost
renewable energy jobs.
by German Lopez
City’s poor struggle to break free, CPS gains nationwide praise, city and county head to court
With Cincinnati’s child poverty and economic mobility
rates among the worst in the country, it’s clear the city’s poor can get
stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty. Although the impoverished trend
afflicts more than half of the city’s children, every level of
government has in some way cut services to the poor. The end result:
Many Cincinnati neighborhoods show little signs of progress as poor health and economic
indicators pile up. Read CityBeat’s in-depth story here.Following the adoption of community learning centers,
Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) continue receiving praise for establishing a workable model for educating low-income
populations. Locally, independent data shows the model has pushed CPS
further than the traditional approach to education, even though the
school district continues struggling with impoverished demographics. A few
hundred miles away, newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
says he will implement the Cincinnati model in the biggest city in the nation.Hamilton County and Cincinnati are heading to court to
decide who can set policy for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD)
projects. The conflict came to a head after Hamilton County
commissioners deliberately halted federally mandated MSD projects to
protest the city’s job training rules for contractors. The
Republican-controlled county argues the rules favor unions, burden
businesses and breach state law, but the city says the rules are
perfectly legal and provide work opportunities for city workers.Commentary: “Legalizing Marijuana Is Serious Business.”With HealthCare.gov mostly fixed, CityBeat
interviewed Trey Daly, who is leading the Ohio branch of an organization
reaching out to the uninsured to get them enrolled in Obamacare.Explainer: Everything you need to know about Mayor John Cranley’s parking plan.University of Kentucky researchers found tolls would, at worst, reduce traffic on a new Brent Spence Bridge by 2 percent.After raising concerns over teacher pay and missed
classroom time, Republicans in the Ohio House delayed a vote on a bill
that would add school calamity days. Gov. John Kasich called for the
bill to help schools that have already exhausted their snow days during
this winter’s harsh weather.Ohio regulators fined Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino
$75,000 for providing credit to early patrons without running the proper
background checks.Cincinnati-based Kroger faces a lawsuit claiming stores
deceived customers by labeling chickens as humanely raised when the
animals were brought up under standard commercial environments.Cincinnati-based crowdfunding startup SoMoLend settled
with Ohio over allegations that it sold unregistered securities and its
founder misled investors. Candace Klein, the founder, resigned as CEO of
the company in August.Comcast intends to acquire Time Warner Cable, one of two major Internet providers in Cincinnati, through a $45 billion deal.U.S. physicists pushed fusion energy closer to reality with a breakthrough formally announced yesterday.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopezGot any news tips? Email them to email@example.com.
Cincinnati Public Schools’ community learning centers turn schools into neighborhood resource hubs
2 Comments · Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Community learning centers helped improve Cincinnati Public Schools' reputation, and now other cities are paying attention.
1 Comment · Wednesday, February 12, 2014
With HealthCare.gov mostly fixed after its glitch-ridden rollout, outreach campaigns are now doubling efforts to get Americans enrolled in Obamacare.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:44 AM | Permalink
Parking plan targets budget, GOP could restrict early voting, e-cigarette bill advances
Mayor John Cranley says his parking plan intends to
alleviate Cincinnati’s ongoing budget woes by increasing parking
revenue, but the plan will need approval from a majority of City Council
to become law. The plan wouldn’t increase parking meter
rates downtown, but it would increase neighborhood rates by 25 cents to
75 cents an hour. The plan would also increase enforcement at parking
meters, which could lead to more tickets, and extend enforcement hours
to 9 p.m. around the University of Cincinnati, Short Vine in Corryville,
Over-the-Rhine and downtown. But the plan would not give control of the city’s parking meter rates and hours to outside entities, like
the parking privatization plan did. Cranley plans to send the proposal
to the Neighborhood Committee, with a full council vote possible in two
weeks.An Ohio House committee yesterday cleared a pair of
controversial election bills that would reduce the state’s early voting
period by one week — effectively eliminating a “Golden Week” in which
voters can register and vote at the same time — and restrict counties’
abilities to mail out absentee ballot applications. The bills wouldn’t
go into effect until after the May 6 primary. Democrats say the bills
are blatant attempts at voter suppression, but Republicans, some of whom
acknowledge they politically benefit from reduced access to voting,
say the reform is necessary to eliminate voting disparities between
urban and rural counties. The bills still need approval from the
Republican-controlled Ohio House and Republican Gov. John Kasich to
become law.A bill placing age requirements on electronic cigarettes
yesterday passed an Ohio Senate committee. Critics of the bill argue it
doesn’t go far enough because it puts e-cigarettes in a different
category than tobacco, which exempts e-cigarettes from higher taxes and
stricter regulations even though they contain addictive substances and
potential health risks. Kasich and the rest of the legislature need to OK the proposal before it becomes law.Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center reopened
three school-based health clinics closed after Neighborhood Health
Care’s abrupt shutdown.A poll worker in Avondale allegedly voted twice, according to the Hamilton County Board of Elections.The Ohio Department of Education plans to increase the
number of weeks schools can administer state tests to alleviate time
concerns brought on by excessive snow days.Meanwhile, the Ohio House plans to vote on a bill that would let schools take on more snow days this year.A Christian university located south of Columbus gets public dollars to teach “biblical truth,” an Akron Beacon Journal investigation found. And the school’s president and lobbyist just happen to sit on the Ohio Board of Education.NBC correspondent Tom Brokaw revealed he has cancer.RoboCop isn’t that far off from reality.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopezGot any news tips? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by German Lopez
Another LGBT battle could reach court, Cranley crafts parking plan, fracking tax bill revised
A federal court in Cincinnati could soon decide whether
married same-sex parents should be recognized by Ohio on their
children’s birth certificates. Civil rights attorney Alphonse
Gerhardstein filed the lawsuit on behalf of four same-sex couples who
married outside the state and an adoption agency that helped one of the
couples adopt a child in Ohio. The lawsuit argues leaving one parent
unnamed perpetuates harmful social stigmas and potentially endangers a
child’s life by making it more difficult for a parent to get his child
help in case of emergencies. Although opponents of LGBT rights argue allowing gay couples to adopt hurts children, the research suggests widespread discrimination and same-sex parents’ limited rights are the real threats to gay couples’ sons and daughters.Mayor John Cranley is crafting a new plan to upgrade
Cincinnati’s parking system while retaining local control. Under the
drafted plan analyzed by The Business Courier, the Greater
Cincinnati Port Authority would issue $25 million in bonds backed by
parking revenues. To pay for the new costs, parking meter rates in
neighborhoods — but not downtown — would increase by 25 cents per hour
to 75 cents per hour, and the city would hire more officers to increase
enforcement. The new parking meters would take credit card payments, but
smartphone payments currently aren’t in the plan.A revised version of the Ohio House’s fracking tax bill
increases the severance tax on oil and gas companies but cuts the income
tax more and directs funding to areas most affected by the state’s oil
and gas boom. Fracking is a drilling technique in which millions of
gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground to unlock
oil and gas reserves. Following its widespread adoption, the United
States, including Ohio, began pumping out natural gas at record levels.
But critics worry the technique could pollute and contaminate
surrounding air and water resources. CityBeat covered fracking in greater detail here.As a result of the harsh winter, Cincinnati’s winter
shelter for the homeless has been extra busy this year. Some City
Council members appear to be considering a more standardized funding
plan for the shelter, which traditionally relies largely on private
funding.The Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Parade will take a slight detour this year to avoid streetcar construction.No surprise here: Ohio is among the worst states for funding transit projects.Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland want to know what it
would take to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, which will
name the GOP’s presidential candidate.Fixing food deserts alone won’t make people eat healthier, a new study found.A Los Angeles newscaster mixed up Samuel L. Jackson with Laurence Fishburne.Astronomers say they found the oldest known star in the
universe. At more than 13 billion years old, the star is about three
times the age of the Sun.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopezGot any news tips? Email them to email@example.com.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 12:20 PM | Permalink
Bill Nye the Science Guy to “debate” Creation Museum founder Ken Ham
Bill Nye the Science Guy and Creation Museum founder Ken Ham will engage in a so-called “debate” tonight over evolution and
biblical creationism, even though the scientific evidence rules out any
possibility of Nye losing on the facts of evolution.
Although the scientific evidence is clear, evolution
remains a contentious conflict in the United States as religious fundamentalists struggle to reconcile their literal interpretations of religious texts with scientific facts.
The conflict between science and religion is nothing new.
In the late 19th century, John William Draper, an American scientist and
historian, brought the conflict to the mainstream with his book, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science.
Since then, the conflict has actually expanded to include anti-science pushback from political and business interests over a wide range of issues. Here are four
leading examples of today’s conflicts as they pit science against everyone else:
Evolution is essentially the foundation of modern biology.
It’s overwhelmingly supported by modern scientists. Evidence ranges from centuries of scientific observations
to similarities in life’s genetic and physiological
makeup to fossilized records.
“At the heart of evolutionary theory is the basic idea
that life has existed for billions of years and has changed over time,”
notes UC Berkeley’s evolution explainer. “Overwhelming evidence supports
this fact. Scientists continue to argue about details of evolution, but
the question of whether life has a long history or not was answered in
the affirmative at least two centuries ago.”
In the scientific world, it’s silly to dispute the entire
concept of evolution. Some, like Nye, question how the world can even
make sense to someone without evolution.
“Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution,” Nye told Big Think.Expect more arguments along those lines at Tuesday’s “debate,” which will be streamed live here. Global warming
Scientists widely agree global warming is occurring and man-made. In the latest report from the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
scientists said they are at least 95 percent certain that human actions
contribute to global warming.To understand global warming, it’s crucial to first differentiate weather and climate. Weather forecasts look at
short-term trends in specific areas, like the current local temperature
and whether stuff is falling out of the sky in Cincinnati. Climate
science looks at huge, long-term trends that span the globe, such as
global temperature trends over decades.When climate science is viewed through the correct
scientific lens, the results become practically impossible to reasonably
Vaccine safetyThe anti-vaccine movement claims vaccines can lead to
extreme complications like autism, asthma or diabetes, but the argument
is backed by no notable scientific evidence.In its broad analysis of vaccines and their adverse
effects, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found “few health problems are
caused by or clearly associated with vaccines.” Specifically, the study
ruled out connections between vaccines and autism, asthma and diabetes.That’s not to say vaccines are without side-effects. In some occasions, IOM found vaccines can cause allergic reactions,
seizures and fainting. But the data did not indicate serious, widespread
problems.Fortunately, both liberals and conservatives mostly reject
the idea that vaccines are dangerous. That’s good news for
everyone’s health. If most people doubted the science, the
fears could diminish the herd effect that’s so important
for preventing and combating epidemics.
Safety of genetically modified foods
Despite the sweeping scientific
consensus that genetically
modified organisms (GMOs) are safe, detractors continue rallying against any
genetic manipulation in foods.
Major scientific groups have extensively studied GMOs
during the decades the technology has been available. The consensus,
from groups including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the
American Medical Association and the Royal Society of Medicine, was
clear: Genetically modified foods aren’t any more harmful than
conventional foods.Even in the extremely anti-GMO Europe, an independent
European Commission report found, “The main conclusion to be drawn from
the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of
more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent
research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not
per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.”An even larger study from Italian scientists reached similar conclusions.In its defense, the anti-GMO movement typically points to a
study that initially claimed to find evidence of tumors in rats that
consumed genetically modified foods. But the scientific journal that
published the study, Food and Chemical Toxicology, actually retracted the findings
after deciding they were “inconclusive, and therefore do not
reach the threshold of publication.”Given the lack of evidence, it’s easy to understand why scientific organizations around the world seem so aligned against the anti-GMO movement: