New Noah's Ark

Ensuring the long-term survival of the world's agriculture by preserving one of its most basic resources: seeds.

It's 2050, and global warming is in full effect. Because of regional climate disruptions, crops that once were abundant no longer grow in their original habitat. Drought has demolished Africa's once-fertile farmlands, and monsoons have drowned East Asia's rice supply. The world's agricultural infrastructure is in complete disarray.The possibility of such a catastrophe, however remote, has led the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a small nonprofit based in Rome, to create the Svalbard International Seed Vault. This new air-locked structure, soon to be dug into an arctic mountainside on Norway's Spitsbergen Island, ensures the long-term survival of the world's agriculture by preserving one of its most basic resources: seeds. "The vault is a global insurance policy," says Cary Fowler, the executive secretary of the Trust, the organization spearheading the comprehensive archive. Funded with $3 million from the Norwegian government, the vault will safeguard seeds of every known crop variety from nearly every country on earth, and will begin accepting samples in fall 2007.Protected from any mischief by an intricate system of motion detectors and alarms, the vault is also secured by the island's permafrost, which, despite global warming, should guarantee that the temperature inside the vault rises no higher than 27 degrees Fahrenheit in the event of refrigeration equipment malfunction. "It is, in a sense, made to run by itself," says Fowler. Currently under construction, the vault will resemble a library, with shelves of sealed boxes that each hold up to 400 different samples, preserving them for hundreds of years."Crop diversity is the most precious resource on earth," says Fowler. "It allows us to fashion efficient and sustainable responses to food insecurity, climate change, and constraints in water and energy supplies." He explains that extinction is a process, not an event. "It doesn't take place when the last individual dies, but when the species loses the ability to evolve. We must realize that our major crops can become extinct even if there are presently billions of that species. They are domesticated plants. Their evolution is in our hands." And soon, safe in a vault.FOUND Dutch explorer Willem Barents discovered Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago, while searching for the Northern Sea Route in 1596.LEARN MORE
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Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

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For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

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The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

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