On Shifty Ground

Without a doubt, we spend a fair amount of time fixated on finding new and improved ways to please Mother Nature (and our wallets) around the...

Without a doubt, we spend a fair amount of time fixated on finding new and improved ways to please Mother Nature (and our wallets) around the home. Whether we're installing a more efficient water heater, buying an eco-friendly mattress, or taking on various weatherization tasks, so much attention - and this certainly isn't a bad thing - is placed on the structure itself and everything in it that we sometimes neglect to think about one crucial thing: the soil our homes sit on. A story published today in the New York Times reminds us that our homes are built on increasingly shifty ground.The story discusses how severe weather trends, particularly long periods of drought followed by drenching rains, can cause soil to shift and sink. This in turn, damages the foundations of homes and leads to costly headaches for homeowners. The culprit behind weather-induced foundation failure? Some would say climate change.Foundation repair services, of course, have been doing gangbusters in recent years - such companies have reported that business has as much as tripled in the last two decades - thanks in part to wild weather. And unfortunately, when a home's foundation is damaged by the shifting and sinking of soil, or subsidence, it is not covered by most homeowners' insurance policies. Ouch.Reports the NYT:
Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association indicates that since the 1990s, there has been an accelerating trend nationwide toward more extended dry periods followed by downpours. Whether due to random climate patterns or global warming, the swings between hot and dry weather and severe rain or snow have profoundly affected soil underneath buildings.
The article chats with homeowners who have spent a pretty penny stabilizing sinking homes. Geotechnical engineers, climate scientists and other experts on the matter weigh in as well. It's an eye-opening read, especially if you're buying or building a new home and are unsure about the stability of the soil at the site. It's also insightful if you live in an older home and don't know what to do when doors and windows won't close, the basement begins to bow, cracks form in the walls, and nonstop creaking sets in. It's an unsettling sensation to say the least. As Steven Derse of Nashville says: "You lose your sense of security. You love your home and then it literally turns on you."Have severe periods of drought and rain, possibly the effect of climate change, shaken you, and your home, to the core?Matt Hickman blogs about the home for the Mother Nature Network.Related Articles on Mother Nature Network:Photo (cc) by Flickr user hazelhouse20
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less