Sure, the Mongolia land-buy is quixotic, but it’s not completely crazy.
The 4th of July is supposed to be a holiday. But if you’re anything like me, the last thing you’re feeling right now is relaxed. With flights to make, “fun-filled” family get-togethers to recover from and plenty of work to catch-up on, anxiety rules the day.
But things could be worse, I promise. For one, you could be a nutria—the varmint nobody but The Times has ever heard of. According to my Spanish-speaking friend, the word nutria is simply a catch-all for any otter-like species. Apparently, she is wrong (as this hilarious and fascinating video shows), and it turns out that wildlife officials are doing their very best to eradicate these (cute?) pests.
While only some of us can sympathize with the vanishing varmints, languages are disappearing, and that’s something we all should be thinking about. Nearly half of all known languages are set to be lost within the next 50 years, and it remains unclear how much irreplaceable knowledge will go with them.
As some scientists rush to catalogue and decipher languages edging toward oblivion, North Carolina is taking every step to defend its disappearing coastline by legislating its way above water-line. Unfortunately, they’ve taken the always courageous "bury your head in the disappearing sand" approach by requiring rates of sea level rise to be calculated on historical trends—not the latest science that predicts accelerated rates of increase.
And things might only get worse for North Carolina if Mongolia’s “coal bomb” is finally tapped. Mongolia just happens to sit on the world’s largest untouched coal deposit, and companies from China to the U.S. are clamoring for mining rights. But with Norway paying Indonesia $1 billion to protect its forests and tensions between Mongolia and its money-hungry neighbors looming, some are calling for a multi-billion dollar land-buy to forestall mining.
Sure, the Mongolia land-buy is quixotic, but it’s actually not completely crazy. More than four-in-five American voters find conservation to be patriotic with support cutting across party lines. Many voters say they’re willing to pay more in taxes to protect the environment, and 79 percent of respondents think preservation can go hand-in-hand with economic growth. While we’re far from ready to buy Mongolia’s coal deposits, we do care a great deal about our outdoors.
So without further ado, here are the five articles to satiate your post-Independence Day intellectual, anxiety-fuelled and patriotic appetite.
It’s not just the coastal states that are threatened by globalization and economic growth, but languages. And this matters a whole lot more than you might otherwise think. Russ Rymer, National Geographic.