NPR’s Morning Edition interview about the acceleration of ice melting in Antarctica.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And let’s visit the bottom of the earth, Antarctica. It’s late summer there, and the high season for science is drawing to a close. We had a conversation about climate change earlier this morning with a researcher there, James McClintock. He’s a marine biologist with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and he was at Palmer Station, a research center operated by the National Science Foundation. McClintock described the first time he saw a chunk of ice break off from the nearby glacier.
JAMES MCCLINTOCK: It was quite exciting, 15 years ago, to see a calving, a big chunk of ice, hit the water up in the bay next to the station. The entire station staff would leap up and run down the halls and throw open the doors and look out the windows and watch this big event as the waves came down the bay. And when I arrived here several weeks ago, I was struck immediately by the changes in the glacier and the fact that it was lopping off these huge pieces of ice, instead of once a week, several times a day. So dramatic changes just in front of my eyes over this 15-year period.
A recent piece on NPR’s All Things Considered examines a two-cent sales tax that the Navajo Nation has applied to junk food and soda. The tax increase went into effect April 1 and is an attempt to curb obesity rates for the Navajo people, a rate which is three times the national average. The piece discusses the economic strain this tax will have on Navajo people, roughly half of whom are unemployed and say they cannot afford healthier food options.
Though this is clearly a complex issue, it seems that one solution might be to put more emphasis on gardening and small-scale farming of fresh produce. Not only would this provide the Navajo people with healthier food options but it could also serve as a source of employment if the produce grown could be sold to local markets and grocery stores. Here is an excerpt from the piece which discusses possibilities for saving the Arizona-based Navajo Nation from the “food desert” label given to it by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
The tribe hopes to generate $2 to $3 million a year from the junk food tax. And they plan to spend much of the money on farm initiatives like this one in Leupp, Arizona.
Navajo people have traditionally lived off the land, says Stacey Jensen, who runs the North Leupp Family Farms, as he picks onions in his wind-rattled greenhouse.
“When I was younger I followed my flock of sheep around here so I herded sheep here,” he says. “We had our livestock and then had the corn fields, as well as jackrabbits and cottontails.”
Jensen has helped about 30 families return to subsistence farming and eat healthier foods.
“Just seeing the folks having a hard time with illness because of the lack of food, the lack of good food, that keeps me coming out here and doing this,” he says.
Jensen hopes his farm and the revenue raised from the junk food tax will encourage more farmers like him throughout the Navajo Nation.