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Partnership News
May 2, 2014
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Mapping the World’s Earthquakes

Thanks to the hard work of innumerable researchers and the U.S. Geological Survey, we can see all the hot spots for seismic activity in Chile and elsewhere since 1900. They've put together a gigantic map of quakes that measured above 5.5 magnitude, color and size-coded to indicate power and depth. It must be frustrating to be hit by a huge earthquake, and then have experts inform you that the "Big One" might still be coming. Yet that's part of life in Chile: Despite being rocked by a recent major temblor, the country seems to have gotten off relatively easy this time. As one geophysicist said: "Could be tomorrow, could be in 50 years; we do not know when it's going to occur. But the key point here is that this magnitude-8.2 is not the large earthquake that we were expecting for this area."
Nobody lives here: The nearly 5 million Census Blocks with zero population

A Block is the smallest area unit used by the U.S. Census Bureau for tabulating statistics. As of the 2010 census, the United States consists of 11,078,300 Census Blocks. Of them, 4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them. Despite having a population of more than 310 million people, 47 percent of the USA remains unoccupied. Perhaps the two most notable anomalies on the map occur in Maine and the Dakotas. Northern Maine is conspicuously uninhabited. Despite being one of the earliest regions in North America to be settled by Europeans, the population there remains so low that large portions of the state’s interior have yet to be politically organized. In the Dakotas, the border between North and South appears to be unexpectedly stark. Geographic phenomena typically do not respect artificial human boundaries. Throughout the rest of the map, state lines are often difficult to distinguish. But in the Dakotas, northern South Dakota is quite distinct from southern North Dakota. This is especially surprising considering that the county-level population density on both sides of the border is about the same at less than 10 people per square mile.
The U.S. Census may change some questions

The U.S. Census Bureau is considering whether to drop some questions that it has used for decades from its largest household survey of Americans. First under review are four of the touchiest topics: Plumbing, commuting, income and disability. The questions being rethought number more than a dozen that fall under those four topics, including: Does your house have a flush toilet? What time did you usually leave home to go to work last week? What was your total income during the past 12 months? Do you have trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions because of a physical, mental and emotional condition?
An Invitation

Please join the Prairie Lands Environment Summit e-mail list. A new IIRA event: mark your calendar on October 22, 2014 at the WIU Student Union, Macomb, IL. To keep in touch, sign up now.
The Changing American Family

The Pew Research Center reports that the classic nuclear family, the kind imprinted on the American imagination by TV shows like Leave It To Beaver, has been left behind. In 1960, 37% of households included a married couple raising their own children. More than a half-century later, just 16% of households look like that. Five factors describe the modern family, and include 1) Americans are delaying milestones such as marriage and having children; 2) Today, the fertility rate for an American woman, on average, is 1.9 children, compared with 3.7 children in 1960; 3) Some 3 million (37%) of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults have had a child; 4) Families today are more blended and differently constructed, and more babies are born to unmarried mothers than ever before; and 5) Intermarriage among people of different races is increasingly common. For more information, see the Pew Research Report.
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