Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Maybe Global Warming isn’t so bad after all Just how serious is global warming? No matter who you think caused it, man, or some natural cycle, the answer is that global warming presents a threat to our ecosystems and puts millions, if not billions, of people at risk. Floods and storms will get worse, David S. Kerr droughts in dry regions will be more severe, entire species could disappear, and cities we have come to know and love may no longer be sustainable in their current locations. It takes a monumental engineering effort to sustain New Orleans, and the same is becoming true for New York and London. So, having said that, it probably represents some form of environmental heresy for me to suggest that global warming could offer some benefits. That’s not to say
that the benefits outweigh the costs, because they probably don’t, but not everyone is going to find global warming such a bad thing. Late last year, for the first time in history, a Danish cargo ship, specially reinforced for ice conditions, crossed the Northwest Passage. This is a world-changing event. For centuries, beginning with the earliest days of sail by the great seafaring nations, humans have tried to find a sea passage over the top of Canada. It cuts thousands of miles off the journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but the problem has been that this route has always been clogged with ice. Until recently, not even our best ice cutters could have managed it. But now, with the ice receding, there is a bright future for international commerce through this once impenetrable natural barrier. The benefits could be considerable. At the same time, and this will make my environmentalist friends equally nervous, it opens up vast areas of this once icedover region to oil and gas explora-
Tourism: A missed opportunity for King George? Dr. Robert V. Gates Is King George County missing an opportunity? And if so, is it too late to do something about it? When it comes to tourism, I think the answers to those two questions are “yes” and “no.” We can do something about it. Let me explain. There’s no question that economic development is critical to the growth and fiscal health of the county. That’s why those of us who have worked to open the Dahlgren Heritage Museum are so excited about the support our high-profile facility at the foot of the Nice Bridge can give to economic development through tourism. The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), recently reported that tourism is playing an increasingly important part in meeting economicgrowth objectives statewide. How? Another report, this one prepared by the Research Department of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) last August, shows that tourism is one of the top five sources of jobs in the Commonwealth and is continuing to increase. The report also notes that tourism employment is relatively recession-proof and adds to economic diversity. Most importantly, the forecast for the national tourism industry is rosy. The VTC report reminds us that’s also true for Virginia. Indeed, statewide tourism-related expenditures are expected to grow by 5.6 percent per year. The top spending categories for travelers in Virginia are foodservices, auto transportation, and lodging. Domestic travelers spent nearly $16 billion in Virginia in these categories in 2012 and more than $21 billion total on tourism. A benefit of the tourism-related expenditures, beyond employment and the associated payroll, is the tax revenue that is generated. The USTA report estimates that $2.7 billion was generated by domestic travel in 2012; an increase of 3.3 percent over the previous year. More than half of this tax revenue went to the state and local governments with nearly 21 percent going to local governments. This sounds pretty good for the Commonwealth in general and for the primary tourist areas in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. In fact it is. Around 40 percent of the tourism-related expenditures, employment, and tax revenues are generated in only five localities in 2012. What does – or can – it mean for a county like King George? We have the assets that attract tourism recreational areas and historic sites and access to an increasing number of travelers. The state of Maryland, for example, estimates that 7 million
How embarrassing to see the counties around KG recognized for their support and use of FREDbus, but not KG. And, will KG join the NNTC again or be left out of their books and maps too?
cars cross the Harry W. Nice Bridge every year and that number is increasing. However, the USTA data for 2012 show that King George isn’t taking advantage of its opportunities. The County ranked 96th of 134 counties and independent cities in Virginia in tourism-related expenditures. Indeed, our county ranked below its nearest neighbors in the Fredericksburg area and in the Northern Neck in tourism related expenditures, employment, and local tax revenue. What can be done to improve the situation? Just as with most things, it takes work and investment. King George needs to advertise its attractions and fully participate in regional and state tourism groups. Most importantly, it can begin by investing some of the tax revenue generated by tourism-related activities in the activities and attractions that will bring tourists to the county. A good first step would be to continue to build a close-knit and collaborative network of county tourism-related businesses and county economic development leaders. We’re off to a good start, with regular, county-sponsored briefings for that group. But it needs to be more formalized, not just as an education outlet for tourism attractions but also as an advisory council to county leaders, including the Board of Supervisors. So, is King George missing an opportunity? Speaking as one who spends a considerable amount of time at the Dahlgren Heritage Museum, with a front-row look at those 7 million cars a year, I think that we probably are. The good news is that we don’t have to and it’s not too late to do something about it. Dr. Gates is the Vice President of the Dahlgren Heritage Foundation, which supports and operates the Dahlgren Heritage Museum, now open every third Saturday afternoon of the month. For updates on the museum, go to dahlgrenmuseum.org.
tion. Then, there is the matter of crops and food production. It’s a miracle that anyone farms in Siberia. It makes North Dakota look like a garden spot, but Russians are a sturdy people, and they have managed over the centuries to produce large quantities of wheat in this otherwise inhospitable land. However, it’s never lived up to expectations, even when the communists all but ordered the wheat to grow, and harvests have always fallen well below the needs of this vast country. This, however, may be changing. Thanks to rising temperature levels, Siberian wheat farmers are able to get in an entire extra crop of wheat; this has happened several years in a row. The result is a substantial increase in production. Other countries, mostly in Northern climates, have seen other odd benefits to global temperature increases. While Britain has to deal with rising sea levels, they’re also seeing, thanks to higher average temperatures, an increase in the di-
versity of crops that might be grown on their island. Last year, London’s Kew gardens grew their first outside avocado. And it’s not uncommon to see the occasional palm tree. They all have to go inside or be covered during the winter, but they’re still growing, in of all places, England. I don’t know what Shakespeare would have made of that. There is also the matter of the cold. Every year, thousands of people worldwide succumb to the effects of the cold. There is a long list of maladies, from head colds to the flu and pneumonia, which are made far worse by the icy chill of the season. Thanks to global warming, more people are likely to survive the world’s winters. Of course, global warming is still a grave threat; I am not trying to make light of it, but in at least a few isolated instances, maybe it won’t be so bad. —Reach David Kerr at firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter to the Editor Dear Editor; Thank you for publishing the article about the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail (March 26, 2014). Such articles bring attention to this wonderful resource in our midst. Bravo! While the article was excellent, we would like to offer a few minor clarifications. First, the Friends of the DRHT are asking the board to simply support the notion of the trail becoming part of the Virginia State Parks. We will work with state officials to determine the best way for that to occur. We understand from discussions with residents that there have been instances in the past of trespassers going onto neighboring properties. Due to our rules, permit requirements and efforts to educate trail users, we believe those instances have greatly diminished. According to the Sheriff ’s department, there have been no reports of trespassing, from the trail onto neighboring property, in their database. Additionally, while we will not generally report trail users who are simply walking or biking and have
forgotten to obtain or renew their permit, we will report and prosecute more serious instances of trespassing such as use of ATVs or littering. Sheriff Dempsey urges all King George citizens to report any instances of trespassing. And finally, we have not asked any of the owners to donate the trail property to the state. We feel that it is unfair to ask them to take on this as an individual financial burden. They have done their part by securing the land for the future; it’s now up to all of us to carry the ball forward. I always enjoy meeting folks on the trail. A week or so ago, I saw a family of six out there. I’m a pretty fast hiker, but they (and especially the kids!), zoomed past me like I was standing still! They were obviously having a great time. For those who don’t yet have a trail permit, please go to our website, friendsdrht.org, to print one out and mail it in with a stamped, selfaddressed envelope. I’ll see you on the trail!
TAURUS - Apr 21/May 21 Don’t get swept away by old habits, Taurus. It is time to try something new and get a new perspective. Accept a new challenge and you will be glad for having done so. GEMINI - May 22/Jun 21 Gemini, you may be tempted to question the actions of others this week. But try to focus instead on what you are doing and do not be concerned with the motivations of other people. CANCER - Jun 22/Jul 22 Cancer, you have to go to great lengths to get your point across this week. Approach such situations with tact and patience and do your best to simplify your point of view. LEO - Jul 23/Aug 23 Leo, all you need is a little spark to motivate you this week. You may be able to tackle projects around the house or assignments at work with ease and a little inspiration. VIRGO - Aug 24/Sept 22 Virgo, your romantic life is full of complicated patterns and obstacles, which could be taking their toll on your relationship. Some subtle changes might get things back on
track. LIBRA - Sept 23/Oct 23 Unfortunately, sitting back and doing nothing this week will move you nowhere fast, Libra. The vacation is over; you need to find the motivation to increase the pace. SCORPIO - Oct 24/Nov 22 Things move along quite smoothly for you this week, Scorpio. There are plenty of distractions heading your way, but do your best to stay focused. SAGITTARIUS - Nov 23/Dec 21 Get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air, Sagittarius. Fresh air is just what you need after a bout of cabin fever. The weather is breaking and outside projects beckon. CAPRICORN - Dec 22/Jan 20 Capricorn, start planning a much-needed vacation for you and your significant other. Some time away from the hustle and bustle is just what the both of you need. AQUARIUS - Jan 21/Feb 18 Trust your instincts, Aquarius. When something seems off-kilter, you owe it to yourself to trust your gut and speak up, even if others aren’t ready to believe you. PISCES - Feb 19/Mar 20 Express your passion for a special project to a loved one, Pisces. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings with those closest to you.
Jim Lynch King George
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