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Rising seas threatens U.S. coastlines and cities

A recently released report from the U.N. on climate change found that rising sea levels are "unavoidable for centuries to millennia due to continuing deep ocean warming and ice sheet melt, and sea levels will remain elevated for thousands of years."

Virginia Tech environmental security expert Manoochehr Shirzaei says beginning in the 21st century, the average rate of sea level rise and land subsidence nearly doubled per year, due to warming temperatures.

“Sea level rise and land subsidence increase the hazards associated with hurricanes, storm surges, shoreline erosion, and inundation of low-lying coastal areas where the high density of population and assets amplifies the regions exposure to hazards.”. He explains that land subsidence can also affect coastal structures' integrity and increase the likelihood of failure.

Find other Earth Day related story ideas and experts here.

Rent-seeking keeps Americans from a simpler, cheaper tax filing system

As tax day looms, many Americans are busy preparing to file their income taxes. For some, this means turning to software services like TurboTax, which promise an easy and convenient way to complete their taxes. Many Americans are eligible for a free federal method for filing taxes but end up paying for services they don't need. So why is it that the United States doesn't have a system like some other countries, where the government tells you how much you owe?

Virginia Tech economist Jadrian Wooten explains it’s because of a concept called rent seeking. “Companies like Intuit and H&R Block spend millions of dollars each year on lobbying efforts to persuade Congress to prevent the IRS from creating its own free filing alternative.” By keeping the current system in place, Wooten says these companies continue to profit from providing tax preparation services to millions of Americans. More here in Wooten’s blog, Monday Morning Economist.

Tennessee turmoil intensifies with legislature’s expulsion of two Black lawmakers

Black Democratic legislators Justin Jones and Justin J. Pearson were expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives by a Republican majority vote last week for leading a protest on the House floor pushing for gun control legislation. White Democratic legislator Gloria Johnson also took part in the protest, but was not expelled. Officials in Nashville and Memphis, where Jones and Pearson were elected, are discussing reinstating the ousted representatives, while the Tennessee House faces mounting national criticism.

Virginia Tech political expert Brandy Faulkner can offer insight into the racial tensions and political ramifications of this situation.

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