In today's On the News segment: Congress may be divided on the issue of climate change, but the vast majority of Americans agree that we must do more to protect our planet; a South Florida developer is paving paradise to put up a Walmart; four years after the BP oil disaster in the Gulf, we're still seeing giant tar mats wash up on beaches; and more.
Thom Hartmann here - on the best of the rest of....science & green news.....
You need to know this. Congress may be divided on the issue of climate change, but the vast majority of Americans agree that we must do more to protect our planet. According to EcoWatch.com, even people in red states understand that the our nation has "a responsibility to take steps to deal with climate change." A new study from the Program for Public Consultation found that about 80 percent of people in both red and blue districts believe that global warming is real, and that we should be doing more to fight it. Our elected lawmakers can't even agree on whether or not the climate is changing, yet 60 percent of Americans say they'd be willing to pay more for energy to protect our planet. A majority of those surveyed said that "climate change should be given priority even if it causes slower economic growth and loss of jobs." These statistics prove that the Congressional divide on climate science has nothing to do with what voters want, or with what's best for the American people. Republicans blocking climate actions would rather protect their fossil fuel industry donations than protect the future of our planet. As EcoWatch points out, the oil, coal, and natural gas industries have donated more than $320 million dollars to federal candidates, super PACs, and political parties over the last decade. Some members of Congress are perfectly fine with letting our planet burn, as long as they keep getting piles of fossil fuel industry cash. This is how it all comes together. In order to save our planet, we have to take our democracy back from the corporate elite. Let's get money out of politics and elect lawmakers who will stand with the American people and join the fight against climate change.
A South Florida developer is paving paradise to put up a Walmart. According to the Miami Herald, the University of Miami recently sold about 90 acres of that state's shrinking pine rockland for development. There are fewer than 3,000 acres of pine rockland forest left in Florida outside of the Everglades, and this unique habitat is home to several threatened and endangered animal species. The Palm Beach developer has agreed to set aside 40 acres of this land as a preserve, but the rest will soon become a huge complex containing Walmart, Chik-fil-A, LA Fitness, other businesses, and 900 new apartments. There are already more than 300 Walmart stores in the Sunshine State, and more than eight percent of apartments in that state sit vacant. The destruction of this forest is completely unnecessary. Dennis Olle of the Tropical Audubon Society said, "You wonder how things end up being endangered? This is how. This is bad policy and bad enforcement." Rather than building another Walmart, Florida should be protecting the pine rockland, and the creatures that call that forest home.
A Canadian high school student just scored one for science. After learning that she had to sit through a two-day sexual purity course in order to graduate, Emily Dawson filed a human rights complaint against her school district. The abstinence class was taught by a conservative Christian group, and Miss Dawson's complaint says that the group used scare tactics, misleading information, and stereotypes to discourage students from having sex. As Emily and her family identify as agnostic, they were offended that they were given no option except to subject Emily to a religious course in order to finish high school. Thankfully, her school district responded to the public backlash, and announced that they are looking for new speakers to cover the sex ed course. In a statement about their decision, the school board said, "We are asking our schools in the fall to use different presenters so that we can continue this conversation, and focus on the meeting the needs of students and parents." Wouldn't it be wonderful if school districts here in the states were equally as responsive.
Four years after the BP oil disaster in the Gulf, we're still seeing giant tar mats wash up on beaches. However, what we don't see may be even more dangerous. According to a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, researchers have found that the dispersant used to break up oil is still present in the Gulf years after that massive oil spill. The researchers don't know yet what the lingering dispersant means for coral or other marine life. But, they do know that these chemicals – which were supposed to degrade rapidly in the water column – can hang around for at least four years. Other countries banned the use of dispersants years ago, yet we allowed BP to pump almost two million gallons of chemicals in to our ocean. Years later, we're still struggling to figure out what that means for the future of the Gulf. This is what happens when we allow a giant corporation to drill in deeper and deeper waters without a real plan for the consequences. The only question left is whether or not we will learn from our mistakes and put a stop to these practices before the next ocean-killing disaster.
And finally... You'd think that someone would have noticed an explosion big enough to create a 260-foot-wide hole in Siberia, but you'd be wrong. According to The Siberian Times, helicopters recently spotted the massive crater, and scientists don't yet know exactly how or when it was created. Conspiracy theories have been swirling about the giant hole, and everything from UFOs to the so-called "hollow Earth" theory have been suggested. However, polar scientists say that global warming – not alien spacecraft – is the most likely cause of the gigantic crater. According to Dr. Chris Fogwill of the University of New South Wales, the hole is probably the result of a geological phenomenon known as a "pingo." This phenomenon occurs when giant blocks of ice beneath arctic hillsides push through the earth and melt away, leaving exposed craters. Dr. Fogwill says that climate change will likely cause more of these massive holes, and the conspiracies that go along with them.
And that's the way it is for the week of July 21, 2014 - I'm Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.