In today's On the News segment: More than 60 percent of the world's population lives without access to clean water for at least one month out of the year; the fate of our planet may hinge on our next Supreme Court justice; groups are converting golf courses to farmland to allow people to grow organic food locally; and more.
Thom Hartmann here - on the best of the rest of Science and Green news ...
You need to know this. The fate of our planet may hinge on our next Supreme Court Justice. As Washington, DC, gets ready for a long, drawn-out fight over President Obama's next potential nominee, environmental groups have been busy laying out exactly what's at stake with that appointment. And the president's Clean Power Plan is one of the most important decisions that may be impacted by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court issued a stay on President Obama's new climate plan until the case is reviewed by the DC Circuit Court in June. That Clean Power Plan is absolutely necessary to reach the goals laid out at the Paris Climate Summit last December, and it is key to our nation achieving the carbon reduction plans that we have promised. As Justice Scalia was one of the most conservative members of the Court, it was pretty much a guarantee that he would vote against the president's plan when the case eventually made it to the Supreme Court. And his passing may have greatly increased the odds that the Clean Power Plan is upheld. In a Facebook post about the Justice's death, science journalist John Upton wrote, "In dying, Scalia may have done more to support global climate action than most people will do in their lifetimes." Now the hard work begins to help President Obama pressure Senate Republicans to do their part, and agree to give the president's nominee a fair up-or-down vote. If President Obama is allowed to fulfill his constitutional duty and appoint a new Justice, cases like this are more likely to be decided in our favor. Republicans would love nothing more than to block the president from making his appointment and allowing their buddies in the oil lobby to keep on destroying our environment. For the sake of our planet, call your senator and demand they do their constitutionally required duty and give the president's nominee a fair vote.
The "Agrihood" may be the hottest new type of community for those who like to know where their food comes from. According to a recent post over at AlterNet.org, shared farms are the latest trend in some gated communities. And some of those farms are being developed by the firm "Agriburbua," which specializes in farm design, construction and operations. In an interview with ABC News, the firm's owner, Matthew Redmond, said, "The issue is making more calories out of the water we have." One of the ways that business and others like it are working to help people grow more of their food locally is by converting old golf courses into community farms for the surrounding residents. Rather than devoting huge sprawls of land to a game and using large amounts of water and chemicals to keep their grass perfect, converting golf courses to farm land allows people to grow organic food locally. Any ideas that give people more access to healthy, fresh food should be considered as part of our plan for a cleaner and healthier future.
More than 60 percent of the world's population lives without access to clean water for at least one month out of the year. That means there are at least 1 billion more people dealing with a severe water shortage than scientists previously thought. Earlier estimates put the number between 1 and 3 billion people living without regular access to water, but this new study says that the actual number may be as high as 4 billion. And climate change, agricultural runoff and other types of pollution threaten more of our water supply all the time. Severe water shortages leave populations at risk for crop failure, famine, economic decline and even basic dehydration. To make matters worse, many of us rely on food sourced from areas impacted by water shortages, like the Great Plains in the US, where much of our wheat and grains are produced. That means even more people are at risk because of our global water shortage. If we don't want to find ourselves without the water we need to survive, we need to do a much better job of protecting our precious supply of clean water.
When early humans first made their way to Australia about 50,000 years ago, they may have had to face-off with now-extinct megafuana like the marsupial lion. Although little was known about the creatures, a cave on the south-western tip of Australia is revealing much more about those fearsome predators. By studying the bones of the lions and their prey, along with the scratch marks that fill the walls of the cave, scientists were able to determine that the large animals were actually agile predators that surprised prey by dropping from trees, rather than running it down. These marsupial lions were ferocious enough to tear meat clean off of bone, but they were also gentle nurturers who cared for their young in caves. New discoveries about ancient species prove just how much we still have to learn about early life on our planet, and how that environment helped to shape our entire species.
And finally ... If you stick to a vegan diet, you may find yourself limited to a tight section of your average grocery story. But, one store chain is about to change that. The world's first vegan supermarket chain, Veganz, opened in Berlin, Germany, back in 2011, and according to EcoWatch.com, they will soon open their first US store in Portland, Oregon. The store's founder, Jan Bredack, became vegan in 2009, but often found it difficult to "shop normally" at home in Germany. After finding all sorts of quality vegan products on a trip to the US in 2009, he decided to make it easier to shop vegan. The Veganz chain now operates more than 10 stores across Europe and they are quickly expanding to more locations. Mr. Bredack even has plans to take vegan food on-the-go with a new food truck for festivals and sporting events. For far too long, eating vegan meant limited choices, skipping out on family favorites or being relegated to high-priced retailers. Thankfully, with chains like Veganz popping up around the world, more people will be able to make the switch for a healthier body and planet once and for all.
And that's the way it is for the week of February 22, 2016. I'm Thom Hartmann on Science and Green News.