In today's On the News segment: Sixty percent of Americans are represented by someone in Congress who refuses to accept climate science; environmental activists in Nevada derailed a Bureau of Land Management auction last week; new research shows paternal lifestyle choices affect the health of offspring; and more.
Thom Hartmann here -- on the best of the rest of Science and Green News ...
You need to know this. Sixty percent of Americans are represented by someone in Congress who refuses to accept climate science. That's according new research from the Center of American Progress Action Fund, which found that more than 200 million people in our country are represented by a climate change denier in Congress. And considering that 76 percent of Americans believe in global climate change -- including about 60 percent of Republicans -- that means that most of us disagree with our lawmakers on the need to address our climate crisis. Yet thanks to the massive amount of fossil fuel money pouring into our elections, those climate deniers keep getting elected. In fact, according to this recent research, climate deniers have received more than $73 million from dirty energy companies, which is a huge increase over the $63 million that they had received as of the beginning of last year. And considering that we don't even know about all the dark money pumped into our elections through super PACs, that number could be even higher. So despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans agree about the climate science and the need for climate action, the fossil fuel industry outspends voters and makes sure their buddies get elected to Congress. That is not how democracy should work and it's not the way we go about making sure we can survive on this planet in the future. With so many climate deniers in Congress -- all of whom are Republicans -- it's nearly impossible to fund climate research, invest in green energy solutions and enact the energy policies needed to prepare for the future. Each and every one of us must fight for the cleaner, greener future our species needs to survive, and that starts with voting climate deniers out in November.
Mothers-to-be face a long list of foods they shouldn't eat, drinks they shouldn't drink and activities they shouldn't be involved in. But it turns out that would-be fathers should also consider what substances they put into their bodies. According to a recent article over at AlterNet.org, multiple studies suggest that men who drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and eat junk food may be harming their future children. For example, in 2013, researchers published a study showing that male lab mice who were exposed to alcohol, fathered offspring with "severe fetal abnormalities" -- even when mated with female mice who were never exposed. Another example comes from multiple studies out of Australia, Europe and China, which found that the children of dads who smoke cigarettes had a 30 percent higher rate of childhood cancers. Similar studies also documented adverse effects from fathers' stress levels, advanced age and diet. But we almost never hear doctors warning men about these effects. A mother's healthy lifestyle is vital to the health of her baby, but this new research shows that we should be issuing the same warnings to would-be dads.
It has been five years since a devastating earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. But there is still "no end in sight" to the ecological fallout. According to a recent article over at CommonDreams.org, the environmental impacts of that nuclear disaster have already become apparent, and the illness and mutations are likely to last "decades to centuries." Even though Tepco and the Japanese government have downplayed the impact of the disaster, various studies have documented the ongoing effects. High radiation concentrations continue to be documented in the new leaves and pollen of various plants. Mutations have been cited in fir trees, butterfly populations and earthworms. At least 57 different bird species have experienced population declines, and high levels of radiation continue to be detected in freshwater fish and coastal estuaries. But our government and news media continue to ignore Fukushima, and the nuclear plants here in the US which face the same meltdown risk. We must put pressure on the international community to deal with the Fukushima disaster, and tell our lawmakers here at home that it's time to say once and for all: No Nukes.
Environmental activists in Nevada are working hard to protect our public land. Last week, activists protested outside an auction by the Bureau of Land Management, which was set to sell off more public lands for fossil fuel development. And their protests were such a success that not a single bid was made at that auction. Protesters gathered together to march from the landmark Reno Arch to the casino where the auction was being held, and they carried signs which read "Keep it in the ground" and "Stand up to Big Oil." According to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the action was part of a growing movement asking President Obama to stop issuing new fossil fuel leases in the oceans and on our public lands. Taylor McKinnon, a campaigner with CBD, said, "Leaving a livable climate for future generations requires keeping fossil fuels in the ground now, and we should start with the public lands that President Obama controls." Although protests like these seem to have little influence over our Republican lawmakers, they do influence the decisions of our president and legislators who actually accept climate science. Blocking these leases was a great victory for environmental protesters, and it shows why we must keep fighting for the clean energy solutions that will save our species.
And finally ... As the human population continues to expand, many people are looking for ways to feed the world in the future. Well, according to a recent article by Alexina Cather of Food Tank, "two billion people eat insects and you can too." Believe it or not, insects have been part of the human diet throughout history, and they contain the high-quality protein, minerals, vitamins and amino acids humans need to survive. And as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization points out, edible insects are friendlier to our environment than cattle. Insects like crickets can be provided with far fewer resources and land than cows or other livestock and contain roughly the same amount of protein per pound. It may seem gross or icky to consider eating insects, but it may be our best chance to feed the world in the future.
And that's the way it is for the week of March 14, 2016. I'm Thom Hartmann on Science and Green News.