In today’s On the News segment: 1.2 million people found jobs in renewable energy last year alone; China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, reduced its coal use by about 8 percent in a single year; Canadian scientists don’t find genetically modified salmon fit for human consumption; France will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent within 15 years; and more.
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Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of … Science and Green news….
You need to know this. One-by-one, the excuses for failing to act on climate change are disappearing. Earlier this month, China proved that it’s possible to quickly and dramatically reduce carbon emissions. According to an analysis by Greenpeace, our planet’s largest greenhouse gas emitter reduced coal use by about 8 percent in a single year. That reduction is roughly equivalent to all of the carbon dioxide emitted by the United Kingdom over that same period. And, it proves that lawmakers who say that China’s pollution makes our climate action irrelevant are really just looking for excuses. Another one of the Right’s favorite excuses is that we can’t get renewable energy up and running fast enough to replace fossil fuels, but that claim is also falling apart. Just last week, the International Renewable Energy Agency announced that the number of people employed in that industry jumped by 18 percent from the previous year. That means that 1.2 million people found jobs in the renewable energy industry last year alone. With that type of growth, it’s clear that green energy could power our world much sooner than the fossil fuel industry would like us to believe. All of the claims keeping us from making the switch to clean energy are nothing but myths, and Big Oil is quickly running out of excuses. The fact is, the only real reason that the fossil fuel industry – and their lackeys in Congress – oppose renewable energy is because of the threat to their mountain of profit. Because that is the only thing that matters to the corporate elite. We have the technology to make the switch, the green energy industry can grow fast enough to handle it, and the world is making progress way faster than we are. In order to solve the climate crisis – the most important issue that we’ve ever faced – we must keep smashing these myths and strengthening our understanding of science.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that genetically modified salmon is perfectly fine for human consumption, but Canadian scientists disagree. According to a recent press release from the environmental group Friends of the Earth, the 400-page risk assessment from the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans lists concerns that U.S. consumers aren’t being told. Among the various risks listed by Canadian scientists is the concern that the modified salmon are more susceptible to disease and that the growth-hormone gene inserted into the fish is not performing as expected. But, just like the genetically-modified crops, our regulators rubber-stamped the approval without warning the public about such concerns. Jaydee Hanson of the Center for Food Safety said, “FDA’s inadequate risk assessment is at odds with reality, with science and with the public, which has long called on the agency to put consumers’ health and environmental safety ahead of the corporate interest of the biotechnology industry.” If our regulators won’t protect us, perhaps it’s time that we start listening to the regulators to our North.
If you want your employees to perform better, give each of them time for a “nature break.” According to a recent study in the journal Environmental Psychology, just looking at nature for 40 seconds can improve focus and performance on a given task. That study adds to the growing pile of research that proves the real health benefits of being exposed to nature. Whether it comes in the form of a green roof or a patio garden, even a few seconds with our natural environment has physical and psychological benefits. Although earlier research demonstrated that spending a day with nature had benefits, this new study found that it doesn’t take anywhere near that amount of time. One of the study authors wrote, “Nature can provide cognitive benefits in much shorter time frames, and in smaller amounts than previously demonstrated.” For the benefit of bosses and employees, each of us deserves our micro-break with nature.
It’s big news when a nation goes to great lengths to switch to green energy, but it’s bigger news when they also get away from nuclear. Last week, France’s lower house of parliament approved a bill that works on both of those admirable goals. Later this year, the United Nation’s conference on climate change is being held in that nation’s capital, and so France wants to lead by example. This legislation sets a more ambitious goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030. And, it aims to reduce reliance on nuclear energy by 50 percent within ten years. Considering that nation relies on nuclear for 75 percent of all its energy needs, that goal would be huge news in the fight against nuclear. In addition, the new law would ban plastic grocery bags, require more green vehicles to be used in public transportation, and put more energy costs on individuals who consume excessive amounts of electricity. This is the type of reform we could get done if we could simply get our lawmakers to accept the facts about global warming.
And finally… Ben and Jerry’s ice cream has pretty much always been a socially responsible company. From pot legalization to same-sex marriage, that company has come out in favor of progress, and their latest flavor is doing the same. Last week, Ben And Jerry’s introduced their “Save Our Swirled” flavor, which combines raspberry ice cream with marshmallow and raspberry swirls, and pieces of dark and white chocolate fudge. This new flavor is part of the company’s effort to raise awareness about climate change. In addition to the ice cream, Ben And Jerry’s also released a new video, which warns about the dangers of a warming planet. In the video, over the image of melting ice cream, the narrator says, “This is what happens when ice cream is just two degrees warmer than it should be. For Ben and Jerry’s, it’s a mess. For the planet, it’s a metaphor, because a two-degree warming of our planet’s climate would have an equally drastic, though much more significant impact.” Because ice cream is a carbon-intensive industry, Ben And Jerry’s is working diligently to reduce their impact on the environment and encourage others to help save our species. And, their new “Save Our Swirled” flavor may just be the sweetest weapon we have in the fight against global warming.
And that’s the way it is for the week of June 1, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science and Green News.