On the News With Thom Hartmann: 2 Million Barrels of Oil Still Trapped on the Ocean Floor After BP Spill, and More

In today’s On the News segment: According to a new study, about 2 million barrels are still trapped on the ocean floor after the 2010 BP oil disaster; Pope Francis says that evolution does not conflict with the story of Creation; protesters are fighting to stop a Texas-based energy corporation from turning Seneca Lake in New York into a natural gas storage station; and more.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of….science & green news…..

You need to know this. The 2010 BP oil disaster released about 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and according to a new study, about 2 million barrels are still trapped on the ocean floor. The study, called Fallout Plume of Submerged Oil from Deepwater Horizon, was conducted by researchers from the University of California, and led by grochemistry professor Dave Valentine. The scientists analyzed sea sediment from the Gulf and discovered what they called a “bathtub ring” of oil the size of the state of Rhode Island. Despite the obvious link to the 2010 explosion and subsequent leak, BP denied a connection to Deepwater Horizon, and issued a statement saying “The authors failed to identify the source of the oil.” However, the authors of this recent study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, say that the 2010 spill’s impact could be even worse than they have indicated. The study reads, “We also suggest that a significant quantity of oil was deposited outside this area, but so far has evaded detection because of its heterogeneous spatial distribution.” In other words, oil that spread in different directions still may not be accounted for. It’s been over four years since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and began spewing oil into our Gulf, and we still don’t know the full extent of the damage, or whether it will ever really be cleaned up. Yet, BP is still raking in profits and more wells are being drilled off our shores. What will it take to make us wake up to the dangers of oil drilling? And, how much must a corporation destroy before they lose the privilege of doing business in our great nation? For the sake of our planet, and our species, we must answer those questions before we find ourselves dealing with an even bigger disaster.

Pope Francis says that evolution does not conflict with the story of Creation. At a Vatican gathering last week, the Pope said, “When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything – but that is not so.” In fact, he said that the “Big Bang” theory and evolution aren’t just consistent with biblical teach, he said that they are essential to understanding God. Although Catholic teaching has not specifically opposed the theory of evolution, the Pontiff’s open embrace of science is quite remarkable. In addition to his words on evolution, Pope Francis also said that it is a “grave sin against God the creator” to destroy our planet, and that scientists have a unique responsibility to care for the Earth. He said that in the Book of Gensis, God directed Adam “to name everything and go ahead through history,” which “makes him responsible for creation, so that he might steward it in order to develop it until the end of time.” It makes much more sense to think that God would want us to care for his creation, rather than destroy it. Now, if only the Republican party could learn to evolve and embrace science as well as the Vatican.

Three Australian airlines just proved that carbon taxes work. Back in 2012, when Australia’s carbon tax was enacted, airlines claimed that they would have to pass on millions of dollars in costs to their customers to cover the added expense. However, when the tax was repealed earlier this year, Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Regional Express airlines had to admit that those original claims were nothing but bunk. Part of legislation repealing the carbon tax required airlines to pass on the savings to their customers, which forced them to admit that they had absorbed the cost of the original tax. In other words, Australia’s carbon tax wasn’t making prices higher for consumers. However, it was making corporations pay for their desruction of our environment. Allowing them to go right back to tax-free pollution didn’t save customers a dime, and it put the social cost of caring for our planet back on the taxpayers. Hopefully Australian lawmakers will put the carbon tax back in place, and other nations will use this example to help enact their own.

Seneca Lake is in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State, but a Texas-based energy corporation wants to turn it in to natural gas storage station. Thankfully, the “We Are Seneca Lake” protesters are fighting to stop it – even if it means their arrest. Construction on the natural gas storage facility was slated to begin October 24th, but construction crews have faced a human blockade trying to stop the project. Last week, 10 protesters were arrested for attempting to protect their pristeen lake, which provides the area with water for drinking and irrigation. They’re calling on residents to contact Governor Andrew Cuomo and their local lawmakers to protect the lake, and they say that they’re not going away. The salt caverns near Seneca Lake have been documented as an unstable storage site, and residents and protesters have strong concerns about water quality and public safety. Barbara Schiesser of Seneca Lake Pure Water Association said, “[The storage site] increases the likelihood of contamination of our air, soil, and water, plue the always present risk of gas leakage, unpredictable explosions, and sink holes.” Hopefully lawmakers in New York are listening, and they will help protect Seneca Lake and its residents.

And finally… Although they were nearly hunted to the point extinction, the US West has a new appreciation for beavers. As it turns out, the rodents benefit ecosystems in ways that man can’t easily replicate. Humans may be able to build reservoir and hydroelectric dams, but doing so often harms the local environment. Beavers, however, are able to raise the water table in an area in a way that improves the habitat of fish and wildlife, enriches the soil, and spurs the growth of grass, shrubs, and saplings. Instead of being hunted for their pelts or having their dams destroyed, government agenices are now sponsoring workshops and publishing manuals to teach people how to attrack beavers to their area. Dealing with droughts and rebuilding ecosystems can also cost a fortune, but beaver dams don’t cost a dime. Jeff Burrell of the Wildlife Conservation Society said, “People realize that if we don’t have a way to store water that’s not so expensive, we’re going to be up a creek, a dry creek.” Thankfully, the West is recognizing the benefits of the mighty beaver.

And that’s the way it is for the week of November 3, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.