On the News With Thom Hartmann: A State of Emergency Has Been Declared in California Following Oil Spill, and More

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In today’s On the News segment: A state of emergency has been declared in California after crews realized that the Refugio Beach oil spill was five times worse than original estimates; tiny bubbles may give scientists their best look yet at our planet’s ancient climate; Wyoming passed an unconstitutional law making it a crime to “collect resource data” from any “open land”; and more.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.


Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of … Science and Green news …

You need to know this. A state of emergency has been declared in California after crews realized that the Refugio Beach oil spill was five times worse than original estimates. Last week, the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured and dumped crude oil over a four-mile stretch of pristine California coastline. Original estimates put that spill at around 21,000 gallons, but new calculations indicate that the real figure is well over 100,000 gallons. Crews continue to work furiously to remove contaminated sand and rescue oil-soaked wildlife, and the governor’s office has closed the beaches surrounding that spill and put a ban on fishing. Once again, our nation is watching the spill and clean up unfold. And once again, we learn that the company responsible has a long history of violating regulations and causing disasters. According to a report over at Common Dreams, Plains All American has been responsible for 175 different spills since 2006, yet somehow they’re still allowed to do business in our great nation. The oceans program director for the Center for Biological Diversity said, “This company’s disturbing record highlights oil production’s toxic threat to California’s coast. Every new oil project increases the risk of fouled beaches and oil-soaked sea life.” Over and over and over, oil and gas companies prove that they cannot be trusted to protect the public safety, and that there is no such thing as safe drilling or transport of this toxic sludge. Today, the victims of this tragedy are California wildlife and residents, but tomorrow, who knows which of us could find ourselves dealing with the same fate. We have the technology to make the transition away from dirty energy, but we have to stand up to the oil and gas companies that refuse to let go of their profits. The success of a corporation should never trump the safety of our people and our planet, and it shouldn’t take another oil spill to make us recognize these risks. Hopefully, the California coast line will bounce back quickly from this disaster. And hopefully, We, The People will decide that it will be the last.

Tiny bubbles may give scientists their best look yet at our planet’s ancient climate. According to a recent study from Princeton University, gas bubbles in Antarctic blue ice still contain the carbon dioxide and other gasses that were trapped inside them one million years ago. The study’s lead author, geochemist John Higgins, said, “Gas bubbles are the gold standard for reconstructing climate.” By analyzing carbon dioxide levels and glaciers from ancient Earth, scientists have been able to determine how greenhouse gas levels altered our planet’s ice-age cycles. They also hope to find older ice, which could help them learn more about the climate as far back as 2.5 million years ago. In an interview with Live Science, Mr. Higgins explained, “We’re seeing a very strong correlation between carbon dioxide and glacial cycles that extends back a million years.” And, for our friends and family members who insist that they aren’t scientists, that means that we have proof that high levels of carbon dioxide have a huge impact on our environment. We only have one planet to call home, so let’s start listening to the actual scientists who are telling us that we need to protect it.

You may want to think twice about sharing photos from your next family vacation. If you take a trip to Yellowstone, you could find yourself behind bars for posting that picture. Earlier this year, Wyoming passed a law making it a crime to “collect resource data” from any “open land.” If you’re confused by that ambiguous description, you’re not alone. That law has such broad definitions for terms like “collect” and “data” that it includes taking a picture of a environmental disaster to share with state or federal agencies. In other words, if you happen to see an oil spill or chemical leak in Wyoming, please just keep it to yourself. Obviously, this law will likely be challenged as unconstitutional, due to violations of our First Amendment guarantee of free speech and the right to petition our government. Wyoming can try all they want to prevent citizens from monitoring our environment, but this pathetic attempt to pander to corporate polluters is likely to be struck down.

Starbucks will stop bottling water in drought-stricken California. An investigation last month by Mother Jones magazine exposed that company’s bottled-water brand “Ethos” for pumping groundwater out of an area that has been under a drought emergency since 2012. And in response, Starbucks agreed to move that bottling company out of the state to a new facility in Pennsylvania. Considering that water company was created “to help fix the global water crisis,” it’s past time for them to stop contributing to the drought problem in California. John Kelly, the senior vice president of global responsibility at Starbucks, said, “We are committed to our mission to be a globally responsible company and to support the people of the state of California as they face this unprecedented drought.” Although they were late fixing the problem, it’s great news that the company is putting their money where their mouth is and moving out of that drought-stricken state.

And finally… People with gut disorders may benefit from meditation. According to a recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE, stress-relieving activities like yoga and meditation can suppress the genes responsible for causing inflammation. And, because many gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease are caused by inflammation, patients can experience real benefits from relaxation techniques. These conditions are very common in the United States, where stress and poor diets are all too common. One of the study’s lead researchers, Dr. Towia Libermann of Harvard Medical School, said, “In both IBS and IBD, the pathway controlled by a protein called NF-kB emerged as one of those most significantly affected by the relaxation response.” In other words, finding time to relax could be beneficial to people who suffer from these disorders. Much of our immune system and other functions are closely related to our digestive system, so meditation and yoga can be helpful to us all. Regardless of whether we have stomach issues or not, we can all benefit from a little down time.

And that’s the way it is for the week of May 25, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.