On the News With Thom Hartmann: A Texas Oil Regulator Won’t Respect Will of Voters, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Neuroscience may understand how another round of new climate-deniers got elected to Congress; next time you visit a salon, your hair style may come with a side of toxic chemicals; a Texas oil regulator says she won’t respect the will of the voters; and more.

TRANSCRIPT:

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

You need to know this. Considering the stark warnings that scientists have given about climate change, it’s hard to understand how another round of new climate-deniers got elected to Congress. Well, neuroscience may have finally solved that riddle. According to a new analysis over at The Guardian, our brains aren’t wired to deal with large, slow-moving threats, and businesses and organizations may be better equipped to get people involved in the fight to save our planet. As Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University explained, “Our brain is essentially a get-out-of-the-way-machine.” He added, “Many environmentalists say climate change is happening too fast. No, it’s happening too slowly. It’s not happening nearly quickly enough to get our attention.” Although global warming is an urgent problem, most people don’t see the total effect of rising temperatures around the globe. One person may experience a severe drought or super storm, but they don’t see the full spectrum of weather weirding going on at any one moment simultaneously around the world. Because they can’t see it all, most people – even those who support climate action – simply don’t grasp how fast our planet is actually changing. So, people aren’t motivated to take immediate action on climate change, but businesses have a completely different mindset. Unlike human beings, organizations have to plan long in to the future, and they have to consider how floods, droughts, storms, and warmer temperatures may effect their operations. While some corporations – like oil companies – tend to ignore the obvious, may companies are working to improve their carbon footprint. Businesses and nonprofit organizations can help push millions of people to act more sustainably and more consciously, and could help us save the one-and-only planet we call home.

Next time you visit a salon, your hair style may come with a side of toxic chemicals. According to EcoWatch.com, there’s a new study on the health impacts of exposure to the chemicals used in many salons. The report says that, “Hair sprays, permanent waves, acrylic nail application and numerous other salon products contain ingredients associated with asthma, dermatitis, neurological symptoms and even cancer.” Because of long-term exposure to these chemicals, the researchers explained that salon workers have a much higher risks of several different types of cancer. Hair stylists, manicurists, and other salon employees are overwhelmingly women, and these chemicals have also been linked to low birth weight in babies, more miscarriages, and higher rates of birth defects. Unlike other workers who deal with dangerous chemicals, most salon workers are not given proper protective equipment, and salons often don’t choose the safest chemicals available. It’s obvious that salon workers aren’t getting the protection they deserve, so it’s up to us to help them pressure the companies they work for. Let’s help protect all workers – including hair stylists – by letting business owners know that we prefer to shop at companies that protect employees.

Last month, Wisconsin’s Gundersen Health System began producing more energy than it consumed, and it’s kept up that practice every day since. That energy breakthrough is the result of a goal that the health system set six years ago, which they have since met and exceeded. Gundersen utilizes a variety of technology and energy sources to produce and conserve energy, including solar panels, bio-fuel, landfill methane, and various sustainability measures. These measures not only save Gundersen $2 million a year on energy, the health system actually makes another $2 million a year selling their extra energy and the manure they use to create methane. Talk about a win-win. Gundersen CEO Jeff Thompson said, “We did not set out to be the greenest health system. We set out to make the air better for a our patients to breath, control our rising energy costs, and help our local economy.” It looks like they’ve achieved those goals, and hopefully they’re inspiring other businesses to do the same.

A Texas Oil Regulator says she won’t respect the will of the voters. After the town of Denton, Texas voted to ban fracking from their communities earlier this month, Texas Railroad Commission Chairwoman Chris Craddick said she plans to keep handing out drilling permits anyway. She said she can override the ban because that town doesn’t have the authority to regulate drilling activity in that state. She said, “It’s my job to give permits, not Denton’s. We’re going to continue permitting up there because that’s my job.” According to the Think Progress Blog, Craddick told a local news station that she is against the ban, and believes the voters’ desire to keep fracking wells out of their neighborhoods is based on “misinformation.” Apparently ignoring the will of the Denton voters wasn’t disrespectful enough, so she had to add insult to injury by insinuating that they aren’t smart enough to differentiate fact from fiction. The residents of Denton, Texas – one of the most heavily-fracked towns in that state – don’t need Chris Craddick to explain the effects of natural gas drilling. They’ve lived with poor air quality, increased earthquakes, and disruptive noise for years, and they have had enough. They voted to keep fracking out, and the Texas oil regulators should respect Denton’s decision.

And finally… The Netherlands just opened the world’s first solar bike lane. The 230-foot stretch was installed by The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, and it will serve as a test to determine whether more solar bike lanes and roadways are possible. The lanes are made up of special solar cells protected by two layers of safety glass, and the short length of bike lane will produce enough energy to power about three homes. Researchers will monitor the lanes to determine whether they can be expanded for use on other roadways throughout the Netherlands, and to monitor wear and tear over time. By replacing asphalt roads with solar panels, the country could generate lots of green energy in heavily populated areas, without having to open new solar farms. Although a full-scale replacement of all Dutch roadways may be a long way off, this test could help the Netherlands reach their renewable energy goals. Innovation and creativity are keys to making the world-wide switch to green energy, and projects like this are a great step in the right direction.

And that’s the way it is for the week of November 17, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.