In today’s On the News segment: Tornado season is off to a late, but deadly start this year in Arkansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma; Big Oil has figured out where the real power is in the Republican Party, and they’re putting big money behind the NRA; the Supreme Court actually stands up for our environment; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of….science & green news…..
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You need to know this. Tornado season got off to a late, but deadly start this year in Arkansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. Just days before these storms, news outlets like USA Today were calling 2014 the “safest start to tornado season in a century,” yet in the blink of an eye, at least 16 people were killed in devastating twisters. That sudden shift in weather, along with recent record-setting storm years, has many people wondering how these extreme storms are affected by climate change. Previous research left many scientists saying that they couldn’t answer that question. However, a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that our warming planet will likely mean more twisters. One of the study’s authors explained that their research is “the first significant evidence that we might expect to see a change in tornadoes” because of rising temperatures. Just like hurricanes, droughts, and heat waves, there will likely be stronger twisters in future years, and they are likely to happen more often. Even the climate-science deniers have to admit that these massive storms are causing more damage, and taking more lives than ever before. They don’t even have to accept the facts to agree that we need to better prepare for hotter temperatures, higher storm surge, and stronger wind storms. While the rest of us keep up the fight against climate change, hopefully the anti-science crowd will at least join us in our effort to save lives by preparing our world for more super storms.
Big Oil has figured out where the real power is in the Republican Party… and they’re putting big money behind the NRA. A new report from the Center of American Progress shows that since 2008, the Oil Lobby has given the National Rifle Association and other so-called “conservative sportsmen groups” millions of dollars to advocate for the oil and gas industries. Considering CAP’s calculations, Big Oil could be funding almost 30 percent of the NRA’s entire budget. While oil and gas development completely destroy the land that hunters and fisherman say they love, these groups are hard at work doing the bidding of Big Oil. After the NRA was successful in blocking background checks – even though 90 percent of Americans backed that regulation – it looks like Big Oil has bet on who holds real power in our political system. It’s time for all Americans to stand up and show the special interest groups that lobbyists are not more powerful than the public. These groups may have the money, but we do have the power to change the system, and it’s time to take back control of our economy, our environment, and our democracy.
The Supreme Court actually stood up for our environment. Last Tuesday, our nation’s highest court upheld the EPA’s right to regulate air pollution that crosses state lines. Back in 2008, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Bush Administration’s rules on cross-state pollution, saying that they did not go far enough protect downwind states. In 2012, that same court ruled that the Obama Administration’s cross-state pollution rules were too harsh on upwind states. So, the question before the Supreme Court was whether or not all of these rules should be struck down because they didn’t spell out exactly how states should address air pollution. In the 6 to 2 ruling, the majority of justices said that the EPA has the authority to consider the impact of air pollution between states, and sent the case back down to the lower court to work out the specifics of these regulations. In a statement about the ruling, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said, “[The] EPA will now be able to do its job and protect the American people from dirty air, and I applaud the Court for its ruling.” If only the Supreme Court ruled in our favor more often…
Washington, DC may be unable to do much in the climate change fight, but Washington state isn’t about to wait on Congress. Last week, Governor Jay Inslee issued an executive order to create a special task force to reduce carbon emissions. He will direct that task force to design a “cap-and-market” system, reduce the use of coal-fired power plants, and set firm limits on carbon emissions. In addition, Governor Inslee’s plan calls for developing more clean transportation, investing in renewable energy, and increasing the efficiency of public and private buildings. Once again, a state is taking the lead on climate action, because our national lawmakers aren’t doing enough to protect our planet. Washington state follows California and Oregon in many of these actions, and more states are stepping up in the climate change fight. For the sake of our planet, our future, and our entire species, we must take immediate action to reduce global warming. It’s great that Washington state is joining the fight, but we need to keep pushing until every state is doing their part.
And finally… One of Spain’s Canary Islands is proving that it’s possible to use 100 percent renewable energy. Next month, the small island of El Hierro will open a new wind farm. The five new wind turbines will produce 11.5 megawatts of power, and will make the island the first island in the world to be completely energy self-sufficient. In addition to wind power, that island uses a process known as pump-storage hydroelectricity to generate electricity. Basically, they use wind power to pump water above sea level, and then release back down to create energy when the wind isn’t blowing. Although El Hierro only has a population of about 10,000, they are proving that it’s possible to live without dirty fossil fuels. If they can do it, then we can too, just by scaling up the program and adding other forms of renewable energy to the mix. It’s time to end our addiction to fossil fuels, and this little island is proof that we can do it.
And that’s the way it is for the week of May 5, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.