In today’s On the News segment: California’s water supply will be gone before we know it, and Gov. Jerry Brown is asking for help; lawmakers in West Virginia are scaling back regulations on chemical storage tanks; the United Nations announces support the growing fossil fuel divestment movement; and more.
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You need to know this. One year. Twelve months. Three hundred and sixty-five days. It doesn’t matter how you say it, California’s water supply will be gone before we know it, and Gov. Jerry Brown is asking for help. Scientists at NASA are warning that California only has one year of water left, and they say that it’s time for a more “forward-looking process” to figure out how to deal with this crisis. Gov. Jerry Brown is now calling for a $1 billion emergency relief plan, but in this fourth year of California’s drought, some say that the state isn’t doing enough to protect their dwindling water supply. According to one of NASA’s senior water cycle scientists, California should implement immediate and mandatory water rationing, pass new laws to protect groundwater, and create a task force to identify long-term solutions. He said, “California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let along a 20-plus year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.” Essentially, that state is up a metaphorical creek, and this scientist said, “In short, we have no paddle to navigate this crisis.” In order to survive in the changing climate, California needs to learn how to adapt, and they need to do so fast, and $1 billion won’t go far when it comes to solving this problem. Changing policy and rebuilding infrastructure to adjust to drier conditions could take decades, but the state doesn’t have that long to decide to act. A century of pumping carbon dioxide into our atmosphere has changed our weather cycle, and it’s not going to change back overnight. In addition to making the global changes that will save our species, we must help those currently suffering from our actions. California needs help dealing with this drought, so it’s time to come together as a nation to find a solution, and it’s time to get serious about preventing the next massive drought.
Next time you’re in a fancy restaurant, you may be surprised to find a new item on the menu: dirt. That’s right, according to a new article over at Alternet, the United States’ newest food trend is dirt. Chef’s are actually incorporating specialty soils into meals, sauces and dressings to accentuate foods with the flavors of soil that they were grown in. One Brooklyn, New York Chef, Ilan Hall, explained “Vegetables, grapes, wine – these all have different flavor components based on the soil they are grown in.” So, chefs are sanitizing the soil with pressure cookers and using it as natural seasoning. In fact, some have even been feeding people dirt for some time. A Canadian chef at Toronto’s famous Actinolite restaurant has been serving ingredients like soil and moss for years. I wouldn’t skip out on washing your fruits and vegetables just yet, but who knows, maybe someday we’ll all consider dirt one more of our favorite ingredients.
It’s been a little more than a year since 10,000 gallons of toxic chemicals polluted the drinking water in West Virginia. So, it’s more than a bit troubling to learn that lawmakers in that state are scaling back regulations on chemical storage tanks. After that massive spill in January of 2014, the state legislature passed the Aboveground Storage Tank Act, which mandated that 50,000 chemical tanks were registered and regulated. Last week, the West Virginia State Senate rolled back those regulations, and decided that 38,000 of those aboveground chemical tanks really don’t need to be regulated. Only 12,000 storage tanks remain on the list, and that number could fall even further. Even in the very state that saw hundreds of thousands of people lose access to safe drinking water, state lawmakers are willing to risk it all over again just to help out their buddies at chemical processing corporations. Angie Rosser of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition said, “People are very disappointed and discouraged. They feel like the politicians have turned their backs on the public, and have cowed to industry interest.” And the fact of the matter is that the politicians have. West Virginia voters need to remember that in the next election.
According to the United Nations, the “age of burn what you like, when you like” is over. Last week, that international body announced that they support the growing fossil fuel divestment movement and they’re lending their “moral authority” to the groups working to fight global warming. In recent months, we’ve seen universities, foundations and other institutions divest their financial holdings from the fossil fuel industry. Activists, environmental groups and even major news agencies, like The Guardian, have called on more organizations to do the same. Now, the UN is adding their weight to the growing movement, ahead of an international climate meeting of world leaders in Paris this December. A spokesman for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Nick Nuttall, said, “We are saying ‘we support your aims and ambitions because they are fairly and squarely our ambition’ which is to get a good deal in Paris.” In order to solve the climate crisis, it will take the world coming together, and this latest announcement by the UN is a strong step in that direction.
And finally… In 1954, the British Daily Mail newspaper sent a scientific expedition to the Himalayas to track down a Yeti. The team did find footprints and some identified hair, and they claimed that hair was evidence of Bigfoot. However, a team from the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland said that the hair was really evidence of an unknown bear species in that region. Well now, scientists from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History say that both the Daily Mail and the Portland Museum had it all wrong. After re-analyzing the DNA of the hair sample, the Smithsonian experts say that it came from a Himalayan black bear. Now, that bear species is endangered, so it’s still exciting to learn that the Daily Mail team encountered that animal back in the 50s. But, it’s certainly not as exciting as finding the elusive Bigfoot. For now, it looks like the mystery of the Yeti of the Himalayas remains unanswered, but we can all keep hoping that someday, someone will find that evidence of Bigfoot that so many have searched for for decades.
And that’s the way it is for the week of March 23, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.