In today’s On the News segment: According to a new study, climate change may have contributed to the rise of ISIS; packaged snack foods may be responsible for inflammatory disease; Big Sugar is going to kill the Florida Everglades; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of….science and green news…..
You need to know this. Climate change contributed to the rise of ISIS. According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, human-caused global warming triggered “the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures” in Syria. That drought lasted four years, from 2006 to 2010, and it led to poverty, hunger and unrest, which triggered the civil war that spawned the creation of ISIS. The scientists came to this conclusion by studying the timeline of events leading up to the rise of that terrorist group. They explained, “While we’re not saying the drought caused the [civil] war, we are saying that it certainly contributed to other factors – agricultural collapse and mass migration among them – that caused the uprising.” When people are hungry and desperate, they are far more susceptible to the influence of groups like ISIS, and more likely to fight over dwindling resources. In an interview with Slate, Retired Navy Rear Admiral David Titley – who is also a meteorologist – said that this study lays out “a pretty convincing climate fingerprint” for the drought in Syria. He added, “you can draw a very credible connection to this disaster we call ISIS right now.” And, you don’t need to be an expert to understand that as temperatures continue to rise, droughts like this are expected to become the norm, which means more unrest and more extremism in the future. For more than a century, humans have pumped carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and only now are we realizing the true extent of our destruction. Global warming will mean more storms and droughts and extreme weather, and those events have real consequences. Perhaps the best way to combat groups like ISIS is to reduce the likelihood of the extreme weather that helps them rise to power in the first place. To limit the likelihood of extremism, it’s time for the world to go green.
Packaged snack foods may be responsible for inflammatory disease. According to a recent study from Georgia State University, emulsifiers in our food might be damaging our intestinal lining and exposing us to our gut bacteria, which can cause inflammation. The authors of the study have not yet confirmed the effects in humans, but they demonstrated a “perfect correlation” between food additives and inflammatory disease in mice. The scientists fed mice two common emulsifiers, which are detergent-like compounds used to make food creamier, and studied the side effects over a 12 week period. In both “wild-type” mice, and mice that were genetically susceptible to inflammatory disease, researchers noticed higher levels of intestinal inflammation. Although the scientists don’t know exactly how it happens, they found that these emulsifiers damaged the intestinal lining of the mice, and allowed more bacteria to enter the digestive system. If this same effect is present in humans, it could be responsible for various inflammatory diseases, like irritable bowel disease and others. These findings may be preliminary, but they should make us think twice about the food we’re consuming.
After last month’s “dressgate” story, most of us don’t want to hear about the color blue. But, there is some interesting history behind that color. According to Kevin Loria of Business Insider, the color “blue” didn’t exist as we know it until modern times. Kevin cited the work of scholar William Gladstone, who in 1858 noticed strange descriptions for colors in ancient literature. In The Odyssey, Homer describes the sea as “wine-dark,” and never describes anything as “blue” in the entire book. A later study by Lazarus Geiger found that the lack of “blue” was consistent across ancient cultures. Geiger reviewed the Koran, ancient Chinese stories, Icelandic sagas, and even an ancient Hebrew version of the Bible, and found that there was no word in any of these cultures for the color blue. Only ancient Egyptians had a word for blue, and they were the only culture to produce a dye in that color. Through various studies, scientists have determined that our eyes don’t distinguish a color until we’re able to identify it, and so it’s possible that ancient humans could not recognize the color “blue.” Who knows, maybe they all saw white and gold…
“Big Sugar” is going to kill the Everglades. According to a recent article at Alternet.org, the Fanjul family is Florida’s very own version of the Koch brothers. That family controls about one third of our nation’s raw sugar, and they own Florida Crystals, which occupies a large portion of the Florida Everglades. All that sugar is being irrigated with freshwater from Lake Okeechobee, and the toxic discharge is being dumped in coastal estuaries. Last year, almost 80 percent of Floridians passed Amendment 1, which guaranteed a source of funding to buy back land to protect the Everglades. But, now that the Tea Party took over Tallahassee, Gov. Rick Scott and his backers are refusing to buy back the land that Floridians wanted. This October, the contract to purchase the land will expire and “Big Sugar” will go back to destroying the one and only “River of Grass.” If Floridians want to protect their very-own natural wonder, they better demand that Rick Scott keeps “Big Sugar” from killing the Everglades.
And finally… If you want to know where to hide out in a zombie apocalypse, science now has your answer. A team of researchers from Cornell University were inspired by the book World War Z, and they used statistical models to find out how an actual zombie apocalypse would unfold. Graduate student Alex Alemi said that movies and books always portray a zombie outbreak occurring simultaneously all around the world. But, he said, “in our attempt to model zombies somewhat realistically, it doesn’t seem like this is how it would actually go down.” According to their findings, if you want to survive the walking dead, you should probably head for the Rockies. The scientists said that in areas with fewer people, “there are fewer humans to bite, so you start creating zombies at a slower rate.” They suggested areas like Glacier National Park in Montana or Idaho, but said that you’d be even safer in Alaska. You’ll have to make up your own mind about whether you’d rather live with zombie or Sarah Palin.
And that’s the way it is for the week of March 9, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science and Green News.