On the News With Thom Hartmann: Climate Change Could Wipe an Alaskan Village Off the Map, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Thanks to warmer temperatures and higher oceans, the people of Kivalina, Alaska, must move their entire town or be wiped out by storm surge; environmental groups say that we must keep pushing to keep Keystone from becoming reality; police can now generate an image of a suspect’s face using only DNA left at the scene of a crime; and more.

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


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

You need to know this. When he was elected, President Obama told us to push him. Well, it looks like we may have pushed hard enough when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline. Last week, the president vetoed a Congressional bill that would have completed the construction of that pipeline. The veto was only the third of President Obama’s six-years in office, and it is being celebrated by environmental groups and activists. However, those groups say that we must keep pushing to keep Keystone from becoming reality. May Boeve, the Executive Director of 350.org, said that the President’s action is “conclusive proof that activism works.” At a celebration outside of the White House she added, “After four years of rallies, marches, sit-ins, and civil disobedience, we’re thrilled to see President Obama take an important first step by vetoing this love letter to Big Oil.” But, the President’s veto only stops Congress from trying to go around the State Department, which still holds the power to issue a permit for the pipeline. Annie Leonard of Greenpeace said, “The State Department needs to put the final nail in the coffin of Keystone XL, so we can focus on the real opportunity ahead: building America’s new, clean energy economy.” Tens of thousands of people – if not more – have been involved in the fight to stop the Keystone pipeline, and their protests, letters, actions, and even arrests likely pushed our president to issue this veto. We acted together to take on Big Oil, and we have achieved another victory in the war to protect our planet. Now, let’s keep up the fight, keep the pressure on, and keep Keystone from being built once and for all.

We all know that constant stress in bad for our health, but until now, most of us couldn’t explain why. According to a recent article in Science News Magazine, chronic stress causes lingering inflammation and so-called “genetic twists” that throw cells off of their normal, healthy course. Over time, those effects cause changed in our immune system, which actually make it harder for our body to heal. The article explains that our natural reaction to sudden stress can be a good thing, like a burst of hormones that we may experience when we’re in danger. However, day-to-day stress makes our body release a steady stream of stress hormones that act like a poison. This is why issues like poverty, unemployment, recurring pain, or family tension actually make people sick, or make it harder for us to recover from an illness. Few of us have the ability to remove stress from our lives, but we can all improve how we deal with such situations. The science is clear, to stay healthy, we should all find a little time to chill out.

If you still have any doubts about climate change, perhaps you should take a visit to the remote Alaskan village of Kivalina. But, you may want to check in with that town to see if it’s still in the same location. Thanks to warmer temperatures and higher oceans, the people of Kivalina must move their entire town or be wiped out by storm surge. That town lies on a tiny barrier island off Alaska’s northwest coast, and it’s home to about 400 residents. Kivalina has been populated since at least the mid-1800s, and it had been protected by sea ice, which prevented most storm surge from reaching the island. Back in the fall of 2004, residents realized that they were in big trouble when that sea ice hadn’t yet formed, and since then it’s been a race against time to move their community. The tiny whaling community has tried to figure out where to move and how to come up with the $100 million it’s going to cost them. So far, their attempts have failed. Colleen Swan, who was born and raised in the tiny community, said, “We need to get off this island. We can’t stay here. It’s not an option anymore.” Hopefully, the town can find answers to these tough questions, and find a new home before our planet gets any hotter.

Investigators are no longer limited when they don’t have an eyewitness to a crime. According to a new piece in The New York Times, police can now generate an image of a suspect’s face using only DNA left at the scene of a crime. While the sketches are not fool proof, genetics can already indicate hair and eye color, and may soon provide age, skin color, baldness, and other characteristics. Supporters of the new technology say that it could help solve crimes, opponents worry about the accuracy of DNA-based sketches, as well as privacy and profiling concerns. Erin Murphy, law professor at New York University, said, “This is another of these areas where the technology is ahead of the popular debate and discussion.” She explained that this technology could completely dissolve “that firm boundary” of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. Although it may seem like science fiction, this technology is here and it’s time to have a debate about police analyzing our DNA.

And finally… Forget the soy, camel milk may be the next big thing for people who don’t drink cow milk. According to EcoWatch.com, camel milk is low-fat, highly nutritious, and lactose-free. The Oasis Camel Dairy has been in business for about 15 years, but federal law prevents them from selling milk to the public. The farm survives by selling specialty products like soaps and lotions, but some Amish farms are able to sell milk to stores like Whole Foods. However, camel milk is probably too expensive to really catch on. Because camels are difficult to breed, and they don’t produce much milk, you’ll pay $18 a pint to give camel milk a try. That’s pretty pricey for most Americans, but who knows what the cost would be if camel milk was subsidized like cow milk. For now, we’ll have to take the word of camel farmers that camel milk is the next big thing. I’ll stick to the hemp milk and skip both the cow and camel.

And that’s the way it is for the week of March 2, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.