On the News With Thom Hartmann: Coastal Regions Are Still Dealing With the Effects of the BP Oil Spill, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Despite what we’ve heard from BP, the wildlife, the environment, and the residents of the Gulf are still dealing with the effects of that massive oil spill; according to the latest IPCC report, we can afford to make the switch to renewable energy; there’s been another dangerous mistake at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant; and more.


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

You need to know this. This past Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite what we’ve heard from BP, the wildlife, the environment, and the residents of the Gulf are still dealing with the effects of that massive oil spill. A new report from the National Wildlife Federation found that many animal species are still struggling to recover from the 2010 disaster, including Bottlenose dolphins, Bluefin Tuna, sea turtles, and many others. Residents who live near the spill, and those who worked in clean-up efforts say that they’re still dealing with skin boils, respiratory illness, and depression. Many coastal environments that were once home to birds and wildlife are now just stretches of barren land and dead mangroves. And, just a couple weeks ago, Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials discovered more than 350 tar balls on the beaches of Escambia County. The oil isn’t gone. The environment isn’t restored. Residents’ lives aren’t back to so-called “normal.” Yet, BP continues to claim that they fixed the Gulf and reports that show otherwise are just “political advocacy – not science.” The fact is, there was no way to completely clean up the 210 millions of gallons of oil that spilled in the Gulf, and there’s no way to bring back the millions of plants and animals that died as a result of that spill. We should have learned our lesson from earlier oil disasters – like the Exxon Valdez in Alaska – but instead, even after these massive events, we just keep drilling for toxic sludge. Four years after the BP spill, we’re still repeating the same mistakes. We can only hope that there won’t be a bigger, more deadly disaster before we finally end our addiction to fossil fuels.

According to the latest IPCC report, we can afford to make the switch to renewable energy. The latest predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conclude that rising temperatures pose a grave threat to life as we know it – including the potential for war and the disruption of our entire food supply. However, the economic analysis in that report shows that we can make the necessary changes to prevent that future from becoming reality. According to that analysis, if we divert the money we’re spending on fossil fuels to renewable energy and conservation, we would only lose about one half of one percent in economic growth. And, that report doesn’t even factor in the huge benefits that come along with making the switch to green energy. Not only would we save our planet and our health by switching to renewables, but we would create green jobs, and stop spending money on cleaning up oil-related disasters. The facts are clear – global climate change is here, it’s happening, and we can do something about it. The world has the tools, but we need the will power to stand up to Big Oil and make the switch to green energy.

According to RadCast.org, there’s been another dangerous mistake at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Last week, TEPCO announced that 200 tons of highly radioactive water flooded basements at that plant, after the wrong pumps were left on because of human error. The tainted water that filled the basements was used to cool nuclear fuel rods, and it leaked before going through a radiation-reducing purification process. That means that the water was highly radioactive, and it’s just the latest example of how dangerous the ongoing situation is at Fukushima. Only days before, TEPCO announced that an August leak of 300 tons of water was way more radioactive than initially thought. That August leak made it’s way into the Pacific Ocean, however this latest incident is said to have been contained. These leaks clearly show that TEPCO isn’t qualified to handle the massive Fukushima disaster, and it’s time for the international community to step in. For the safety of our planet, the world must come together to deal with this disaster. Check out RadCast.org for the latest updates on Fukushima, and all your other nuclear news.

Coastal restoration provides more jobs than offshore oil drilling. According to a new report from Oxfam America and the Center for American Progress, 17 jobs are created for every $1 million dollars invested in restoring coastal ecosystems. In comparison, only about 9 jobs are created for every million spent on oil and gas development. And, the benefits don’t stop there. For every one dollar spent on coastal restoration, we get back $15 dollars in net economic benefit. Caring for our coastal environments actually pays off for our economy with improved fish stocks, increased recreational opportunities, health benefits, and protection from storm surge. Mark Schaefer of NOAA said, “The economic benefits are remarkable… there’s a direct connection between what we’re doing to enhance the environment and what we’re doing to enhance economic activity.” The Oil Lobby likes to claim that we can’t afford to protect our environment, but it turns out – we can’t afford not to.

And finally… Coffee lovers have a new reason to reach for a cup of Joe. In addition to recent studies that found coffee consumption reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, and stroke, new research suggests that drinking coffee lowers the risk of developing liver cancer. The new study was conducted at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, and it followed thousands of men and women over the course of 18 years. Researchers found that people who consumed 1 to 3 cups of coffee each week has a 29 percent lower chance of developing hepatocellular carcinoma – the most common form of liver cancer. People who drank four cups or more had a 42 percent lower risk. The scientists even accounted for gender, ethnicity, alcohol and tobacco use, and even the subjects’ body mass index, and said that the benefits of drinking coffee remained despite all these other factors. So, now we have another reason to reach for the extra cup of java – we’re not caffeine addicts, we are liver-health enthusiasts.

And that’s the way it is for the week of April 21, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.