In today’s On the News segment: Denmark set another world record for wind power; new research shows that the combination of snow and exhaust fumes are a public health hazard; the oceans absorbed twice as much heat over the last few decades as they did in the previous 130 years; and more.
Thom Hartmann here — on the best of the rest of Science and Green News …
You need to know this. According to Energinet, Denmark’s transmissions systems operator, Denmark set another world record for wind power. In 2015, Denmark produced 42 percent of its power from wind, despite two of their major wind farms being down. That’s the highest wind product on record, and it even beat their own record from 2014. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Denmark’s Minister for Energy, Utilities and Climate Lars Christian Lilleholt said, “Hopefully, Denmark can serve as an example to other countries that it is possible to have both ambitious green policies with a high proportion of wind energy and other renewables in the energy supply, and still have a high security of supply and competitive prices on electricity.” Officials at Energinet say that a pretty windy year helped them set this new record, and that production would have topped 43.5 percent if the two other wind farms had not been offline. Denmark is on track to reach their goal of making 50 percent of all electricity from wind by 2050. They may be a much smaller nation that the United States, but they are proving that it’s possible to provide electricity and keep dangerous fossil fuels in the ground.
As it turns out, snow soaks up pollutants in the air. According to a team of scientists from McGill University in Canada, those beautiful geometric snowflakes may not be as safe as we once thought. Dr. Parisa Ariya, who led the research, said, “Snowflakes are ice particles with various types of surfaces, including several active sites, that can absorb various gases or particular pollutants.” She went on to say, “As a mother who is an atmospheric physical chemist, I definitely do not suggest my young kids to eat snow in urban areas in general.” To study the snow’s pollution levels, the researchers looked at how snow interacts with exhaust-derived particles and pollutants. After snowing for an hour, the snow’s concentration of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene all dramatically increased. These researchers concluded that the combination of snow and exhaust fumes are a public hazard. So, while we may all enjoy some sledding, you may want to think twice of rolling in show or eating it. It’s just not as healthy as you thought.
The world is being threatened by discarded plastic, but until now little has been done to help. A new study shows that with groundbreaking science and everyone participating in a supply change, much can be done. That new study is called “The New Plastics Economy,” and it says that although it may take years to fix the problem, the time to act is now. One of the problems researchers looked at is the fact that oceans, by 2050, will have more plastic than fish if measured by weight. Birds and marine life are eating plastic and dying by choking, intestinal blockages and starvation. Ending plastic waste would also have the added benefit of slowing climate change, given that the entire plastic industry is expected by 2050 to account for a fifth of the oil production and 15 percent of the annual global carbon production of the entire globe. This may surprise you, but about one-third of all plastic packaging ends up in the oceans, so we need to be look at these new ideas and solutions quickly.
Uh oh. The oceans absorbed twice as much heat over the last few decades as they did in the previous 130 years. That’s the conclusion of new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change. It’s not surprising that the oceans are warming, but it is surprising how fast they are heating up. Since the oceans take up more than 90 percent of our planet’s heat from trapped greenhouse gasses, it’s important that scientists look at them for the fingerprint of human caused global warming. As our oceans heat up, extreme weather and rising sea levels are increasingly likely, and widespread species loss is expected. If our oceans show the fingerprint of man made climate change, than they are telling us to get busy finding a solution.
The University of Leicester says that intensive exercise in short intervals is “more effective.” Short bursts of intensive exercise allow a more “time-efficient” and easier way to prevent conditions like type II diabetes and obesity. According to typical guidelines for weight loss, 200 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity are needed to lose weight. But research has found that less than 5 percent of people in many industrialized nations will follow through with that recommendation. So this study researched high-intensity interval training, aka HITT, as an alternative to standard guidelines. And according to their findings, when it comes to preventing type II diabetes, “Time-efficient exercise intervention that may bring about similar benefits to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.” Researcher Charlotte Jelleyman said, “We have demonstrated that HIIT conveys benefits to cardio-metabolic health, which in the cases of insulin resistance and aerobic fitness may be superior to the effect of traditional continuous training.” So, if you find you don’t have time to commit to a long exercise routine, maybe trying a high-intensity interval program would work for you.
Well … Look out travelers. A new study shows expensive hotels have more germs. You may think that the fancy hotel you booked is cleaner than a cheaper one, but that’s just not so. A recent study called “Hotel Hygiene Exposed,” found that the average hotel has more germs than homes, airplanes or schools. They tested from three-star to five-star hotels and the more expensive, the dirtier they were.
And finally … For all you cat lovers – you too can be a cat lady with 1,100 cats. The caring cat lady, Lynea Lattanzi, lives with 1,100 cats in her 4,200 square-foot house and six acres of land. She calls it the Cat House on The Kings, which is California’s largest no-cage, no-kill sanctuary for feral and abandoned cats. Lynea said, “I’m at the top of the list for eccentric cat ladies – I don’t think there has been anyone who have lived with 28,000 cats in 24 years.” That’s probably a record. Can everyone make sure my wife, Louise, never sees this story? I don’t think the boat will hold 1,000 cats!
And that’s the way it is for the week of March 22, 2016. I’m Thom Hartmann on Science and Green News.