On the News With Thom Hartmann: Earth May Be on the Brink of a Mass Extinction, and More

In today’s On the News segment: If we want any chance to prevent the next mass extinction, we’d better break our addiction to fossil fuels; a new report says medical marijuana works on brain tumors, but that won’t stop the Justice Department from going after pot users; ALEC is threatening to sue groups like Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters; and more.

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

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of….Science and Green news…..

You need to know this. The more we learn about previous mass extinctions, the more we recognize that we’re on the brink of triggering the next one. Earlier this month, an team of international researchers say that changes in the biochemical makeup of the ocean were a primary factor in the Triassic mass extinction 200 million years ago. According to their study, which will appear in an upcoming edition of the journal Geology, the ocean around the supercontinent Pangaea became toxic because of oxygen-depletion. Although previous studies have documented these toxic zones in shallow waters around the world, this study is the first to find evidence that these biochemical changes occurred on a global scale. Jessica Whiteside, one of the study’s co-authors, explained, “As tectonic plates shifted to break up Pangaea, huge volcanic rifts would have spewed carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, leading to rising temperatures from the greenhouse effect. The rapid rises in CO2 would have triggered changes in ocean circulation, acidification, and deoxygenation.” In other words, global warming killed the ocean 200 million years ago, and wiped out more than half of all marine, plant, and animal life on Earth. And, thanks to our addiction to fossil fuels, we’re on track to repeat this deadly cycle. Our actions have already disrupted important ocean cycles, like the Gulf Stream, and caused so-called “dead zones” to appear all over the world. Burning carbon for the last century has made the oceans more acidic, and rising temperatures have already killed off coral reefs and other species. If we want any chance to prevent the next mass extinction, we better break our addiction to fossil fuels, and make the switch to green energy. The science is clear, and we better listen before it’s too late. To find out more, check out GreenWorldRising.org.

According to the government’s own research, medical marijuana works on brain tumors, but, that won’t stop the Justice Department from going after pot users. The April report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that “recent studies have shown that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others.” The authors added, “Evidence form one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors.” However, officials at the DOJ are pushing forward with prosecuting marijuana users, and activists are calling on President Obama and Eric Holder to reign in that agency. People should not be thrown in jail for using this natural medication, and we should be exploring new uses for pot – not limiting potential research. It’s time for Congress to recognize the amazing benefits of this miracle drug, and to put an end to marijuana prohibition.

The American Legislative Exchange Council no longer wants to be known as a “climate denier” organization. According to a recent article over at the ThinkProgress Blog, the lobbying group is out to change their image, but that doesn’t mean that they’re changing any of their policies. Rather than putting an end to their attacks on renewable energy or Clean Power Plans, ALEC is simply threatening to sue groups like Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters. As The Washington Post recently pointed out, ALEC has sent these organizations so-called “cease and desist” letters, demanding that they stop saying that ALEC doesn’t believe that “human activity has and will continue to alter the atmosphere of the planet.” But, according to David Willett, the senior vice president for communications at the League of Conservation Voters, ALEC didn’t explain what legal justification they had to make such a demand. The fact is, ALEC promotes policies that continue the destruction of our planet, and they actively fight against climate solutions. They can demand that we don’t call them climate deniers, but their actions speak far louder than our words.

Back in 2010, thousands of Americans were sickened by contaminated spinach, eggs, and peanut butter. The outbreaks even resulted in several deaths, and they prompted Congress to pass the Food Safety Modernization Act. But, that new law doesn’t mean much when lawmakers refuse to fund it. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the FDA needs $580 million to implement the law that protects us from food-borne illness, but so far they haven’t even received half of that amount. In an interview with The New York Times, Deputy FDA Commissioner Michael R. Taylor said, “We have good plans for moving forward. The problem is [that] we don’t have the money.” Every year, 48 million Americans contract some type of illness because of tainted food, and that number will only climb if this agency is not properly funded. It’s great that Congress came up with a solution to this problem, but it won’t mean much if they never fund it. Call Congress today and tell them you prefer your meals without a side of food-borne illness.

And finally… You may think that the world’s greenest car is a Tesla, but EcoWatch.com has news that may surprise you. This year’s World Green Car Award went to the all-electric BMW i8. The international jury at the New York International Auto Show gave BMW the award based on the vehicle’s lightweight construction, plug-in hybrid technology, and its sleek, “avant-garde” design. Unlike the practical design of other electric vehicles, the i8 looks more like a futuristic sports car than a Toyota Prius. According to BMW, it can go from 0 to 60 in under five seconds, however it may take you just a bit longer to put together the funds to buy one. At a starting price of over $135,000, the fancy hybrid is way out of most people’s price range, but the car will still inspire other manufacturers to enhance their designs. One expert said, “The BMW i8 gasoline hybrid looks so cool, it should be the icon for all ‘green’ cars.” Making the switch to green technology is imperative to the survival of our species, and when the designs look this cool, we can still have a heck of a lot of fun by going green.

And that’s the way it is for the week of April 13, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science and Green News.