In today’s On the News segment: Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling for a tax on carbon; if you’ve ever found an injured animal or a bird with a broken wing and didn’t know how to help – now there’s an app for that; Physicist Christopher Keating announced that he will give $10,000 dollars to anyone who can disprove the accepted science of climate change; and more.
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You need to know this. It’s no longer a surprise when Republicans try to block our president from taking any action on climate change. However, it’s quite a shock when a former Bush Administration official comes out in favor of a plan even stronger than the president’s. Recently, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling for a tax on carbon. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a well-educated, executive level official believes in science, but it is worth noting that this Republican’s carbon tax suggestion is more progressive than the cap-and-trade plan supported by our democratic president. Unlike a carbon tax, Obama’s cap-and-trade does not include methane emissions from natural gas. Cap-and-trade allows Wall Street to continue to manipulate the market and discourage investment in renewables. In addition, because carbon credits in a cap-and-trade system are issued based on how much comapnies pollute, many utilities ramp up pollution before these systems are put in place in order to “earn” more carbon offsets. In comparison, a carbon tax does not reward current polluters, and it is less susceptible to fraudulent Wall Street trading schemes. By putting a price on actual pollution, a carbon tax lowers the cost of clean energy, and encourages investment in new technology. A tax on carbon pollution also factors in dangerous methane emissions, and forces the fossil fuel industry to pay for the social costs of destroying our environment. In his op-ed, Hank Paulson wrote, “We can debate the appropriate pricing and policy design and how to use the money generated. But, a price on carbon would change the behavior of both individuals and businesses.” We must continue to fight for that change, and force our president to see that a carbon tax is a better plan than cap-and-trade.
If you’ve ever found an injured animal or a bird with a broken wing and didn’t know how to help – now there’s an app for that. You can download the free “Animal Help Now” app, and it will help you know what to do to assist an injured animal. The app can answer questions, give the GPS location of the animal, and connect you with a veterinarian or wildlife shelter. You can also report a lost pet, report animal abuse, or even upload a picture to the app to allow caregivers to assess the animal’s condition. At the moment, Animal Help Now is only set up to function in the western United States, but developers are already working to expand nationwide. Many of us are animal lovers, and we can’t turn away from an animal in need. However, it’s not always easy to know what to do or who to contact. This app can allow us to provide the right kind of help and connect us with the people who are willing to go to great lengths to protect and care for animals. Isn’t it great when we use science and technology to help, rather than hurt, our natural environment?
Dr. Christopher Keating, the author of the book “Undeniable: Dialogues on Global Warming,” is betting on science. Last week, the physicist announced that he will give $10,000 dollars to anyone who can disprove the accepted science of climate change. Dr. Keating also offered $1,000 dollars to anyone who can provide any legitimate scientific evidence that climate change is not happening – even if they cut and paste it from the internet. The rules of Dr. Keating’s contest are very simple. In order to be eligible for the $10,000 dollar prize, participants must be over the age of 18, must employ the scientific method, and they don’t even need to pay an entry fee. Dr. Keating said, “I am certain my money is safe. They are in the business of denial and deception, not science. But, if someone could give me scientific proof that global warming isn’t real, it would be worth the money.” Science-deniers love to claim that there is still debate about climate change, despite the fact that 97 percent of scientists say that the evidence is clear. Now that there is $10,000 dollars riding on it, it will be entertaining to see what the climate-deniers come up with.
Communities around the Great Lakes don’t want to become a nuclear waste dumping ground. One of the largest energy producers in North America, Ontario Power Generation, has been working for 15 years to gain approval for an underground nuclear repository a half a mile from the shores of Lake Huron. As that approval process is finally near completion, residents in cities and towns near the site are asking lawmakers to protect that vital body of water. So far, more than 60,000 people from both the US and Canada have signed a petition against the nuclear site. Environmental groups say that if nuclear material leaked into Lake Huron, it would put at risk 40 million Americans and Canadians who depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water. This story is yet another example of the dangers of nuclear energy. It’s time to prevent the next nuclear disaster and say “No Nukes” once and for all.
And finally… If you think that the so-called “jocks” and “geeks” have nothing in common, it turns out that you’re completely wrong. According to new research from the University of Greifswald in Germany, the brains of athletes function very much like the brains of authors. The scientists used special fMRI scanners to pinpoint the regions of the brain that become active during creative writing, and it turns out that those same areas light up when a basketball player is making a complex shot. The scientists noted that people writing about different topics may use different parts of their brains – like an author activating the taste-perceiving regions of the brain when writing about food. However, when we use well-developed skills, those actions are somewhat automatic, and access the same regions of the brain. Regardless of whether you enjoy writing poetry or playing sports, you have a lot in common with those who enjoy the opposite.
And that’s the way it is for the week of June 30, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.