In today’s On the News segment: Last week, the German cabinet approved that nation’s first-ever fracking law; rising global temperatures already have a financial and human cost; new research says that sustainable solutions are the only real way to feed future generations; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of….Science and Green news…..
You need to know this. We are living in “an era of extreme weather.” That’s according to a new analysis from the Center of American Progress. Researchers complied data from the federal government and the insurance industry and found that the United States spent at least $19 billion dealing with extreme weather disasters in 2014. And, according to that same data, at least 65 people lost their lives because of these events. Fighting climate change is no longer just about planning for the future. Rising temperatures already have a financial and human cost. In this new report, called “Extreme Weather on the Rise,” researchers documented disasters across 44 states in the last four years. In total, those events cost our nation $227 billion and caused almost 1,300 fatalities. And, the authors explain, if this trend continues, this decade could see more that 600 extreme weather events, which is more than any decade in the last half century. While our lawmakers continue to waste time debating scientific facts, our nation is failing to deal with the very real problem that is already costing us lives and dollars. In order to address this problem, the report states, “the government must increase investments in resilience strategies, such as climate-smart pre-disaster mitigation, fortified infrastructure, sustainable resource management planning, and scientific research.” But instead, Republicans in Congress would rather cut the budgets of agencies designed to help with this growing disaster, and pretend that it’s completely rational to continue destroying our environment. To survive this “era of extreme weather,” it’s going to take real investment and real commitment from our leaders. And, it’s going to mean putting an end to the pollution and destruction that brought us to this point. That means switching to cleaner, greener energy, and rebuilding our infrastructure to withstand the extreme weather that we’ve already locked in to our future.
Even in this age of medical advances and cutting-edge technology, some infections still terrify many doctors. One of these so-called “superbugs” is commonly known as MRSA – and it is resistant to most conventional antibiotics. So, it was big news when scientists discovered an 1,100 year old home remedy that wipes out the infection as effectively as some of our strongest antibiotics. Last week, researchers in the United Kingdom made headlines after reporting that an old Anglo-Saxen manuscript contained a cure for this dangerous bacteria. They recreated a remedy from the old manuscript using garlic, leeks, copper, wine, and cow’s bile. In lab tests, the odd concoction performed as well as the antibiotic currently used to treat the superbug. Both treatments wiped out about 90 percent of the MRSA bacteria in laboratory tests – however, the scientists who conducted the experiment warned against running to your neighborhood Wholefoods to give it a try. In order to recreate the remedy, scientists had to find ingredients that were as close as possible to what would have been available 1,000 years ago – in other words – you won’t find them on isle seven! But hopefully, their research may lead to new treatments for this deadly superbug, and make us rethink our reliance on antibiotics.
Proponents of genetically modified foods often say that their products are the only way to produce enough food for the future. However, new research debunks this claim and says that sustainable solutions are the only real way to feed future generations. According to a new analysis from the Environmental Working Group, genetically modified crops have not increased our food production. In fact they haven’t even provided any more nutrients than traditionally-produced crops. Researchers reviewed genetically modified corn and soybeans and compared them to crops grown in Western Europe, where GMOs are banned. They found that the yields in both regions were exactly the same, and the promised benefit of increased production never happened. Additionally, the scientists reviewed African crops that were naturally bred to withstand drought, and found them to be 30 percent more effective than the crops that had been genetically modified to resist drier climates. The report concludes that sustainable practices, like reducing food waste, changing our diets, and smarter use of fertilizer have a far great impact on food production than altering the genes of the crops we eat. If we want to feed the world in the future, we need to stop pretending that GMOs are the solution.
While cities around our nation fight to keep fracking wells out of their communities, the entire nation of Germany may ban the dangerous practice out right. Last week, the German cabinet approved that nation’s first-ever fracking law, that would prohibit drilling for natural gas in most areas and only allow a few wells for scientific research. In other words, the natural gas companies would actually have to prove that this controversial practice is safe before they’re allowed to drill in other areas. Germany’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said that the new law would set the “strictest conditions for fracking,” and she added, “As long as the risks cannot be fully evaluated, facking will be banned.” Despite intense pressure from the natural gas industry, Germany is putting their people and their environment ahead of corporate profits. If only our lawmakers would be so bold.
And finally… Pope Francis says that protecting our environment is the “ultimate pro-life, pro-poor, pro-family issue.” The Catholic News Service is reporting that the Pontiff is about to release an encyclical letter calling on all Christians to protect our planet. The Vatican said that the Pope’s statement comes from biblical teaching, and not from a political agenda. Just as he did in other recent speeches, Pope Francis is urging followers to form a collective response to our environmental crisis, and to promote a culture of solidarity, free from political or economic influences. In other words, he is calling on people of faith to set aside political differences, and come together to protect our world. At a speech back in January, Pope Francis said, “We need to see – with the eyes of faith – the beauty of God’s saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person.” If people really want to call themselves “pro-life,” perhaps it’s time for them to help us save the one planet that we call home.
And that’s the way it is for the week of April 6, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science and Green News.