In today’s On the News segment: The Hawaiian Electric Company has been blocking thousands of residents from generating their own electricity; the loss of sea ice in the Arctic is creating a feedback loop that could spell disaster for the ice caps; a coalition of organizations is challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Dow Chemical’s Enlist Duo herbicide; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Science and Green news …
You need to know this. We’ve known for some time that warming temperatures pose a big threat to Artic ocean ice. However, only now are we learning about so-called “waves of destruction” that are speeding up the disappearance of sea ice. According to a recent article by Mark Harris in Scientific American, the loss of sea ice in the Arctic has allowed large waves to develop in the now-open water. Those waves then break up the remaining sea ice, thus creating a feedback loop that could spell disaster for the ice caps. Back in 2010, a Norwegian research vessel called the RV Lance set out to study ice pack, as they did every season. Although in previous years the team was able to walk out on to the ice pack, and even camp on larger floes, the 2010 team found too many cracks in the ice to explore safely. After moving their ship deeper into the ice pack, the scientists noticed how small waves were quickly growing in size and breaking up large pieces of ice. That team recorded some waves that were more than 30 feet high, and watched as they rapidly broke the ice into thousands of smaller pieces. The whole process is so fast and powerful that areas of over 16 kilometers of ice were destroyed in one hour. And, because of their ability to begin quickly and rapidly increase in power, these waves are nearly impossible to predict. In addition to destroying sea ice, the waves are also very dangerous to ships, oil-drilling platforms, and arctic communities. This is what happens when a feedback loop is created, and this is how a small rise in temperatures quickly becomes a global catastrophe. If we don’t work harder to restore our environment, we may not survive as a species. We only have one planet to call home, so let’s get busy making sure we can survive here in the future. Check out GreenWorldRising.org for more information.
The FDA barely has the time and money to monitor one percent of our food for safety, yet they’re considering using more of those limited resources to go after homeopathic medicine. Last week, that agency held two days of hearings on homeopathy, to consider stricter regulation of alternative forms of medicine. While hyper-regulation by the FDA could be seen as an effort to remove competition for big pharma, opponents of homeopathy say that stronger rules from the FDA are needed to prevent injuries and safeguard the public from false claims. However, homeopathy supporters worry that government regulators could go too far in their efforts to protect the public, but they welcome more testing and industry standards. Dr. Ronald Whitmont, a homeopathic doctor interviewed by the ThinkProgress Blog, said, “There are always bad apples in the manufacturing world, and they need to be policed just like in any other industry.” In addition, hyper-regulation by the FDA could be seen as an effort to take out competition for big pharma. Millions of Americans regularly use homeopathic medicine, and it’s important that they are protected. Now, if the FDA would look more closely at the pharmaceutical industry, that could really help keep Americans safe.
“Hawaii is a postcard from the future.” That’s a statement from Adam Browning, the executive director of Vote Solar, a California-based policy and advocacy group that works on solar power issues. In a recent article in The New York Times, Diane Cardwell explained that Hawaii is just the latest battleground in the fight to go solar. About 12 percent of homes in that state have rooftop solar panels already, but the Hawaiian Electric Company has been blocking thousands more residents from generating their own electricity. After state energy officials forced the utility to process their massive backlog of solar permits, homeowners could finally start moving on installations. With that move, our nation’s solar leader will soon be even greener. All over the country, privately-owned utility companies are trying desperately to block green energy, but one-by-one, they will be overruled. Hawaii is proving that Americans won’t wait on a broken Congress to do something about global warming. The only question is which state will be next.
The FDA may be working to protect Americans, but some say that the EPA isn’t doing enough. In a new lawsuit, a coalition of environmental and health organizations is challenging the EPA’s approval of Dow Chemical’s Enlist Duo herbicide. The group says that the weed killer combines glyphosate, which the World Health Organization recently said should be considered a carcinogen, and 2, 4-D, which is the key ingredient in the infamous Agent Orange. Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said, “In expanding its approval for this super-toxic chemical cocktail, [the] EPA has shown an utter disregard for human health, our drinking water, and endangered species like the iconic whooping crane.” She added, “[the] EPA has left us with no choice but to go to court.” You don’t have to be a scientist to worry about the harmful effects of stronger and stronger chemicals being used in our environment, and you shouldn’t need to be an environmental activist to appreciate that this group is working hard to protect your health.
And finally… Tommy Kleyn lives in Rotterdam, Netherlands, but, he’s inspiring others from as far away as Taiwan, to do more for their environment. Every day, Tommy rides his bike to work as an artist, and passes a section of the Rotterdam riverway. Tommy was so tired of seeing trash collect on the banks of that river, that he decided to devote half an hour every day to do something about it. He began taking the time to fill one trash bag every day until the river bank was clean. But his project didn’t take as long as expected. After posting pictures online, Tommy’s friends joined in and made quick work of the garbage. The pictures quickly spread all over the world, including right here in our nation’s capital, and they’re encouraging others to get involved. If each of us pitched in a half hour at a time, there’s no telling what we could clean or accomplish. Half an hour isn’t much to give to get a cleaner world. Thanks for the inspiration, Tommy!
And that’s the way it is for the week of April 27, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science and Green News.