On the News With Thom Hartmann: Lawmakers, Lobbyists Are Conspiring Against Clean Energy, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Lawmakers and lobbyists are conspiring against clean energy; according to a new study, man’s best friend gets jealous of other dogs that take away from their owners’ attention; Greenpeace wants LEGO to break up with Shell Oil; and more.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of….science & green news…..

You need to know this. Lawmakers and lobbyists are conspiring against clean energy. Last week, Conservative politicians met with corporate interest groups at the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Every year, elected officials from around our country attend this event, where corporate lobbyists provide them with draft legislation and talking points to sell the public on their plans for big business. In addition to their usual pro-business, pro-gun, anti-worker topics, this year’s ALEC meeting focused in on the Fossil Fuel industry’s biggest fear – green energy. John Eick, the director of ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture task force, said that ALEC believes “energy consumers – not governments – should have the power and ability to determine what types of energy best suits their needs and desires.” However, he failed to explain how encouraging states to sue the EPA over carbon regulation, or ALEC legislation intended to hike up the cost of solar panel installation, gives consumers more choice in the energy market. Dale Eisman of the non-profit group Common Cause, said, “Whatever the issue – labor, schools, climate, or energy, they are drafting bills to advance corporate interests that don’t coincide with the public interest.” It shouldn’t be surprising that an organization funded by the Oil Lobby and the Koch brothers is leading the fight against clean energy. But, many people would be shocked to learn that it’s not illegal for industry lobbyists to meet lawmakers in secret and come up with ways to screw the American people. Corporate interest groups should not be drafting legislation, and legislators have no business in closed-door meetings with Fossil Fuel industry lobbyists. The future of our planet depends on our ability to make the switch to green energy, and the last people who should be working against our efforts are those elected to represent us.

Believe it or not, Fido has feelings too. According to a new study from the University of California, San Diego, man’s best friend gets jealous of other dogs that take away from their owners’ attention. The scientists conducted the experiment to determine whether feeling jealous was unique to humans, and they figured out that our canine friends can be quite possessive about our attention. The researchers worked with 36 dogs, and observed them while their owners ignored them in favor of different items – a pop-up book, a jack-o-lantern, and a toy dog. The owners were instructed to treat each item as if it were their pet, by talking to them sweetly and petting them like they were a pet, but the dogs had the biggest reaction to the toy dog. Some dogs responded aggressively by nipping or barking at the item, and others tried to be more affectionate with their owners. All the dogs were upset about losing their owners’ focus, which showed scientists that humans aren’t the only ones who get jealous.

Greenpeace wants LEGO to break up with Shell Oil. Last week, activists dressed as life-size LEGO figures held a protest outside the LEGO store in New York’s Rockefeller Plaza. The event was part of the Greenpeace USA Arctic campaign, which is calling on the Danish toy company to end their partnership with the oil giant. Shell oil is currently planning to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic next year, and Greenpeace is working hard to block their drilling. After the LEGO company began selling toys with the Shell logo, Greenpeace also started working to stop the oil company from advertising to our kids. Greenpeace campaign specialist Tyler Sanville said, “LEGO is letting a cynical oil giant use the LEGO brand to get into millions of kids playrooms. It’s time for LEGO to stand up for the Arctic, and for kids, by ditching Shell for good.” Well said, Tyler. It’s time for all of us to ditch Big Oil once and for all!

The longer we wait to act on climate change, the more money it will cost to prepare for the impacts. That’s the finding in a new report from the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, which says that dealing with the risks of severe weather, sea level rise, drought, and other impacts will be far less expensive if we do it sooner rather than later. At a press conference last week, CEA Chairman Jason Furman said this report makes clear three reasons why we must act now to deal with global warming. He said, “first of all we know way more than enough to justify acting today; second, that delaying action will increase the cost; and third, the uncertainty of the risk…[is] an argument for acting today as a form of insurance against the worst consequences in the future.” Taking immediate action on climate change is not only about saving the one-and-only planet we call home, it’s also about saving a ton of money on the inevitable effect of global warming.

And finally… If you’re worried about spreading germs, you may be better off giving a “terrorist fist-jab” than a typical handshake. According to a new study of the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences in the United Kingdom, “fist bumping” passes fewer bacteria than high-fives or handshakes. The study expanded on the Journal of the American Medical Association’s recent call to ban handshakes at hospitals. They made that suggestion in response to data from the Centers for Disease Control showing that one in 25 patients develop healthcare-associated infections when nurses and doctors pass germs from other patients. The CDC says that 75,000 people die because of these infections, which could be minimized by limiting unnecessary contact. One of the study’s authors, Dr. David Whitworth, “It is unlikely that a no-contact greeting could supplant the handshake; however, for the sake of improving public health we encourage further adoption of the of the fist bump as a simple, free, and more hygienic alternative to the handshake.” Instead of criticizing the president and first lady over a “fist bump,” perhaps Fox so-called News should have been praising them for highlighting a public health issue.

And that’s the way it is for the week of August 4, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.