In today’s On the News segment: More than 7 million Americans are at risk of experiencing dangerous earthquakes because of natural gas drilling in their states; it’s time to consider the environmental effects of our meals and take meat off of the menu; Scotland is officially coal-free; and more.
Thom Hartmann here — on the best of the rest of Science and Green News …
You need to know this. As if climate change, water contamination and gas leaks weren’t enough to worry about, now, more than 7 million Americans are at risk of experiencing dangerous earthquakes because of natural gas drilling in their states. According to a new hazard map released by the US Geological Survey, human induced earthquakes, known as “frackquakes,” have exposed millions of people in at least six states to “potential for damaging shaking from induced seismicity.” This is the first time the scientists have included so-called “induced” quakes in their earthquake hazard map since they definitively linked these quakes with hydraulic fracking and the injection of toxic wastewater deep under ground. Because of those practices, natural gas fracking has left Oklahoma experiencing more earthquakes than anywhere else in the world. And states like Arkansas, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado and Texas are facing their own issues with frequent frackquakes as well. This new map provides a clear visual of just how dangerous fracking is for our nation, and what our future looks like if we don’t stop this destructive practice. Oklahoma alone experienced more than 900 earthquakes in 2015, and that only factors in quakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or above. In 2013, that state only experienced 109 earthquakes, and they had fewer than three a year on average before 2009. The number of quakes has increased so dramatically, the new risk map prompted USGS geologist Susan Hough to say, “My first thought was actually, holy cow, Oklahoma is redder than California.” Dan Chu, the director of Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign, said, “Today’s report once again highlights the dangers the fracking cycle poses to our communities.” And if we keep drilling in states all over the country, who knows where the next new earthquake epicenter may pop up. Let’s put an end to this insanity before our entire nation is shaking beneath our feet.
The Netherlands Nutrition Center has a strong message for the world: It’s time to consider the environmental effect of our meals and take meat off of the menu. According to a recent article over at the ThinkProgress blog, the new recommended dietary guidelines issued by that government-funded committee say that Dutch citizens should consume no more than 500 grams of meat per week — which is a little more than one pound. Instead, the new nutrition guidelines suggest people incorporate protein into their diets by eating more nuts, beans, lentils and other plant-based proteins. The committee wrote, “A diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current US diet.” If we reduced meat consumption around the world by half before the end of this century, we could cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 30 percent and save more than 5 million lives every year. And it would help people around the world get a lot healthier. For the sake our bodies and our planet, let’s take meat off of the menu.
The United Nations is standing up for the world’s oceans. Last week, a preparatory committee established by the UN General Assembly held their first session to negotiate a legally binding treaty for the sustainable use and conservation of marine biological resources around the world. According to the Inter Press Service, about 64 percent of all marine resources lie beyond national jurisdiction, so an international treaty is one of the only ways to work on marine conservation. These negotiations will cover important topics like marine genetic resources, marine technology, area-based management tools and environmental impact assessments. The director of International Ocean Policy for the Pew Charitable Trusts, Elizabeth Wilson, said, “This series of meetings could lead to some of the most significant new protections for the ocean in a generation.” She added, “Nations have the chance to come together to close management gaps on the high seas and show the commitment to marine conservation beyond borders.” If we want marine life to be around for future generations, let’s hope the UN uses this chance wisely.
After more than 115 years of coal-fired power, Scotland is officially coal-free. The last coal plant in Scotland officially powered down on March 24, putting a stop to the burning of 4.5 million metric tons of coal every year, and signaling the end of the fossil fuel era in that country. According to the Guardian newspaper, the aging coal plants in that nation have finally bowed to the pressures of old age, increasing transmission costs and rising carbon taxes. Now that nation will power their homes and businesses with a combination of nuclear, natural gas and an ever-expanding field of renewable energy sources. Richard Dixon, the Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said, “For a country which virtually invented the Industrial Revolution, this is a hugely significant step, marking the end of coal and the beginning of the end for fossil fuels in Scotland.” Although this is only one nation, and one step towards our goal of a 100 percent renewable future, it’s still important to celebrate these victories as they occur. Great work, Scotland.
And finally … The bison are coming home to the Blackfeet reservation. Last week, Matthew Brown of The Associated Press reported, thanks to a 2014 treaty among Native tribes in Canada and the United States, the bison are being returned to the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains regions where they once roamed. Most of the bison — or buffalo — that survive today have been interbred with cattle as part of an effort to save the species from extinction. However, the herd of bison being returned to the Blackfeet lands are the descendants of a genetically pure herd that was sold to the Canadian government in the early 1900s. Henry Barnes, Blackfeet chairman, said, “For thousands of years, the Blackfeet lived among the buffalo here. The buffalo sustained our way of life, provided our food, clothing, and shelter. It became part of our spiritual being.” Bringing the bison home to the Blackfeet reservation is an important part of recognizing that natural spirit and restoring the natural balance to our world before we disappear like the bison.
And that’s the way it is for the week of April 4, 2016. I’m Thom Hartmann on Science and Green News.