On the News With Thom Hartmann: Nanosized Plastics Are Seriously Harming the Ocean, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Nanoparticles in the ocean have the ability to cross biological barriers, such as the intestinal wall and brain; unless fossil fuels are kept in the ground, global temperatures could rise more than 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2300; big stores are saying “no” to GMO salmon; and more.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.


Thom Hartmann here — on the best of the rest of Science and Green News…

You need to know this: Nano plastics are seriously harming the ocean. It now appears that plastics account for nearly 80 percent of all waste found in our oceans. This plastic gradually breaks down into smaller and smaller particles — until they are microscopic or nano. New research by Lund University in Sweden looks into how nanosized plastic particles affect life in the ocean food chain. Karin Mattsson with the study said, “We tested how polystyrene plastic particles of different sizes, charge and surface affect the zooplankton Daphnia. It turned out that the size of the nanoparticles that were most toxic to the Daphnia in our study was 50 nanometers.” Zooplankton like Daphnia are food for many other aquatic animals, and researchers wanted to study the effect of plastic particles higher up in the food chain. They discovered that fish that ate Daphnia containing nano plastics experienced a change in their predatory behavior and had a poor appetite. Researchers have also discovered that the nanoparticles have the ability to cross biological barriers, such as the intestinal wall and brain. What this study does not go into is — then people eat the fish … oh my …

A new study predicts an intolerably hot world. Researchers say that unless fossil fuels are kept in the ground, global temperatures could rise more than 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2300. Katarzyna Tokarska, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, who led the study, said, “Our key finding is that if we continue to burn our remaining fossil fuel resources, the earth will encounter a profound degree of global warming, of 6.4 to 9.5 degrees Celsius [about 11 to 17 degrees Fahrenheit] over 20th-century averages by 2300.” This study shows the Arctic’s mean temperature could rise about 27 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century if our trends continue. Tokarska also said the research, which was published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, represents “the worst-case scenario. The results suggest that it would be better to do something now,” she said, “and now is the time to do it.”

Here is the Fukushima wake-up call — will it go unheard? A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, says the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident should serve as a wake-up call to nuclear plant operators and regulators on the crucial importance of measuring, maintaining and restoring cooling in spent fuel pools in the face of severe accidents and terrorist attacks. The committee recommends that the US nuclear industry and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) improve the ability of plant operators to measure real-time conditions in spent fuel pools and maintain adequate cooling of stored spent fuel during severe accidents and terrorist attacks. These improvements need to go beyond the current post-Fukushima response to include hardened and redundant physical surveillance systems such as cameras, radiation monitors, pool temperature and water-level monitors, and means to deliver makeup water or sprays to the pools, even when physical access is limited by facility damage or high radiation levels. Let’s learn from Fukushima!

And finally … Here’s your green report quickies:

One of Antarctica’s biggest glaciers is melting faster than we thought. But get this: Melting under the Totten Glacier threatens to contribute several feet to global sea-level rise, according to new study published this week in Nature.

The Indian state of Punjab now has the world’s largest rooftop solar plant. The massive solar plant will produce 11.5 megawatts of energy and is expected to provide clean power to 8,000 homes. The Indian government’s very ambitious goal is to achieve 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2022. Hello America — could we be this ambitious too?

More big stores are saying “no” to GMO salmon. Just after Canada’s approval of GMO salmon, Friends of the Earth and a group of more than 30 consumer, health, food safety and fishing groups released updated numbers showing that close to 80 major food retailers will not sell genetically engineered salmon, despite the FDA’s approval last November. More and more science suggests that GMO salmon could pose serious environmental and public health risks. This could also mean irreversible damage to wild salmon populations. Just say NO! to GMO salmon.

Some of the world’s largest seafood and fishing businesses have recently agreed not to expand their fishing for cod into a YUGE, previously ice-covered area of the northern Barents Sea. This area is twice the size of France. The group includes McDonald’s, Tesco, Iglo, Young’s Seafood, Icelandic Seachill, Russian Karat Group, Fiskebåt — representing the entire Norwegian oceangoing fishing fleet and Europe’s largest processor of frozen fish, Espersen. Good on them — but I think we need more regulations coming from all governments.

It looks like the brain picks up the beat of music automatically. A new study from the from the University of Amsterdam shows that a sense of rhythm is a uniquely human characteristic. Music cognition scientists discovered this is so fundamental to humans that we recognize patterns in music, even without paying any attention or receiving any music training.

Listen up, soon-to-be-parents: Prenatal fruit consumption boosts babies’ intelligence. A study by the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry finds that the benefits of eating fruit can begin as early as in the womb. This new study, using data from nearly 700 Edmonton children, shows infants do much much better on developmental tests when their mothers consume more fruit during pregnancy.

Genital size doesn’t matter — when it comes to fish. Apparently, size doesn’t matter when it comes to the size of male fish genitals, according to new research. Females don’t find males with big genitals any more attractive than those with normal or smaller genitals. Someone needs to let Trump know he would be happier as a fish!

And that’s the way it is for the week of May 31, 2016 on Science and Green News.