In today’s On the News segment: a new report says our world can make the switch to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050; about 40 percent of food in the United States ends up in the trash; Massachusetts groups are calling on state lawmakers to divest pension funds from fossil fuels; and more.
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Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Science and Green news …
You need to know this. “It can be done.” That’s the take away from a new report that says our world can make the switch to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. That new analysis, called “World Energy Revolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook 2015,” was produced by Greenpeace, in collaboration with researchers from the German Aerospace Center. The report states, “100% renewable energy for all is achievable by 2050, and [it] is the only way to ensure the world does not descend into catastrophic climate change.” While the authors of that study admit that the initial costs of making the switch would be “huge,” they explain that “the savings will be even bigger.” The fact is, it’s already costing us way more to extract dirty energy like oil, gas and coal, and the prices don’t even reflect the clean up costs and environmental destruction that the fossil fuel industry dumps into the laps of taxpayers. Meanwhile, the cost of clean energy like solar and wind is dropping, and oil and gas subsidies are the only reason that renewable energy sources aren’t more affordable already. The report explains, “Dynamic change is taking place in the energy sector. Renewable energies have become mainstream in most countries, and prices have fallen dramatically.” If we consider the real costs of fossil fuels, making the switch isn’t only feasible, it’s the only affordable option for the future. The executive director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, said, “I urge all those who say ‘it can’t be done’ to read this report and recognize that it can be done and must be done for the benefit of people around the world.” Well said, Kumi. Now it’s up to the rest of us get to work making it happen.
Despite the alarming number of people going hungry in this country, about 40 percent of food in the United States ends up in the trash. That’s why our government has announced the first-ever national goal to decrease food waste by half in the next 15 years. According to the announcement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste.” He added, “Our new reduction goal demonstrates America’s leadership on a global level in getting wholesome food to people who need it, protecting our natural resources, cutting environmental pollution and promoting innovative approaches for reducing food loss and waste.” There is enough food in our nation to ensure that no one is goes hungry, but it will take a serious effort to end our wasteful practices. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, “Let’s feed people, not landfills” and that starts with each of us addressing food waste in our own homes.
Moving investments away from fossil fuels isn’t only about the climate. According to the public sector unions in Massachusetts, divestment is also a way to save their retirement. According to a recent article over at the ThinkProgress blog, the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Trust Fund lost $521 million last year, which works out to a loss of $10 million every single week. Now, the groups who rely on that fund for their retirement are calling on their state lawmakers to get their money away from fossil fuels. In an interview with ThinkProgress, divestment expert Robert Massie explained that there is a real financial argument for ending fossil fuel investments. He pointed to new guidelines that require cars to get 40 miles per gallon (mpgs) by 2017 and 55 mpgs by 2022, and said, “You can imagine what’s going to start to happen. You’re going to see a permanent drop in oil.” As countries around the world increase the use of renewable energy, the demand – and price – for oil is going to fall. Investing in clean energy is the best move to save our species, and it happens to be the smart way to save for retirement as well.
As more states legalize recreational marijuana, more couples are incorporating pot into their weddings. While some newlyweds have incorporated buds into their floral arrangements, others have provided guests with pre-rolled joints as wedding favors. In fact, a recently-married couple in Oregon actually had a smoking tent available for their guests, where they could sample 13 different varieties of marijuana. According to Phillip Smith over at AlterNet, these couples aren’t alone in their desire for a weed wedding, they’re simply on the cutting edge of a new trend. Jane West of Edible Events told Phillip, “We’re going to start thinking of cannabis like alcohol, and we’re moving toward regulating cannabis like alcohol and normalizing its consumption.” She added, “It’s the new wine. I think Colorado will see a lot more destination weddings for this reason.” Perhaps this is proof that pot has always been more mainstream than our lawmakers like to believe, or maybe it’s the work of smart entrepreneurs who recognize the business potential of weed weddings.
And finally … No matter how cool you think your job is, it’s not “designing a space shotgun for NASA” cool. That job is reserved for Honey Bee Robotics, a Brooklyn-based company that the space agency has hired to help us learn more about asteroids. According to NDTV news, the shotgun will be used in the so-called Asteroid Redirect Mission, which will take place in the 2020s. By firing a bullet at an asteroid, the shotgun will allow physicists to calculate how solid the object is, and determine whether further exploration is possible. NASA hopes that the overall mission will help us figure out how to use an asteroid as a stepping stone to other planets. Kris Zacny, the director of exploration technology at Honeybee Robotics, said, “Collecting and characterizing samples from asteroids is an important scientific goal in itself, and NASA has identified it as a key step toward human exploration of Mars.” And NASA has already identified three asteroids for testing. This space shotgun could be the key to deep space exploration, and it may help us learn more than ever about our solar system. No word yet on whether the NRA will sponsor our next space mission.
And that’s the way it is for the week of September 28, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science and Green News.