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On the News With Thom Hartmann: NPR’s Climate Coverage Has Declined Over the Years, and More

In today’s On the News segment: NPR is supposed to be our national public radio, but they’re barely covering climate issues that are in the public’s interest, and more.

In today’s On the News segment: NPR is supposed to be our national public radio, but it’s barely covering climate issues that are in the public’s interest; the World Trade Organization says you don’t need to know where your meat comes from; more than 24,000 Texans want climate denial removed from their children’s textbooks; and more.


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

You need to know this. NPR is supposed to be our national public radio, but they’re barely covering climate issues that are in the public’s interest. Only one month ago, a national New York Times/CBS News poll found that half of all Americans think that global warming is already having a serious impact. Sixty percent of those surveyed even said that protecting our environment should be a priority “even at the risk of curbing economic growth.” Despite those clear statistics, NPR’s climate coverage has declined steadily over recent years, and now they’re slashing their environmental staff to one part-time reporter. According to Katherine Bagley of InsideClimate News, at the beginning of this year, NPR “had three full-time reporters and one editor dedicated” to climate and environmental news. Now “one remains – and he is covering it only part-time.” This new policy is an insult to the vast majority of the public who cares about our environment, and it blatantly ignores the real risks we face from global warming. It also hints at where NPR is getting funding, and who is pulling the strings at the so-called public radio network. Rather than focusing on the most important issue of our time – our warming planet – the network has joined the long list of organizations doing the bidding of Big Oil. The fact is, the radio airwaves are part of our commons, and they should be used by those working for the common good. We only have one planet to call home, and we need to do everything we can to protect it. That includes providing coverage of the important climate and environmental issues that the public needs to know about. It’s time to demand that our national public radio does a better job covering those issues.

According to, the World Trade Organization says you don’t need to know where your meat comes from. In 2013, the United State began requiring all meat sold in grocery stores to include country-of-origin labels. Those labels had to separately indicate where an animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. Meat packers in Mexico and Canada challenged the regulation, saying it gave an unfair edge to domestic products. Unfortunately for us, the WTO agreed with the multinational meat packers, and ruled that the regulations unfairly impede global trade. In other words, the global meat industry’s right to make a profit is more important than our right to know what we’re eating. Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, said, “It is nonsensical that a label that lets consumers know the origin of their food is a trade barrier.” Just like GMO labeling, consumers should have a right to know what’s in their food. The fact that the multinational meat industry is fighting these labels shows that they know how consumers would react to knowing more about their food. This has nothing to do with international trade, and has everything to do with hiding information that the industry knows consumers wouldn’t like.

More than 24,000 Texans want climate denial removed from their children’s textbooks. Last week, residents delivered a petition to textbook publishing executives in Austin and the Texas Board of Education. That petition calls on the state legislature to ensure that science textbooks actually teach science, and that they skip the phony debate about global warming. One of the textbooks in question asks students, “Is [global warming] just another natural warming cycle like so many cycles that have occurred in the past? Or is climate change anthropogenic – caused by human activity?” Rather than emphasizing the fact that 97 percent of scientists agree about the cause of global warming, the book lays out so-called “evidence” for each side and asks students which view is more convincing. Because Texas has the largest public school system in our country, it is likely that the textbooks they select will be used by other states. If this misinformation isn’t stopped in Texas, it could easily find its way into classrooms throughout our nation. Hopefully, the Texas School Board will take this petition seriously, and ensure that our children’s textbooks stick to the facts.

According to National Geographic, humans first developed agriculture about 12,000 years ago. However, new DNA analysis out of Dublin, Ireland says that European’s ability to digest milk didn’t arrive for another 5,000 years. Researchers extracted DNA from the skulls of 13 different archaeological specimens, which dated from 5,700 BC to 800 BC. They found that the ability to digest lactose didn’t appear until thousands of years after Europeans began to domesticate animals. The study, which was published last week in the journal Nature Communications, says “It’s likely these early European populations stuck to cheese and yogurt, the processing of which breaks down the stomach-churning lactose.” Even today, most of the world is lactose intolerant, and few cultures drink milk like Americans and Europeans. So, if you’ve ever felt self-conscience about your lactose intolerance, just consider yourself more in touch with your ancestors – and the rest of the world – who thinks it’s a little strange to drink the milk of another animal.

And finally… In recent years, we’ve seen secessionist movements in many states. From Colorado to California, most of those calling for secession were trying to get away from so-called liberal policies. However, a new secessionist movement in Florida is embracing progressive action on climate change. Earlier this month, the City Commission of South Miami approved a resolution that calls for splitting the Sunshine State in half. According to the resolution, North Florida sits more than 100 feet above sea level, while the southern half of the state sits at 5 feet or less above sea level. South Miami Commissioners said that breaking up with North Florida “is a necessity for the very survival of the entire southern region.” They argue that the Southern part of the state does not get enough support from Tallahassee to deal with climate change and sea level rise, “despite the fact that South Florida generates more than 69% of the state’s revenue.” The Commission is sending copies of the resolutions to all 24 counties in the state, hoping that other areas will join them in the fight to stay above sea level. Regardless of how this secession movement turns out in the long run, hopefully it will get Tallahassee more involved in the fight to save South Florida.

And that’s the way it is for the week of October 27, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.

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