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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Ocean Warming Hurts Humans and Marine Life, and More

Warmer waters put marine species and humans at higher risk of disease.

In today’s On the News segment: Ocean warming is really bad news for marine life – and it’s even worse news for humans; low-carbon policies can prevent as many as 175,000 US deaths by 2030; sea levels are rising faster than they have in 2,700 years; 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. Ocean warming is really bad news for marine life – and it’s even worse news for humans. According to a new study from National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, “half of the global ocean heat content increase since 1865 has occurred over the past two decades.” And new research published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B shows that there are “known links between disease outbreaks and temperature, including diseases that affect corals, turtles, lobsters, bivalves, starfish, and eelgrasses.” In other words, warmer waters put those marine species at higher risk of disease. That in turn puts more stress on marine ecosystems and threatens all the communities that rely on seafood to survive. Although Republicans love to say that climate change activists are just worrying over some tiny fish or unimportant species, our oceans are complex ecosystems that rely on an interconnected web of species to function. When some small fish or another seemingly unimportant species dies out, the entire ecosystem is thrown off balance, and larger species – including us – are threatened as well. As Joe Romm pointed out in a recent piece over at ThinkProgress, “Study after study makes clear that rising emissions of carbon pollution are pushing us toward a collapse of key ocean ecosystems, ones that provide food for over a billion people.” He added, “It’s time we stopped.” We must stop polluting our oceans and pumping carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Today those toxins may wipe out a starfish or lobster, but it’s only a matter of time until we’re next.

Low-carbon policies can prevent as many as 175,000 US deaths by 2030. According to a recent Duke University study, if we can reduce US emissions enough to avoid warming the planet by 2-degree Celsius, it won’t just reduce deaths, it will also save us $250 billion a year. Drew T. Shindell, a professor of climate sciences at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment says that “many people view climate change as a future problem, but our analysis shows that reducing emissions that cause warming – many of which also contribute to air pollution – would benefit public health here and now.” Shindell added, “We created a ‘clean transportation’ scenario in which surface transport emissions are reduced by 75 percent, and a ‘clean energy’ scenario in which emissions are reduced by 63 percent.” He explained that those scenarios exceed current US emissions reduction targets. But he said that they are technically feasible, and they are in accordance with the reductions we pledged to achieve at the COP21 climate conference in Paris last December. It’s important for our future to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible, but we can’t forget that it will also save US lives right now.

Holy moly, sea levels are rising faster than they have in 2,700 years! Scientists have a model of the planet’s sea levels spanning back 2,700 years, and based on that model, it looks like the rate of increase over the last century “was extremely faster than during any of the 27 previous centuries.” Bob Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University and lead author of this recent study, said that means the researchers determined with a 95 percent certainty that the rate of sea level increase in the 1900s was faster than at any time since 800 BC. They also found that without human-caused climate change, the seas would either have dropped or only risen very slightly – rather than the 14 centimeter rise that we’ve already seen. If we keep on our current path, climate change could put many of our coastal cities underwater and change the fact of our entire planet faster than we can imagine.

Scientists say that it’s better to take your exams in the morning. Do you feel more “fresh” when you first wake up? Well, scientists have discovered that you are at the top of your thinking abilities at that time. Afternoon tests may give you more time to study, but science says that time of day produces lower scores. In fact, according to this study, “Every hour after 8 am that an exam is taken is equivalent to 10 missed days of school.” The study also said “Our ability to focus, make decisions and react is affected by cognitive fatigue, and studies have also shown that breaks can boost productivity.” The authors added, “Our findings are thus in line with this existing evidence, suggesting that cognitive fatigue is driving the effect.” Although we don’t always get to choose when to take tests, researchers suggest taking a break of having a snack to overcome some of the cognitive fatigue that could hurt your score.

The right gut microbes can help our babies grow. That’s according to three new studies in this week’s issue of Science and Cell. William Petri, Jr., an infectious disease expert with the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Say that we “are a watershed moment in global health generally, and in nutrition specifically.” There are close to 180 million children on planet earth who are stunted or malnourished, but these new studies show that gut microbes could be the solution. The authors point out that the gut microbiome plays a big role in kids’ nutrition by tipping the balance between getting sick and being healthy. Although we need to make sure kids are getting enough food to eat, these studies show they also need probiotics to be truly healthy.

And finally… There’s some good news for coffee and beer lovers alike. According to a recent article over at, having two cups of coffee per day cuts your risk of liver disease nearly in half. The researchers reviewed data from more than 400,000 individuals who participated in one of nine different studies and came to the conclusion that coffee has an incredible ability to reduce the risk of cirrhosis. The scientists warn however, that coffee won’t ward off the risk of “systematic damage” and said that a couple cups of coffee isn’t enough to fend off regular, heavy drinking. As with all good things, they recommend moderation, but this study certainly adds an extra benefit to the coffee you may drink after your next hangover.

And that’s the way it is for the week of February 29, 2016. I’m Thom Hartmann on Science and Green News.

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