On the News With Thom Hartmann: Our Ancestors Evolved to Recycle, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Our ancestors evolved to understand the importance of recycling; if you love seafood, eat up while you can; Canada may be home to the tar sands, but it’s also home to thousands of green energy jobs; and more.

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

TRANSCRIPT:

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

You need to know this. Our ancestors evolved to understand the importance of recycling. But, according to archaeologists in Israel, “at some point, they taught us to forget that.” Scientists have been studying a cave discovered near Tel Aviv in the year 2000, and what they found there is a lesson that’s still valuable today. Researchers analyzed tools and bone fragments to determine that some of our earliest ancestors lived in the cave on and off over the course of 200,000 years. Layers of hardened ash in a fire pit date back from 400,000 to 200,000 years ago, and the earth around the area is packed with evidence that the inhabitants understood the importance of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Archaeologists discovered bone hammers and flint blades that show early humans reworked the tools thousands of years after they were originally crafted. In addition to making sure tools did not go to waste, the cave provided evidence that the prehistoric inhabitants learned to use every part of the animals they hunted – from skins to bone marrow – never letting any bit go to waste. One of the researchers explained, “Recycling was a way of life. It was part of human evolution and human nature.” But somehow, we’ve forgotten that part of our evolution and started creating massive amounts of waste. One of the most important ways to protect our planet is to use resources wisely and recycle every bit that we can. However, because it’s not essential to our immediate survival – like it was for our ancestors – too many of us have stopped caring about the waste we create. Recycling can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, it can limit the amount of pollution in our environment, and it can help ensure that there are resources left for future generations. Somehow, we’ve got to get back to our ancient roots, and make sure more people understand the importance of recycling.

Imagine if you saw this headline here in the US – “Largest Utility Company Gets out of the Fossil Fuel Business.” Well, that’s the news released last week in Germany. That nation’s largest energy company, E.ON, is spinning off their nuclear, oil, gas, and coal operations and expanding their wind and solar business. That company will also focus on ways to improve energy efficiency and install more smart grids, to help Germany transition away from all dirty energy. E.ON has tens of millions of customers in Europe and Turkey, and this decision will be a major step towards all of the European Union moving away from fossil fuels. Germany’s Economy Minister praised the announcement, saying “With its decision, E.ON is the first company to take the necessary steps from the completely changed world of energy supply.” More that that, E.ON is proving that the rest of the world can take these steps too, and that it’s possible to end our addiction to fossil fuels once and for all.

If you love seafood, eat up while you can. According to Dr. Boris Worm at Dalhousie University in Canada, there may be no seafood left that we can harvest by 2048. EcoWatch.com provided a summary of Dr. Worm’s recent study, which says that there could be a collapse of commercial fisheries if we don’t take immediate action. Global warming, overfishing, pollution, and other issues are rapidly effecting biodiversity in our oceans. These factors have already led to about one third of the seafood species we eat being too small to harvest, but it’s not too late to address these problems. Dr. Worm’s study explains that areas can be managed to improve biodiversity, and areas of the world that have taken action have had positive results. Fish and seafood is a major food source for millions of people around the world, and many wouldn’t survive if we destroy our ocean. Dr. Worm said, “Biodiversity is a finite resource, and we are going to end up with nothing left… if nothing changes.” There aren’t any back up oceans here on earth, so we better get busy saving the ones we’ve got.

Canada may be home to the tar sands, but it’s also home to thousands of green energy jobs. According to a new report from the climate think tank Clean Energy Canada, that nation’s clean energy sector now employs more people than the tar sands. As of 2013, 23,700 people in Canada worked in the production of clean energy, while the tar sands only employs 22,300. In the last five years alone, Canada’s green energy production has grown by 93 percent, and as it continues to expand, more people in that nation will be working in the renewable energy sector. Green technology is the key to ending our addiction to fossil fuels and it’s the best way to create the jobs of the future. Whether someone is engineering smart power grids or building a new, green infrastructure, they are learning valuable skills and they’re saving our planet. Canada’s clean energy jobs are proving that good science is good business.

And finally… Google is using Santa to teach kids how to code. The tech company recently launched a Santa Tracker that mixes educational lessons with games, videos, and Christmas to get kids interested in computer science. Earlier this year, the company released a report showing that technology employees are overwhelmingly white males. Since then, Google has been rolling out various programs to encourage girls and minorities to become coders and engineers. Their Santa Tracker project is another example of Google trying to increase diversity in the technology industry, and it’s a great way to show kids the fun parts of learning to code. The future of technology will require many great minds and ideas, and inspiring kids to learn these skills is a great way to help them find their passion. In this day and age, there’s no reason that any field should be dominated by white men, and it’s programs like this that will help to change that dynamic. So, if your kids want to have a little fun tracking Santa this year, perhaps it’s an opportunity to open their minds to computer science while they’re at it.

And that’s the way it is for the week of December 8, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.