On the News With Thom Hartmann: Pollution Inequality Worse Than Income Inequality in the US, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Most of us know how bad income inequality has become in the United States, but pollution inequality is even worse; researchers have discovered a new way to see the features hidden deep under water; humans aren’t the only multilingual species; and more.

TRANSCRIPT:

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

You need to know this. Most of us know how bad income inequality has become in the United States, but pollution inequality is even worse. According to a new study by James K. Boyce of the University of Massachusetts, “air quality is distributed even more unequally than income.” Mr. Boyce collaborated with other scientists to compare the levels of industrial air pollution between poor and non-poor communities, and whites vs. people of color. After discovering huge disparities among different states and congressional districts, they determined that inequality is in the very air we breath in America. Corporate polluters have packed most of their facilities into low-income and high-minority communities because they get much less political push back. And, when you’re poor or you’re a person of color, it’s much more difficult to move to an area where you can avoid the dirty air. High housing prices and historical discrimination in mortgage markets – AKA red-lining – have kept many out of less polluted areas. In an interview with Alternet, Mr. Boyce said, “If you believe, as I think most Americans believe, that every kid deserves an equal chance…, then the impacts of disproportionate pollution burdens on the children in some communities – the fact that the playing field is tilted against them through no fault of their own – is a troubling feature of our environmental landscape.” Although wealthy communities may have the money to push back politically, the people of these polluted communities still have power when they stand together. Regardless of our bank accounts or skin color, we must join forces and tell the corporate polluters to clean up their acts and get the heck out of our neighborhoods.

We know more about the surface of Mars than we do about the bottom of our oceans. However, satellites may soon change that. About 90% of our ocean sea floor has never been mapped, but researchers have discovered a new way to see the features hidden deep under water. Satellites way out in space use high-resolution radar to bounce signals off of the surface of the ocean. As those signals pass over several times a day, scientists can adjust the data for waves and tides, and build a picture of what’s below the surface. The new technique has already allowed oceanographers to identify previously hidden features of the sea floor – including extinct volcanoes that are more than 1000 meters tall. Researchers even found the exact location of the now-extinct, sea-floor spreading ridge that eventually became the Gulf of Mexico. This new mapping ability is made possible by newer and more advance satellites, and scientists will be able to see even greater detail as newer satellites are sent to orbit our planet. Considering we know more about objects on Mars than in our deepest oceans, it’s only fitting that we’re going to space to learn more about deepest parts of the sea floor.

Most young people love to eat fast food, but one teenager is trying to teach kids why they should not be eating it. Fifteen-year-old Koa Halbern started the nonprofit group Fast Food Free after doing an experiment to find out what effect preservatives really had on fast food. He made his own organic french fries and compared them with fries from a well-known fast-food chain. After leaving both fries out for just a few days, the organic fries were wilted and covered in mold. As the fast-food chain fries did not change over those days, he left them out on a plate to see how long they would last. After three years, the preservative-laced fries still looked nearly perfect. Koa explained, “That experience taught me how processed fast food is. Not even mold will grow there.” So, he started his group to teach people what it is that they’re really eating, and to encourage kids to skip the preservatives. His goals for the program are to fight cancer, heart disease, and childhood obesity. Koa is making a difference one teenager at a time, and he’s showing all of us the importance of healthy eating.

We’ve known that are oceans are warming, but it turns out we didn’t know how fast they are heating up. According to a new report published in the journal Nature Climate Change, scientists made a massive miscalculation in their previous estimates. That new report says that since 1970, the top 2,300 feet of the ocean has been warming 24 to 55 percent faster than scientists previously believed. The error occurred because of “poor sampling of the Southern Hemisphere, and limitations of the analysis methods.” As our oceans hold the vast majority of excess heat caused by global warming, this new estimate has a huge impact on how we calculate sea level rise and increasing temperatures. Warmer oceans mean warmer temperatures, and it means faster melting of ice sheets. We already know that a hotter planet means more droughts, more super storms, and more human suffering. With this new estimate, we should see that we have to fight even harder to save our planet. One of the best ways we can help is by putting a price on carbon – go to GreenWorldRising.org to find our more.

And finally… Humans aren’t the only multi-lingual species. Scientists have discovered that orcas can actually talk to dolphins. While many animal species learn how to communicate with one another innately, only a few species – like us – can imitate sounds from other animals and use them in the correct social context. It turns out that killer whales can learn to match the vocal patterns of bottlenose dolphins, and to communicate to the other species. In fact, orcas are so skilled at picking up new languages, they have even learned to imitate chirps that human trainers used to instruct dolphins in captivity. This new research shows how intelligent orcas really are, and how much we still don’t know about these beautiful creatures. This is just another reason why we should never support keeping orcas, dolphins, and other animals in captivity for entertainment. Humans often think that we’re the only species that can think and feel and communicate with complex messages, but this new science shows that we are mistaken.

And that’s the way it is for the week of October 13, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.