In today’s On the News segment: Republicans don’t want the EPA to consider the cost of climate change when they approve operating and building permits; a new report concludes that ensuring babies have enough gut bacteria could prevent them from developing asthma; environmental groups are declaring a victory for the Arctic; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Science and Green News…
You need to know this. Republicans don’t want the EPA to consider the cost of climate change when they approve operating and building permits. Back in January, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives adopted a budgetary practice known as “dynamic scoring.” That creative accounting measure allows Republicans to use highly-questionable math projections when calculating the cost of legislation. In other words, they basically get to pretend that every tax cut creates jobs and that the final cost of the bill should be calculated accordingly. But they don’t want the Environmental Projection Agency to consider how much things like super storms, sea-level rise and environmental clean up may cost us in the future. Last week, the House approved legislation known as the RAPID Act, which is intended to streamline the EPA permitting process for new projects. But that bill also contained language that specifically prohibits the EPA and other agencies from considering “greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change” in their environmental review. Apparently, Republicans think by ignoring the reality of global warming, they can avoid dealing with the very real effects. Democratic Congressman Alan Lowenthal spoke to the ThinkProgress blog about the legislation. He said, “The Social Cost of Carbon is an absolutely vital tool to ensure we are spending money wisely and preparing for the future; to stick our heads in the sand on this one is to ignore the facts before us.” Thankfully the White House has promised to veto this legislation, but it probably won’t be the last Republican attempt to undermine climate action. It really doesn’t matter whether Republicans believe in man-made global warming or not, because the effects of rising temperatures can be seen and felt all around us. We can either factor in the cost of preparation, or be left holding the bag anyway when the next climate-related disaster strikes.
Numerous recent studies have documented the amazing benefits of gut bacteria, and the latest finding adds to the list of advantages. According to a new report published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, ensuring that babies have enough gut bacteria could prevent them from developing asthma. A team of Canadian researchers were working to determine why some children had an increased risk of developing the breathing disorder. By analyzing the gut microbes of 22 babies at high risk of asthma and about 300 who were at low risk, the scientists were able to document a specific difference. They discovered that babies who received four specific bacteria in the first 100 days after birth had immune systems strong enough to protect against asthma. After the first year of life, however, the researchers said that they found little difference in the gut bacteria among children. Although they caution that there is much more to uncover about the relationship between asthma and gut microbes, they hope that eventually this finding will help eliminate the breathing disorder. In the meantime, this study provides yet another reason we should all keep our gut bacteria healthy and strong.
Why do Republicans hate our national parks? That’s the question we should all be asking after a Utah congressman’s vow to destroy America’s best park program. Shortly after Pope Francis told Congress that it was our responsibility to protect “our common home,” Rep. Rob Bishop promised to block every attempt to save the Land and Water Conservation Fund unless the federal government promises not to try and protect any additional land. This is the guy who Republicans have put in charge of the House Natural Resources Committee. So, unless President Obama promises not to designate any more land as a national park, Congressman Bishop will block any attempt to fund the LWCF program, which expired last Wednesday in the midst of the potential government shutdown. That budget-neutral program used fees from oil and gas development to pay for local, state and national conservation programs, and it has historically enjoyed widespread, bipartisan support. This partisan nonsense has nothing to do with parks or conservation, and everything to do with saving the oil companies a few bucks in fees. Call Congress today and tell them to put our national parks ahead of oil company profits.
We’ve known for some time that a Mediterranean diet can help protect against heart disease. But, it turns out that diets rich in fruits, nuts, fish and olive oil may also lower the risk of developing breast cancer. According to a recent study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil per day reduces the risk of breast cancer. Researchers studied 4,000 women between the ages of 60 and 80, who were given instructions to follow either a low-fat diet or a Mediterranean-plus-olive-oil diet. The author of that study said, “Of course, no study is perfect.” But he added, “We found a strong reduction in the risk of breast cancer.” The scientists believe that there is something in the olive-oil that helps lower risk, but they say that the Mediterranean diet may also hold additional benefits. Whether the olive oil or the healthy diet is responsible for lower risk, it can never be a bad thing to start eating healthier all around.
And finally … Environmental groups are declaring a victory for the Arctic. After years of protests and activism against drilling in the region, Royal Dutch Shell has announced that they will cease operations in the Arctic. That company originally claimed that they “found indications of oil and gas in the region,” but now they say that the amount was “insufficient to warrant further exploration.” As if their decision had nothing to do with the mountain of bad publicity and protests that the company dealt with regarding their plans to drill in that region. The oceans program director at the Center for Biological Diversity responded to Shell’s announcement by saying, “Polar bears, Alaska’s Arctic, and our climate just caught a huge break. Here’s hoping Shell leaves the Arctic forever.” He added, “If we’re going to leave behind a livable planet, we need to leave that oil in the ground today, tomorrow, and always.” The world said Shell-NO and for once, it appears that the oil company actually listened. Let’s hope that this is a sign of things to come.
And that’s the way it is for the week of October 5, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science and Green News.