On the News With Thom Hartmann: The Largest Solar Farm in the US Is Officially Operating, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Our nation’s largest solar farm is officially online and it’s operating on public lands; massive snow storms are directly related to hotter global temperatures; four states banned electric car maker Tesla from selling vehicles directly to customers, to protect car dealerships that primarily sell gas-burning vehicles; 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. Every time meteorologists use words like ‘Snowpocalypse’ it seems like mother nature makes it a point to prove them wrong. However, this year, that prediction came true for folks in Boston, and global warming is likely to blame. Earlier this month, that city was hit with back-to-back record-breaking snowfalls, which brought the snow totals to more than 77 inches so far this season. Of course, any time we have some cold weather, anti-science conservatives love to deny that our climate is changing. But, even they have to admit that this winter has been far from normal. Believe it or not, these massive snow storms are directly related to hotter temperatures. When the atmosphere is warmer it can hold more moisture, which eventually falls as precipitation. Combine that fact with changing weather patterns, and we end up with a winter that dumps six feet of snow in Boston while areas only slightly South see above-average temperatures and California continues to struggle with devastating drought. It may be difficult for the anti-science crowd to understand, but these changing patterns are all related – and they are all made worse by pumping carbon into our atmosphere. And, if we don’t change our ways, these droughts, floods, and six-foot snowbanks are all going to be the new normal. Whether you’re in Los Angeles or Boston, you probably don’t want that to happen, and that’s why we need to get active. It’s up to us to remind our lawmakers that they work for “We The People,” and that the people would like to prevent the next “Snowpocalype” from swallowing another major city.

Binge-watching TV shows may be just as bad as binge drinking. That’s the finding in a new study from the University of Texas at Austin. Researchers decided to study the causes and effects of watching several episodes of a program back-to-back, and what they found was rather troubling. According to the science, if you love binge-watching, you very well may be depressed. To conduct the study, the researchers interviewed more than 300 young people between the ages of 18 and 29. They asked how often the young people binge-watched TV and whether they experience feelings of loneliness and depression on a regular basis. After reviewing the results of their survey, the researchers found a strong connection between depression and binge-watching, that was similar to other harmful behaviors like binge eating or binge drinking. While the scientists aren’t calling for any Netflix guidelines or restrictions, they warn that binge-watching is not the harmless addiction that many claim. Perhaps we’ll all think twice before that next TV-show marathon.

As many of us know, the term “luddite” describes someone who is afraid of new technology. Specifically, it was originally used to describe someone who thought that a machine was going to take their job. That’s exactly why the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation decided to give Arizona, Texas, Michigan and New Jersey this year’s Luddite Awards. Those four states banned electric car maker Tesla from selling vehicles directly to customers, to protect car dealerships that primarily sell gas-burning vehicles. Or, that’s what they’re claiming at least. In reality, the Republican governors in those four states want to protect the oil industry, and electric vehicles are one of their biggest threats. Making it harder for Tesla to sell cars has much more to do with oil-company donations than it does to do with car dealership jobs. Robert Atkins, the president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, said, “I saw this and said ‘enough is enough, let’s call these people out, let’s shed light on the harm they’re really doing.” He added, “Hopefully, the next time people vote in an election in New Jersey or Texas or these other places, they’re going to vote a little differently.”

People in Boston are still shoveling out, but there are some ski resorts on the West coast that would give anything for some of that snow. According to EcoWatch.com, California’s drought isn’t only causing big problems for farmers and ranchers, even the ski resorts are getting hit hard by the lack of precipitation. Several of the resorts haven’t been able to open at all this year, and even the famed Tahoe ski resorts are dryer than normal. Now, you may be wondering why you should worry about ski resorts, but for California it means that the drought isn’t ending any time soon. As it melts, snowpack in that state typically supplies about 30 percent of their water needs in spring and early summer. So, the fact that snowfall is far lower than normal means that there will be less water to go around in the months ahead. Even northern cities, like Vancouver, Washington and Juneau, Alaska are shutting down ski resorts until they get enough snow to open, and that means areas that rely on that snow for their water will be feeling the drought next year too. Yet another reason to join the fight against global warming… to save winter, we better fight fast.

And finally… Our nation’s largest solar farm is officially online, and, it’s operating on public lands. Last week, the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm opened in California, and started providing electricity to that power grid. That solar farm produces enough electricity to power 160,000 homes, and it’s estimated to displace 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell was on-sight for the opening ceremony, and she commended that state for their efforts to go green. She said, “I applaud the project proponents for their vision and entrepreneurial spirit to build this solar project, and commend Governor Brown for implementing policies that take action on climate change and help move our nation toward a renewable energy future.” Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is the sixth project of its kind throughout our nation, and it’s a great step toward ending our fossil fuel addiction. Using public land for solar farms makes a heck of a lot more sense then leasing it out to oil and gas companies for destruction. These are the projects that will shape our future, and we should be fighting for solar farms in every state in our nation.

And that’s the way it is for the week of February 16, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.