On the News With Thom Hartmann: Wind Power Is One Step Closer to Coal Country, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Wyoming recently approved a permit for a massive wind farm, which could eventually power nearly a million homes; Keystone XL could be even worse than we thought; a new documentary shows that music has the power to help people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other disorders; and more.


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

You need to know this. We already know that the Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen. But, it turns out that the impact of that tar sands pipeline could be even worse than we thought. According to a new study by the Stockholm Environmental Institute, Keystone could add four times more carbon pollution to our atmosphere than the State Department originally estimated. EcoWatch.com explained that the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement only considered Keystone’s effects on the US, as if oil consumption and carbon pollution somehow magically stops at our borders. The new report from Stockholm considered how the tar sands pipeline would reduce oil prices in the global market, and how those lower prices would effect oil consumption and pollution. The authors wrote, “for every barrel of increased production, global oil consumption would increase 0.6 barrels [because of] the incremental decrease in global oil prices.” Although the final approval of the Keystone XL has been delayed, building this toxic tar sands project shouldn’t even be a possibility. We should be investing in clean energy and green infrastructure, not enabling further destruction of our environment. From job creation to so-called “American energy independence,” – every supposed benefit of the Keystone pipeline has been debunked. The only things we’ll get from the tar sands pipeline are more pollution, more oil spills, more global warming, and more environmental disasters. President Obama has all the evidence he could possibly need to reject this toxic pipeline, so there’s no reason to delay. It’s time for our nation to invest in a cleaner, greener future, and say “No” to Keystone XL once and for all.

They say that music soothes the savage beast, and, it turns out that it also soothes the aging brain. A new documentary called “Alive Inside” shows that music has the power to help people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other disorders. The documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen in his effort to bring music to people in nursing homes. The music has the ability to trigger buried memories and emotions, stimulate brain activity, and change heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. In fact, neurologist Oliver Sacks is featured in the documentary saying that music is one of the most powerful way to tap in to the brain. With his documentary, filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett reminds us of the power of music, and how it can be used to reach people who have been affected by illness. Not all medicine comes in the form of a pill or a potion, and it’s important to remember that a person’s soul needs treatment just as much as their body.

Wind power is one step closer to coal country. Recently, the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council unanimously approved a permit for a massive wind farm, which could eventually power almost a million homes. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is only a few steps away from final approval. If the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approve the remaining permits, the new wind farm will soon sprawl across more than 300,000 acres of Wyoming’s Carbon County. The majority of Wyoming’s energy comes from fossil fuels, and they provided almost 40 percent of all coal mined in the US in 2012. Unfortunately, even if the project is approved, Wyoming won’t be making an immediate switch to clean energy. The new $5 billion wind farm can bring jobs to that state, but the energy it generates will be exported to customers in Arizona, Nevada, and California. Even if Wyoming keeps up their pro-coal stance, this new wind farm can help reduce carbon emissions and electric bills around our nation. However, the people of Wyoming won’t have to look far to understand the benefits of clean energy, and why they too should be fighting for a greener future too.

Many of us love to eat seafood, but we don’t love the tons of fish and marine life killed in the process of commercial fishing. Thankfully, a young British designer named Dan Watson is doing something to solve this problem. Mr. Watson has designed new fishing gear called a SafetyNet, which helps fishing vessels have more control over what they catch. The new net helps reduce the tons of so-called “bycatch” in the fishing process, which is the industry’s name for the unwanted fish, dolphin, birds, and whales that get caught in the gillnets and trawlers used by fisherman. Those creatures are often killed in the process and dumped overboard. This new SafetyNet features lighted rings that allow certain fish to escape, and other developers are working on other products to allow more selectivity in fishing. No matter what the industry, we should never accept the wasteful killing of million of innocent animals, and it’s great to see that someone is working to stop it.

And finally… Lots of people are switching to the so-called Paleo Diet, which suggests that if our earliest ancestors weren’t eating something, we probably shouldn’t be either. Well, before you become a true Paleo-devotee, you may want to consider that our ancestors primarily dined on insects. According to a new paper by S. Boyed Eaton and Dorothy A. Nelson, the true Paleo Diet was made up mostly of bugs, and we’re still hard-wired to eat them. The authors say that insects are compact little packages of protein, calcium, iron, and unsaturated fatty acids. While we can get all of these nutrients from plants, bugs essentially collect them all and concentrate them in bite-size bits. However, you won’t see this suggestion in the new Paleo diet craze. According to the author of the blog PaleoVeganology, “So steeped are they in their Western food bias and paleofantasies that the possibility of Paleolithic man fulfilling his nutrient requirements with a diet of creepy-crawlies never occurred to them.” Most of us want to eat healthy, but you’ll have to make up your own mind about whether you’re willing to toss a few termites into your mouth to do so.

And that’s the way it is for the week of August 18, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.