On the News With Thom Hartmann: World Bank Issues Its Third Report on Climate Change, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Global temperatures could rise by as much as 4 degrees Celsius by the time today’s teens hit their 80th birthday; your text messages could be ruining your back; a wide majority of the US public supports regulations on power plants; 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. Without immediate global action on climate change, today’s teenagers will be forced to live with the consequences of our inaction. The World Bank has issued their third report of climate change, and it says that global temperatures could rise by as much as 4 degrees Celsius by the time today’s teens hit their 80th birthday. This new report, called “Turn Down The Heat,” says that those 4 degrees would be on top of the 1.5 degree Celsius warming that we’ve already locked in to the atmosphere. A temperature increase that large would substantially impact poverty, food crops, water resources, ocean acidification, and sea level rise, all of which would make global conflict far more likely. At the rate we’re burning fossil fuels, we’re damning our young people to a future of hunger, strife, and war – and that’s if we leave them a future at all. Rachel Kyte, the World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, said, “The (new) report makes crystal clear that we cannot continue down the current path of unchecked, growing emissions.” The World Bank is calling on governments to stop subsidizing the fossil fuels that are destroying our planet and our future. Developed nations like ours can put an end to tax breaks for Big Oil and Big Coal, and even put a price on their destruction by enacting a carbon tax. For countries that are still developing, the World Bank says that they should skip the investment in fossil fuels and move straight to clean energy. We now know that we have the technology to make it happen, but we still need the willpower. For the sake of ourselves, our young people, and our species, we need to do everything we can to protect our environment. We only have one planet to call home, and our kids shouldn’t suffer because we refused to act today.

Your text messages could be ruining your back. According to a new study published in the journal Surgical Technology International, texting may be adding 60 pounds of pressure to your head, neck and back. The study author said, “As the head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surges to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 60 degrees.” And, all that weight is on top of the ten to 12 pounds that our head already weighs. Just like previous studies on bad posture and body alliance, this new research shows that prolonged texting can cause damage and pain over time. Thankfully for all of us texters, researchers said that there are ways to prevent back issues from bending over our phones. They suggest taking a walk or doing exercises that stretch your back and being sure to sit and stand with proper posture. Our phones and devices have brought us great conveniences and communication power, but we need to be sure we don’t destroy our backs while appreciating this technology.

You’d never know it by listening to our lawmakers, but a wide majority of Americans support regulations on power plants. In fact, according to a recent survey by Yale’s Project on Climate Change Communication, 67 percent of Americans support such regulation, even if it means higher electric bills. So, it’s clear that the Republicans’ promise to dismantle the EPA is more about paying back their Big Oil donors than it is about public opinion. In addition to supporting carbon regulation, the vast majority of those surveyed said they support tax rebates for solar power or fuel-efficient vehicles. Sixty-two percent even agreed with requiring utility companies to get at least one-fifth of their energy from green sources. The vast majority of Americans support protecting our environment, even if they don’t believe in climate change. Regardless of whether or not Americans believe in global warming, they don’t doubt the value of clean air, clean water, and cheaper energy. So, who is it that the climate-denying Republicans really represent?

Harvard students are pushing hard for divestment. Seven students at the prestigious university have filed a lawsuit against the Harvard Corporation for refusing to eliminate financial holding in the fossil fuel industry. The group who filed suit is known as the Harvard Climate Justice Coalition, and their hope is that the school and trustees will face their “legal obligation to stop causing harm by supporting climate change and the fossil fuel companies that are working against solutions.” According to their lawsuit, Harvard’s endowment includes $79 million dollars worth of investments in gas, oil, and coal companies, and these students say that investment makes the university directly responsible for the destruction of our environment. One of the plaintiffs explained, “[We are] suing on behalf of future generations. By investing in the extraction of fossil fuels, the Harvard Corporation is actively supporting the destruction of the earth’s atmosphere and the catastrophic consequences that will be visited upon our children and grandchildren.” Several other universities made the decision to divest after students called on their schools to support climate solutions, but so far, Harvard hasn’t followed suit. Hopefully this lawsuit will get the school’s attention, and students will get the university to help in the fight to save our planet.

And finally… If you fought with your siblings over Thanksgiving dinner, science says you’re totally normal. According to Frank Sulloway, author of Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives, going back home brings out the “Darwinian toolkit” we developed to deal with our siblings during childhood. In an interview with Jessica Goldstein at the ThinkProgress Blog, Mr. Sulloway explained that birth order and sibling competition shape our role within our families, and those character traits can stick with us for life. For instance, first born siblings tend to act more responsible and in-charge, while younger siblings are often less aggressive, but a little more wild. Although these differences may not be as pronounced in our day-to-day life, being back home in a family setting can cause us to revert to those childhood roles. So, if your siblings drove you a little crazy over the holiday dinner, try to remember that it was science, and not their secret goal to make your life miserable.

And that’s the way it is for the week of December 1, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.