by David Roberts
During a campaign event at Iowa’s world-famous (?) Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor & Museum this past weekend, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said that energy is “the most easy problem for America to solve.” How, you ask?
We have 25 percent of the world’s coal here. Trillions of cubic square feet of natural gas here. We just built one of the world’s largest lines of natural gas here. We have got more oil in three Western states in shale oil than all of Saudi Arabia. Did you hear that on your local nightly news? Are you kidding? We’ve got it. I say let’s go get it.
Now, it’s true that Bachmann is always saying crazy sh*t. But this is not Tea Party fringe talk. This is the heart and soul of GOP energy policy. It is their one and only answer to the problem of energy: dig up more fossil fuels. Easy!
by Tom Laskawy
The House Republicans’ war on food safety continues. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, the House recently voted to kill the USDA’s Microbiological Data Program (MDP), a 10-year-old program that tests produce for a wide variety of pathogens, including the strain of E. coli that caused the deadly outbreak in Germany.
Every year, the MDP screens around 15,000 samples of produce the agency considers particularly vulnerable to contamination, such as sprouts, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and cilantro, for pathogens, including salmonella and multiple strains of E. coli. If anything is found, the information is passed on to the FDA, which can then institute a recall. Significantly, the MDP represents a much broader testing regime than the FDA’s own, which only manages to screen 1,000 samples a year.
Despite the fact that positive tests out of the MDP have led to 19 recalls in the last two years, the produce lobby has been agitating for some time to kill it as another one of those onerous, wasteful, and “duplicative” government programs. The Tribune references a memo written this spring by the produce lobby and sent to USDA Chief Tom Vilsack laying out these arguments, and it appears the House GOP decided to act on them.
By: John Farrell
The United States doesn’t need another nuclear or coal power plant. Instead, it’s time to abandon our 20th-century electricity system — dominated by large, centralized utilities — for a 21st-century electricity system that allows a network of independently owned and widely dispersed renewable energy producers to flourish.
The 20th-century electricity grid was mostly a tale of “bigger is better.” Utilities built ever-larger fossil fuel and nuclear power plants in pursuit of the cheapest possible electricity. For a 20th-century society, it worked. But the paradigm has changed.
Since the year 2007, national electricity consumption has leveled off. In many states, it has declined. Coupled with new state policies to promote energy efficiency, it’s possible to halt the growth in electricity use.
We don’t need more electricity: We need cleaner electricity.
by Brad Johnson
6 Jul 2011 1:25 PM
Republicans have officially unveiled a slash-and-burn budget plan for the environment, with drastic cuts to environmental agencies and numerous riders to exempt polluters from science-based regulation. The House Appropriations Committee released the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2012, to be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation includes major cuts in funding for the Department of the Interior, the EPA, the Forest Service, and various independent and related agencies.
This Tea Party budget eviscerates protections [PDF] for air, water, and land while delivering industry lobbyists a grab bag of favors. The bill denies not only the threat of global warming pollution, but also that of formaldehyde, coal ash, and pesticides. The bill cuts EPA funding by $1.8 billion, or 20 percent, below President Obama’s request, and caps employment at 1992 levels. The bill restores $55 million in offshore oil and gas subsides. The bill overrules the Department of Interior’s provisional decision to protect the Grand Canyon from uranium mining (Sec. 445).
Some of the many riders in the budget bill [PDF] include:
Ever wonder what happens when societies favor boys over girls?
By Mara Hvistendahl
Editors’ note: Science magazine correspondent Mara Hvistendahl was a college student in China when she first saw an elementary school classroom where boys seriously outnumbered girls. Returning to China as a journalist several years later, she set out to investigate how, exactly, an estimated 163 million females came to be missing from the Asia’s population—in South Korea, Vietnam, and Georgia, as well as India and China. The compelling result is Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, a new book that both shows how Western organizations and scientists played a role in introducing sex selection to Asia and paints a bleak picture of societies where a dearth of women puts everyone at risk.
In the weeks since the book came out, Hvistendahl has been making the rounds, addressing the World Affairs Council, the World Policy Institute, and officials from the US State Department. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat (read our profile of him) cited the book’s revelations about sex selection to argue against abortion. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins weighed in, too, claiming Hvistendahl was attacking science over advances in prenatal technologies—to which the author responded with a post suggesting that Dawkins hadn’t actually read the book. But many who have agree that it’s a thought-provoking look at a mounting demographic problem. The following excerpt is adapted from the book’s opening chapter.
By Rosalind Peterson July 12, 2009
It is sometimes difficult to separate out fact from fiction and beliefs. It is even more difficult when United States citizens live under a government which classifies as “secret” more and more information with each passing day. In addition, many government agencies, scientists, and researchers decide that certain information should not be given to the public because they know that the public would say “NO”, to many of their experiments or actions.
Thus, unraveling exactly why jet contrails began to abnormally persist and turn into white haze and man-made clouds, since the late 1980s, has been difficult…requiring hours of research into government documents, university studies, and following every lead to find answers to these questions. What we do know and can prove has broad implications for human health, agriculture crop production, the health of the earth’s pollinators, lack of photosynthesis (direct sunlight needed for all trees and plants to grow and produce crops), and climate change. The following is a brief history of persistent jet contrails and man-made clouds:
Consumers International, Press release, 5 July 2011
*Twenty year struggle within global food safety body ends with ‘consumer rights milestone’
*Move clears way for greater monitoring of the effects of GM organisms
Consumers International (CI)i and its member organisations celebrated victory today as regulators from more than 100 countries agreed on long overdue guidance on the labelling of genetically modified (GM) food.
The Codex Alimentarius Commissionii, made up of the world’s food safety regulatory agencies, has been labouring for two decades to come up with consensus guidance on this topic.
In a striking reversal of their previous position, on Tuesday, during the annual Codex summit in Geneva, the US delegation dropped its opposition to the GM labelling guidance document, allowing it to move forward and become an official Codex text.
The new Codex agreement means that any country wishing to adopt GM food labelling will no longer face the threat of a legal challenge from the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is because national measures based on Codex guidance or standards cannot be challenged as a barrier to trade.
International Business Times, Monday, July 4, 2011 12:03 PM EDT
Global warming and the melting of the polar caps is worse than previously thought, according to a new study from the University of Arizona that appeared in Nature Geoscience.
The study asserted that the culprit is warming ocean waters.
“Water has a much larger heat capacity than air. If you put an ice cube in a warm room, it will melt in several hours. But if you put an ice cube in a cup of warm water, it will disappear in just minutes,” said Jianjun Yin, who worked on the study.
Water has the second highest specific heat capacity of all known substances. It, rather than air, holds most of the earth’s global warming heat, so it makes sense that its impact on global warming is significant.
by Randall Neustaedter OMD
(NaturalNews) Petrochemicals cause cancer. They are also hormone disruptors, capable of contributing to hormone imbalances and premature puberty in children. We are all exposed to these chemicals every day, but we can also limit our exposure by taking simple measures in our daily lives. Some products, like air pollutants, are not in our control. However, there are many household items including the foods we eat and the fumes we breathe that may include hidden petrochemicals.
Children are especially susceptible to these carcinogens. It is estimated that children have at least three times the risk factor of adults for the development of cancer from these chemicals. Children’s relatively undeveloped livers are less effective in the metabolism of toxic chemicals. And small children who play on the floor have more exposure to products that settle from the air.
Foods that are not organic may contain hidden pesticides. Animal products are a primary source. Cows will concentrate petrochemicals in their fat and milk. Buying organic milk and meat will ensure that you are not inadvertently getting pesticides from the grains these animals themselves eat. Similarly, organic chickens are not fed grains treated with pesticides. Eating organic eggs and chicken will decrease your exposure from these sources. Most fish is not safe to eat. Farm raised fish contain high levels of pesticides, large ocean fish contain high levels of the mercury, and fish imported from Japan may be radioactive.
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) There are a number of proven natural alternatives to reducing your risk of heart attack, but one of the most effective to do that, new research has shown, is through meditation.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, meditation through the continuous repetition of a mantra, can reduce high blood pressure, thickening of the arteries and cholesterol. Researchers say it can even help protect against diabetes.
“This is a seminal finding,” said Dr. Norman Rosenthal, of the NIMH.
“The prevention of heart attack and stroke and actual lengthening of lifespan by an alternative treatment method is exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented,” he said. “If Transcendental Meditation were a drug conferring so many benefits, it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster.”
Ohio State University, July 5, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Long-term exposure to air pollution can lead to physical changes in the brain, as well as learning and memory problems and even depression, new research in mice suggests.
While other studies have shown the damaging effects of polluted air on the heart and lungs, this is one of the first long-term studies to show the negative impact on the brain, said Laura Fonken, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State University.
“The results suggest prolonged exposure to polluted air can have visible, negative effects on the brain, which can lead to a variety of health problems,” Fonken said.
“This could have important and troubling implications for people who live and work in polluted urban areas around the world.”
Greenpeace India, Press release, July 4 2011
*Civil society and farmer unions demand action against the company and an immediate ban of GM field trials in India
Bangalore: After Monsanto was caught red-handed violating bio-safety rules in the case of GM corn by Greenpeace and a local TV channel, leading farmers union in the state, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and civil society organisations demanded an immediate ban on all open field experiments of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in the country.
Monsanto, the American multinational seed giant had taken up seed production for two transgenic corn hybrids containing stacked cry2Ab2, cry1A.105 (Event MON 89034) & cp4epsps (Event NK603) genes on the field of one Mr. Amrit Gowda in the village of Banihatti P.A in Sindagi Taluk, Bijapur, Karnataka. It has been found that the company has flouted every required norm or procedure to ensure biosafety from such GM products in experimental & research stages. What is most worrying is the fact that the biosafety assessment of this GM corn has not been completed while such open cultivation leading to seed and transgene leakage have been permitted.
The following are the major violations that Greenpeace has documented in this case: