In today's On the News segment: The fossil fuel industry is cashing in on government welfare; opponents of same-sex marriage love to claim they're protecting children, but science says that's just a bunch of hype; the Department of Energy is investing in our future; and more.
Thom Hartmann here - on the best of the rest of....science & green news.....
You need to know this. The fossil fuel industry is cashing in on government welfare. According to a new report from Oil Change International, the oil, gas, and coal industries raked in $21.6 billion dollars in state and federal subsidies in 2013 alone. In comparison, the entire 2013 budget request for the Department of Labor was only $12 billion dollars, and the Environmental Protection Agency only requested about $8 billion. We're giving the industry that destroys our planet more than two and half times the amount we pay to protect it. As EcoWatch.com pointed out, subsidies to fossil fuel companies are "particularly harmful and hypocritical." The world's leading scientific institutions, including the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, all say that the majority of fossil fuels must stay in the ground in order to prevent extreme global warming. One of this report's authors said, "The science is clear that at least two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change – it is time for the U.S. government to show leadership and immediately end the massive subsidies that encourage their production." Not only do these subsidies pad the profits of oil companies, but they put tax payers on the hook for the social costs of destroying our planet. If Big Oil had to pay the true cost of fossil fuel extraction, they wouldn't be able to drill away without a second thought to the communities and the lives that they devastate in the process. It's time to demand that our government start making $20 billion dollar investments in our future, instead of subsidizing the very industries that are bringing about our destruction.
Opponents of same-sex marriage love to claim they're protecting children, but science says that's just a bunch of hype. Numerous studies have shown that same-sex parents are just like opposite-sex parents, and new research says that the children of gay couples may actually be healthier than the children of straight couples. According to researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia, children raised by same-sex couples scored six percent higher than the national average on general health and family cohesion factors. The scientists did note that these children may face social stigma, which could have a negative impact on their health. However, they explained that same-sex parents share responsibilities more evenly, which "appears to be contributing to a more harmonious household and having a positive impact on child health." As most of us have known all along, LGBT families are just like so-called "traditional" families, and the anti-gay claims about child safety are based on bigotry – not fact. Kids benefit from loving, devoted parents, regardless of whether or not they happen to be the same gender.
The Department of Energy is investing in our future. Last week, the DOE announced a new, $4 billion dollar loan guarantee program that will support renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. This new program will support ideas in bio-fuel development, waste-to-energy projects, hydroelectric facilities, energy efficiency, and technology that integrates renewable energy into our electric grid. In a statement about the new program, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said, "As the President emphasized in his Climate Action Plan, it is critical that we take an all-of-the-above approach to energy in order to cut carbon pollution, help address the effects of climate change, and protect our children's future." Many of us have criticized the Obama Administration for including nuclear and natural gas in the so-called "all-of-the-above" approach, but it looks like this new loan program will spur investment in real green energy. Come to think of it, I know of another $20 billion that our government could be investing in a cleaner, greener future.
Outside of his views on pot and few other things, Pope Francis could be the coolest Pope in history. Last week, in a speech about having respect for nature, the Pontiff said that the destruction of rain forest and other environmental exploitation is "a sin of modern times." He spoke to students and farmers at the University of Molise in southern Italy, and said, "This is one of the greatest challenges of our time: to convert ourselves to a type of development that knows how to respect creation." A few days before that speech, Pope Francis compared our fight against global warming with the responsibility to protect creation. He said, "If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us!" Unlike some religious leaders, who claim that our dominion over the earth allows us to abuse our planet, Pope Francis basically said that dominion makes us responsible to care for our world. Whether it's for religious reasons or scientific ones, we only have one planet to call home, so we must start working harder to protect it.
And finally... Even with the help of modern technology, scientists still can't prove – or disprove – the existence of Bigfoot. A new study published in the journal Proceedings of Royal Science reviewed 30 hair samples said to be collected from the creature, and found that most were from common animals like horses, cows, and bears. However, two of the samples proved to be more interesting, as they did not closely match any current species. They were collected in India and Bhutan, and scientists found that their closest known relative was a prehistoric polar bear. As polar bears are not found in that region, researchers believe the sample may have come from an unknown ancient bear. However, none of the hair samples matched any primate species, which means they aren't likely to have come from Bigfoot. One of the study's authors said, "For those seriously interested in finding out whether such creatures exist, the search does not need to stop here. It just needs to get smarter." He added, "While the yeti and its counterparts are famous unknown species, many less charismatic species also await discovery." To many scientists, the discovery of unknown ancient polar bears can be just as exciting as the ongoing search for Bigfoot.
And that's the way it is for the week of July 14, 2014 - I'm Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.