Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

| April 26, 2024 7:00 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. 

A recent sampling, with Earth Day in mind:

According to ultra-wealthy Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, in a short time humans have rendered the Earth a lost cause. So they want to colonize-geoengineer the moon and Mars to create a new earthlike homeland. 

But astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson had words for that 10 years ago: “If you had the power to transform Mars into Earth, then you have the power to turn Earth back into Earth.”

Scotland hit 54% clean energy in 2016, then 76% in 2017, and in 2020 was at 97%. Countries at or near 100% include Iceland, Norway, Paraguay, Costa Rica and Uruguay. Prices for fossil fuels, but not renewable, are “highly subsidized,” evangelical climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe wrote in Saving Us.

Fossil fuels subsidies tally in at $165,000 per second, with half going to coal, then petroleum, then 10% for natural gas. In the U.S. that is $600 billion annually, ten times what the U.S. spends on education and more than 20 times what is spent on clean energy subsidies. 

The fossil fuel subsidies also feed costs generated by pollution, such as asthma, cancer, land degradation, and water contamination. Taxpayers pay the fossil fuel subsidies: the International Monetary Fund.

The average child spends less than 10 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play, according to the Trust for Public Land. Often outdoor time means asphalt schoolyards, which can become too hot to play on. TPL is urging Congress to pass the Community Schoolyards Initiative that adds trees, enhances absorbability of rainwater to deter flooding and improves habitat for creatures, like birds.

Meanwhile, a daycare in Finland created a playground that replicated forest floor, Optimist Daily reported.

Sand was replaced with lawn and dwarf heather and blueberries were planted. Planter boxes, to be tended by the kids, were installed. After just one month, the children had healthier microbiomes and stronger immune systems as compared to urban daycare children.

New rules from the Biden Administration require corporations to pay 16.7% more in royalty rates to drill on public land. There will also be stronger requirements to clean up old or abandoned wells, reducing taxpayers burden for that, various media reported.

The U.S. just finished its warmest winter on record, various media reported. Climate scientists have been surprised at the overall heat acceleration, with one commenting that 2023 “has confounded climate scientists” and has been humbling for their predictive capabilities.

Who are the chief climate-crippling corporations? Axios said a new report from London-based InfluenceMap found 80% of greenhouse gas emissions come from 57 fossil fuel and cement producers. Since 1854 (not a typo) 19 entities contributed 50% of global CO 2 emissions worldwide.

The European Union has criminalized serious incidents of environmental degradation, Optimist Daily reported. People found guilty, including CEOs, face up to 8 years in prison, or 10 years if death is involved.

Complying with permits does not insulate them from legal penalties. And, last week Europe’s highest human rights court ruled countries must provide better protection regarding climate change.

Lunchables, due to high levels of health-threatening heavy metals, should not be on school lunch menus, Consumer Reports has told the USDA. A CR study found lead and cadmium, which can affect child development, to be particularly prevalent. 

Sources of the offending ingredients: historic deposits from leaded gasoline and invasive pollutants. Conventionally-grown foods, as opposed to organics, are most likely to show contamination, according to the NIH, the CDC and

Oxfam report: the world’s richest 1% has the same carbon emissions as the poorest 5 billion people, with a third of those carbon emissions from wealthy people in the U.S. 

Germany plans to put solar panels on all public building by 2025, and has cut public transportation to $9.56 a month to encourage getting off gas. Optimist Daily says the renewed focus on green energy is due to awareness of reliance on Russian gas, which has funded violence against Ukraine.

Dr. Mark Hyman, best-selling health author, advocates eating organic for the planet as well as personal health in his book, Food. What the Heck Should We Eat? He says organic foods have more nutrients because the soils are better nourished, resulting in the soils also holding more water and carbon. 

In contrast, conventional ag fosters droughts, floods and climate change.

Sterilizations in the U.S. have risen over 21-fold, particularly amongst women, since the overturn of Roe vs. Wade in 2022, U.S. News reported.

In a first for a former U.S. president, a criminal trial for Donald Trump began this week. He faces 34 counts of business falsification aimed at election interference. A Manhattan District Attorney said Trump tried to bury negative information to boost electability, to “conceal criminal activity.”

Blast from the past: “All things are connected like the blood that unites us. We do not weave a web of life, we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.” Chief Seathl, born around 1780, died in 1866. He inspired the name for the city of Seattle.