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Friday Finds: Big Coal’s Big Sugar Daddies

Report finds allegedly “green” banks finance dirty coal
A recent investigation by a group of non-governmental organizations found that a number of supposedly “green” banks fall into the top 20 institutions to finance coal-mining and coal-fired energy generation, reports the UK Guardian. Taking the first three places is JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America, which together have provided at least $42 billion to the coal sector since 2005. Since coal is one of the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive energy sources out there, it’s fair to say that the new report puts the banks’ supposedly green credentials into question. No matter how many wind and solar projects they highlight in the public eye, at the end of the day lending money to an industry that’s literally burning up humanity's chances to avoid catastrophic climate change is neither a green nor smart investment choice.

PCBs stunt turtle bone growth
PCBs, those long-forgotten but deadly chemicals that were banned by the U.S. in 1979, are causing stunted growth and low bone-density in turtles, reports Discovery News. The chemicals, once used in pesticides and industrial fluids, have been linked to slower growth rates, tumors in mink jaws and deformed heads in zebrafish in previous studies. But a new study, that exposed diamondback terrapin turtle eggs to a PCB dose that's equivalent to what they would encounter in the environment, stunted the turtles growth and left their bones weak. Though the results are preliminary, the study may have implications for humans since our bones grow similarly to turtles and since we too are exposed to low amounts of lingering PCBs. Said Don Tillitt, an environmental toxicologist, “When we see effects like this, we know there are things that are maybe more insidious. It's a good reminder that we have to be on guard."

Fat rats may not be best test for biomedicine
Overweight mice and rats may not be the best real world test subjects for various medicines and consumer products meant for humans, reports Slate. Though that assumption may seem obvious, widely acclaimed neuroscientist Mark Mattson was the first person to present the notion during a university lecture in Atlanta in 2007. Since then, Mattson has led the charge in educating others about the fact that most of the world’s researchers are drawing conclusions about human diseases from an animal that’s “been transformed into a shoddy, industrial product,” writes blogger Daniel Engber. Among other things, lab rats and mice are insulin-resistant, hypertensive and short-lived—not surprising since all these animals do is eat and sleep in tiny cages for years on end. As a result of using poor test subjects, Mattson warns that a fraction of studies may be compromised. Unfortunately, we may never know which ones are tainted since, as Mattson points out, repeating lab studies can be time and resource intensive.

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