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Friday Finds: Environmental Bach Lash

Michelle Bachman drills down to solve the energy crisis
As the Republican contenders for the 2012 election begin to emerge, a old theme among the crew is arising deep from within the ashes of the failed McCain-Palin 2008 presidential run: Drill, baby, drill. The most recent aspiring president, Michelle Bachman, recently said that energy can be the “most easy problem for America to solve” by, you guessed it, digging for more fossil fuels, reports Grist. Unfortunately, the Republican rhetoric, as nice and easy as it may sound, relies heavily on ignoring all of the environmental and health problems that come with the practices involved in this age of extreme energy, such blowing up mountains and shoving millions of gallons of chemically treated water into rock formations.

Unfortunately for those of us stuck in the real world, this overly simplistic solution to the current energy crisis is just par for the course in Bachman’s world. According to recent news reports, Bachman has been busy spreading lies like the idea that high-speed rail from Disneyland to Las Vegas is just a ploy to get little kids hooked on gambling and that EPA is a murderous villain that’s attacking “helpless” corporations. Those kinds of allegations are akin to environmentalists calling Bachman a deranged serial killer—a serious allegation that has bite but is nonetheless inaccurate. Good thing she already beat everyone to the punch by accidently comparing herself to John Wayne Gacy

Scented candles may burn users with dangerous toxins
Filling a room with an array of scented candles may no longer be a harmless option for Romeos looking to make their Juliets swoon, reports the UK’s Daily Mail. A recent study found that burning scented candles in a poorly ventilated room may release air pollution toxic enough to raise the risk of asthma, eczema and skin complaints. Though stuffing candle wax with synthetic fragrances is harmful enough, the wicks themselves are also a concern. When burned, they release soot particles that can travel deep into the lungs and aggravate respiratory illness. To avoid getting burned, experts suggest using beeswax or soy-based candles with thin, braided wicks. Or, skip the candles and buy her fair trade, locally grown, organic, vegan chocolates. Everybody wins! 

Heavy traffic weighs on bikers’ hearts
Last month, Canadian researchers found a link between bicycling in heavy traffic and heart risks, reports Environmental Health News. As many bicyclists have no doubt long suspected, being behind the exhaust pipe of a heavy truck or SUV isn’t exactly great for one’s health. The researchers found that even short-term exposure to particle pollution spewing out of cars and trucks significantly decreased the heart’s ability to respond to stress. Despite the bad news, health experts point out that the health benefits of biking far outweigh the risks, and that doesn’t even include the environmental benefits of cutting carbon emissions. Plus, researchers say that you can cut your exposure to exhaust pollution significantly just by avoiding busy streets or creating as much space as possible between you and the vehicle ahead of you, so keep on truckin’.

Scientists heat up over climate change
Most scientists prefer to don lab coats and plastic goggles, not protest signs and handcuffs, but that’s all slowly changing as a handful of climate scientists are beginning to speak out about the unequivocal evidence of climate change, reports the Guardian. Recently, people like James Hansen, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, have turned from impartial scientists to impassioned activists amid mounting evidence that humanity is running out of time to change course and prevent catastrophic climate change. And earlier this year, a group of young Australian climate scientists released an angry rap video that attacked climate deniers, most of whom lack the proper qualifications to make such observations about man’s role in climate change. Another set of Aussies also recently threw themselves into the public debate by marching on Parliament to decry those attacking climate science, something that polls suggest the public would like to see more of. It looks like it's time for a revival of Revenge of the Nerds.
 
France pulls the plug on fracking
This week, France became the first country to ban hydraulic fracturing, a practice that involves shoving a cocktail of water, chemicals and sand into the ground to break up dense rock and release trapped oil and gas reserves, reports Think Progress. The French government’s move comes after months of building concern over the practice's ability to poison drinking water, pollute air, kill animals, and bring about industrial disasters and explosions, aka “fraccidents.” Find out whether there’s been a “fraccident” near you.  

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