Friday Finds: Mutually Assured Madness
Nuclear power industry experiences public fallout
As the nuclear crisis in Japan worsens, concerns about nuclear power's safety are spreading, prompting news agencies to take a second look at the inherently risky technology. As the Christian Science Monitor recently reported, last year U.S. nuclear plants had at least 14 “near misses” that occurred with “alarming frequency” and jeopardized human safety. In addition, Mother Jones recently created an eye-opening chart that lists the location of nuclear plants across the country and their proximity to nearby cities using data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Despite these concerns, many of the world's governments remain largely unphased, except Germany, which has stepped up to the plate by declaring its plans to stop using nuclear power. Sehr gut!
Senator Jeff Bingaman throws gas on oil-drilling lies, lights a match
While many politicians are busy peddling the false claim that the U.S. must drill more to bring down gas prices, last week Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) broke with the ranks by declaring that domestic policies like carbon and oil drilling regulations have little to no effect on the price at the pump, reports Grist. That's because oil prices are set on the global market, which is much more affected by things like, say, Middle East unrest. This indisputable fact has led Bingaman to the remarkably frank conclusion that to “ease the burden of high prices for U.S. consumers when oil prices are determined mostly outside our borders...[we need to] become less vulnerable by using less oil.”
Obama dashes hope for change in coal mining announcement
On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans to vastly expand coal mining in Wyoming by auctioning off land that contains approximately 750 million tons of coal, reports NPR. Environmentalists and clean air advocates are angry about the move given that the coal, once burned, is estimated to release more than 3.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide. In addition, studies have shown that fossil fuel pollution causes far more deaths than those caused by nuclear power, which is why Earthjustice has been working to clean up coal-fired power plants and break the addiction to coal once and for all.
Urban gardeners urged to get the lead out
As spring approaches, urbanites eager to plant their own gardens may first want to test their soil for lead, reports the Associated Press. That's because years of using lead paint and driving around in cars fueled by leaded gasoline have resulted in metal-heavy laden land across the U.S. According to one study conducted in Indianapolis, nine out of 10 urban gardens tested positive for lead. Green thumbs shouldn't despair just yet, though. Researchers say that gardeners can take many steps to address pollution and insure that their fruits and vegetables are safe, like washing the produce thoroughly, avoiding tracking tainted soil indoors and using raised garden beds filled with clean soil or compost.
Gender-bending chemicals may cause hot flashes
Researchers have found that perflourocarbons or PFCs, a common chemical used in nonstick cookware and stain-resistant clothes, may bring on early menopause, reports the Daily Mail. This is hardly the first time that these chemicals, known as “gender-benders” because they are able to disrupt hormones in the body, have been under scrutiny. In 2002, the 3M company stopped using the chemicals in Scotchgard amidst growing health concerns about the chemicals. But they can still be found in Teflon pots and pans manufactured by DuPont, though the company has agreed to phase out their use by 2015. Until then, stick to stainless steel.