Friday Finds: The CIA’s Climate Change Secret
CIA shouldn’t be keeping secrets about climate change
A new report by a U.S. government agency known as the Defense Science Board says that the CIA needs to stop being so secret about its climate change research, reports the UK Guardian. Though climate denialism in government seems to be all the rage these days, the CIA has seen the invisible ink on the wall -- that climate change is happening -- and has decided to start preparing for it. Enter the CIA’s Climate Center, established in 2009 to gather intelligence on climate change and its potential national security implications. Unfortunately, in typical CIA fashion, the agency has so far refused to disclose its valuable data to the public or even other government agencies, which could go a long way in preparing the nation for the inevitable destabilization that will occur in around the world as sea levels rise and fresh water resources dry up.
The next time you visit your local farmers’ market you may want to keep an eye out for unscrupulous vendors masquerading as local farmers, reports E: The Environmental Magazine. As the popularity of farmers’ has surged, so have the number of markets, from less than 2,0000 in 1994 to more than 7,000 in 2011. Though greater access to farmers’ markets is a good thing, the increased access has also left the door wide open to non-local, corporate vendors looking to cash in on the typically higher priced goods. In response to these fakers, some markets have begun adopting strict regulations to ensure that their farmers are the real deal. Before paying $2 for a local, organic Red Delicious apple, shoppers should look into the screening practices of their own farmers’ markets to find out whether they’re getting the real deal.
Forget tryptophan giving you the sleepys. The real chemical you should be concerned about while eating your Thanksgiving dinner is bisphenol A or BPA, reports the LA Times. According to research by the nonprofit Breast Cancer Fund, a number of canned products commonly used in Thanksgiving dinners contained levels of BPA high enough to cause negative health effects in lab studies. Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup, Campbell's Turkey Gravy, Carnation Evaporated Milk, Green Giant Cut Green Beans, Libby's Pumpkin and Del Monte Fresh Cut Sweet Corn, Cream Style all made the list. And it’s no surprise, really. After all, BPA is the chemical of choice in making resin lining in food and soda cans. According to the Environmental Working Group, more than 100 peer-reviewed studies have found BPA to be toxic, even at low doses.
Climate change sinks Manhattan
A new state government report says that climate change-related storms could flood a third of all New York City streets as well as a many of the city’s tunnels in under an hour, reports the UK Guardian. The study, which looked at climate change impacts across New York, was originally commissioned by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, but when NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg saw early briefings of the report, he requested an even more detailed study. What he found was disturbing, but hardly unique to New York. Many studies have found that many low-lying coastal areas like NYC will need to rethink their infrastructure as crucial government services like water treatment and power plants become strained under rising sea levels and hotter temperatures.
Two weeks after a coal ash spill dumped 2,500 cubic yards of toxic ash – enough to fill about 200 dump trucks – into Lake Michigan, Wisconsin government officials say that the spill doesn’t threaten human health or the environment, reports the Detroit Free Press. Coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal, contains harmful chemicals like lead, arsenic and mercury that have been found to cause skin, bladder and lung cancer, damage the nervous system, and harm children’s development. Yet Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources insists that elevated levels of coal ash elements at the site of the spill don’t present a health hazard. Meanwhile, over in Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin recently pressured top federal officials to not allow a coal-powered ferry to continue dumping at least 509 tons of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan every year by awarding it Historic Landmark status. Said Durbin, "We cannot let Historic Landmark status be used to evade the federal regulations we rely on to protect public health and the environment.” On protecting public safety, it’s looks like it’s Illinois – 1, Wisconsin – 0.