Bits ‘n’ Pieces

From east, west and beyond

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

A group of Rhode Island students has filed suit, saying their constitutional rights have been violated because their schools have not taught them about voting, serving on juries or basic government functions. Students from Detroit filed a similar suit, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Research from McGill University has linked air pollution with brain cancer. A year-long increase in air pollution, equal to going from a quiet city street to a busy one, can increase brain cancer risk by 10%. Currently there are an estimated 53,000 deaths caused by U.S. air pollution (from lung cancer, stroke and heart disease) every year, The Guardian has reported.

According to an interview with Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthall in The Hill, as many as 10 of the senator’s Republican colleagues are uncomfortable with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s stance of tightly coordinating the president’s impeachment trial with the White House. So far the only Republicans to express public misgivings about McConnell’s position on denying the introduction of new witnesses and documents are Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.

After a lengthy history of warnings against eating too much red and processed meat, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine said links to negative health consequences are insignificant. Confused, AARP interviewed Yale’s David Katz, M.D., founder of the True Health Initiative, for his perspective. Katz said the AIM study used data analysis designed for drug trials, not food, which skewed results. In actuality, Katz said there are 325,000 deaths annually from too much red and processed meat: “Like two jumbo jets crashing every day.”

While bark beetles are munching their way through weakened forests, research is showing that there may be a solution better than standard tree thinning: determining DNA that shows what trees have the ability to adapt to stress from climate change. Those trees can be left standing during thinning or logging operations. It’s called landscape genomics, Mother Jones reports. There is existing DNA technology used for breeding fruit trees, and those concepts can be adapted to evaluate trees’ risks for changes in temperature, moisture and pathogens, says plant sciences professor David Neale, of the University of California-Davis. In his lab, a machine grinds tree needles and finds their DNA code. That data can then be used to determine what trees will respond best to climate stress.

Blast from this past year: Sweden’s 16-year-old Greta Thunberg went from skipping school solo — protesting the Swedish Parliament’s lack of progress addressing climate change — to being a catalyst for massive pro-environment rallies around the world. Her first literature included climate change facts and the statement, “Since you adults don’t give a damn about my future, I won’t either.” 

Actions taken since Thunberg’s first foray into the limelight include: the European Union plans to tax imports from countries that don’t act on climate change; KLM Airline launched a campaign encouraging people to only fly if necessary; the CEO of the World Economic Forum has called on business leaders to embrace responsible capitalism that includes environmental stewardship; more than 60 countries have pledged to eliminate their carbon footprints by 2050; and, TIME magazine reports, three-quarters of Americans now regard climate change as  either a crisis or a major problem. 

In a typically succinct statement, Thunberg said to the U.N. General Assembly: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.”

Another blast, with a different climate stance: “We’ll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody. I know it’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly, very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous, if you’re into this, tremendous fumes, gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything — you talk about the ‘carbon footprint’ — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything, right?” — President Donald Trump, in a statement delivered Dec. 22, 2019 at a Turning Point USA Student Action Summit. He has also stated that noise from windmills can cause cancer.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.