The World Health Organization has released the latest global report on air pollution and it is highly disturbing. Nine out of 10 people worldwide now live in places where air pollution exceeds health standards and face higher risk of heart disease, strokes and cancer.
I will testify this morning before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on the controversy over dueling state and federal investigations involving the climate change debate. After various state attorneys general announced investigations of Exxon Company over its opposition to climate change theories (including subpoenas either to or concerning conservation public interest groups), the Committee issued its own subpoenas to the prosecutors and environmental public interest groups involved in the campaign. That has triggered a confrontation as the prosecutors and environmental groups raised constitutional objections to the House subpoenas. The full committee hearing will start at 10 am in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.
In another disgraceful move related to environmental damage, the Australian government has stripped out any reference to the Great Barrier Reef, the Northern Territory’s glorious Kakadu national park and Tasmania’s forests in a report on climate change. Equally disgraceful was the willingness of Unesco to knuckle under to any country that objected to such references in the report entitled “Destinations at Risk: World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate.” The massive “bleaching” of the Great Barrier Reef has horrified people around the world as we watch the loss of this natural wonder to climate change and poor governmental policies, as we previously discussed.
Adidas, the German maker of sportswear and equipment, is moving back to Germany after shifting its operations to Asia for cheap labor. However, wages are increasing even in Asia so Adidas has found workers even cheaper: robots. Adidas will be making shoes again in Germany by 2017 but will employ relatively few actual Germans.
We have been discussing the scourge of graffiti and destruction by vandals in our national parks. The lack of deterrence was vividly shown by the laughable fine given to actress Vanessa Hudgens for defacing a rock wall. An exception to this dismal enforcement may be the case of three men who were caught on video drunkenly vandalizing Death Valley National Park and possibly causing the death of an endangered Devils Hole pupfish. Steven Schwinkendorf, Edgar Reyes and Trenton Sargent are all facing felony charges including killing of an endangered species, destruction of habitat, trespassing, and destruction of property. One is charged with the crime of an ex-felon possessing a firearm.
Below is my column in USA Today on the prosecution of three state and local officials in the Flint, Michigan water scandal. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has promised more (and higher ranking) defendants in the coming weeks. However, as discussed in this column, these cases are not as straightforward as the pictures of bottles of Flint water juxtaposed against clean water. While there are strong elements to some of the charges, the prosecution is not nearly as easily or obvious as has been suggested in the media, in my view.
It appears that Americans are not the only voters aggrieved what is viewed as a rigged political system. We recently discussed the groundswell of support for the naming of Britain’s new $300 million research ship. The English voted overwhelmingly for “Boaty McBoatface,” which I also viewed as brilliant. The tee-shirt sales alone could fund another sister ship. However, those stodgy, killjoys in the English government have scuttled “Boaty McBoatface” — showing both a lack of democratic values as well as any cognizable sense of humor.