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Texas Could Ditch Coal Entirely for Wind and Solar

Wind and Solar

Fossil fuel may comprise a large part of the Texas economy, but new research shows that the state has the natural resources to ditch coal entirely and still meet its electricity needs.

“There is no where else in the world better positioned to operate without coal than Texas is,” report co-author Dan Cohan, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University, told the Houston Chronicle. “Wind and solar are easily capable of picking up the slack.”

Texas Tea

According to the research, recently published in the journal Renewables: Wind, Water, and Solar, Texas is in the fortuitous position of being able to replace the 25 percent of its electricity that it still sources from coal-burning plants without investing in expensive energy storage facilities.

That’s because the state’s substantial renewable energy resources — wind and solar operate on complementary schedules. Solar installations across the state only generate power during the day, and wind farms in West Texas provide large amounts of power at night. Wind turbines on the Gulf Coast, meanwhile, kick into high gear late on summer afternoons, when sea breezes blow inland.

Future Vision

The heartening report comes as renewables overtook coal as Germany’s primary energy source — an auspicious historical moment that seems to demonstrate that wind and solar can not only complement fossil fuels, but also evolve into an independent source of energy.

“We’re poised on the edge of a much cleaner grid than we have today,” Cohan told the Chronicle. “There’s an opportunity with coal coming offline to have wind and solar step up. It’s the cheapest way to do things, whether or not you care about the environment.”

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Study Shows Growing Hemp is a Powerful Tool to Fight Bee Population Decline

Matt Agorist, TFTP
Waking Times

As the world population of honeybees continues to decline at a dangerous rate, a new study from Colorado State University purports to have found the answer to quell the decline—hemp. The reason hemp is such a boon to the bee population is simple, it is a great source of pollen.

Because the hemp plant provides such a massive amount of pollen, it will provide them with the resources they need to sustain and grow their populations.

As Forbes points out:

  • According to researchers, most hemp crops flower between July and September, coinciding with a lack of pollen production from other farm crops.
  • Over 2,000 bees (and 23 different types of bee, including the European honeybee) were collected during the study. The 23 bee types represent 80% of all types in the region.
  • This discovery points to hemp as a new pollen source for bees and could help sustain their populations.
  • Bee colonies have been declining in the U.S. due to stressors such as pests, pesticide exposure and poor nutrition from a lack of pollen, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Researchers noted that although “hemp does not produce any nectar, the pollen rich nature of the flowers can make hemp an ecologically valuable crop.” However, they also noted that as “cultivation of hemp continues to expand, we expect insect pests on hemp to also become prevalent. Our results documenting bee diversity in flowering hemp provides the impetus for the development of integrated pest management plans that protect pollinators while controlling pests.”

As TFTP reported last year, another study showed that mushrooms could have a powerful effect on bees by helping them combat the viruses that have been killing their colonies.

According to the results of this study, which was titled “Extracts of Polypore Mushroom Mycelia Reduces Viruses in Honey Bees,” researchers were looking for a way to combat the highly infectious viruses that were wiping out global honey bee populations, and they started looking at mushrooms when they noticed bees were seeking out the fungus:

BEES HAVE BEEN OBSERVED FORAGING ON MUSHROOM MYCELIUM, SUGGESTING THAT THEY MAY BE DERIVING MEDICINAL OR NUTRITIONAL VALUE FROM FUNGI. FUNGI ARE KNOWN TO PRODUCE A WIDE ARRAY OF CHEMICALS WITH ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY, INCLUDING COMPOUNDS ACTIVE AGAINST BACTERIA, OTHER FUNGI, OR VIRUSES. WE TESTED EXTRACTS FROM THE MYCELIUM OF MULTIPLE POLYPORE FUNGAL SPECIES KNOWN TO HAVE ANTIVIRAL PROPERTIES.”

The study found that extracts from amadou and reishi fungi reduced the levels of honey bee Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) and Lake Sinai Virus (LSV) with colonies that were fed Ganoderma resinaceum extract showing “a 79-fold reduction in DWV and a 45,000-fold reduction in LSV compared to control colonies,” which brought researchers to the conclusion that “honey bees may gain health benefits from fungi and their antimicrobial compounds.”

Paul Stamets, lead author of the study and founder of Fungi Perfecti, a business focused on promoting the cultivation of mushrooms, told ABC News that he worked with researchers from Washington State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the study.

This is a natural product and [it’s showing] tremendous results in reducing the viruses of bees,” Stamets said, noting that the mushrooms are “the first antivirals to reduce viruses in bees.”

Published by Nature Scientific Reports, the results of the study noted that over the last decade, while the demand for honey bees has increased, the annual colony losses have continued to increase, usually by more than 30 percent each year.

Researchers began paying attention to the natural habits of the bees, which led them to study why the bees were foraging directly on mushrooms. According to the study:

“HONEY BEES HAVE BEEN OBSERVED FORAGING DIRECTLY ON MYCELIUM GROWING IN OUTDOOR BEDS, LEADING TO SPECULATION THAT THEY MAY BE PROCURING A NUTRITIONAL OR MEDICINAL GAIN. THIS BEHAVIOR MAY REPRESENT A NOVEL FACET OF SOCIAL IMMUNITY, GIVEN THAT A GROWING BODY OF EVIDENCE INDICATES THAT HONEY BEES SELF-MEDICATE USING PLANT-DERIVED SUBSTANCES. IN THIS STUDY, WE EVALUATED EXTRACTS DERIVED FROM THE MYCELIA OF SEVERAL POLYPORE MUSHROOM SPECIES FOR ACTIVITY AGAINST TWO MAJOR HONEY BEE VIRUSES IN VIVO IN BOTH LABORATORY AND FIELD STUDIES. IN BOTH CASES, REDUCTIONS IN DWV AND LSV TITERS OCCURRED IN BEES THAT WERE FED MYCELIAL EXTRACTS IN SUCROSE SYRUP.”

Stamets also told ABC News that he was initially invited to submit his mushroom extract samples to the Department of Defense’s “Project BioShield” following the 9/11 attacks when the government warned of a possible “biological attack” and the extracts he provided were found to be “extraordinarily active.”

The power of mushrooms is now having the same effect on fragile honey bees, and the study found that the extracts could almost double the lifespan of caged bees while simultaneously working to reduces their viral count.

One of the most incredible things about this study is that the researchers took the time to pay attention to the elements in nature that honey bees were attracted to, and they found that the bees were instinctively foraging for a substance that helped to protect them.

The study is also yet another “win” for magic mushrooms, and as The Free Thought Project has reported over the years, there is no shortage of wonders that come from mushrooms, which include treatment for depressionopioid addictionPTSD, and mental illness—just to name a few.

About the Author

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds.

**This article (Study Shows Growing Hemp is a Powerful Tool to Fight Bee Population Decline) was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is re-posted here with permission.**

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Canada Bans Whale, Dolphin And Porpoise Captivity

Canada has made history by passing unprecedented legislation to ban entertainment based whale, dolphin and porpoise captivity. Under the new laws, it will also be illegal to trade, posses, capture or breed of cetaceans. The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favor of Bill S-203, which was called “the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act.”

The bill was introduced by Senator Wilfred Moore in 2015, and then later sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair.

Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of HSI/Canada called the passing of the bill a “watershed moment.”

“The passage of Bill S-203 is a watershed moment in the protection of marine animals and a victory for all Canadians. Whales and dolphins don’t belong in tanks, and the inherent suffering these highly social and intelligent animals endure in intensive confinement can no longer be tolerated. We congratulate the sponsors of this bill and the Canadian government for showing strong leadership in responding to public will and sound science on this critical issue,” Aldworth said.

The bill was endorsed by a coalition of over 20 leading marine scientists and stakeholder organizations.

Canada Bans Whale, Dolphin And Porpoise Captivity 1

Photo Credit: flickr/davidohmer

Only two facilities in the country currently hold cetaceans in captivity. Those facilities are the Vancouver Aquarium, and Marineland in Niagara Falls. However, now these facilities will no longer be able to breed or import any new cetaceans.

Green Party Leader and Saanic Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May was one of the main supporters of the bill in the House of Commons.

“Canadians have been clear, they want the cruel practice of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity to end. With the passage of Bill S-203, we have ensured that this will happen,” MP May said.

Senator Wilfred Moore, who sponsored the bill, said that humans have a moral obligation to treat animals humanely.

“We have a moral obligation to phase out the capture and retention of animals for profit and entertainment. Canadians are calling upon us to do better – and we have listened,” Moore said.

Hal Whitehead, a leading marine scientist, said that the conditions that marine animals are currently held in are similar to prisons.

“The living conditions for captive marine mammals cannot compare to their natural ocean environments in size, nor in quality. We thank the federal government and all those involved in the passage of Bill S-203, so that our laws can finally align with the Canadian peoples’ values and end this cruel practice,” Whitehead said.

Canada Bans Whale, Dolphin And Porpoise Captivity 2

Photo Credit: Purfect Paws

For the past few years, animal parks like SeaWorld have been under heavy scrutiny, due to criticism from animal rights activist who say that they mistreat the whales and dolphins that they have in captivity. The theme park has been at the center of controversy since the 2013 release of the documentary “Blackfish”, which exposed the inhumane treatment of its animals.

After years of activism from a variety of groups and individuals, the California Coastal Commission banned captive whale breeding in 2015, and set unprecedented limitations on how the company can hold and transport the animals.

The board also approved the construction of a $100-million project called Project Blue World, which SeaWorld says will greatly improve the quality of life for the whales that they have captive. The new project will reportedly be an expansion of the pools, and an enhanced habitat, but the plan has been criticized by many activists who say that the project is “a joke.”

Canada Bans Whale, Dolphin And Porpoise Captivity 3

Photo Credit: Wikimedia/Diliff

Attendance at parks like this have been dropping so sharply that they are being forced to look for new sources of income, as they face out captivity.

The company announced in 2015 that they have seen an 84% decrease in sales as “continued brand challenges” steer customers away from the park, and things have only gotten worse for the brand. Since the release of the film, it was reported that the company lost more than half of its market value, and was forced to fire many leading executives.

Following the release of Blackfish, it was shown that SeaWorld’s income dropped from $37.4 million $5.8 million in just two years, and attendance dropped by more than 100,000 tickets.

SeaWorld contends that their parks are more like veterinary clinics than zoos, because according to the company, they nurse sick animals back to health and keep them in captivity because they would not be able to survive on their own. However, these claims are mostly rejected by animal rights activists.

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Nevada Becomes First State to Ban Employers From Testing Workers for Weed

Elias Marat, TMU
Waking Times

In a move that could blaze a small but important trail for workers’ rights across the U.S., Nevada has passed a bill telling employers and state agencies that they can no longer refuse to hire workers on the basis of their testing positive for cannabis. It’s a long way to come for a state that was once infamous for its notoriously strong prohibitionist laws penalizing those in possession of marijuana.

Last week, Governor Steve Sisolak signed AB 132, which prohibits the denial of employment to cannabis consumers after drug pre-screenings. Advocates are hailing the passage of the bill because it finally clears a major gap in the law between states that have rendered marijuana totally legal for medical or recreational purposes and those U.S. companies that try to block their workers from toking up at all.

In Nevada, as in the other several states that have made recreational cannabis legal across the country, employers were still able to turn people away from jobs if they failed the “whizz quiz,” or urine-based drug tests. NFL players seeking to recover from the intense physical pressures of football are unable to use cannabis-based remedies, doctors have lost their licenses for using medicinal cannabis, and 48 percent of businesses in otherwise weed-friendly Colorado have “well-defined” rules that allow them to fire employees if marijuana is detected in a worker’s test results.

According to the Nevada law, which kicks in January:

“It is unlawful for any employer in this State to fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee because the prospective employee submitted to a screening test and the results of the screening test indicate the presence of marijuana.”

However, a number of provisions in the bill complicate matters. Safety-sensitive positions including first responders such as firefighters and EMTs, doctors, transportation and construction workers are exempt from the bill, as are workers who belong to collective bargaining agreements—which bars union workers who are extant across numerous industries in Nevada, according to Merry Jane. Additionally, federal law demands that workers like truck drivers must take drug tests.

Paul Enos, the chief executive of the Nevada Trucking Association who helped ensure revisions to the law that would allow safety exemptions for certain workers, toldthe Washington Post:

“We want to make sure we have safety conscious individuals … The bill gives employers a tremendous amount of discretion to determine whether or not the position they are hiring for could impact the safety of others … They can still use positive tests for marijuana to deny the job.”

The law has come a long way since it was introduced, with some employers accusing state politicians of allowing workers to blaze it up while on the clock.

Lead sponsor of AB 132 and Democratic Assemblywoman Dina Neal said during a hearing for the bill in February:

“There is nothing in AB132 that prevents an employer from having a policy prohibiting the possession or use of marijuana at the workplace … The bill does not get into violating the [federal] supremacy clause or get into the business of usurping federal law and preventing rights of federal employees.”

Yet Madisen Saglibene, the executive director of the Nevada and Las Vegas chapters of NORML, worked hard alongside legislators to ensure the bill’s passage in the face of opposition from industry representatives and politicians like Ellen Spiegel, chair of the Commerce and Labor committee.

Saglibene told VICE that the troubling provisions in the bill were a result of compromises necessary to pass the bill, explaining:

“It was hated … It was one of those things where we were meeting with legislators and they were like, Absolutely not. We are not taking away employers’ right to hire who they want.”

But thanks to Neal, who held meetings with all parties interested in the bill, a compromise was finally met. Saglibene said:

“By the time it was having its final public comments, most of the stakeholders who were initially against it testified as neutral … which is saying a lot, actually, considering they were so vehemently opposed.”

Gov. Sisolak has also signed Assembly Bill 192, which provides for a process through which individuals can petition to have their criminal records sealed if their conviction was for offenses that were eventually decriminalized, such as for a cannabis conviction.

Saglibene remains optimistic about the prospects of the AB 132, which opens the door to similar—and perhaps stronger—legislation across the country. Acknowledging that there is still work ahead, she noted:

“We’re very pleased … This isn’t the end-all-be-all but this is absolutely a step in the right direction.”

**This article (Nevada Becomes First State to Ban Employers From Testing Workers for Weed) was originally published at The Mind Unleashed and is re-posted here with permission.**

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