Happy Earth Day! If you’re in second grade, I hope you enjoyed painting a paper plate blue and green and singing “Recycle Me Maybe” at today’s assembly. If you’re not in second grade, I hope you enjoyed doing nothing out of the ordinary at all. But as long as I have your attention, here’s a roundup of recent news to at least make you feel a bit of healthy, liberal despair.
Pangolin meat shipment collides with coral reef
Last week a Chinese boat was cruising through the waters off of Palawan Island in the Philippines, a place National Geographic Traveler calls “one of the most biodiverse (terrestrial and marine) islands in the Philippines,” adding, “The island has had a Biosphere Reserve status since early 1990s, showing local interest for conservation and sustainable development." So the crew decided this would be a good place to take a break from watching where they were going and crash into a coral reef. Not just any coral reef, but TheTubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After an investigation and some attempts at bribery, it was revealed that the boat's cargo included 40,000 pounds of dead pangolins, a critically endangered species.
Photo by Valerius Tygart
Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, which look like a cross between an armadillo and an artichoke, are toothless animals that do nothing except root around for ants to lick out of the dirt and then get fed to people by herbalists. Apparently pangolin scales “disperse blood stasis (for promoting menstruation and lactation), reducing swelling and promoting discharge of pus (for abscesses and boils etc.) and expel wind-dampness (for pain due to rehumatism/arthritis),” according to the Journal of Chinese Medicine. Naturally you have to kill the whole animal to get the scales.
Over the years, so much healthy menstruation and lactation have been promoted in China that the local pangolin species is approaching extinction, and the Chinese authorities are cracking down. Consequently, it appears that the crew disguised themselves as fishermen to pull off a secret incursion into the Philippines in order to replenish the local supply.
Naturally, Philippine authorities are so angry they could expel wind-dampness and want to sentence the crew to 18 years in prison each. It’s worth noting that this comes after an American Navy ship ran into a nearby, and probably equally scenic, atoll in January, and had to be dismantled on site.
Exxon Doesn’t Feel Like Paying for the Arkansas Spill Investigation
Photo by Dana Torres
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (pictured above) calculated that the cost of investigating the recent catastrophic oil spill in Arkansas is going to be $4 million, so he asked Exxon if they would help out. In a statement implied in the subtext of their actual statement on Wednesday, Exxon replied, “Fuck that.” The investigation is now gearing up and will instead be paid for by the good people of Arkansas.
Michele Bachmann Seeks to Prevent Regulation of Greenhouse Gases
During what was a big week of applying her deranged logic to actual issues of importance to the country, Michele Bachmann petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a case about EPA rules. This case includes the controversial “Endangerment Finding,” which gave the EPA the power to establish regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions.
The basis of their argument is that the new powers are too broad, and that the endangerment finding “gives EPA regulatory jurisdiction over a breadth of human activity unparalleled in the history of American governance.” Then again, if you were to ask me how our meager EPA could actually do something about climate change, the most pressing issue in the world, my exact words would be that they need “regulatory jurisdiction over a breadth of human activity unparalleled in the history of American governance.”
While this is going on, the EPA is behaving in exactly the way Bachmann wants, even without her intervention. Several states and environmentalist groups are now suing the EPA for delaying the creation of the regulations that they are newly capable of creating, but aren’t.
I used to love laughing at Michele Bachmann, but then she became an influential member of the United States government. Last week she also humiliated herself and by extension, me as a citizen of the country she helps govern, when she was on a panel questioning the CIA about Iran’s nuclear program. Get ready to cringe:
If there’s one ray of hope this Earth Day, it’s that Bachmann’s former chief of staff recently decided to testify against her in an ethics case. Maybe by next Earth Day, I won’t even remember her name.