Study: Pollution Kills More People Than War, Smoking, Hunger, and Other Causes of Death

jonathanturle – excerpt

We have previously discussed how environmental dangers remain something of an abstraction for most people who fail to recognize that changes in air or water pollution standards results in high and quantifiable rises in death rates.  Even changes in areas like shipping fuels can translate to thousands of deaths.

However, since these deaths are not immediate and borne privately, the true costs of pollution are often dismissed.  I have been highly critical of the environmental record of the Trump Administration for this reason in rolling back on protections in a variety of areas as well as appointing regulators with anti-environmental records.

Now a new major study has found that environmental pollution kills more people every year that all of the wars.  It exceeds the death tolls for smoking, hunger or natural disasters combined. It kills more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Yet, unlike these causes of death, pollution remains a policy concern that is often pushed to the side for more immediate goals like job creation.

This is not to say that environmental protection would trump all other concerns but rather the real costs of such pollution are rarely discussed in real terms of premature deaths by politicians.

The study in the respected Lancet medical journal found that one out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 was caused by toxic exposure.  That amounts to 9 million people who died prematurely due to pollution.  The study also found that the cost of the resulting illnesses and deaths amounted to some $4.6 trillion in annual losses.

Worse yet, the 9 million deaths from pollution appears a highly conservative estimate since it relied on only limited data on specific measurable cases of deaths and illnesses. The actual number is likely much higher. Moreover, only half of the 5000 news chemicals introduced since 1950 have actually been fully tested for their toxicity.

Obviously, the rate of death is higher in developing countries, though we are now experiencing heavy pollution migration from Asia.  In India, an astonishing one out of every four deaths are attributed to pollution. In China, there is a term for “cancer villages” in which a huge percentage of the citizens are developing cancers due to horrific environmental conditions. In China, one out of every five deaths are attributed to pollution with 1.8 million premature deaths a year…(more)

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Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals

By : theguardian – excerpt (includes graph)

Tap-Water

Tap water photo by zrants

Exclusive: Tests show billions of people globally are drinking water contaminated by plastic particles, with 83% of samples found to be polluted

We are living on a plastic planet. What does it mean for our health?

Microplastic contamination has been found in tap water in countries around the world, leading to calls from scientists for urgent research on the implications for health.

Scores of tap water samples from more than a dozen nations were analysed by scientists for an investigation by Orb Media, who shared the findings with the Guardian. Overall, 83% of the samples were contaminated with plastic fibres.

The US had the highest contamination rate, at 94%, with plastic fibres found in tap water sampled at sites including Congress buildings, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters, and Trump Tower in New York. Lebanon and India had the next highest rates…

How microplastics end up in drinking water is for now a mystery, but the atmosphere is one obvious source, with fibres shed by the everyday wear and tear of clothes and carpets. Tumble dryers are another potential source, with almost 80% of US households having dryers that usually vent to the open air…

Current standard water treatment systems do not filter out all of the microplastics, Mahon said: “There is nowhere really where you can say these are being trapped 100%. In terms of fibres, the diameter is 10 microns across and it would be very unusual to find that level of filtration in our drinking water systems.”…(more)

 

Valley attorney wins lawsuit challenging adequacy of County’s Climate Action Plan

by Sonoma Valley Sun : sonomasun – excerpt

Superior Court Judge Nancy Case Shaffer in Santa Rosa has ruled in favor of local Sonoma Valley attorney Jerry Bernhaut’s lawsuit challenging Sonoma County’s Climate Action 2020 Plan. A lawyer with River Watch, a Sonoma County firm active in filing environmental challenges, Bernhaut’s suit argued that the county’s plan violated various provisions of CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act…

Commenting on the ruling, Bernhaut said, “The court’s ruling validates River Watch’s contentions that:

1. By failing to account for GHG emissions from global tourist travel and global distribution of wine and other Sonoma County products, the CAP grossly understated the true GHG emissions generated by activities in Sonoma County…

Bernhaut added, “It’s time to admit that perpetual growth on a planet with limited resources and carrying capacity is not sustainable.”

The County’s Climate Action Plan 2020 was adopted by Sonoma County last year, but River Watch’s legal action has placed the program on hold. The plan was that all nine Sonoma County cities would join the county and sign-on to the plan, conforming to its goals and methodology. That process was halted while the lawsuit proceeded, and now that the court has made its ruling, it’s unclear as to the next steps. The county can appeal the court decision, or it can decide to revamp and reissue the plan in accordance with the corrections and changes the court decision highlights.

Of particular note is the court’s reference to the need to use VMT calculations (Vehicle Miles Traveled) to better asses and calculate the full impacts of GHG (Greenhouse Gas emissions). During the recent, successful appeal of the certification of the EIR for the proposed hotel on West Napa Street, appellants objected to the fact that VMT methodology was not used to calculate the project’s GHG impacts, but city staff and the EIR consultant argued that calculations using VMT need not be used. It’s unclear what, if any, this court decision will have on that EIR, which is currently undergoing review and amendment…(more)

More hearings on Water Quality and Groundwater Safety concerns

Guest writer:

Dear Water Warriors,

If SF has plenty of water in storage*, why is the city blending?
The state may be requiring SF to do so but…why?
How much is DPW involved in this “blended” water project?
After all, pipes are repaired, re-routed by DPW…& if there is an “emergency,” aren’t there federal funds?**  Could this be part of OneBayArea Plan to support the 1 million people for our future city? But since we don’t have the $, do they need to mess with it and then “fix” it? Hate to think so…but really, why? See some detailed information about other city experiments with changing water sources in the links below:

“San Francisco Ordered to Stop Using Century-Old Water Rights” (KQED 6/26/2015)
https://ww2.kqed.org/science/2015/06/26/san-francisco-ordered-to-stop-using-century-old-water-rights/ according to Steve Ritchie: “We have plenty of water in storage.”

“Fight over senior water rights splashes into the Capitol” (SF Chronicle 3/21/16)
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Fight-over-senior-water-rights-splashes-into-the-6932476.php

Senior water rights data – California
http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_data/ca_water_rights/

PBS link to “Poisoned Water” video about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis:
http://www.pbs.org/video/3001355667/

** Flint received $10 billion from the federal government to “fix” the water emergency problem (subsidies ran out, water rates increased): http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/senate-approves-bill-water-projects-millions-flint/

Flint said it was costing them too much for their water system so was this all just to get $$$? to be used like wherever the officials wanted? This is so weird.

There’s a bunch of other articles on Flint on the pbs website:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/tag/flint-water-crisis/

Oregon Organic Farm Threatened With Forced Herbicide Use Reaches Settlement With County

vineyards1

by Darren Smith : jonthanturley – excerpt

Last weekend we featured two articles (HERE and HERE) describing a controversy involving the forced use of chemical herbicides on an organic farm that according to County officials was out of compliance in controlling noxious weeds that were threatening neighboring farms and crops.

The 2,000 acre organic farm in North Central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides to eradicate weed growth.

I attended the public hearing held at the Sherman County seat located in Moro, Oregon. Due to a very high volume of interest expressed by residents and those outside the community, the venue was changed from the County Courthouse to a gymnasium at the Sherman County High School. There was a great deal of uncertainty manifest in this hearing with strongly held opinions on many sides and one can say with near certainty that the publicity generated caused turmoil in this small community. In fact, the concern was so great, that a number of law enforcement officials were dispatched to the area to provide security to address a worry that things might get out of hand. But in the end the two sides reached an agreement that precludes the forced use of herbicides–and offered both a carrot and stick for both parties to strongly consider…(more)

How much damage can the government do before the public reacts? It appears we had two good outcomes in two states this week that prove when the public protests buildings casting shadows on parks and forced use of poisons on organic farms the government sometimes still listens.

Continue reading

This Refugee Camp Is The First In The World To Be Powered By Solar Energy

By Willa Frej : huffingtonpost – excerpt (includes video)

A group of about 20,000 Syrian refugees living outdoors have access to electricity as of Wednesday thanks to a newly constructed solar plant in the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. It’s the first and only solar-powered refugee camp in the world.

“Each family can now connect a fridge, a TV, a fan, have light inside the shelter and charge their phones, which is critical for refugees to keep in contact with their relatives abroad,” the U.N.’s refugee agency, UNHCR, said in a statement.

UNHCR built the 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant farm in collaboration with the IKEA Foundation’s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, which provided the funding, according to the statement… (more)

Are solar powered RV dwellers homeless, or are they just lacking an address to park their homes?

Oregon County Mandates 2,000 Acre Organic Farm Sprayed With Chemical Herbicides

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor : jonathanturley – excerpt (includes video)

An Organic Farm Under Threat from Azure Standard on Vimeo.

Action Request!!
Azure Farm, a Certified Organic farm in Central Oregon, is under threat from the local county government who wants to spray Azure’s Certified Organic farm with herbicides like Roundup (Glyphosate). Here’s what you can do to help. Contact Sherman County court via email at lhernandez@co.sherman.or.us or call Lauren at 541-565-3416 and express your concern. See azurestandard.com/healthy-living/info/azure-farm-moro/ for more details.

A 2,000 acre organic farm in central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides, such as Roundup, to eradicate weed growth.

The mandate would bring to an end nearly 18 years of organic farming, placing a significant loss of organic food to the public.

Azure Farms is a certified organic farm located in Moro, Sherman County, Oregon. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.

Sherman County could issue a court order on May 22, 2017 to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the entire farm with poisonous herbicides contaminating them with Milestone, Escort, and Roundup.

Such a unilateral action on the behalf of the few individuals representing county government could set a precedent in damaging perhaps one of the few remaining healthy alternatives to mass-market agribusinesses… (more)

RELATED FOLLOW-UP

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor:

Yesterday I fielded an article concerning a rather distressing mandate by an Oregon county weed control agency seeking to force the application of hazardous herbicides onto a 2,000 acre organic farm owned by Azure Farms. Sherman County Oregon maintains this scorched earth policy is necessary to abate, or more specifically “eradicate”, weeds listed by state statute as noxious.

Now, the scientific community is responding to this overreaching government action by acting in the interests of health and responsible environmental stewardship through advocacy in the hopes that officials in Sherman County will reconsider their mandate.

Dr. Charles Benbrook is a highly credentialed research professor and expert serving on several boards of directors for agribusiness and natural resources organizations. Having read news of Sherman County’s actions, he penned an authoritative response I believe will make informative reading for those concerned by present and future implications in the forced use of herbicides under the rubric of noxious weed eradication, and the damage to organic farming generally arising from such mandates… (more)

Dakota Access pipeline has first leak before it’s fully operational

: theguardian – excerpt (includes video)

Leak raises fresh concerns about hazards to waterways and outrages indigenous groups, who have long warned of threat to environment

The Dakota Access pipeline has suffered its first leak, outraging indigenous groups who have long warned that the project poses a threat to the environment.

The $3.8bn oil pipeline, which sparked international protests last year and is not yet fully operational, spilled 84 gallons of crude oil at a South Dakota pump station, according to government regulators.

Although state officials said the 6 April leak was contained and quickly cleaned, critics of the project said the spill, which occurred as the pipeline is in the final stages of preparing to transport oil, raises fresh concerns about the potential hazards to waterways and Native American sites.

“They keep telling everybody that it is state of the art, that leaks won’t happen, that nothing can go wrong,” said Jan Hasselman, a lawyer for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been fighting the project for years. “It’s always been false. They haven’t even turned the thing on and it’s shown to be false.”

The pipeline, scheduled to transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois, inspired massive demonstrations in 2016 and was dealt a major blow when the Obama administration denied a key permit for the project toward the end of his presidency. But shortly after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the new administration ordered the revival of the pipeline and worked to expedite the final stage of construction

The April spill, which was first uncovered this week by a local South Dakota reporter, illustrates the need for the more robust environmental assessment that the tribe has long demanded, said Hasselman… (more)

The Sad State of the University Degree for Planners & Designers

by Rick Harrison : newgeography – excerpt

For the past four decades, technology has improved nearly all aspects of our life – except for the physical land development patterns of our cities. The 1960’s suburban pattern, still in use today, is unsustainable. However, the ‘architectural’ answer to the ‘planning’ problem of sprawling subdivisions has been to simply go backwards to the gridded past.

Without a high degree of architectural and landscaping detail, this model, known as New Urbanism, does not work. As such, there are few (if any) affordable New Urbanist non-subsidized developements. The Congress of New Urbanism (CNU) boasts of their success in gentrification, but instead of reinventing ‘design’ to address the problems, the architect’s answer is to make site plan function as if it as a simplistic rectangular floor plan.

The CNU objective is to create a pedestrian oriented society and do everything possible to do away with car ownership. To combat suburban sprawl, they attack those who invest in suburban homes even though they represent 80 percent of the housing market growth. Even with the nearly three decades New Urbanists have promoted this singular solution, there are relatively few actual CNU projects.

ne of the largest groups of CNU followers are university professors who teach young, impressionable minds that suburbia is terrible and only high density is the answer. These students go deep into debt thinking that they will be part of a vast new era of change, however, when they look for employment in the real world, they are miserably unprepared. The technical skills taught in Urban Planning and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) revolve around software and training supplied by ESRI, and for architectural or civil engineering students, most likely an AutoCAD targeted module like Civil3D or Revitt, the current industry-leading software products… (more)

 

Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Harlan County switches to solar power

Housed in a former commissary building and tucked into the hollers of Harlan County — the heart of Kentucky mining country — is a museum dedicated to all aspects of extracting coal from the state’s mountains.

Mining equipment decorates its walls, while a two-ton block of coal at the front door greets visitors. Children can climb on the museum’s 1940s model electric locomotive that once carried Kentucky men into the mines. An exhibit dedicated to Loretta Lynn (who wrote and who is the “Coal Miner’s Daughter”) sits on the third floor. Guests can even wander through an actual underground coal mine.

Not much about the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum screams modern. Its website — nay, websites — boasts early 1990s Web design, and its advertisement on YouTube appears to have been shot on a handheld camcorder. It sits next to City Hall on Main Street, the only thoroughfare of Benham, Ky. That’s to be expected from a museum dedicated to an old form of energy, which is what makes its own power methods so interesting.

The museum is switching to solar power in hopes of saving money on energy costs, as reported by WYMT and EKB-TV. The installation of solar panels began this week…(more)