Who Gets to Breathe Clean Air in New Delhi? – The New York Times

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“Around 7 in the morning, Monu, 13, lifts his mosquito netting and crawls out of bed onto a dirt floor. Outside, his mother cooks breakfast over an open fire.

A few miles across New Delhi, the world’s most polluted capital, 11-year-old Aamya finally gives in to her mom’s coaxing. She climbs out of bed and treads down the hall, past an air purifier that shows the pollution levels in glowing numbers.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | based on my NYT Comment:
Wonderful, horrible story, thank you to all who made this piece with its product of offering some painful clarity. My favorite class at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in Seattle, was on Organization Development taught by Cecil Bell. The basic premise of Organization Development is that most people are natural problem solvers. If you get the right people together and give them good data, they will normally want to think and work to solve the problems that they now can see. This kind of excellent data gathering could lead to many good works. While Family planning might  appear to go to the top of the list. if you read the many most recommended comments, you see that the main problems in India are too many wood burning stoves, fossil fuel burning vehicles, and farmers burning their waste, rather than adopting cleaner methods of sustainable farming. There is way too much dirty energy being used. It is time for India to step up and become famous for something other than maintaining its status as one of the most corrupt governments and business economies in the world.

Opinion | Our Oceans, Our Future – By Fabien Cousteau – The New York Times

Mr. Cousteau is an ocean explorer.

Credit…Anthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

This is an article from Turning Points, a special section that explores what critical moments from this year might mean for the year ahead.

Turning Point: The spread of Covid-19 in 2020 led to dramatic reductions in global carbon dioxide emissions, with one study finding that emissions fell by roughly 1.5 billion metric tons during the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2019 — the largest half-year decline in recorded history.

” “No ocean, no life.” Being a Cousteau, this message was practically written into my DNA. And it’s one I’ve tried to share with the world through my many years of work as an environmental advocate.

Unfortunately, given the dire state of our oceans today, it’s clear that the message hasn’t gotten through to most people.

As we reflect on 2020 — one of the most socially and scientifically difficult years in recent memory — and look for ways to move forward, it’s crucial that we understand this simple fact: Without a healthy ocean we will not have a healthy future.

Many of us have experienced the magic and beauty of the ocean. Yet its vital connection to our daily lives — the ways in which it supplies the oxygen we breathe and nourishes the crops we eat — remains far less understood.

I’ve had the challenge — and the privilege — of spending 31 continuous days living in an underwater habitat, which has given me a unique perspective on the intrinsic value of the ocean as our primary life support system. The truth, to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, is that our planet would more appropriately be called Ocean, not Earth. Without our water, Earth would be just one of billions of lifeless rocks floating in the inky-black void of space.

How can we change our perspective on the ocean as it relates to our planet? We can start by heeding the lessons of 2020. While the coronavirus has caused great suffering and tragedy, it has also shed light on some of the invisible structures that underpin our daily lives, from racial injustice to the extreme disparities in wealth that burden our communities. While these realities have always been plain to some, it took the seismic shifts created by the pandemic for many of us to wake up to them.

The pandemic has also served to remind us of the beauty of nature. As Covid-19 spread across the globe in the spring, prompting nation upon nation to impose strict lockdown measures, the natural world briefly reasserted itself: Cloudy Venetian canals grew clearer. The smog dissipated over the Hollywood Hills. Cars vanished from the roads, leading to a significant, though temporary, drop in carbon dioxide emissions. These developments were encouraging, suggesting that dramatic change was possible, and that there was hope for a greener future after all.

Yet, as the pandemic has continued, it has also caused the use of disposable plastics to skyrocket. Grocery bags and latex gloves fill our trash bins. Discarded face masks flow down the drains of our city streets and into our waterways, potentially harming sea life. Whether we realize it or not, discarded plastics are choking the life out of our ecosystem.”

Excellent, sad, and disturbing. Thank you, Excellent comments also.  Here is one I especially liked:

David Roy,  Fort Collins, Colorado   4h ago

The conceit of humanity is two-fold: We have created a global system of commerce and economics that we believe we have to depend on for our survival, and we enforce that global system of commerce with the institutions of politics, grounded in law. At our essence, humans are neither economic or political beings. Like every species we share this planet with, we are biological beings first. Our wealth is accumulated from what we take from the earth. The extraction of that bounty is the bio-diversity of life. We are destroying what humanity itself needs just to simply survive. The politics that are in play, the rules and the laws governing commerce, puts wealth ahead of bio-diversity in the courts of law across the planet. Simply saying that humans are more valuable than the values of the state puts individuals in harms way, and in jail. As soon as humanity adjusts to reality, and accepts that we are no more and no less than all of the other forms of life we share this planet with, than we will begin to find and create solutions to the problems that are vexing us. Climate change will obliterate our civilization, and we take only intellectual baby steps at doing our best to mitigate it. Over-population devours what is left of once was our bounty, too many mouths feeding at too little of a degraded planet. This condition makes the unthinkable more real, the use of nuclear weapons to protect a nation(s) from the scarcity we are all inflicting on our planet. Live simply.

Reply10 Recommended

The Link Between Parkinson’s Disease and Toxic Chemicals – By Jane E. Brody – The New York Times

“Michael Richard Clifford, a 66-year-old retired astronaut living in Cary, N.C., learned before his third spaceflight that he had Parkinson’s disease. He was only 44 and in excellent health at the time, and had no family history of this disabling neurological disorder.

What he did have was years of exposure to numerous toxic chemicals, several of which have since been shown in animal studies to cause the kind of brain damage and symptoms that afflict people with Parkinson’s.

As a youngster, Mr. Clifford said, he worked in a gas station using degreasers to clean car engines. He also worked on a farm where he used pesticides and in fields where DDT was sprayed. Then, as an aviator, he cleaned engines readying them for test flights. But at none of these jobs was he protected from exposure to hazardous chemicals that are readily inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Now Mr. Clifford, a lifelong nonsmoker, believes that his close contact with these various substances explains why he developed Parkinson’s disease at such a young age. Several of the chemicals have strong links to Parkinson’s, and a growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to them may very well account for the dramatic rise in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s in recent decades.”

EWG Urges Ban On Toxic Soft Soap Additive | EWG

FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 2011

 

April 8, 2011

Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) Regulatory Public Docket (7502P)
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
Washington, DC 20460-0001

Re: Petition for a Ban on Triclosan [EPA–HQ–OPP–2010–0548; FRL–8852–8]

To Whom It May Concern:

Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit public health and environmental research and advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. We work to combat the health risks from chemical contamination of food, water, consumer products and the environment. As a co-signer to the 2010 Citizen Petition for a Ban on Triclosan, EWG strongly supports a suspension of non-medical uses of triclosan while EPA reexamines the safety of currently registered uses. We are particularly concerned that EPA has not comprehensively assessed the safety of cumulative exposures of triclosan for the developing fetus, infant and child.

Triclosan has been used for 40 years as an antimicrobial ingredient in consumer and commercial products. Despite widespread concerns about the chemical’s toxicity—the fact that the chemical is detected in the majority of Americans, and its potential to harm aquatic life and form toxic byproducts in water or the environment—there are few restrictions on its use. The American Medical Association does not recommend use of antimicrobial products in the home (Tan 2002), stating: “No data support the efficacy or necessity of antimicrobial agents in such products, and a growing number of studies suggest increasing acquired bacterial resistance to them.” According to a Food and Drug Administration Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee, triclosan soaps are no better than plain soap and water for preventing the spread of infections or reducing bacteria on the skin (FDA 2005).

EWG research finds that:

  • A wide range of home products contain triclosan and contribute to exposures. EWG research shows that with no assessment of health risks to infants, regulators have approved triclosan for use in 140 different types of consumer products including liquid hand soap, toothpaste, undergarments and children’s toys (EWG 2008). This exposure has been allowed despite the fact that the chemical ends up in mothers’ breast milk and poses potential toxicity to fetal and childhood development.
  • Triclosan commonly contaminates the human body. EWG biomonitoring research has found triclosan in 42 of the 49 participants tested, including all 20 adolescent girls (EWG 2008).

Source: EWG Urges Ban On Toxic Soft Soap Additive | EWG

Where’s Airborne Plastic? Everywhere, Scientists Find. – By  John Schwartz – The New York Times

“Plastic pollution isn’t just fouling the world’s oceans. It is also in the air we breathe, traveling on the wind and drifting down from the skies, according to a new study. More than 1,000 tons of tiny fragments rain down each year on national parks and wilderness areas in the American West alone, equivalent to between 123 million and 300 million plastic bottles worth.

“There’s no nook or cranny on the surface of the earth that won’t have microplastics,” said Janice Brahney, a Utah State University scientist who is lead author on the new study. “It’s really unnerving to think about it.”

While the troublesome presence of plastics in landfillsin the oceans and in freshwater environments like the Great Lakes is well known, research into airborne particles is more recent. Previous papers have described finding airborne microplastics in, among other places, EuropeChina and in the Arctic.

The new paper, published Thursday in the journal Science, reports finding plastic in remote parts of the United States; the researchers collected samples from 11 national parks and wilderness areas.

They found tiny bits of plastic in 98 percent of the 339 samples they collected; plastics accounted for 4 percent of the dust particles that were tested.”

See How the World’s Most Polluted Air Compares With Your City’s – The New York Times

“Outdoor particulate pollution was responsible for an estimated 4.2 million deaths worldwide in 2015, with a majority concentrated in east and south Asia. Millions more fell ill from breathing dirty air.

This fine pollution mainly comes from burning things: Coal in power plants, gasoline in cars, chemicals in industrial processes, or woody materials and whatever else ignites during wildfires. The particles are too small for the eye to see — each about 35 times smaller than a grain of fine beach sand — but in high concentrations they cast a haze in the sky. And, when breathed in, they wreak havoc on human health.

PM2.5 can evade our bodies’ defenses, penetrating deep into the lungs and even entering the bloodstream. It has been shown to exacerbate asthma and other lung disorders, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. This microscopic pollution, named because each particle is smaller than 2.5 micrometers across, has also been linked to developmental problems in children and cognitive impairment in the elderly, as well as premature labor and low birth weights.

Under high levels of particulate pollution, “you can’t function, you can’t thrive,” said Alexandra Karambelas, an environmental analyst and research scientist affiliated with Columbia University. “Having access to clean air is kind of a basic human right.” “

Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Drinking Water Leave Military Families Reeling – By Julie Turkewitz – The New York Times

By Julie Turkewitz
Feb. 22, 2019

“FOUNTAIN, Colo. — When Army Staff Sergeant Samuel Fortune returned from Iraq, his body battered by war, he assumed he’d be safe.

Then the people around him began to get sick. Neighbors complained of tumors, thyroid problems and debilitating fatigue. Soon, the Colorado health department announced an unusually high number of kidney cancers in the region. Then Mr. Fortune’s wife fell ill.

The military, it turned out, had been leaching toxic chemicals into the water for decades.

Mr. Fortune felt “stabbed in the back,” he said. “We give our lives and our bodies for our country, and our government does not live up to their end of the deal.”

That was 2016. Since then, the Defense Department has admitted that it allowed a firefighting foam to slip into at least 55 drinking water systems at military bases around the globe, sometimes for generations. This exposed tens of thousands of Americans, possibly many more, to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of man-made chemicals known as PFAS that have been linked to cancers, immune suppression and other serious health problems.”

Oceans Are Getting Louder- Posing Potential Threats to Marine Life – By Jim Robbins – The New York Times

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By Jim Robbins
Jan. 22, 2019,   24 c
Slow-moving, hulking ships crisscross miles of ocean in a lawn mower pattern, wielding an array of 12 to 48 air guns blasting pressurized air repeatedly into the depths of the ocean.

The sound waves hit the sea floor, penetrating miles into it, and bounce back to the surface, where they are picked up by hydrophones. The acoustic patterns form a three-dimensional map of where oil and gas most likely lie.

The seismic air guns probably produce the loudest noise that humans use regularly underwater, and it is about to become far louder in the Atlantic. As part of the Trump administration’s plans to allow offshore drilling for gas and oil exploration, five companies are in the process of seeking permits to carry out seismic mapping with the air guns all along the Eastern Seaboard, from Central Florida to the Northeast, for the first time in three decades. The surveys haven’t started yet in the Atlantic, but now that the ban on offshore drilling has been lifted, companies can be granted access to explore regions along the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific.

And air guns are now the most common method companies use to map the ocean floor.

“They fire approximately every 10 seconds around the clock for months at a time,” said Douglas Nowacek, a professor of marine conservation technology at Duke University. “They have been detected 4,000 kilometers away. These are huge, huge impacts.”

The prospect of incessant underwater sonic tests is the latest example cited by environmentalists and others of the growing problem of ocean noise, spawning lawsuits against some industries and governments as well as spurring more research into the potential dangers for marine life.

Some scientists say the noises from air guns, ship sonar and general tanker traffic can cause the gradual or even outright death of sea creatures, from the giants to the tiniest — whales, dolphins, fish, squid, octopuses and even plankton. Other effects include impairing animals’ hearing, brain hemorrhaging and the drowning out of communication sounds important for survival, experts say.

via Oceans Are Getting Louder, Posing Potential Threats to Marine Life – The New York Times

Alberta research shows fracking fluids cause ‘significant’ harm to fish | CBC News

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CBC.CA
Research has found that liquids released from fracked oil and gas wells can harm fish even at low concentrations

The All-Women Sailing Crew Trying to Save the Ocean of Plastic – Condé Nast Traveler

“An ‘Ocean Armageddon’
We are facing what the head of the United Nations Environment Programme called an “ocean Armageddon” in 2017. Every year the world produces 320 million tons of plastic—our packaging, eyeglasses, sneakers, Q-Tips, and cell phones among them. Of that, 90 percent is never recycled. If this continues, by 2050 the plastic in the ocean will outweigh the fish.
At last, a global effort to combat the crisis is making headway. This October the European Parliament approved a sweeping ban of single-use plastics across the EU. Initiatives to reduce consumption are gaining momentum, from Kenya’s ban on plastic bags to California’s legislation against plastic straws. Two-hundred and fifty major brands including Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, and Nestle have pledged to cut all plastic waste from their operations. And activists and innovators like The Ocean Cleanup are using technology to tackle the problem; its sea-cleaning contraption is already hard at work.
But the problem is greater than we can see. While plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it does break down through sunlight, wind, and the motion of the waves into tiny fragments, microplastics, now found as far as the snow of Antarctica. This doesn’t simply have an impact on sea life and coastal communities; there are implications for every single person on the planet. Especially women—which is where eXXpedition comes in.”

Source: The All-Women Sailing Crew Trying to Save the Ocean of Plastic – Condé Nast Traveler