Tag: pollution
Wildfire Smoke

Denying Dangers Of Smoke Pollution, Republicans Mock Canada's Prime Minister

As smoke blanketed the East Coast, putting millions of people at risk, Republican lawmakers mocked its health impact and denied that climate change is in part to blame for the unprecedented situation.

The smoke came from more than 150 wildfires that are burning out of control in Canada. It is dangerous because wildfires burn everything in their wake, including materials that create toxic particles when combusted. It can cause wheezing, coughing, lung damage, heart attacks, and strokes — even in healthy people — but especially in older populations and those with preexisting conditions like asthma or cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, Republicans like Reps. Derrick Van Orden and Tom Tiffany, both of Wisconsin, blamed the fires on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while using them as an opportunity to mock his support of LGBTQ rights.

“Can someone ask @justintrudeau what pronouns forest fires use? I would like them to stop polluting our air but do not want an HR complaint,” Van Orden tweeted.

“We need some answers from Prime Minister Trudeau rather than him diving into Pride month and doing all those woke things that really have no benefit to peoples’ lives,” Tiffany said in an interview on Newsmax.

Tiffany also spread a conspiracy theory that the fires in Canada were started by arson, even though there is no evidence that is the case. Experts instead say the fires are so bad because of the effects of climate change, which Tiffany has denied is real.

Other Republicans are criticizing Democrats for pointing out the connection between the fires and climate change or are denying it is related to climate change at all.

“This isn’t the moment to start lecturing people about the science of climate change,” Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) said on Fox News.

“Absolutely not,” Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said in an interview on Fox Business in response to a question about whether climate change is to blame for the wildfire smoke.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) poked fun at Canada for having leadership that recognizes that climate change poses a real threat to people’s health.

“New York has the worst air quality in history due to wild fires from Climate Cult Canada,” she tweeted, along with a video of orange smoke blocking views of the New York City skyline.

Meanwhile, personalities on Fox News are downplaying the risk of the smoke even though experts say breathing in the toxic fumes is dangerous for everyone.

“There’s just no health risk,” Fox News contributor Steve Milloy, a lobbyist for tobacco and oil companies who denies climate change is real, claimed on host Laura Ingraham’s program on Wednesday night. “This doesn’t kill anybody, this doesn’t make anybody cough. This is not a health event. It’s got nothing to do with climate.”

Democrats, for their part, are calling Republicans out for not taking the wildfires or climate change seriously.

“The most important thing you can do about climate change is beat Republicans electorally,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted. “That doesn’t exonerate me or anyone else for as much action as possible, but the fact is more aggressive action on the planetary crisis depends on the composition of the Congress.”

“Imagine being a Republican climate change denier in Congress – you show up to work at the Capitol today, see the skies filled with smoke… and you still don’t get that we need bold and immediate action to save our planet?” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) tweeted. “Ridiculous.”

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

New Orleans factory

Pollution Worsens Coronavirus Death Rate, Studies Show

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

The industrial plants in the riverside Louisiana city of Port Allen have worried Diana LeBlanc since her children were young. In 1978, an explosion at the nearby Placid oil refinery forced her family to evacuate. “We had to leave in the middle of the night with two babies," said LeBlanc, now 70. “I always had to be on the alert."

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Trump EPA Declares War On Chesapeake Bay

Trump EPA Declares War On Chesapeake Bay

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Trump once again is trying to cut most of the funding to clean up the polluted Chesapeake Bay even as the Trump EPA undermines the cleanup with legal footnotes and inaction.

Trump’s latest sabotage, for the 2021 budget, would cut more than 91 percent of the funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program created under President Ronald Reagan who called the bay a “national treasure,” and long supported by Republicans and Democrats. The program got $85 million, the most it’s ever received, in the fiscal 2020 budget.

Dana Aunkst, the director of Chesapeake Bay efforts for the EPA, said 2025 pollution goals are “an aspiration,” not an enforceable deadline. The head of EPA’s Office of Water, David Ross, represented the American Farm Bureau Federation in its 2012 lawsuit against the EPA over plans to clean up the bay. Scott Pruitt, Trump’s first pick to head the EPA, also supported polluters in the lawsuit as the attorney general for Oklahoma.

Trump’s latest sabotage, for the 2021 budget, would cut more than 91 percent of the funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program created under President Ronald Reagan.

“For the head of EPA’s Bay Program to say pollutions limits designed to save the bay are merely aspirational and not legally enforceable should put fear in the hearts of all who care about clean water,” said Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

In 2010, under President Barack Obama, six states and the District of Columbia agreed to significantly reduce pollution by 2025. The EPA agreed to step in if that didn’t happen.

More than 100,000 streams and rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay which is about half freshwater and half saltwater. The second-largest river, the Potomac, flows by Washington, D.C.

Pennsylvania Pollution

Pennsylvania, Aunkst’s home state, has been the worst-performing state involved in restoring the bay. Maryland and Virginia also failed to meet 2017 cleanup requirements. Pennsylvania’s most recent plan says the state is about 30 percent closer to meeting its goal for nitrogen pollution reduction than it was in the 1980s. Pennsylvania has a funding deficit of $324 million a year. The Trump EPA signed off on the plan in any way in December.

The bay has gradually been getting healthier for about three decades. A 2018 report card from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science gave the bay a “C.” The Chesapeake Bay Foundation gave the bay a “D+,” noting that the bay had worse levels of nitrogen and phosphorus and that the water was murkier. Record rainfall from climate change pushed more pollution off farms and streets and into the bay.

Dead Zone

Pollution from fertilizer, sewage and other sources causes a dead zone in the bay each summer like the one in the Gulf of Mexico although much smaller. The dead zone in 2019 was on the high end of the normal range despite the deluge of water from swollen rivers, another indication that things are slowly improving.

The American Farm Bureau Federation and other pro-pollution groups sued over the cleanup. Part of their argument was that the Clean Water Act prohibits the EPA from seeking “reasonable assurance” from states that their plans will work. Judges disagreed.

In its most recent evaluations of state plans, the Trump EPA replaced “reasonable assurance” with the lesser standard of “confidence,” noting in a footnote that the language was changed “to avoid potential confusion.”

Is Fashion Actually A Form Of Pollution?

Is Fashion Actually A Form Of Pollution?

Do you worry that the clothes you buy pose an environmental hazard? The idea never crossed my mind until serious news sources started talking about it. The central claim was that the fashion industry is the world’s second biggest source of pollution, the first being oil.

The story circulated so widely because few of us imagine that our T-shirts and track shoes could be hurting the environment big time. We’ll get to the scientific consensus on its accuracy shortly.

But one of the more fascinating aspects is how this No. 2-polluter rap against clothes began. No one seems to know. It seems to have become a “truth” through the magic of internet laundering.

Fashion websites bounced the story back and forth, providing links to supposedly authoritative voices. And where did their links lead? To one another.

Passed around enough, the idea that clothes are the second biggest polluter became a “fact.” Fashion designer Eileen Fisher, known for her environmentalism, got sucked in. She began making a big thing of clothes pollution, citing the above assertion.

When asked for her source of information, she referred to websites that referred to other websites. And she quoted the 2015 documentary about the fashion industry The True Cost, which turned out to be not as dependable a font of knowledge as one might believe.

The documentary-maker said he found the claim through people running the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, a respected conference on sustainability. The fashion summit people said they believed it came from a report by the Deloitte consulting firm. Guess what? No one can find the report.

When professional journalists jumped on the matter, they swatted away some of the more exaggerated assertions. The global clothing industry is not the No. 2 offender, they concluded, but it is highly dirty.

What makes it polluting? Here are some of the factors:

— Nearly 60 percent of all clothing is discarded within a year of being made. This astonishing revelation is not a reflection of flighty consumer behavior. It’s not that you and I throw out 60 percent of the new clothes we buy. Rather, it’s that mass producers get rid of wares that don’t leave the racks right away. The fast fashion retailer H&M, for one, reported last year that it had $4.3 billion of unsold merchandise and had started incinerating it to provide energy.

Fast fashion is definitely a villain here. Its business model relies on women buying lots of clothes at low prices, wearing them a few times and then throwing them out or giving them away. No one has to go naked, but the environmentally conscientious know not to run wild at Target and H&M.

— Up to 25 percent of the world’s chemical compounds are used in textile dying and finishing. Fashion plays a big part here, but bear in mind that textiles are not just clothes. They are bedsheets, curtains, napkins, upholstery, and toys.

— About 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the clothing and footwear industries. This came from the United Nations secretariat on climate change. The reasons are long supply chains and energy-intensive production.

How polluting your clothes consumption is depends, of course, on how many clothes you buy and how long you wear them. “Sustainable fashion” is an interesting concept, because it can include sturdy, inexpensive jeans or high-priced designer clothes. What’s most important is that the clothes don’t have to be replaced often.

One last amazing statistic that seems to have stuck: Over the past two decades, Americans have doubled the amount of clothing they discard every year. It’s now about 80 pounds a person. Is that possible?

Don’t look at me.