Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Julian Cribb reports on new research as to mass exposure to chemicals and pollutants:
Almost every human being is now contaminated in a worldwide flood of industrial chemicals and pollutants – most of which have never been tested for safety – a leading scientific journal has warned.

Regulation and legal protection for today’s citizens from chemical poisons can no longer assure our health and safety, according to a hard-hitting report in the journal PLOS Biology, titled “Challenges in Environmental Health: Closing the Gap between Evidence and Regulations”.

The report describes a chemical oversight system corrupted from its outset in the 1970s when 60,000 chemicals were registered for use in the US, mostly without being safety tested. Many of these chemicals were subsequently adopted as ‘safe’ around the world.

Over the years, public health protection has stagnated – despite mounting scientific evidence that many chemicals are damaging whole classes of organisms, say report editors Liza Gross and Linda Birnbaum.
“Evidence has emerged that chemicals in widespread use can cause cancer and other chronic diseases, damage reproductive systems, and harm developing brains at low levels of exposure once believed to be harmless. Such exposures pose unique risks to children at critical windows of development - risks that existing regulations fail to consider.”

The report underlines a recent finding by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health which concluded nine million deaths (or 16% of the total) every year worldwide are due to diseases caused by the human chemical environment – 15 times the number killed in wars.
- In another reminder of the consequences of failing to take into account the future costs of exploitative industries, Alex MacPherson reports on the nine-figure (and mounting) public costs arising out of the abandoned Gunnar uranium mine. And Joe Romm reports on NASA's latest research showing the connection between fracking and global warming.

- Charlotte Aubin discusses Africa's energy transition which figures to see long-term development oriented toward renewable sources (even in the face of continued subsidies of fossil fuels in the near term). And Agence France-Presse takes note of the price advantage clean energy already holds compared to burning fossil fuels.

- Meanwhile, Naomi Klein writes that New York City's divestment from the oil sector (and concurrent claim for climate damages) may offer a turning point in the balance of power between citizens and the oil industry. And Gary Mason writes that Canada's climate change laggards - including Brad Wall and his heirs - are kidding themselves about the shape of future development.

- Finally, Aditya Chakrabortty discusses the imminent collapse of the UK's largest P3 profiteer - which also plays a prominent role in the privatization of Canadian infrastructure and public services.

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