Greenhouse gas 12,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide generated mainly in China and India is being released into the atmosphere at record levels, a new study claims

  • One tonne of HFC-23 emissions is equal to 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide
  • It is a by-product of cooling systems in developing nations like China and India
  • A 2017 report from those countries suggested it had been almost eliminated
  • The atmospheric readings from this study contradict those 2017 findings 

A greenhouse gas 12,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide and generated mainly in China and India is being released at record levels, a new study claims

A greenhouse gas 12,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide and generated mainly in China and India is being released at record levels, a new study claims

Scientists were expecting to see global emissions drop by almost 90 percent between 2015 and 2017 as a result of the India and China claims.

It is a particularly potent gas, with one tonne of its emissions equal to the release of more than 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, study authors say.

Over the last two decades, scientists have been keeping a close eye on the atmospheric concentration of a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gas due to its potency.

‘When we saw the reports of enormous emissions reductions from India and China, we were excited to take a close look at the data’, said Dr Matt Rigby, co-author.

‘This potent greenhouse gas has been growing rapidly in the atmosphere for decades now, and these reports suggested that the rise should have almost completely stopped in the space of two or three years.

‘This would have been a big win for climate.’

The fact that this reduction has not materialised, and that, instead, global emissions have actually risen, is a puzzle, he said.

In 2016 an amendment to the Montreal Protocol aimed to reduce the climate impact of HFCs whose emissions have grown due to them being used as replacement for ozone depleting substances.

Dr Kieran Stanley, the lead author of the study, said to be complaint with the ammendment countries who ratified the agreement had to destroy HFC-23 as far as possible before it enters the atmosphere.

‘Although China and India are not yet bound by the Amendment, their reported abatement would have put them on course to be consistent with it. However, it looks like there is still work to do’, Dr Stanley said.

‘Our study finds that it is very likely that China has not been as successful in reducing HFC-23 emissions as reported.

‘However, without additional measurements, we can’t be sure whether India has been able to implement its abatement programme.’

In 2016 an amendment to the Montreal Protocol aimed to reduce the climate impact of HFCs whose emissions have grown due to them being used as replacement for ozone depleting substances

Had the emissions reductions been as large as reported, the researchers estimate that the equivalent of a whole year of Spain’s CO2 emissions could have been avoided between 2015 and 2017.

‘The magnitude of the CO2-equivalent emissions shows just how potent this greenhouse gas is’, said Dr Rigby.

‘We now hope to work with other international groups to better quantify India and China’s individual emissions using regional, rather than global, data and models.’

Previous studies found that HFC-23 emissions declined between 2005 and 2010 as developed countries paid to remove it from developing countries factories.

The payment involved purchasing credits from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Clean Development Mechanism.

“In that case, the atmospheric data showed that emissions reductions matched the reports very well,’ said Dr Stanley.

However, the scheme was controversial as it was thought to create a perverse incentive for manufacturers to increase the amount of waste gas they generated in order to sell more credits.

The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Installing air filters in classrooms has surprisingly large educational benefits

$1,000 can raise a class’s test scores by as much as cutting class size by a third.

A teacher sits at a work table with two young students.

Students at Lavrentyev Secondary School No 130 in Novosibirsk, Russia, on December 20, 2019. Kirill Kukhmar\TASS via Getty Images

An emergency situation that turned out to be mostly a false alarm led a lot of schools in Los Angeles to install air filters, and something strange happened: Test scores went up. By a lot. And the gains were sustained in the subsequent year rather than fading away.

That’s what NYU’s Michael Gilraine finds in a new working paper titled “Air Filters, Pollution, and Student Achievement” that looks at the surprising consequences of the Aliso Canyon gas leak in 2015.

The impact of the air filters is strikingly large given what a simple change we’re talking about. The school district didn’t reengineer the school buildings or make dramatic education reforms; they just installed $700 commercially available filters that you could plug into any room in the country. But it’s consistent with a growing literature on the cognitive impact of air pollution, which finds that everyone from chess players to baseball umpires to workers in a pear-packing factory suffer deteriorations in performance when the air is more polluted.

If Gilraine’s result holds up to further scrutiny, he will have identified what’s probably the single most cost-effective education policy intervention — one that should have particularly large benefits for low-income children.

And while it’s too hasty to draw sweeping conclusions on the basis of one study, it would be incredibly cheap to have a few cities experiment with installing air filters in some of their schools to get more data and draw clearer conclusions about exactly how much of a difference this makes.

The Aliso Canyon gas leak, explained

Back on October 23, 2015, employees of the Southern California Gas Company discovered a massive leak in the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility near Porter Ranch in the San Fernando Valley. Significant for the larger purposes of the study, the Porter Ranch area is known for having “some of the cleanest air in the Valley year-round.”

The gas leak was a huge catastrophe from the standpoint of greenhouse gas emissions, but also naturally raised concerns in the local community about the immediate impact on public health.

Facing political pressure from concerned parents and teachers, Gilraine writes, “the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the owner of the gas well, the Southern California Gas Company, placed air filters in every classroom, office and common area in all schools within five miles of the gas leak at the end of January 2016.”

Strikingly, however, air testing conducted around the time of the installation of the filters shows that the schools didn’t actually have abnormally high levels of the kinds of pollution that are normally associated with natural gas. Methane is lighter than air, and by the time the filters were installed — nearly three months after the leak — the extra pollution caused was all the way up in the sky and not affecting school buildings.

Consequently, the installation of the filters served not to remove extra contamination caused by the leak, but simply to clean up the normal amount of background indoor air pollution present in the Valley. That lets Gilraine estimate the difference in student performance for schools just inside the boundary compared to those just outside.

He finds that math scores went up by 0.20 standard deviations and English scores by 0.18 standard deviations, and the results hold up even when you control for “detailed student demographics, including residential ZIP Code fixed effects that help control for a student’s exposure to pollution at home.”

For context, this is comparable in scale to some of the most optimistic studies on the potential benefits of smaller class sizes, with Alan Krueger finding that cutting class size by a third leads to a 0.22 standard deviation improvement in academic performance. Other studies find smaller or even negative effects (because adding teachers means bringing in less experienced or less effective ones), but even accepting the positive findings, it costs much more than $700 per classroom to achieve class size reductions of that scale.

This is a big, but not implausible, number

The effect Gilraine finds is strikingly large given that it’s a seemingly trivial intervention.

But Sefi Roth of the London School of Economics studied university students’ test performance relative to air pollution levels on the day of the test aloneHe found that taking a test in a filtered rather than unfiltered room would raise test scores by 0.09 standard deviations. That’s about half the impact Gilraine found, just based on day-of-test air quality. In Gilraine’s natural experiment, students benefited from cleaner air for about four months. Given that context, it’s not incredibly surprising that you could see an impact that’s about twice as large.

What’s natural to ask — though unknowable from the study before us — is how much more change we could see if students benefited from an entire school year of clean air. Or perhaps an entire school career, from pre-K through high school graduation, of clean air.

One striking thing about this is the government has long been aware that indoor air pollution is a potential problem. But according to currently prevailing Indoor Air Quality standards, there was nothing wrong with the air in the schools. Filters were installed because of an essentially unwarranted panic about natural gas.

And while Los Angeles is a fairly high-pollution part of the country, outdoor particulate levels are higher in many areas — including New York, Chicago, and Houston — than they were in the impacted neighborhood. In other words, there’s no reason to think the impacted schools were unusually deficient in their air quality. They just happen to be the ones that installed filters.

A cheap, scalable initiative

For a sense of scale, Mathematica Policy Research’s best evidence on the effectiveness of the highly touted KIPP charter school network finds that after three years at KIPP there is significant improvement on three out of four test metrics — up 0.25 standard deviations on one English test, 0.22 standard deviations on another, and 0.28 standard deviations on one of two math tests.

Those are big gains, and they help explain why there is so much enthusiasm about KIPP in some quarters, even as charter schools remain politically controversial and charters in general seem to produce roughly average results.

This is bigger than the impact of letting kids benefit from clean air for four months. But installing the full suite of air filters costs about $1,000 per classroom, and continuing to operate them beyond the first year is cheaper than that. And best of all, unlike totally reworking school operations, it could be scaled up very quickly.

It would be almost trivially easy to get a variety of school districts all around the country to randomly select schools for the installation of air filters. That would rapidly generate a ton of additional data, and if the results continued to be promising, the initiative could be made universal very quickly.

The benefits, on their face, would be extremely large at a relatively low cost. And since air pollution is generally worse in lower-income communities, you would not only raise test scores nationally, but make progress on the big socioeconomic gaps in student achievement that have proven very difficult to remedy. SOURCE

‘It’s Going to Be a Blast Furnace’: Australia Fires Intensify

Calling for evacuations along the southeastern coast, officials said the next few days would be among the worst yet in an already catastrophic fire season.

INVERLOCH, Australia — They fled from looming firestorms that threatened to cut off their escape, only to join a slog alongside the masses of others who crowded the roads. Thousands more waited for rescue by sea.

Across the scorched southeast, frightened Australians — taking a few cherished things, abandoning their homes and vacation rentals, and braving smoke that discolored the skies — struggled Thursday to evacuate as wildfires turned the countryside into charcoal wasteland.

And from government officials came a disheartening warning: This weekend will be one of the worst periods yet in Australia’s catastrophic fire season.

“It’s going to be a blast furnace,” Andrew Constance, the transport minister of New South Wales, told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Monitoring a fire on Thursday in East Gippsland, Victoria, where 17 people were missing.
Credit…Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

 

The blazes have strained the country’s firefighting resources, and the fire season, though still young, already ranks as among the worst in Australia’s recorded history.

The state of New South Wales declared an emergency in its southeastern region on Thursday, calling on residents and vacationers to evacuate. Mr. Constance said the relocation was the largest in the region’s history.

To the south, the state of Victoria declared a disaster on Thursday, allowing it to authorize the evacuation of areas along its eastern coast.

Using any means they could find, the authorities were warning people to evacuate. But with communication in some areas spotty to nonexistent, it was not clear that everyone would get the message.

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Dangerous conditions in Batlow, west of Blowering Dam. If you’re in this area, particularly Batlow north to Wondalga & west of Blowering Dam, leave before tomorrow. It is not safe. For road closures go to @LiveTrafficNSW

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In just the past week, at least nine people have died, and many more are unaccounted for. In all, at least 18 people have died in this fire season.

The blazes have consumed more than 1,000 houses, killed countless animals and ravaged a Pacific coast region of farms, bush, eucalyptus forests, mountains, lakes and vacation spots. About 15 million acres have been blackened over the past four months, and more than 100 wildfires are still burning.

With the Southern Hemisphere summer barely underway and the country already reeling from record-breaking heat, no one expects relief any time soon. No rain is in the forecast

Lake Conjola, in New South Wales.
Credit…Robert Oerlemans, via Associated Press 

“We’re still talking four to six weeks at best before we start to see a meaningful reprieve in the weather,” Shane Fitzsimmons, the rural fire commissioner for the state of New South Wales, told reporters.

In Mallacoota, a coastal town in Victoria state, the Australian Navy on Friday began ferrying to safety some of the 4,000 people trapped there when flames cut off all escape routes on land.

People camped on the beach and slept in small boats, they said, trying to shield themselves from flying embers as the inferno moved toward them. The heavy smoke meant only a few people with medical problems could be evacuated by helicopter.

Among those on the beach was Justin Brady, a musician who just moved from Melbourne to Mallacoota, about 250 miles to the east. He managed to salvage a fiddle, a mandolin and some harmonicas before abandoning the home he built and its contents to the flames.

“It’s been pretty heavy,” he said.

People were evacuated from the coastal town of Mallacoota by the Royal Australian Navy on Friday.
Credit…Royal Australian Navy 

Others nearby were not nearly so measured, venting their anger at the national and state governments, which they said had not taken the crisis seriously enough.

Michael Harkin, who lives in Sydney and was vacationing in Mallacoota, complained of “incompetent governance” that is “not keeping us safe at all.”

“I’m looking forward to getting somewhere that isn’t here,” he said.

The emergency services minister of New South Wales, David Elliott, drew withering criticism on social media after he left the country on Tuesday for a vacation in Britain and France. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that he said he would return “if the bushfire situation should demand it.”

Mr. Elliott’s departure came just weeks after Prime Minister Scott Morrison was widely ridiculed for taking a vacation in Hawaii during the crisis. He cut his trip short.

The Navy ship that arrived at Mallacoota, the HMAS Choules, delivered food, water and medical supplies, and was expected to leave with hundreds of evacuees. Once it is far enough from shore, the sickest people can be taken away by helicopter.

Inspecting the wreckage of a fire truck that veered off a dirt track near Lake Conjola on Tuesday as a fire approached.
Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times 

The Choules will return for more people, officials said, but it will be a slow process; the trip to a safe port in the sprawling country is expected to take 17 hours. Many of the people aboard the cramped ship will have to spend most of that time sitting on the open deck.

The evacuation orders have been easier to make than to carry out.

Two-lane roads are carrying highway-level traffic, and some roads have been closed by the fires or blocked by downed trees and power lines. Long lines of cars snake around gas stations, tanks run dry, and drives that would normally take two hours last half a day or more.

The state premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, said 17 people were still missing as fires swept alpine resorts and the normally bucolic Gippsland area.

Thousands of people have gone days without electricity or phone service. With cell towers destroyed but landlines still working, long lines formed at pay phones, creating scenes from another era. Officials advised people to boil water before using it, after power failures knocked out local water treatment facilities.
Cars lined up waiting to leave Manyana in New South Wales on Thursday.
Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

 

Stores have run short of essentials like diapers, baby formula, bread and bottled water. With lodgings full, many people fleeing the fires have been forced to sleep in their cars.

Businesses with generators have continued to operate, but some have run out of fuel, and others are near that point.

Craig Scott, the manager of a supermarket in Ulladulla, a beach town about 100 miles south of Sydney, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he planned to keep the generator there running by siphoning fuel from the tanks of fishing boats. He said the store had just gotten the generator a few months ago, when no one imagined how desperately it would be needed.

So vast and intense are the fires that they can create their own weather, generating winds as they suck in fresh air at ground level, and sparking lightning in the immense ash clouds that rise from them.

Canberra, Australia’s capital, recorded the worst air quality ever measured on Thursday; the largest city, Sydney, has been suffering through intense smoke for weeks; and ash from the blazes has darkened skies and coated glaciers in New Zealand, more than a thousand miles away.

The fires have set off anger at Prime Minister Morrison, in particular. He has played down the role of global warming, opposed measures to combat climate change and, at least initially, rejected additional funding for firefighters.
Dust and smoke from Australia’s bushfires are reaching New Zealand, with its effects visible in snow near Franz Josef Glacier.
Credit…Reuters

 

On Thursday, Mr. Morrison was heckled as he visited Cobargo, a New South Wales village where fires have killed two men and destroyed the main street. When he extended his hand to one woman, she said she would shake it only if he increased spending on firefighting.

“You won’t be getting any votes down here, buddy,” one man yelled. “You’re out, son.”

As Mr. Morrison left hurriedly, the man taunted him about returning to Kirribilli House, the prime minister’s elegant official residence in Sydney, with spectacular views of the harbor and the city.

“I don’t see Kirribilli burning,” the man yelled.

Mr. Morrison said he understood residents’ frustration.

“I’m not surprised people are feeling very raw at the moment,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “That’s why I came today, to be here, to see it for myself, to offer what comfort I could.”

“I understand the very strong feelings people have — they’ve lost everything,” he said, adding that there were still “some very dangerous days ahead.”
Flames consumed trees along a road near Manyana, where hundreds of tourists were stranded.
Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

 

SOURCE

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Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global study

Cutting toxic air might prevent millions of people getting depression, research suggests

 Skopje in North Macedonia is Europe’s most polluted capital city according to the WHO. New research suggests links between air pollution and mental illness. Photograph: Georgi Licovski/EPA

People living with air pollution have higher rates of depression and suicide, a systematic review of global data has found.

Cutting air pollution around the world to the EU’s legal limit could prevent millions of people becoming depressed, the research suggests. This assumes that exposure to toxic air is causing these cases of depression. Scientists believe this is likely but is difficult to prove beyond doubt.

The particle pollution analysed in the study is produced by burning fossil fuels in vehicles, homes and industry. The researchers said the new evidence further strengthened calls to tackle what the World Health Organization calls the “silent public health emergency” of dirty air.

“We’ve shown that air pollution could be causing substantial harm to our mental health, making the case for cleaning up the air we breathe even more urgent,” said Isobel Braithwaite, at University College London (UCL), who led the research.

Meeting the EU limit could make a big difference, she said. “You could prevent about 15% of depression, assuming there is a causal relationship. It would be a very large impact, because depression is a very common disease and is increasing.” More than 264 million people have depression, according to the WHO.

“We know that the finest particulates from dirty air can reach the brain via both the bloodstream and the nose, and that air pollution has been implicated in increased [brain] inflammation, damage to nerve cells and to changes in stress hormone production, which have been linked to poor mental health,” Braithwaite said.

Joseph Hayes, also at UCL and part of the research team, said: “The evidence is highly suggestive that air pollution itself increases the risk of adverse mental health outcomes.”

Other research indicates that air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence and is linked to dementia. A comprehensive global review earlier in 2019 concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body. MORE

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Revealed: air pollution may be damaging ‘every organ in the body’

 

Air pollution pushes mortality in Canadians: Study

This is despite the fact that the country has one of the lowest levels of air pollution in the world

The Toronto skyline. Photo: Getty Images
The Toronto skyline. Photo: Getty Images

Canadians are at higher risk of dying in areas that are highly polluted even though the country’s levels of air pollution are among the lowest in the world, a study has said.

The new research has been carried out by the University of British Columbia, in partnership with Statistics Canada, McGill University, Dalhousie University, University of New Brunswick and Oregon State University.

It is part of a larger international study commissioned by Health Effects Institute, a Boston-based non-profit that specialises in research on the health effects of air pollution.

In order to conduct the study, the researchers combined satellite data with a model of pollutant transport and chemistry, and ground-level air quality measurements, according to a press statement by the University of British Columbia.

They used the data to produce a pollution map which estimated Canadian air pollution levels by the square kilometre.

According to the press statement, the scientists also cross-referenced air pollution data with anonymous information of more than nine million Canadians as given in the national census.

The scientists found that there was a five per cent increase in the risk of deaths of Canadians when high- and low-pollution areas were compared.

This is despite the fact that Canada has one of the lowest air pollution levels in the world that are below national and international air quality guidelines. It is one of the few countries that meets World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines as well as those set by Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards.

During the course of the study, the researchers also found that new immigrants to the country were as susceptible to the health impacts of air pollution as residents.

This, they said, further proved that air pollution was affecting everybody in Canada.

NAPS Stations 2009 map

The researchers are currently working on an analysis that will show whether moving from an area of high pollution to one that is cleaner reduces death risks. SOURCE

Wildfires, disease, food scarcity: scientists predict a grim century for Canada


Protesters, joined by faith leaders and members of Extinction Rebellion Toronto, take over the intersection of Yonge and Dundas streets in downtown Toronto as part of a demonstration declaring a climate crisis on June 10, 2019. Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

A major academic review of the impact climate change has on human health has found that more than half of the nearly 450,000 Canadians evacuated from their homes due to wildfires since 1980 were displaced in the past decade, and says that more than 1,000 Canadians were killed by air pollution related to the transportation industry in 2015.

Researchers also found that Canada’s health-care sector is responsible for four per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and that Canada produces the third-highest per capita emissions from health care in the world.

The findings come from the third Lancet Countdown report, an annual review of the scientific evidence of the impact climate change has on human health. Released Wednesday, it was produced by U.K.-based medical journal The Lancet and 35 partner institutions including the World Health Organization, several UN agencies, the World Bank and Yale University.

In Canada, The Lancet partnered with the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Public Health Association to release a country-specific policy brief.

The Canadian research presented paints a stark picture faced by coming generations, who face the risk of increased wildfires, tick-borne disease and lack of food access in the North.

The average temperature in Canada, according to the report, increased 1.7 C between 1948 and 2016 — twice the global average. Canada’s North is warming even faster, with parts of the Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories now 3 C warmer than they were on average in 1948.

“Canada is warming far too quickly,” said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association. “The rise in average temperature is putting the health of Canadians at risk. Maintaining the status quo is no longer a viable option.”

Wildfires could increase by 75 per cent by the end of the 21st century

Data collected by the researchers indicated that the number of wildfire exposures to human populations in Canada increased from an average of 35,300 from 2001 to 2004, to 54,100 from 2015 to 2018. The increased frequency is why more than half of the 448,444 Canadians evacuated due to wildfires between 1980 and 2017 were displaced in the past decade.

“These exposures not only pose a threat to public health, but also result in major economic and social burdens,” the report reads. “Human health impacts of fire include death, trauma and major burns, anxiety during wildfire periods and post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression related to evacuations. Wildfire smoke also travels vast distances and increases asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations.”

Noting that, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise in the mid-range of forecasted scenarios, wildfires in Canada could rise 75 per cent by the end of the 21st century, the report calls on the country to develop a “pan-Canadian emergency response approach” based on recent severe wildfire seasons.

Transport sector is cutting emissions too slow to reduce infant health risks

According to the research, an estimated 1,063 Canadians died in 2015 as a result of air pollution from land-based transportation.

That is in addition to Canada reporting the highest pediatric asthma rate among high-income-level economies, with nitrogen dioxide from traffic leading to about one in five new cases of asthma in Canadian children.

The report says transport accounted for 24 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada 2017, but that total fuel consumption for road transport per capita decreased only 5.4 per cent from 2013 to 2016.

Researchers said the 600 per cent increase in the use of electricity and biofuels for transport since 2000 has so far been insufficient, as it accounts for less than four per cent of the energy used.

In order to more rapidly reduce emissions produced by the transport sector — and to reduce related chronic disease and health-care costs — the report recommends Canada adopt provincial and territorial legislation requiring auto manufacturers to gradually increase the percentage of zero-emission vehicles they sell, with a target of 100 per cent by 2040.

“Air pollution from fossil fuel-powered transport is associated with one-quarter of new asthma cases in children in Toronto, as well as over a thousand deaths per year in Canada,” said Dr. Chris Buse, co-author of the Canada policy brief. “We have made progress, most notably in British Columbia, but we need light-duty vehicles to be emissions-free by 2040 to truly have a positive impact.”

Health-care sector pledge to ‘do no harm’ should include push to cut emissions

Analysis cited by researchers found that 4.6 per cent of Canada’s national emissions come from its health-care sector.

“Though Canadians are proud of the care they provide for one another with this country’s system of universal health care, the Lancet Countdown analysis reveals an area which should give pause to all who endeavor to ‘do no harm’: Canada’s health-care system has the world’s third-highest emissions per capita,” the report reads.

While Canadian health-care sector emissions are increasing, England’s Sustainable Development Unit reported an 18.5 per cent decrease in emissions from its National Health Service, public health and social care system from 2007 to 2017 — this despite an increase in clinical activity.

“Fossil fuel consumption is at the heart of health care’s emissions,” said Dr. Jean Zigby, a Montreal-based family physician who serves on the board of directors of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). “The sector urgently needs to transition toward clean, renewable energy to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or before.”

According to CAPE, 71 per cent of the health-care sector’s global climate footprint can be attributed to its supply chain, such as production, packaging and transportation of goods.

“The good news is, if we can align health-care development, growth and investment with global climate goals, the 10 per cent of the world economy that health care represents can help drive decarbonization and lead to a climate-smart, more equitable and healthier future,” Zigby said.

The report argues that, while health care is a provincial jurisdiction, there is room for pan-Canadian initiatives to tackle public-health emissions, which should include environmental literacy supports for health-care professionals.

The future for Canadian and world youth at a crossroads

The Lancet Countdown global report focuses, in particular, on burdens infants and children will face in the coming decades.

Researchers note that current infants will bear the greatest burden of malnutrition and rising food prices, as in the past 30 years, the global yield average for maize has fallen four per cent, winter wheat has fallen six per cent, soybean three per cent and rice four per cent.

Children are also threatened by a global rise in infectious diseases, as researchers called 2018 “the second-most climatically suitable year on record for the spread of bacteria that cause much of diarrhoeal disease and wound infection globally.”

Researchers determined that, as they age into adolescence, the impact of air pollution will worsen for current infants and children if current trends continue. As they enter adulthood, extreme-weather events will intensify and become more common. For example, 152 out of 196 countries saw an increase in people exposed to wildfires in the past 15 years. They said Canada is not doing enough to mitigate these potential harms.

“Canada is not on track: in 2016, total Canadian GHG emissions were 704 (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent), an increase of more than 100 metric tons since 1990,” the report reads. “Policies and measures currently under development but not yet implemented are forecast to reduce national emissions to 592 metric tons by 2030, 79 metric tons above Canada’s 2030 target… a goal which is itself too weak to represent a fair contribution by Canada to the emissions reductions necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.”

The report cites the shared position of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the World Health Organization that global surface-temperature warming on Earth should be kept to 1.5 C in the interest of human health.

In order to meet this goal, the authors say net human-caused emissions must fall about 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, and reach “net zero” by 2050. SOURCE

Scientists Want to Make Harming the Environment a War Crime

Image result for global citizen: Scientists Want to Make Harming the Environment a War Crime

Forests burned to the ground. Rivers damaged by broken infrastructure. Animals slaughtered and driven from their habitats. The environmental impacts of war are staggering, yet they’re often overshadowed by the societal wreckage created by conflict.

Now in a letter published in the scientific journal Nature, a group of scientists is urging the United Nations to make it a war crime to harm the environment during times of conflict. The UN’s International Law Commission is in talks through Aug. 8, and the scientists are calling on attending members to create a framework “to protect the environment in regions of armed conflict.”

“We call on governments to incorporate explicit safeguards for biodiversity, and to use the commission’s recommendations to finally deliver a Fifth Geneva Convention to uphold environmental protection during such confrontations,” the petition reads.

“Despite calls for a fifth convention two decades ago, military conflict continues to destroy megafauna, push species to extinction, and poison water resources,” the petition continues. “The uncontrolled circulation of arms exacerbates the situation, for instance by driving unsustainable hunting of wildlife.”

Regardless of where war occurs, it devastates local environments. The United States invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has led to rampant deforestation, polluted water sources, and widespread air pollution. In addition to the pollution created by bombs, the US military regularly burns garbage in open pits, releasing harmful toxins into the air, and heavy machinery causes more dust to circulate in the atmosphere.

When the US attacked Iraq in 1991, bombs containing depleted uranium led to radiation contamination in the soil and water sources, the Guardian reports.

The US military also destroyed millions of acres of forest during the Vietnam war with a toxic substance called “agent orange.” The environmental effects of that bombing campaign are still felt today.

Read More: If You Use Natural Resources Like There’s ‘No Tomorrow,’ There May Not Be One, UN Says

War has also greatly endangered animal and plant species. During the Congolese Civil Wars, for example, animals as diverse as antelopes, elephants, and monkeys were killed and forced to flee their destroyed habitats. Even in times of peace, animals regularly step on leftover land mines. The chemicals used to make weapons can irrevocably contaminate water sources, and the lawlessness engendered by war can give rise to destructive activities like illegal mining operations.

Then there are the contributions militaries make to climate change. The US military burned more oil in Iraq in 2008 alone than the annual amount that would be used by 1.2 million cars. Overall, the US military releases more greenhouse gas emissions by itself than many countries. Armies also regularly torch oil wells to thwart their enemies, releasing immense amounts of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere in the process.

Read More: These Are 6 of the Most Exploited Resources on Earth

The UN already urges countries to protect the environment during times of conflict through the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. A UN environment resolution was also adopted in 2016 to promote strong environmental safeguards in war.

Ultimately, if harming the environment was a war crime, then most acts of modern warfare would essentially be forbidden. After all, there’s no way to drop a bomb without harming the ground it falls on. SOURCE

Youth Activists Tell Washington “We’re Coming for You” on Climate Change


Sabirah Mahmud speaks at the Philadelphia Youth Climate Strike in March 2019.YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKE

This crisis will take away our ability to live unless we do something,” Sabirah Mahmud, a 16-year-old youth climate organizer, told me earlier this month.

I had invited Mahmud — the Pennsylvania director for Youth Climate Strike, a national youth-led organization committed to climate justice for marginalized communities in the U.S. and globally — to share her thoughts on the climate crisis. As we sat together on a shaded patio in West Philadelphia in the muggy September weather, Mahmud turned to me with a look of determination on her face and explained why youth leadership is essential for the climate justice movement.

“We have a right to a future, and now that future is in jeopardy,” she told me. “We have all of these big dreams and we are always being asked: ‘What do you want to do in the future?’ I can’t have a response to that question because of this crisis. I don’t even know if we will have a future or what kind of future that will be.”

Alongside Mahmud are hundreds of other youth climate organizers in Pennsylvania who are striking from school as part of Fridays for Future, taking to the streets in acts of dissent against the fossil fuel industry, developing protest art, educating the public, and demanding decision-making power in domestic and international deliberations about the fate of the planet.

Reil Abashera, a 16-year-old high school student and resident of Philadelphia, decided to join the struggle when she learned of the scientific reality of the climate crisis and understood the urgency of this moment.

“We don’t have 10 years to turn things around,” Abashera told me. “We have 18 months.”

The fact that these conversations are taking place in Philadelphia is not insignificant. The “City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection” has a long history of environmental racism that goes hand in hand with its history of state violence against Black people, disinvestment in public education, the criminalization of poverty and the segregation of communities of color. According to the Public Interest Law Center, low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in the city have long been disproportionately impacted by air pollution from oil and gas operations. This air pollution has resulted in increased rates of childhood asthma, cancer, depression and schizophrenia for many Philadelphians. As recently as July 2019, Philadelphia’s City Council approved the construction of a $60 million LNG plant in South Philadelphia — a section of the city already heavily impacted by environmental toxins. Mahmud and her peers, along with youth organizers from the Sunrise Movement, were actively involved in the fight against the LNG plant. They took part in street demonstrations, elevated dissenting voices from South Philadelphia, and attended public consultations organized by the city government. MORE

Climate Change: The blame falls squarely on the heads of the fossil fuel sector and our complicit governments

Rosalind Adams, among others, successfully convinced Prince Edward  Council to declare a climate emergency. In  part of her presentation, she pointed to Canada’s per capita energy consumption; but, as Lionel Enright notes, “per capita energy consumption is not expended equally.”

Our government and International oil companies are irresponsibly ripping up the tar sands 

Image result for ripping up tar sandsAlberta’s tar sands ecocide and Canada’s shame

We will never solve a problem if we do not define the problem accurately . This statement has a few glaring misuse of statistics . Let us not assume that per capita energy consumption is expended equally per capita . This speaker did not explain the source or construction of the per capita statistic . She leaves us to assume that we Canadians personally are doing something to produce  8 times more co2  than persons of other countries.

Image result for leave it in the ground

She does not explain that we – OUR GOVERNMENT and the international OIL COMPANIES  are ripping up the TAR SANDS irresponsibly ( which is part of that statistic ) and not only polluting our air but also polluting the river systems that drain into the Arctic Ocean.

This should NOT be blamed upon each Canadian .

Those of us who are aware of it have been complaining of this wreckage for years but our irresponsible government not only allows it to go on but says it must go on to supply JOBS.

 The whole oil industry in Alberta is run by the oil cartels for their own benefit at the expense of Canada AND  the people of Alberta.
Under Peter Lougheed Alberta made a 40 % and had saved 11 billion for the Heritage Fund. Klein gave it all away . ( Do you think he did this on his own without the help of the oil companies ??? )  There was also savings to cap abandoned wells . Now there is no money collected from the oil companies to do the cleanup and we THE PEOPLE are stuck with $ billions in old wells abounded by the oil companies because the gov. did not require them to pay up front.
Even if we each cut our emissions personally we would not meet the climate  goals unless the industrial wasteful practises of which the oil sands is only one , were to be curtailed .
Conclusion  : If there is an environmental statement to be made please know your facts and understand how the statistics you use are composed .
The environment is an important issue but we must understand that the corporate processes are doing the greatest harm . This is a topic which needs some careful explanation . Largely it is not the people’s fault . Many of the bad habits of the people are made necessary by the decisions of the corporate sector .  Example, most of us drive cars that run on fossil fuels. We do this because the corporate crooks want to sell us the carbon . We could have had  E V ’s years ago but they prevented it from happening . We also could have had much better public transportation but the car producers took action to prevent that also from happening so that they could sell more cars. And lastly the plastics industry still wants to make as much plastic as they can even though the world is drowning in the excess .

We have biodegradable material . We could have been using it years ago but we thought we were recycling it – We weren’t . Now we see the  mess we are in when plastics some companies shipped abroad mislabelled are being returned 10 to 15 years later as the garbage it is and was  –  AND who is paying for it ? –  THE PUBLIC PURSE –  THE PEOPLE .


Corbyn launches bid to declare a national climate emergency

“It is a great first step because it sends a clear signal that we are in a crisis and that the ongoing climate and ecological crises must be our first priority. We can not solve an emergency without treating it like an emergency. I hope the other UK political parties join in and together pass this motion in parliament – and that political parties in other countries will follow their example.” -Greta Thunberg

Labour will attempt to force Commons vote as it is revealed that the government has failed to spend anti-pollution cash


Jeremy Corbyn campaigning with Labour activists for the local elections in Peterborough on 27 April. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Labour will this week force a vote in parliament to declare a national environmental and climate change emergency as confidential documents show the government has spent only a fraction of a £100m fund allocated in 2015 to support clean air projects.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party will demand on Wednesday that the country wakes up to the threat and acts with urgency to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming, which will require global emissions to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching “net zero” before 2050.

The move will place Conservative MPs under pressure to back the plan, or explain why they refuse to do so, now fears over the combined problems of air pollution and climate change have risen to the top of the political agenda.

On Saturday night Corbyn said the recent wave of protests were “a massive and necessary wake-up call” that demanded “rapid and dramatic action, which only concerted government action and a green industrial revolution can deliver.” He said that if parliament backed the move and became the first national legislature to declare a climate emergency it would “trigger a wave of action from governments around the world”.

The motion was welcomed by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who has criticised the inaction of the world’s politicians. “It is a great first step because it sends a clear signal that we are in a crisis and that the ongoing climate and ecological crises must be our first priority,” she said. “We can not solve an emergency without treating it like an emergency. “I hope the other UK political parties join in and together pass this motion in parliament – and that political parties in other countries will follow their example.” MORE