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America’s Food Is Fertilized With Human Remains And Coated With Nanoparticles

By | Need To Know 

The FDA has allowed nanoparticles into the food supply under the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) provision, claiming that they are no more dangerous than their larger counterparts. Human trials for consumable nanotechnology are currently happening and are hidden in the public food supply. Animal studies show nanoparticles change the way our bodies absorb certain minerals.

Twenty states allow alkaline hydrolysis, known as ‘water cremation’ that is achieved by submerging a body in a solution of heated water and lye. After a matter of hours, everything but the bones dissolves into a liquid made up of water, salt, and other components that go down the drain. It is mixed with the sewer water and the bio-sludge is used for fertilizer in factory farms, gardens, schoolyards, and lawns to save the government money for toxic waste disposal.

Link for video:   https://www.bitchute.com/video/OGVe3yfRWzfI/

Sources:

https://grist.org/food/nanoparticles-in-your-food-youre-already-eating-them/

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2020-03-12/more-states-legalize-alkaline-hydrolysis-dissolving-dead-bodies-in-water

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/05/biosolids-toxic-chemicals-pollution

 




Why the Volcanic Eruption in Tonga Was So Violent, and What to Expect Next

The Kingdom of Tonga doesn’t often attract global attention, but a violent eruption of an underwater volcano on January 15 has spread shock waves, quite literally, around half the world.

The volcano is usually not much to look at. It consists of two small uninhabited islands, Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga, poking about 100m above sea level 65km north of Tonga’s capital Nuku‘alofa. But hiding below the waves is a massive volcano, around 1800m high and 20km wide.

A map of the massive underwater volcano next to the Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga islands.
A massive underwater volcano lies next to the Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga islands.
Author provided

The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano has erupted regularly over the past few decades. During events in 2009 and 2014/15 hot jets of magma and steam-exploded through the waves. But these eruptions were small, dwarfed in scale by the January 2022 events.

Our research into these earlier eruptions suggests this is one of the massive explosions the volcano is capable of producing roughly every thousand years.

Why are the volcano’s eruptions so highly explosive, given that seawater should cool the magma down?

If magma rises into seawater slowly, even at temperatures of about 1200℃, a thin film of steam forms between the magma and water. This provides a layer of insulation to allow the outer surface of the magma to cool.

But this process doesn’t work when magma is blasted out of the ground full of volcanic gas. When magma enters the water rapidly, any steam layers are quickly disrupted, bringing hot magma in direct contact with cold water.

Volcano researchers call this “fuel-coolant interaction” and it is akin to weapons-grade chemical explosions. Extremely violent blasts tear the magma apart. A chain reaction begins, with new magma fragments exposing fresh hot interior surfaces to water, and the explosions repeat, ultimately jetting out volcanic particles and causing blasts with supersonic speeds.

Two scales of Hunga eruptions

The 2014/15 eruption created a volcanic cone, joining the two old Hunga islands to create a combined island about 5km long. We visited in 2016 and discovered these historical eruptions were merely curtain raisers to the main event.

Mapping the seafloor, we discovered a hidden “caldera” 150m below the waves.

A map of the seafloor shows the volcanic cones and caldera.
A map of the seafloor shows the volcanic cones and massive caldera.
Author provided

The caldera is a crater-like depression around 5km across. Small eruptions (such as in 2009 and 2014/15) occur mainly at the edge of the caldera, but very big ones come from the caldera itself. These big eruptions are so large the top of the erupting magma collapses inward, deepening the caldera.

Looking at the chemistry of past eruptions, we now think the small eruptions represent the magma system slowly recharging itself to prepare for a big event.

We found evidence of two huge past eruptions from the Hunga caldera in deposits on the old islands. We matched these chemically to volcanic ash deposits on the largest inhabited island of Tongatapu, 65km away, and then used radiocarbon dates to show that big caldera eruptions occur about every 1000 years, with the last one at AD1100.

With this knowledge, the eruption on January 15 seems to be right on schedule for a “big one”.

What we can expect to happen now

We’re still in the middle of this major eruptive sequence and many aspects remain unclear, partly because the island is currently obscured by ash clouds.

The two earlier eruptions on December 20 2021 and January 13 2022 were of moderate size. They produced clouds of up to 17km elevation and added new land to the 2014/15 combined island.

The latest eruption has stepped up the scale in terms of violence. The ash plume is already about 20km high. Most remarkably, it spread out almost concentrically over a distance of about 130km from the volcano, creating a plume with a 260km diameter, before it was distorted by the wind.

This demonstrates a huge explosive power – one that cannot be explained by magma-water interaction alone. It shows instead that large amounts of fresh, gas-charged magma have erupted from the caldera.

The eruption also produced a tsunami throughout Tonga and neighboring Fiji and Samoa. Shock waves traversed many thousands of kilometers, were seen from space and recorded in New Zealand some 2000km away. Soon after the eruption started, the sky was blocked out on Tongatapu, with ash beginning to fall.

All these signs suggest the large Hunga caldera has awoken. Tsunami is generated by coupled atmospheric and ocean shock waves during explosions, but they are also readily caused by submarine landslides and caldera collapses.

It remains unclear if this is the climax of the eruption. It represents a major magma pressure release, which may settle the system.

A warning, however, lies in geological deposits from the volcano’s previous eruptions. These complex sequences show each of the 1000-year major caldera eruption episodes involved many separate explosion events.

Hence we could be in for several weeks or even years of major volcanic unrest from the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano. For the sake of the people of Tonga, I hope not.The Conversation

By Shane Cronin, Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Auckland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.




What Is Wish-Cycling? Two Waste Experts Explain

When in doubt, throw it out – but not in the recycling bin. Basak Gurbuz Derman/Moment via Getty Images

Jessica Heiges, University of California, Berkeley and Kate O’Neill, University of California, Berkeley

Wishcycling is putting something in the recycling bin and hoping it will be recycled, even if there is little evidence to confirm this assumption.

Hope is central to wishcycling. People may not be sure the system works, but they choose to believe that if they recycle an object, it will become a new product rather than being buried in a landfill, burned, or dumped.

The U.S. recycling industry was launched in the 1970s in response to public concern over litter and waste. The growth of recycling and collection programs changed consumers’ view of waste: It didn’t seem entirely bad if it could lead to the creation of new products via recycling.

Pro-recycling messaging from governments, corporations, and environmentalists promoted and reinforced recycling behavior. This was especially true for plastics that had resin identification codes inside a triangle of “chasing arrows,” indicating that the item was recyclable – even though that was usually far from the truth. In fact, only resins #1 (polyethylene terephthalate, or PET) and #2 (high-density polyethylene, or HDPE) are relatively easy to recycle and have viable markets. The others are hard to recycle, so some jurisdictions don’t even collect them.

ID codes for 7 major categories of plastic resin surrounded by 'chasing arrow' triangles
The plastics industry developed codes in 1988 to identify categories of plastic resins that products were made from. Surrounding them with ‘chasing arrows’ wrongly suggested that they all were recyclable, when in fact many communities only processed the more common types. In 2013, the graphic was changed to a solid triangle.
iStock via Getty Images

Wishcycling entered public consciousness in 2018 when China launched Operation National Sword, a sweeping set of restrictions on imports of most waste materials from abroad. Over the preceding 20 years, China had purchased millions of tons of scrap metal, paper, and plastic from wealthy nations for recycling, giving those countries an easy and cheap option for managing waste materials.

The China scrap restrictions created enormous waste backups in the U.S., where governments had under-invested in recycling systems. Consumers saw that recycling was not as reliable or environmentally friendly as previously believed.

An unlikely coalition of actors in the recycling sector coined the term “wishcycling” in an effort to educate the public about effective recycling. As they emphasize, wishcycling can be harmful.

Contaminating the waste stream with material that is not actually recyclable makes the sorting process more costly because it requires extra labor. Wishcycling also damages sorting systems and equipment and depresses an already fragile trading market.

Graphic from Asheville, N.C. showing items not to recycle
Many communities are trying to educate consumers about what not to recycle.
City of Asheville, N.C.

Huge waste management companies and small cities and towns have launched educational campaigns on this issue. Their mantra is “When in doubt, throw it out.” In other words, only place material that truly can be recycled in your bin. This message is hard for many environmentalists to hear, but it cuts costs for recyclers and local governments.

We also believe it’s important to understand that the global waste crisis wasn’t created by consumers who failed to wash mayonnaise jars or separate out plastic bags. The biggest drivers are global. They include capitalistic reliance on consumption, strong international waste trade incentives, a lack of standardized recycling policies, and the devaluation of used resources. To make further progress, governments and businesses will have to think more about designing products with the disposal and reuse in mind, reducing consumption of single-use products, and making massive investments in recycling infrastructure.The Conversation

By Jessica Heiges, Ph.D. Candidate in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley and Kate O’Neill, Professor of Global Environmental Politics, University of California, Berkeley

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.




Plastic Trash In the Ocean Is A global Problem, and the US Is the Top Source – A New Report Urges Action

By Matthew Savoca, Postdoctoral researcher, Stanford University; Anna Robuck, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Lauren Kashiwabara, Master’s Degree Student in Biological Sciences, University of the Pacific

Plastic waste of all shapes and sizes permeates the world’s oceans. It shows up on beaches, in fish and even in Arctic sea ice. And a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine makes clear that the U.S. is a big part of the problem.

As the report shows, the U.S. produces a large share of the global supply of plastic resin – the precursor material to all plastic industrial and consumer products. It also imports and exports billions of dollars’ worth of plastic products every year.

On a per capita basis, the U.S. produces an order of magnitude more plastic waste than China – a nation often vilified over pollution-related issues. These findings build off a study published in 2020 that concluded that the U.S. is the largest global source of plastic waste, including plastics shipped to other countries that later are mismanaged.

And only a small fraction of plastic in U.S. household waste streams is recycled. The study calls current U.S. recycling systems “grossly insufficient to manage the diversity, complexity and quantity of plastic waste.”

As scientists who study the effects of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems, we view this report as an important first step on a long road to reducing ocean plastic pollution. While it’s important to make clear how the U.S. is contributing to ocean plastic waste, we see a need for specific, actionable goals and recommendations to mitigate the plastic pollution crisis, and would have liked to see the report go further in that direction.

Plastic is showing up in seafood

Researchers started documenting marine plastic pollution in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Public and scientific interest in the issue exploded in the early 2000s after oceanographer Charles Moore drew attention to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a region in the central north Pacific where ocean currents concentrate floating plastic trash into spinning collections thousands of miles across.

More plastic garbage patches have now been found in the South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean. Unsurprisingly, plastic pervades marine food webs. Over 700 marine species are known to ingest plastic, including over 200 species of fish that humans eat.

Humans also consume plastic that fragments into beverages and food from packaging and inhale microplastic particles in household dust. Scientists are only beginning to assess what this means for public health. Research to date suggests that exposure to plastic-associated chemicals may interfere with hormones that regulate many processes in our bodies, cause developmental problems in children, or alter human metabolic processes in ways that promote obesity

Scientists estimate that if plastics continue to enter the ocean at current rates they will outweigh fish by 2050.

A need for a national strategy

The new report is a sweeping overview of marine plastic pollution, grounded in science. However, many of its conclusions and recommendations have been proposed in various forms for years, and in our view, the report could have done more to advance those discussions.

For example, it strongly recommends developing a national marine debris monitoring program, led by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program. We agree with this proposal, but the report does not address what to monitor, how to do it or what the specific goals of monitoring should be.

Ideally, we believe the federal government should create a coalition of relevant agencies, such as NOAA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health, to tackle plastic pollution. Agencies have done this in the past in response to acute pollution events, such as the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but not for chronic problems like marine debris. The report proposes a cross-government effort as well but does not provide specifics.

Graphic showing main types of waste collected on U.S. beaches
In 2019 volunteers for the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation removed nearly 300,000 pounds of trash from U.S. beaches, nearly all of it plastic.
Surfrider Foundation, CC BY-ND

An underfunded problem

Actions to detect, track and remove plastic waste from the ocean will require substantial financial support. But there’s little federal funding for marine debris research and cleanup. In 2020, for example, NOAA’s Marine Debris Program budget request was $US7 million, which represents 0.1% of NOAA’s $5.65B 2020 budget. Proposed funding for the Marine Debris Program increased by $9 million for fiscal 2022, which is a step in the right direction.

Even so, making progress on ocean plastic waste will require considerably more funding for academic research, nongovernmental organizations, and NOAA’s marine debris activities. Increased support for these programs will help close knowledge gaps, increase public awareness and spur effective action across the entire life cycle of plastics.

One way to address marine plastic waste is to capture it before it enters the ocean. Mr. Trash Wheel, a solar-powered semi-autonomous trash interceptor, removes floating debris from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Corporate responsibility and equity

The private sector also has a crucial role to play in reducing plastic use and waste. We would have liked to see more discussion in the report of how businesses and industries contribute to the accumulation of ocean plastic waste and their role in solutions.

The report correctly notes that plastic pollution is an environmental justice issue. Minority and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by many activities that produce plastic waste, from oil drilling emissions to toxic chemicals released during the production or incineration of plastics. Some proposals in the report, such as better waste management and increased recycling, may benefit these communities – but only if they are directly involved in planning and carrying them out.

The study also highlights the need to produce less plastic and scale up effective plastic recycling. More public and private funding for solutions like reusable and refillable containers, reduced packaging and standardized plastic recycling processes would increase opportunities for consumers to shift away from single-use disposable products.

Plastic pollution threatens the world’s oceans. It also poses direct and indirect risks to human health. We hope the bipartisan support this study has received is a sign that U.S. leaders are ready to take far-reaching action on this critical environmental problem.The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.




The CEO Of Blackstone Is Warning That “A Real Shortage Of Energy” Will Cause Social Unrest All Over The Planet

By Michael Snyder | Activist Post

We are facing an unprecedented global energy crunch.  Demand for energy is continually rising, and the production of energy is not keeping pace.  One of the biggest reasons for this is that large financial institutions have become extremely hesitant to fund any new energy projects that will add more carbon emissions to the environment.  Instead, they want to fund projects that will help us transition to the new “green economy”; but, meanwhile, we are getting to a point where we will soon see widespread shortages of traditional forms of energy.  So now we all get to suffer.  A lack of oil is pushing the price of gasoline to alarming heights, shortages of natural gas are already causing tremendous disruptions in Asia and Europe, we are being told that we are facing a propane “armageddon” this winter, and supplies of coal have dropped to dangerously low levels around the world.

In other words, we are potentially heading into the most painful global energy crisis in modern history.

When CNN asked Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman about this, he openly admitted that we are “going to end up with a real shortage of energy”

Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman warned Tuesday that high energy prices will likely set off social unrest around the world.

“We’re going to end up with a real shortage of energy. And when you have a shortage, it’s going to cost more. And it’s probably going to cost a lot more,” the private-equity billionaire told CNN International’s Richard Quest at a conference in Saudi Arabia.

When the power goes out, people are not going to be happy.

And people are really not going to be happy if it goes out for an extended period of time.

According to Schwarzman, we will soon see “very unhappy people” all over the globe…

“You’re going to get very unhappy people around the world in the emerging markets in particular but in the developed world,” Schwarzman said at the Future Investment Initiative. “What happens then, Richard, is you’ve got real unrest. This challenges the political system and it’s all utterly unnecessary.”

Sadly, he is right that this global energy crisis did not have to happen.

If the global elite had continued to fund traditional energy projects at the pace that was needed, we could have avoided this nightmare to a very large degree.

But traditional forms of energy are now being shunned, and billions of people will suffer as a result.

Meanwhile, prices throughout our economic system continue to rise at a very alarming pace.  Just check out what has been happening to the price of turkey

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, for example, released data recently showing the average wholesale price of Grade A frozen 8- to 16-pound turkey has spiked by 21.91% since last year. That means what cost $1.15 per pound a year ago will now ring at at $1.41. And just for context, the same would have cost 96 cents in 2019 and 84 cents in 2018.

If math isn’t your thing, that’s a 68% wholesale price increase in just two years.

Overall, we are being told that this upcoming Thanksgiving will be the most expensive Thanksgiving that any of us have ever experienced

Matthew McClure paid 20% more this month than he did last year for the 25 pasture-raised turkeys he plans to roast at the Hive, the Bentonville, Arkansas, restaurant where he is the executive chef. And Norman Brown, director of sweet-potato sales for Wada Farms in Raleigh, North Carolina, is paying truckers nearly twice as much as usual to haul the crop to other parts of the country.

“I never seen anything like it, and I’ve been running sweet potatoes for 38 or 39 years,” Brown said. “I don’t know what the answer is, but in the end it’s all going to get passed on to the consumer.”

Unfortunately, more price hikes are on the horizon.

In fact, Kimberly-Clark is opening warning that they are going to be boosting prices even higher

Prices of toilet paper, diapers, facial tissues and paper towels will likely rise in coming weeks as Irving-based consumer giant Kimberly-Clark warned Monday that inflation and supply chain concerns aren’t “likely to be resolved quickly.”

So I would stock up on paper products while you still can.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, inflation is eventually going to get far worse than what we witnessed during the 1970s.

At this point, even many top Democrats are warning that high inflation is with us to stay.  Here is one recent example

Former President Barack Obama’s chief of global development on Tuesday predicted inflation was here to stay, despite the Biden administration’s protestations to the contrary.

Prices “will go higher, and the Fed has misread the inflation dynamics in a big way,” former Global Development Council Chairman Mohamed El Erian said in an afternoon interview with Fox News’ Sandra Smith, adding that the Federal Reserve was “still hostage to this notion that it’s transitory.”

And the shortages that we are currently experiencing are ultimately going to get worse too.

Right now, we are already facing the worst shortage of alcoholic beverages since the 1930s.  When asked about his empty shelves by a reporter, one gas station owner said that he has “never seen anything like this”

Supply chain issues are impacting the alcohol supply in the U.S., and it’s making alcohol more expensive and difficult for bars and liquor stores to get.

“I have so many empty shelves. In the two years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like this,” gas station chain owner Ali Ali said.

As I discussed yesterday, now Biden wants to take countless more truck drivers off the road, and that will make our supply chain headaches a whole lot worse.

And as energy prices escalate, that will push all prices throughout our economic system higher and higher and higher.

Yes, all of this is really happening.

This is not a drill.

We are in the early chapters of a full-blown economic meltdown of epic proportions, and nothing will ever be the same after this.

If you want to keep waiting for conditions to “return to normal”, you are going to be waiting for a really, really long time.

We have entered a truly horrible nightmare, and there will be no waking up from this.

***It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.***

About the Author: My name is Michael Snyder and my brand new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available on Amazon.com.  In addition to my new book, I have written five other books that are available on Amazon.com including  “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America”“The Beginning Of The End”“Get Prepared Now”, and “Living A Life That Really Matters”. (#CommissionsEarned)  By purchasing the books you help to support the work that my wife and I are doing, and by giving it to others you help to multiply the impact that we are having on people all over the globe.  I have published thousands of articles on The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream, and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe.  I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but I also ask that they include this “About the Author” section with each article.  The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial, or health decisions.  I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and anyway that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as we possibly can.




Uganda Climate Leader Vanessa Nakate Joins Fight Against German Coal Mine

By Jon Queally | Common Dreams 

Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate, a key leader of the international youth climate movement, was in Germany on Saturday where she joined opponents of the country’s largest lignite coal mine to denounce its proposed expansion in the face of the ever-growing threat of fossil fuels and planet-heating emissions.

“With the expansion of this coal mine, it means people’s cultures will be destroyed, people’s traditions, people’s histories of this place,” she said of the mining operation known as Garzweiler and plans to destroy the nearby village of Luetzerath to allow for the owners, German utility giant RWE, to expand its already vast footprint.

“I came to see how much destruction is being done in Luetzerath with the coal mine and to see how much of this destruction is not just affecting the people in this place, but also the people in my country, Uganda,” Nakate said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Now in her mid-twenties, Nakate began a local climate strike in Uganda as a high school student during her teen years and, like Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, has leveraged her voice to urge leaders across the world to take much bolder action on the planetary emergency. Last month, as Common Dreams reported, Nakate and Thunberg teamed up to deliver a scathing rebuke to world leaders who they accused of utter failure.

“Our leaders are lost, and our planet is damaged,” said Nakate during her keynote address at the opening of the three-day Youth4Climate summit in Milan.

“Why is it so easy for leaders to open up new coal power plants, construct oil pipelines, and extract gas—which is all destroying our climate,” she said, “but so hard for them to acknowledge that loss and damage are here with us now?”

In conversation with local activists not far from the mine on Saturday, Nakate explained that while the challenges of the Global South are often ignored by the major newspapers, climate activists around the world—including across her country and the African continent—are working incredibly hard to change that reality.

Witnessing the German mine first-hand, Nakate told AP it was “really disturbing to see how much destruction is taking place.”

Leonie Bremer, a local opponent of the operation, added that it was “absurd that my friend Vanessa has to come here from Uganda to show people that what we are doing here in Germany, that what RWE is doing here, that’s affecting countries like Uganda.”


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‘Speeding in the Wrong Direction,’ Fossil Fuel Demand Tops Pre-Pandemic Levels

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams 

Climate campaigners and energy experts are responding to a recent rise in fossil fuel demand by reiterating the necessity of rapidly transitioning to renewable sources like solar and wind, with Swedish activist Greta Thunberg warning Monday that “we are still speeding in the wrong direction.”

Thunberg yet again took aim at world leaders’ empty promises to combat the climate emergency, including through policies and investments provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic. As she put it: “So much for ‘building back better’ and a ‘green recovery.'”

The 18-year-old—whose solo protests outside the Swedish Parliament sparked the global youth-led Fridays for Future movement—was reacting on Twitter to new reporting from Reuters that demand for coal and gas has topped pre-coronavirus highs, “with oil not far behind, dealing a setback to hopes the pandemic would spur a faster transition to clean energy.”

Reuters highlighted figures from International Energy Agency (IEA), the global energy watchdog which made clear in May that countries’ current climate pledges are deeply inadequate and allowing new fossil fuel projects is incompatible with the global goal to dramatically cut planet-heating pollution.

Three-quarters of the world’s total energy demand is still met by fossil fuels and both coal and gas demand are projected to surpass 2019 levels, according to the IEA. Coal demand is expected to rise 4.5% this year and gas demand is on track to increase 3.2%, after falling 1.9% last year.

As the news agency reported:

Global natural gas shortages, record gas and coal prices, a power crunch in China, and a three-year high on oil prices all tell one story—demand for energy has roared back and the world still needs fossil fuels to meet most of those energy needs.

“The demand fall during the pandemic was entirely linked to governments’ decision to restrict movements and had nothing to do with the energy transition,” Cuneyt Kazokoglu, head of oil demand analysis at FGE told Reuters.

“The energy transition and decarbonization are decade-long strategies and do not happen overnight.”

Fatih Birol, head of the Paris-based IEA, has recently not only agreed with the consultant’s analysis but also made a case for transitioning power systems.

Faced with a steep rise in European gas prices last month, Birol said in a statement that “it is inaccurate and misleading to lay the responsibility at the door of the clean energy transition.”

“Today’s situation is a reminder to governments, especially as we seek to accelerate clean energy transitions, of the importance of secure and affordable energy supplies—particularly for the most vulnerable people in our societies,” Birol added. “Well-managed clean energy transitions are a solution to the issues that we are seeing in gas and electricity markets today—not the cause of them.”

“Well-managed clean energy transitions are a solution to the issues that we are seeing in gas and electricity markets today—not the cause of them.”
—Fatih Birol, IEA

Reporting last week on the rising demand for gas and its impact on electricity bills and factories, The New York Times noted that “growing concerns about climate change, expressed by shareholders or via court cases like the decision by a Dutch court in May ordering Royal Dutch Shell to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, may make some companies hesitate to invest in new multibillion-dollar fossil fuel projects.”

While one expert at the consultancy Rystad Energy suggested that such hesitancy could lead to “more volatile” markets, the Times added that a shift to power from clean sources like wind and solar eventually “may help protect consumers from the tyranny of the global commodity markets,” though “the events of this fall suggest that goal is some distance away.”

In response to that report, some experts called for speeding up the transition to clean energy and storage rather than clinging to gas. The Times coverage came as youth climate leaders, including Thunberg and Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate, marched through Milan, Italy.

That march followed the United Nations-sponsored Youth4Climate summit that featured speeches from Thunberg and Nakate and was held to craft proposals for attendees of the U.N. conference known as COP 26, set to begin in Glasgow, Scotland later this month.

“‘Build back better.’ Blah blah blah,” Thunberg said in her address. “This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words—words that sound great but so far have led to no action. Our hopes and dreams drowned in their empty words and promises.”


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Progressive Groups Warn Congress Against Including Carbon Tax in Reconciliation Package

Democrats are considering adding a carbon tax to their evolving budget reconciliation package. (Photo: 123RF)

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams 

Five progressive organizations on Tuesday urged top congressional Democrats to exclude a carbon tax from the sweeping budget reconciliation package they aim to pass this week following reports that the policy is under consideration in the U.S. Senate.

“Carbon taxes… do not reduce emissions, they put a squeeze on working families, and they are embraced by polluters.”
—Mitch Jones, Food & Water Watch

Given the Senate’s current makeup and Democrats’ refusal to abolish the filibuster, passing the Build Back Better package is considered essential to delivering on President Joe Biden’s climate pledges. Backed by the latest science, progressives have repeatedly advocated against including “false solutions” that impede a just transition away from fossil fuels and exacerbate the climate emergency.

Climate Justice Alliance, Food & Water Watch, Indigenous Environmental Network, Our Revolution, and Progressive Democrats of America made their case for leaving a carbon tax out of the package in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

While applauding Democratic leaders’ efforts to generate the money necessary to combat the climate emergency, the groups warn of the expected harms of such a policy and argue that repealing fossil fuel subsidies “would provide a simpler and more robust revenue stream.”

The letter came amid uncertainty over the fate of both the Build Back Better package and a bipartisan infrastructure bill, and just days after Wyden confirmed to The New York Times that in the face of opposition to the party’s tax plan from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Schumer instructed him to craft legislation that would put a price on carbon emissions but also align with Biden’s vow not to raise taxes on households making below $400,000.

As Wyden noted to the Times, a carbon tax remains a heavy push politically even if it comes with a dividend that would return a portion of the money to consumers. Of course, the more money returned to consumers in the form of rebates, the less revenue there is to spend on other programs—the point of instituting a carbon tax.

The potential impact that such a policy could have on families with lower incomes is among the concerns detailed in the groups’ letter:

The Build Back Better Act is touted as the best shot to address the climate crisis, but it is also an opportunity to address the injustice and harms that fossil fuels bring to Black, Indigenous nations, and environmental justice communities. Including a carbon tax as a pay-for in this spending plan will further our dependency on fossil fuels and undermine efforts to eliminate and reduce pollution in vulnerable communities. Furthermore, this regressive tax will also undermine a key promise of President Biden to not raise taxes on people making under $400,000 per year, an increase that will be felt hardest among low- and moderate-income households who are least equipped to make investments necessary to avoid carbon emissions and these new taxes.

The organizations explain that fossil fuel interests support carbon taxes because they not only sustain but create more dependence on the industry by making social programs—like those proposed in the Democrats’ package—reliant on revenue from polluters.

“This perverse relationship,” the letter warns, “will cause us to choose between the health of vulnerable communities and our climate or funding government programs, a dichotomy we should avoid at all costs.”

“The inclusion of a carbon tax,” the letter continues, “would create an inequitable, discriminatory, ineffective, and ultimately regressive proposal that gives a green light for the biggest climate scofflaws to pay to pollute and maintain a harmful status quo.”

Food & Water Watch policy director Mitch Jones echoed the letter’s warnings and demands in a statement Tuesday.

“Carbon taxes have fallen out of serious climate discussions for good reasons: They do not reduce emissions, they put a squeeze on working families, and they are embraced by polluters as a ploy to look concerned about climate while continuing business as usual,” he said.

“If lawmakers are really concerned about holding the costs of this spending bill,” Jones added, “They should get rid of the billions of dollars we waste every year on subsidies to polluters.”


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‘Coal Is Dead’: New Global Pact Announced After China’s Bold Step

Seven countries on Friday pledged they would cease building new coal power plants. (Photo: 123RF)

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

Just two days after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the world’s largest coal producer would stop funding overseas coal projects, seven countries on Friday pledged they would also cease building new coal power plants—the latest sign one of the world’s dirtiest energy sources is on its way out.

“I call on more countries to come forward and sign up to this compact ahead of COP26, and play their part to limit global warming and keep 1.5 degrees alive.” —Alok Sharma, COP26

Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Montenegro, Sri Lanka, and the U.K. signed the No New Coal agreement at the U.N. High-level Dialogue on Energy in New York, where officials this week aimed to gather more support for the pact at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.

“Development of new coal-fired power plants must stop this year to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050,” said Dan Jørgensen, the Danish Minister of Climate, Energy, and Utilities, in a statement. “That is why I am thrilled that we stand together with fellow ambitious countries with the aim to end construction of new coal-fired power plants. This energy compact is an important step on the way for a complete phase-out of coal power and consigning coal power to history at COP26. I encourage all governments to join this very important initiative.”

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), all emissions from coal power plants—the world’s largest source of carbon emissions—must be eliminated by 2040 in order to keep the heating of the planet below 1.5C.

The No New Coal agreement requires countries to immediately stop approving permits and end new construction of “unabated coal-fired power generation projects by the end of the year,” according to Bloomberg.

Noting that the seven countries signed on to the pact following Xi’s announcement—which is expected to eliminate 40 gigawatts of new coal power and avoid as much as 235 million tons of carbon emissions—the climate action group 350.org said the agreement is a clear sign that “coal is dead.”

“China’s decision is pretty much the end of public financing for coal,” Chris Littlecott, associate director of fossil-fuel transition at climate think tank E3G, told Bloomberg.

The No New Coal agreement comes four years after more than 40 countries signed onto the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which requires a commitment to phase out existing coal operations as soon as 2030 as well as a pledge to halt construction of new plants.

Alok Sharma, U.K. lawmakers and president of COP26, applauded the countries’ “bold leadership to cancel coal through the No New Coal Power Compact, demonstrating the positive impact that countries working closely together can have in generating climate action,” noting that transitioning away from coal and towards renewable energy, technology has increasingly been shown to be cost-effective as well as vital for the survival of the planet.

“Consigning coal to history is crucial to avoiding catastrophic climate change,” said Sharma. “The cost of clean renewable technologies continues to fall, making coal expensive and uncompetitive. I call on more countries to come forward and sign up to this compact ahead of COP26, and play their part to limit global warming and keep 1.5 degrees alive.”

The No New Coal initiative, along with China’s announcement, has put countries around the world “on notice,” Littlecott said.

“Governments can have confidence in committing to no new coal,” Littlecott said. “The No New Coal Power Compact provides a space for them to step forward together.”

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Animal Agriculture Emits Nearly 60% of Greenhouse Gases From Food Production: Study

By Brett Wilkins | Common Dreams

Global food production accounts for more than a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, with meat and dairy responsible for twice as much planet-heating carbon pollution as plant-based foods, according to the results of a major study published Monday.

“If people are concerned about climate change, they should seriously consider changing their dietary habits.”
—Atul Jain, study co-author

According to research published in Nature Food, 35% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to food production, “of which 57% corresponds to the production of animal-based food,” including livestock feed.

“The global population has quadrupled over the last century,” the study notes. “Demographic growth and associated economic growth have increased global food demand and caused dietary changes, such as eating more animal-based products. The United Nations projects that food production from plants and animals will need to increase 70% by 2050, compared to 2009, to meet increasing food demand.”

“Increased food production,” the paper continues, “may accelerate land-use changes (LUCs) for agriculture, resulting in greater greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduced carbon sequestration, and further climate change.”

Beef production—which according to the study contributes 25% of all food-based greenhouse gas emissions—is by far the biggest culprit, followed by cow’s milk, pork, and chicken. Among plant-based foods, rice production is responsible for 12% of food-based emissions.

The publication notes that the provision of adequate grazing land and food for livestock fuels deforestation, while the animals also produce tremendous quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas found to be up to 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

“To produce more meat you need to feed the animals more, which then generates more emissions,” University of Illinois researcher and study lead author Xiaoming Xu told The Guardian. “You need more biomass to feed animals in order to get the same amount of calories. It isn’t very efficient.”

The paper notes that while it only takes 2.5 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions to produce one kilogram of wheat, producing the same quantity of beef emits 70 kilograms of emissions.

“I’m a strict vegetarian and part of the motivation for this study was to find out my own carbon footprint, but it’s not our intention to force people to change their diets,” study co-author Atul Jain told The Guardian. “A lot of this comes down to personal choice. You can’t just impose your views on others. But if people are concerned about climate change, they should seriously consider changing their dietary habits.”

Jain added that “this study shows the entire cycle of the food production system, and policymakers may want to use the results to think about how to control greenhouse gas emissions.”

The new study’s findings closely mirror those of separate research published last week by Friends of the Earth Europe, its German arm Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz, and the Berlin-based Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, which concluded that worldwide food production accounts for up to 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with animal agriculture responsible for more than half of that amount.

Noting that “industrialized meat and dairy production are killing the planet, poisoning rural communities, and hurting independent farmers,” the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said Monday that the Farm System Reform Act—legislation reintroduced in July by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)—”would end some of the worst practices and begin building a just food system for people and the planet.”

“Meat and dairy production in the United States is based on heavily subsidized factory farming—a leading contributor to climate change, pollution, pesticide use, biodiversity loss, wildlife killings, and worker exploitation,” CBD explains in a petition supporting the proposed legislation, which is endorsed by more than 300 diverse advocacy groups. “This broken system is the result of the unequal power that multinational meat corporations wield over federal farm policy.”


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‘Momentous’ Moratorium on Deep Sea Mining Adopted at Global Biodiversity Summit

A pair of fish swim near the ocean floor off the coast of Mauritius. A motion calling for an end to deep-sea mining of minerals was adopted at the world congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature this week. (Photo: Roman Furrer/Flickr/cc)

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

A vote overwhelmingly in favor of placing a moratorium on deep-sea mineral mining at a global biodiversity summit this week has put urgent pressure on the International Seabed Authority to strictly regulate the practice.

The vast majority of governments, NGOs, and civil society groups voted in favor of the moratorium at the world congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Wednesday, after several conservation groups lobbied in favor of the measure.

“Member countries of the ISA, including France which hosted this Congress, need to wake up and act on behalf of civil society and the environment now, and take action in support of a moratorium.” —Matthew Gianni, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

Eighty-one government and government agencies voted for the moratorium, while 18 opposed it and 28, including the United Kingdom, abstained from voting. Among NGOs and other organizations, 577 supported the motion while fewer than three dozen opposed it or abstained.

Deep-sea mining for deposits of copper, nickel, lithium, and other metals can lead to the swift loss of entire species that live only on the ocean floor, as well as disturbing ecosystems and food sources and putting marine life at risk for toxic spills and leaks.

Fauna and Flora International, which sponsored the moratorium along with other groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Synchronicity Earth, called the vote “a momentous outcome for ocean conservation.”

The motion called for a moratorium on mining for minerals and metals near the ocean floor until environmental impact assessments are completed and stakeholders can ensure the protection of marine life, as well as calling for reforms to the International Seabed Authority (ISA)—the regulatory body made up of 167 nations and the European Union, tasked with overseeing “all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area for the benefit of mankind as a whole.”

In June, a two-year deadline was set for the ISA to begin licensing commercial deep-sea mining and to finalize regulations for the industry by 2023.

“Member countries of the ISA, including France which hosted this Congress, need to wake up and act on behalf of civil society and the environment now, and take action in support of a moratorium,” said Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, in a statement.

The World Wide Fund for Nature, another co-sponsor of the motion, called on the ISA to reject the deep-sea mining industry’s claims that mining for metals on the ocean floor is a partial solution to the climate crisis.

“The pro-deep seabed mining lobby is… selling a story that companies need deep seabed minerals in order to produce electric cars, batteries, and other items that reduce carbon emissions,” said Jessica Battle, a senior expert on global ocean policy and governance at the organization. “Deep seabed mining is an avoidable environmental disaster. We can decarbonize through innovation, redesigning, reducing, reusing, and recycling.”

Pippa Howard of Fauna and Flora International wrote ahead of the IUCN summit that “we need to shatter the myth that deep seabed mining is the solution to the climate crisis.”

“Far from being the answer to our dreams, deep seabed mining could well turn out to be the stuff of nightmares,” she wrote. “Deep seabed mining—at least as it is currently conceived—would be an utterly irresponsible and short-sighted idea. In the absence of any suitable mitigation techniques… deep-sea mining should be avoided entirely until that situation changes.”

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Billions of People Could Live Years Longer If Policymakers Reduce Air Pollution: Study

A child wears a face mask in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia due to ait pollution from peat fires. (Photo: CIFOR/Flickr/cc)

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

A new study released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Chicago showed that air pollution is cutting short the average global citizen’s life by more than two years, with people in parts of the world dying as many as eight years earlier than they would without exposure to pollution.

The burning of coal is the biggest driver of deadly air pollution, according to the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), and people in countries around the world could live longer lives if policymakers drastically reduced fossil fuel emissions and ensured exposure to pollution was kept below the amount deemed acceptable by the World Health Organization.

“The combustion of the same fossil fuels that release life-threatening air pollution also involves the release of greenhouse gases that increase the odds of disruptive climate change.” —AQLI

In India, the average person could live six years longer if pollution from some of the smallest particulate matter (PM 2.5) was reduced to acceptable levels. In the northern part of the country—home to 248 million people—life expectancy would increase by eight years.

More than 500 million people in places including Nepal, Peru, and Indonesia would live an average of five years longer if their governments were to comply with the guidelines, and more than one billion people would live at least three years longer on average.

“There is no greater current risk to human health” than air pollution, said Prof. Michael Greenstone of the university’s Energy Policy Institute, who led the study.

The research revealed “very worrying data,” Kwame McKenzie of the health policy charity Wellesley Institute said.

PM 2.5 pollution shortens more lives around the globe than smoking, unsafe water, and poor sanitation, car accidents, and HIV/AIDS, according to the research.
The WHO recommends that atmospheric levels of PM 2.5—a fine matter which can travel down the respiratory tracts and into the lungs and even the bloodstream if a person is exposed—are limited to 10 micrograms per cubic meter. The researchers found that the average global citizen is exposed to concentrations of 32 micrograms per cubic meter.
The researchers noted that relatively little attention has been paid to the public health threat posed by air pollution around the world, particularly in parts of the Global South where policymakers and NGOs are focused on other public health crises:
The health discourse in Sub-Saharan Africa has centered on infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. About 10% of health expenditures in the region go towards combating HIV/AIDS or malaria. However, a comparison shows that particulate pollution’s impact on life expectancy is no less serious. In Nigeria, air pollution is second only to HIV/AIDS in terms of its impact on life expectancy—shaving off more years than malaria and water and sanitation concerns. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is second only to malaria. In Ghana, it ranks as the deadliest of these threats, while in Cote d’Ivoire it shortens life by about the same amount as those communicable diseases.
The researchers emphasized that it’s within policymakers’ control to improve pollution levels and life expectancy, as China has in recent years. The country has reduced pollution levels by nearly 30% since 2013 and has added 1.5 years to the average life expectancy.
In the U.S., the study says, air pollution was reduced by about 66% since the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970, and Americans’ life expectancy has gone up since then by 1.6 years.
“The improvements that China was able to bring about in such a short period of time: six or seven years or so,” Kenneth Lee, director of the AQLI, told The Hill. “Whereas, it took decades for the U.S. to make those changes.”
In the U.S., the researchers noted, a feedback loop has emerged in recent years as wildfires fueled by the climate crisis have grown larger and more common.
“In the U.S., millions have been adversely affected by hazardous wildfire smoke during the severe western wildfire seasons of the past few years,” Axios reported. “On Tuesday, as a veil of smoke could be seen on satellite imagery enshrouding areas from Nevada to Nebraska, for example.”
“The combustion of the same fossil fuels that release life-threatening air pollution also involves the release of greenhouse gases that increase the odds of disruptive climate change,” according to the report.

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Nearly 70 People Arrested for Resisting Line 3 at Rally Outside Minnesota Governor’s Mansion

Indigenous leaders and their water-protector allies protest the Canadian oil-and-gas-transport company Enbridge, which is expanding the controversial Line 3 pipeline. (Photo: Indigenous Environmental Network/Twitter

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

Environmental justice campaigners expressed solidarity over the weekend with nearly 70 people who were arrested Saturday by Minnesota law enforcement as they assembled outside Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s home, demanding the Governor take action to stop the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Protesters were loaded into buses after police threatened dozens with pepper spray, rubber bullets, and a Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) for peacefully protesting the pipeline, which violates the treaty rights of the Anishinaabe people as well as threatening water safety in northern Minnesota.

RootsAction urged supporters to donate to bail funds for the campaigners, many of whom have been arrested multiple times for standing up for Indigenous rights, public health, and the future of the planet.

On Saturday, more than 100 people marched to Walz’s mansion from the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, demanding the governor live up to campaign statements he made opposing the pipeline and intervene in the permitting process for Line 3.

Walz has expressed support for moving “away from fossil fuels,” but since taking office he has declined to stop construction, which is now on the verge of completion.

“If we’re gonna transport oil, we need to do it as safely as we possibly can with the most modern equipment,” said Walz on Friday as thousands of demonstrators camped out on the grounds of the state Capitol.

At the rally in front of the governor’s home on Saturday, Indigenous water protectors read a statement demanding action from Walz and President Joe Biden, who advocates say should suspend the permit allowing construction of the Line 3 pipeline under the Clean Water Act and “undertake a thorough review” of the federal permitting process and the project.

“Line 3 violates treaties by threatening water, manoomin, and our climate, leading to the loss of usufructuary and cultural rights,” said the organizers. “President Biden, as well, has failed to uphold treaties and the principle of free, prior, and informed consent by allowing the project to proceed without nation to nation consultation with sovereign tribes opposed to the project.”

Organizers including Taysha Martineau, one of the Anishinaabe women leading the resistance to the pipeline, chained themselves to the gates in front of Walz’s mansion before the arrests.

“I’m here locked to the fence demanding that Governor Tim Walz speaks to us,” Martineau said. “We’re calling on Governor Walz to pull the permits for Line 3 and demanding a federal Environmental Impact Statement for the project. Water protectors marched 256 miles from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to speak with this gentleman. He has not come to listen to their voices and so we came here. We’re here demanding that they hear us.”

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The EPA is Banning Chlorpyrifos, A Pesticide Widely Used on Food Crops, after 14 Years of Pressure from Environmental and Labor Groups

Chlorpyrifos is widely used on crops, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, corn and soybeans.

On Aug. 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will end the use of chlorpyrifos – a pesticide associated with neurodevelopmental problems and impaired brain function in children – on all food products nationwide. Gina Solomon, a principal investigator at the Public Health Institute, clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and former deputy secretary at the California Environmental Protection Agency, explains the scientific evidence that led California to ban chlorpyrifos in 2020 and why the EPA is now following suit.

1. What is chlorpyrifos, and how is it used?

Chlorpyrifos is an inexpensive and effective pesticide that has been on the market since 1965. According to the EPA, approximately 5.1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos have been used annually in recent years (2014-2018) on a wide range of crops, including many different vegetables, corn, soybeans, cotton and fruit, and nut trees.

Like other organophosphate insecticides, chlorpyrifos is designed to kill insects by blocking an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme normally breaks down acetylcholine, a chemical that the body uses to transmit nerve impulses. Blocking the enzyme causes insects to have convulsions and die. All organophosphate insecticides are also toxic and potentially lethal to humans.

Until 2000, chlorpyrifos was also used in homes for pest control. It was banned for indoor use after the passage of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, which required additional protection of children’s health. Residues left after indoor use was quite high, and toddlers who crawled on the floor and put their hands in their mouths were found to be at risk of poisoning.

Despite the ban on household use and the fact that chlorpyrifos doesn’t linger in the body, over 75% of people in the U.S. still have traces of chlorpyrifos in their bodies, mostly due to residues on food. Higher exposures have been documented in farm workers and people who live or work near agricultural fields.

The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that less-toxic alternatives to chlorpyrifos are available.

2. What’s the evidence that chlorpyrifos is harmful?

Researchers published the first study linking chlorpyrifos to potential developmental harm in children in 2003. They found that higher levels of chlorpyrifos metabolite – a substance produced when the body breaks down the pesticide – in umbilical cord blood were significantly associated with smaller infant birth weight and length.

Subsequent studies published from 2006 to 2014 showed that those same infants had developmental delays that persisted into childhood, with lower scores on standard tests of development and changes that researchers could see on MRI scans of the children’s brains. Scientists also discovered that a genetic subtype of a common metabolic enzyme in pregnant women increased the likelihood that their children would experience neurodevelopmental delays.

These findings touched off a battle to protect children from chlorpyrifos. Some scientists were skeptical of results from epidemiological studies that followed the children of pregnant women with greater or lesser levels of chlorpyrifos in their urine or cord blood and looked for adverse effects.

Epidemiological studies can provide powerful evidence that something is harmful to humans, but results can also be muddled by gaps in information about the timing and level of exposures. They also can be complicated by exposure to other harmful substances through diet, personal habits, homes, communities, and workplaces.

3. Why did it take so long to reach a conclusion?

As evidence accumulated that low levels of chlorpyrifos were probably toxic to
humans, regulatory scientists at the EPA and in California reviewed it – but they took very different paths.

At first, both groups focused on the established toxicity mechanism: acetylcholinesterase inhibition. They reasoned that preventing significant disruption of this key enzyme would protect people from any other neurological effects.

Scientists working under contract for Dow Chemical, which manufactured chlorpyrifos, published a complex model in 2014 to estimate how much of the pesticide a person would have to consume or inhale to trigger acetylcholinesterase inhibition. But some of their equations were based on data from as few as six healthy adults who had swallowed capsules of chlorpyrifos during experiments in the 1970s and early 1980s – a research method that now would be considered unethical.

California scientists questioned whether risk assessments based on the Dow-funded model adequately accounted for uncertainty and human variability. They also wondered whether acetylcholinesterase inhibition was really the most sensitive biological effect.

In 2016 the EPA released a reassessment of chlorpyrifos’s potential health effects that took a very different approach. It focused on epidemiological studies published from 2003 through 2014 at Columbia University that found developmental impacts in children exposed to chlorpyrifos. The Columbia researchers analyzed chlorpyrifos levels in the umbilical cord blood at birth, and the EPA attempted to back-calculate how much chlorpyrifos the babies might have been exposed to throughout pregnancy.

Map showing estimated use by state.
Scientists estimate that U.S. farmers used more than 5 million pounds of chlorpyrifos in 2017.
USGS

On the basis of this analysis, the Obama administration concluded that chlorpyrifos could not be safely used and should be banned. However, the Trump administration halted this decision one year later, arguing that the science was not resolved and more study was needed. The Trump administration subsequently abandoned the human epidemiological studies and reverted to using the Dow-sponsored model and acetylcholinesterase inhibition endpoint that was used back in 2014.

History indicates that both political and scientific considerations likely accounted for the long delays. Although the conclusions clearly shifted with different federal administrations, the epidemiological studies and the acetylcholinesterase model also pointed in different directions – one suggested high health risks in humans, and the other suggested relatively lower risks. Policy conclusions thus depended partly on which data scientists chose as the basis for evaluating health risks.

4. What convinced California to impose a ban?

Three new papers on prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos, published in 2017 and 2018, broke the logjam. These were independent studies, conducted on rats, that evaluated subtle effects on learning and development.

The results were consistent and clear: Chlorpyrifos caused decreased learning, hyperactivity, and anxiety in rat pups at doses lower than those that affected acetylcholinesterase. And these studies clearly quantified doses to the rats, so there was no uncertainty about their exposure levels during pregnancy. The results were eerily similar to effects seen in human epidemiological studies, vindicating serious health concerns about chlorpyrifos.

California reassessed chlorpyrifos, using these new studies. Regulators concluded that the pesticide posed significant risks that could not be mitigated, especially among people who lived near agricultural fields where it was used. In October 2019, the state announced that under an enforceable agreement with manufacturers, all sales of chlorpyrifos to California growers would end by Feb. 6, 2020, and growers would not be allowed to possess or use it after Dec. 31, 2020.

Two months after the California decision, the European Union voted to ban chlorpyrifos due to concerns about neurodevelopmental harm. New York, Hawaii, Oregon, and Maryland also moved to end the use of the pesticide within their borders. On the same day that California sales of the pesticide ceased, the main manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, Corteva Agrosciences, announced that it would stop producing the chemical.

5. Why is the EPA acting now?

This saga began in 2007, when the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network formally petitioned the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos, citing epidemiological evidence that the chemical caused harm to brain development. (I worked at NRDC at the time and reviewed scientific studies on chlorpyrifos, but was not directly involved with the petition.)

Over a decade passed while the agency reevaluated the science, studying multiple ways of analyzing the data. In 2016 the EPA proposed to grant the petition and ban chlorpyrifos but did not complete this action by the end of the Obama administration.

In July 2019, under the Trump administration, the EPA denied the petition, saying that claims about neurodevelopmental toxicity were “not supported by valid, complete and reliable evidence.” Nonetheless, a new EPA risk assessment released in 2020 identified significant risks associated with combined exposures to chlorpyrifos from multiple sources, including food and drinking water.

In late April 2021, a federal court in California ordered the agency to either ban use of chlorpyrifos on food within 60 days or show that it was safe. “The EPA has had nearly 14 years to publish a legally sufficient response to the 2007 Petition,” the ruling stated. “During that time, the EPA’s egregious delay exposed a generation of American children to unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos.”

With the agency’s Aug. 18 announcement, that delay is finally over.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on Jan. 23, 2020.The Conversation

Gina Solomon, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.




‘Hard to Imagine Worse Idea’: Biden to Resume Fossil Fuel Leases on Public Lands and Waters

By Jon Queally | Common Dreams

Climate groups are expressing deep concern following an Interior Department announcement on Monday that the Biden administration will resume oil and gas drilling leases on public lands and waters—a practice President Joe Biden vowed to ban during his 2020 run for the White House—in response to a federal court ruling.

“The climate emergency reality we are facing demands immediate action, not acquiescence.” —Nicole Ghio, Friends of the Earth

While the Biden administration confirmed in its announcement that an appeal has been filed with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in a legal battle with the state of Louisiana—which sued the federal government over the pause in the oil and gas leasing program ordered by Biden earlier this year—the Interior Department said leasing would resume while the process plays out.

“Federal onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing will continue as required by the district court while the government’s appeal is pending,” the DOI stated.

According to Bloomberg, the moves by the administration “mark the beginning of an open-ended analysis of the federal oil, gas, and coal leasing programs that could span years—and lead to higher fees as well as new limits on development in sensitive areas.”

While environmental advocacy groups commended the administration for appealing the lower court ruling—handed down by a Trump-appointed U.S. district court judge in June—they also said the threat of resuming the leasing program on federal lands and for offshore drilling cannot be overstated.

“Our planet can’t afford any more new fossil fuel extraction,” said Taylor McKinnon, a senior campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement on Tuesday. “We’re out of time. The world’s existing oil and gas fields will already push warming past 1.5 degrees Celsius if they’re fully developed.”

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said in response that with “the climate crisis smacking us in the face at every turn, it’s hard to imagine a worse idea than resuming oil and gas drilling on federal lands. As has been documented in long and excruciating detail, oil and gas drillers have trashed public lands and failed to clean up their mess—while siphoning public resources for a relative pittance.”

As the appeals process plays out, the Biden administration said it will perform a new analysis of the regulatory framework that governs leasing and extraction operations on federal lands as well as hold oil and gas companies to account under existing authorities and guidelines.

“We’re out of time. The world’s existing oil and gas fields will already push warming past 1.5 degrees Celsius if they’re fully developed.” —Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity

“It’s encouraging that the Biden administration is appealing this wrongful decision,” said Nicole Ghio, senior fossil fuels program manager at Friends of the Earth. “However, the president made a promise to ban all new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters, and the American people expect him to keep it. The climate emergency reality we are facing demands immediate action, not acquiescence.”

Mary Greene, public lands attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, urged the Interior Department to act aggressively but also said that Congress must get off the sidelines on the issue.

“While the Biden administration responds to the court, we urge the Department of Interior to issue its reform initiatives so that the outdated leasing system is modernized for the benefit of our public lands, wildlife, and all Americans,” Greene said. “But administrative actions alone cannot solve this problem. Congress must also swiftly take action to update our hundred-year-old leasing law so that our nation can transition to the clean energy economy that we all need and deserve.”

Given the recent IPCC report which argues that global emissions must be urgently reduced, climate action advocates said the administration cannot be allowed to walk away from its commitment to end oil and gas development on federal lands.

“Last week’s IPCC report outlined the grisly risks that fossil fuels pose to people and the planet,” said Tim Donaghy, senior research specialist with Greenpeace USA. “The International Energy Agency (IEA) has clearly said there can be no new fossil fuel projects if we are to stand any chance at limiting the climate chaos.”

A complete and final end of drilling on U.S. public lands and in offshore waters said Donaghy, “is an essential part of any effective climate plan.” Along with others in the climate just movement, he said there remain many avenues for Biden “to consider in reforming leasing and we urge him to do everything he can to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”


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