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Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate change

This is where you can talk about every subject (previously it was called shout room)

Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Oct 27, 2023 2:21 pm

Plastic is a climate change problem
    There are ways to fix it.
Plastic is a huge problem. There, I found it: the most uncontroversial thing I could possibly say to start a newsletter

We’ve all seen the images that illustrate the scale of the challenge facing us with plastic waste: a sea turtle eating a plastic bag, people walking through mountains of bottles, and even illustrations showing the sheer size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

But there’s an often-overlooked angle to all this that goes beyond the landfill. Plastics are a big, and quickly growing, problem for the climate. They account for about 3.4% of global greenhouse-gas emissions—more than the entire aviation industry.

I was thinking about this as I read this gripping feature story on plastics by Douglas Main, which was published last week online and is the cover story for our upcoming magazine issue. You should give the story a read for an outlook on the problem, and what it might take to fix it. And for the newsletter this week, let’s dig into how plastic contributes to greenhouse-gas emissions, and where we go from here.

What’s the deal with plastic and climate change?

Plastics fall into a class of materials called petrochemicals, meaning they’re made using fossil fuels. The category also includes products like fertilizers and laundry detergents.

Fossil fuels are used as a feedstock, or starting ingredient, in plastics production, and they are also used for energy to power the manufacturing process. Plastic made up around 6% of global oil demand as of 2014, according to a report from the World Economic Forum.

That number could get much worse, and fast. Plastic consumption could nearly triple by 2060. Add all that up, and plastics could make up 20% of global oil demand or more by 2050.

So the growing tidal wave of plastic will be a problem for pollution and for waste management. But all that oil demand could also be a roadblock for our climate goals.

Let’s back up, though, because if you’re anything like me (always craving the details), you’re probably wondering how, exactly, plastic contributes to climate change. Well, let me count the ways.

    Most plastics are derived from natural gas. Extracting and transporting that natural gas leads to accidental leaks as well as purposeful releases of both carbon dioxide and methane. In the US alone, extracting and transporting natural gas for plastics produces between 12.5 and 13.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

    Processing fossil fuels to make plastic is energy intensive. One particularly energy-intensive step is steam cracking, where furnaces are heated to temperatures up to 1,100 °C (2,000 °F) to break up feedstocks into smaller molecules, which can then be made into plastics.

    The bulk of plastic’s emissions come from the process of making it and the energy needed to do so. However, burning plastic waste is also a small but growing source of greenhouse-gas emissions.
So where do we go from here?

Unfortunately, the problem is so pervasive that there’s no one solution. Of all the plastic we make, 72% ends up in landfills or as litter, while 19% is incinerated and, as of 2019, only 9% is recycled.

An ideal world would probably be one where much more of the plastic that we use can be reused or recycled in an energy-efficient way.

Some of the solution comes down to structural changes, like setting up robust collection infrastructure for plastics that are easily recycled today. But packaging makes up only about a third of the plastic we use. And while conventional recycling methods can handle Diet Coke bottles and milk jugs, a lot of other plastic is less visible, and less easily recycled. (Think pleather skirts, wet wipes, or umbrellas—and no, you can’t put any of those in a recycling bin.)

New recycling methods could help remove some of the barriers holding back recycling today. These new technologies, like enzymatic and chemical recycling, might make the process more feasible for more products by cutting down the need to clean and sort waste.

Ultimately, though, policy will likely be the key to tying all this together, since plastic is cheap today—and recycling often isn’t.

Plastic is everywhere, and the solution to this massive waste problem is … complicated. Read the full feature story from Douglas Main for more. And for more on the problem of plastic, as well as some of the potential solutions, check out some of our reporting from the vault.

https://www.technologyreview.com/2023/1 ... wtab-en-gb
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Oct 29, 2023 10:20 pm

Virus kills 300,000 fish

Kurdistan: Fish farmers in Kirkuk have lost up to two billion dinars ($1.25 million) after a lethal virus killed an estimated 300,000 fish over the past two weeks

“I alone have lost 50,000 fish, and two of my friends have lost a total of 180,000 fish. If each fish weighs one and a half kilograms, it adds up to how many tons? We rely on fish as our primary source of income. There are thousands of families in Daquq who depend on fish for their livelihood,” Emad Baqi, a fish pond owner, told Rudaw.

There are about 5,000 ponds in the Daquq area of Kirkuk and the virus has affected only about a dozen, but farmers are scrambling to save their fish and prevent the disease from spreading.

Pond owners whose fish have been hit by the disease are selling off their healthy fish for cheap.

Farmers say they are not getting help from the government.

"The government bears the primary responsibility. Instead of assisting us, the government is obstructing us and impeding our efforts. There is no medical team available, and we are unable to access medicine," said Shuan Tahir, another fish pond owner.

"When I went to the health center to obtain a license for transportation, I was told there were no licenses available. Any fish that dies in the pond is a financial loss. And for the ones that survive, we are forced to sell them at half the usual price,” Tahir added.

Daquq is a hub of fish farming in Iraq. Grilled fish known as masgouf is Iraq’s national dish.

The virus impacts the stomach and lungs of fish and there is no known cure.

In 2018, millions of fish south of Baghdad were killed by a strain of herpes, likely exacerbated by overstocked fish farms and polluted water.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/291020231
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Oct 29, 2023 10:25 pm

Garmiyan village water scarcity

GARMIYAN, Kurdistan: Residents of a number of villages in the Garmiyan administration are leaving their villages as water sources in the region dry up

Around 28 villages in the Garmiyan administration have concerns with their water sources, with their wells having dried up and deeper wells unable to replenish the water supply.

Villagers in Garmiyan have resorted to water tankers to supply their water due to the drying up of the water sources.

Khalaf Mohammed, a 70-year-old farmer, has been living in a village in the Garmiyan administration for nearly 50 years.

“Some of the villagers came back and built houses because they said they would fix the water, but when they saw that there was no water, they left the village, Mohammed told Rudaw on Friday.

“The remaining villagers are packing and leaving the administration every month,” Mohammed said.

Villagers mention that the water in their village is not suitable for drinking or washing anything.

“The water in our village is useless, salty, acidic, bitter, and not suitable for drinking or washing,” Mohammed Rashid, a farmer in Garmiyan administration, told Rudaw.

“Despite the bad quality condition of the water, we do not have it even for 10 minutes for the whole day from morning till evening,” he added.

Over the past six months, local authorities in Garmiyan administration have twice announced tenders for companies to dig wells and extend water projects for the villages. However, no company has shown up yet to carry out the projects due to fears that they might not receive their gross payments from the government on time.

“In the contracts department of Garmiyan administration, the tender process has been held for the second time, but because it has not been accepted, Garmiyan administration plans to announce the projects for the third time and to get approved as soon as possible,” Choman Ahmad, Garmiyan administration spokesman, told Rudaw on Friday.

Electricity is another issue in the administration alongside a lack of water issues.

However, promises made back in 2020 to solve electricity problems in the village have not materialized.

There are 241 villages in the Kurdistan Region without access to the national power grid, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Electricity, with 118 of those villages being in Sulaimani province.

Seven irrigation wells have been drilled in seven villages of the Garmiyan administration over the past six months.

Water scarcity is a severe issue in Iraq. The country is the fifth-most vulnerable nation to the effects of climate change, including water and food insecurity, according to the United Nations (UN), yet it is lagging behind its neighbors when it comes to a plan to protect its water resources.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/29102023
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Oct 31, 2023 2:44 am

Drought Affects Amazon

On Sunday, Brazilian authorities reported that 60 out of 62 municipalities in the state of Amazonas have been declared in a state of emergency due to a severe drought affecting 608,000 people and 152,000 families

One indicator of the seriousness of the situation can be seen in the Rio Negro's water level, which has decreased from a peak of 30 meters in June 2021 to a minimum of 13 meters in October 2023.

"The Amazon rainforest is reeling from an intense drought. Numerous rivers vital for travel have dried up. As a result, there is no water, food, or medicine in villages of Indigenous communities living in the area," the Indian Express reported.

The city of Manaus is experiencing the most severe drought in the past 121 years. In the last 10 months, environmental authorities have recorded 18,170 hotspots in the state of Amazonas, 2,500 of which were located in the metropolitan region of Manaus.

This scenario is a result of the increasingly pronounced influence of the El Niño phenomenon, characterized by the weakening of trade winds and abnormal warming of the surface waters in the eastern part of the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean.

These environmental changes even impact the behavior of animals, many of which experience sudden death due to the heat.

Variations in the interaction between the ocean and the lower atmosphere occur at intervals ranging from three to seven years. The new moisture transport patterns also affect the temperature and distribution of air masses in the Pacific Ocean.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Bra ... -0005.html
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Nov 14, 2023 5:15 pm

Iraq Loses 75% of Arable Lands

Hydrologist Tahsin Mousawi has underscored a dire situation in Iraq, noting that the nation has already lost a staggering 75% of its cultivable lands due to escalating water stress areas, leading to an alarming surge in urbanization rates

Mousawi, in a statement to BasNews, has characterized Iraq's current water predicament as a transition from a water-scarce to a "water-insolvent" country, now ranking as the fifth most water-stressed nation globally.

    The hydrologist attributes this crisis to weak water management practices by successive cabinets and the substantial construction of dams by Iran and Turkey along vital branches and rivers, constituting Iraq's primary water resources. These constructions, allegedly violating international water laws, have impeded Iraq's access to its rightful water share despite insufficient diplomatic efforts to persuade neighboring states
Internally, Iraq grapples with a fragmented state structure, institutional corruption, and tribal politics, all of which have severely weakened institutions responsible for addressing global warming, pollution, and industrial water treatment.

Of significant concern is the mismanagement of the water sector, coupled with an insufficient number of ponds and dams to minimize water waste. This has exacerbated severe deforestation, endangering a staggering 90% of the country's landmass, resulting in heightened urbanization rates and further intensifying water scarcity.

Mousawi warns that the environmental and demographic changes will lead to overlapping socioeconomic crises in a nation already ravaged by decades-long systemic corruption and civil wars. Despite the gravity of these challenges, the state's response seems inadequate, lacking both competency and resourcefulness in proposing viable solutions beyond addressing them.

This alarming revelation highlights the urgent need for coordinated international and domestic efforts to comprehensively address Iraq’s water crisis. The consequences of inaction are profound, potentially plunging the country into further turmoil amidst an already challenging recovery from years of corruption and conflict.

https://www.basnews.com/en/babat/830128
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 23, 2023 10:50 pm

The asbestos times
    Works in Progress
Asbestos was a miracle material, virtually impervious to fire. But as we fixed city fires in other ways, we came to learn about its horrific downsides

Few materials fell from grace like asbestos. Once cherished as an almost-magical material, it is now the archetypal carcinogen. We spent over a century integrating it into buildings, wiring, pipes, brake pads, and more, and we now spend billions of dollars a year removing it.

But the standard story of asbestos as a mistake – or even a crime – of massive proportions does not do justice to the real benefits it brought. Asbestos was central to mitigating urban fires, which cost thousands of lives each year as modern cities grew larger, denser, and more flammable. But as we learned to control urban fires without it, asbestos’s health costs seemed less and less worth bearing. Asbestos is in its final days and soon the material will almost disappear entirely.

Miracle materials are not all manmade. Asbestos is a family of six naturally occurring silicates, made from the same elemental blocks as sand or glass, organized in delicate fibrous strands that tease apart like cotton candy and compare with steel in tensile strength. Chrysotile or white asbestos, the commercially dominant form, is a serpentine silicate, with fibrous strands that crumble to the touch; the remaining five are amphiboles (including crocidolite, blue asbestos), spiky forests of short and fragile needles. In all its forms, asbestos has remarkable properties: it’s light, waterproof, and, most famously, fireproof.

The unique structure of asbestos requires a unique set of circumstances to form. The fibers of asbestos are crystals precipitated out of a solution of minerals in hot water under pressure. This is hydrothermal synthesis, a process used to grow artificial crystals in laboratory settings (or candy from syrup). The low-silica rocks in which asbestos originates are found naturally across the planet, and asbestos has been found and mined on every inhabited continent.

The first written record of asbestos was by Theophrastus, who categorized it correctly by including it in his mineralogical work, On Stones. He did better than most, considering that an animal origin for asbestos was a common misconception in the ancient world: asbestos was credited to everything from phoenix feathers to the mythical salamander to Princess Bride–style literal volcano-dwelling fire rats.

Its rarity and invulnerability to fire gave asbestos an air of mystique and an association with power. Charlemagne is said to have had a tablecloth of pure asbestos that he would throw into the fire as a party trick, and Emperor Ashoka of India sent a gift of asbestos cloth to Sri Lanka. Earnest pilgrims into the Holy Land were sold pieces of asbestos cloth as remnants of the Holy Shroud, made credible by their immunity to fire. Benjamin Franklin paid for his time in Europe by selling an asbestos purse to a collector (for which he was paid ‘handsomely’). Yet asbestos existed only as an interesting novelty without a clear use.

That use case came into being in the late nineteenth century. The fast-growing cities of the time were exceptionally flammable, with densely clustered buildings full of wood, fabric, and open flames. Electrification was new; fire codes were yet to become ubiquitous (or stringently applied). In some cases, even roads were made of timber.

Unsurprisingly, ‘Great Fires’ struck virtually every major city. Theaters, full of flammable set elements and a tightly packed audience, were a frequent source of fire. The risky productions themselves did not help – 31 of the 1,108 theater fires documented worldwide between 1797 and 1897 were started by fireworks on the stage.

Theater fires started mostly on the stage and then spread to the audience. It was critical that the two areas be separated to protect the audience. Theater owners attempted to separate the stage and audience with heavy curtains of sheet metal, called ‘iron curtains’. Experiments on a scale model following a fire in Vienna’s Ringtheatre in 1881 showed their limitations.

A fire on the stage would blow the hot metal curtain out onto the audience it was meant to protect, not only endangering them but also extinguishing the gaslights meant to light the way to safety. In other instances, the curtain could collapse onto the stage or fail to descend at all.

Engineers and regulators experimented with a diversity of materials for safety curtains, settling on asbestos. The 1903 fire at the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago led to an exemplary institutional response. The Iroquois supposedly had an asbestos curtain that failed to come down during the fire, but later investigation of the remnants of the curtain revealed that the curtain was mostly vegetable fiber.

Following the fire, Chicago ordered all its theaters to be closed down immediately, while in New York inspectors went around setting fire to theater curtains, in search of dupes being passed off as asbestos by noncompliant ownership. The message now was clear: asbestos, or nothing.

Theaters were not the only place where fires were common. Movie theaters, schools, hotels, hospitals, ships, and ports all existed under the threat of fire. Asbestos was gradually introduced in each.

Ports were particularly keen on fire safety. A fire port-side could easily spread among ships and destroy them, as it did famously in the 1900 Hoboken Docks fire in New Jersey. A fire that started in bales of cotton stored on a pier spread with the wind to stores of flammable turpentine and oil, which exploded in quick succession.

Within 45 minutes, the fire had destroyed three piers and three major transatlantic liners belonging to the Norddeutscher Lloyd shipping company, and claimed over 200 lives. Navies and merchant navies were eager and early adopters of asbestos. When Norddeutscher Lloyd finally rebuilt the pier, asbestos felt was among the materials used.

The first mass-produced asbestos products in the United States were gas fireplaces, eventually joined by protective suits for firefighters and materials for roofing, felting, and boiler insulation. Asbestos became the standard material for applications as diverse as brake pad linings and insulation for electrical wiring. In the case of brake pad linings, asbestos was the only reliable material until well into the 1940s, and remains one of the few permitted uses in the United States today. Scientific American wrote in 1919 that ‘new uses of this material are being found almost daily’.

Production kept pace: prices fell from $128 per ton to $30 per ton in the United States from 1890–1904 following the discovery of commercially viable deposits in Canada and improved methods of refinement and transport. It was rapidly becoming price competitive in construction in the form of roofing tiles and in products where it could be blended with cheaper material, as in asbestos stucco and asbestos-cement shingles. One particularly clever product was asbestos paint, which made wooden structures flame-retardant. Patented in 1878, it was already on federal buildings, including the US Capitol, by 1879.

Asbestos became more important than ever in World War II. It was classified as a critical material by the US War Production Board, and its scope expanded from its traditional roles of fireproofing, friction reduction, and insulation to substituting other materials that were even more desperately needed elsewhere. It became the material of choice for aircraft hangars and ordnance stores, military prefabs, ductwork, and even common gutters and downspouts. Soon, conservation orders were issued limiting its use and privileging defense applications.

The Navy was at the forefront of asbestos use. Shipboard fires engulfed vessels that had limited means of fire suppression. Newer classes of ships such as the Essex featured asbestos curtains and fire doors, and no ships were lost to fire after 1942. In later years, as many as a third of all asbestos-related cancer cases in the US would be linked to US Navy ships or shipyards.

The postwar era combined a heightened awareness of the risk of fire with a massive wave of new construction. Asbestos was cheap enough to use in every building. America produced and imported asbestos at a fantastic rate. Asbestos consumption tripled between 1940 and 1950, increasing from 240,000 metric tons to 400,000 metric tons from 1940–1941 alone. At one point, as many as 4,000 products contained asbestos, including toothpaste. Things would soon change.

As early as 1898, factory inspectors noted the effects of asbestos on workers who breathed in its fibers, with one going so far as to call it ‘the evil dust’ (safety reports were a lot more colorful then). A 1918 report to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Mortality from Respiratory Diseases in Dusty Trades’, explained that ‘in the practice of American and Canadian life insurance companies asbestos workers are generally declined on account of the assumed health-injurious conditions of the industry’.

In 1924, Nellie Kershaw, a 33-year-old British asbestos spinner, died. The inquest concluded that the cause of her death was suffocation traced to profound scarring of her lung tissue from being lacerated with microscopic asbestos fibers. The coroner who led the inquest called it ‘asbestos poisoning’. Her employer, the largest asbestos factory in the world and the owner of asbestos mines in Canada and South Africa, rejected the report.

Nellie Kershaw’s death was not entirely without consequence. The coroner pressed on, publishing his results in The British Medical Journal. Kershaw’s illness now had a name – asbestosis – and a British government survey of the asbestos industry in 1930 found that a quarter of all workers were suffering from it. The next year, Britain passed Asbestos Industry Regulations, 1931, the world’s first regulation dealing specifically with asbestos.

That did not immediately put a stop to asbestos, even in the United Kingdom. The event that finally did set off a wave of asbestos bans across advanced economies came over 30 years later, at a conference convened at the New York Academy of Sciences in 1964.

This conference was organized by Irving J. Selikoff of New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. Selikoff had spent years interviewing workers involved with asbestos, among them asbestos weavers, pipe insulators, and shipyard workers. He later published results in 1965 and 1968 that suggested asbestos might be a carcinogen, but at the 1964 conference, he may have had his greatest impact by catalyzing the conversation in the first place. The conference itself was largely a consolidation of already available knowledge and presented little that was new or surprising, but the momentum it generated made a definite difference, and in the case of Selikoff, enemies.

Asbestos use collapsed in the wealthy world almost as dramatically as it had risen. The bans took off, slowly, in the early seventies. Denmark was first, banning asbestos for insulation and waterproofing in 1972. Sweden followed with a ban on asbestos spraying in 1973. The first total ban came in 1980, with Denmark again leading the charge. Each successive decade saw more jurisdictions join in restricting the use of asbestos, partially or fully, for the first time: eight more in the 1980s, 24 in the 1990s, and 36 in the 2000s. The bans were augmented with requirements to remove asbestos where found in existing buildings. As the threat of fire dwindled, Asbestos prohibitions spread.

Asbestos is now banned in at least 66 countries, including all members of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and South Africa. The United States is often cited as a rare industrialized country without a total ban, but it was no laggard in pursuing restrictions, either. The first American restriction came in 1973, followed in quick succession by further restrictions in 1975, 1977, and 1978. An effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to ban asbestos completely in 1989 was the closest the United States came to a complete ban on asbestos. In 1991, a Federal appeals court overturned provisions of the ban that would have come into force in 1993 and 1996, effectively protecting asbestos use in brake drum linings, roofing and flooring felt, and asbestos tiles. Despite this, the popularity of asbestos in the United States continued to fall.

The move against asbestos in the United States was globally consequential. The United States had traditionally imported nearly all of its asbestos and was the largest asbestos importer in the world. In 1970, the United States had imported close to 590,000 metric tons of asbestos; in 2000, this had collapsed to below 15,000 metric tons. Global trade in asbestos fell from 2.4 million to 1 million metric tons between 1970 and 2000, and the United States was responsible for 40 percent of this decline in volume.

Substitutes have been found for most applications. The majority of substitutes are natural or synthetic fibers that are not considered carcinogenic. Asbestos has been replaced in fiber-reinforced cement by cellulose fibers, in insulation by fiberglass and mineral wool, and in clothing by aramid fibers.

Elsewhere, its unique confluence of useful properties has proved harder to replicate. Asbestos cement, which was used to make cheap, durable pipes and prefabricated sheets for wall cladding, was by far the biggest use of asbestos, accounting for 80 percent of asbestos production in 1988. A particularly interesting niche where asbestos persists is in the production of chlorine. Asbestos diaphragms are used in the chlor-alkali process, the dominant technology for manufacturing chlorine, to separate the anode and cathode of an electrolytic cell. An alternative method uses polymer membranes instead. These methods have traditionally been considered ‘low concern’ from a health and safety standpoint; some researchers now suggest that we should be more concerned, but switching to the alternative method is expensive.

The economic case for asbestos slowed its decline in many places. Canada’s exit was particularly protracted, given its former status as a leading producer. The costs of damages and litigation, over $70 billion in the United States alone, have resulted in widespread bankruptcies of asbestos manufacturers and closures of asbestos mines. The last asbestos mine in Canada, which was also the world’s largest, discontinued operations in 2011. While Canada ceased mining, a ban on export did not come into force until the penultimate day of 2018. The town of Asbestos, Quebec, home to that final mine, abandoned its name in 2020.

The costs of abatement have been just as significant. That asbestos is implicated in asbestosis (limited mostly to workers with direct exposure, such as Nellie Kershaw) and mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium, which forms a lining around the lungs) is universally accepted. What’s controversial is the benefit from removing asbestos from all structures, given the risk to building occupants tends to be low. It is instead people who work directly with high concentrations of asbestos – such as shipyard and textile workers – who are at high risk.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are over 700,000 public and commercial buildings in the US that contain asbestos, as well as 45 percent of the nation’s 100,000 schools. The number of residential buildings that contain asbestos is simply not known. Rachel Maines, the author of Asbestos and Fire, figures essentially every building constructed in the twentieth century prior to 1980 contains it. The requirement to remove asbestos in the built environment wherever found, so-called “in-place” asbestos, has given rise to an abatement industry in the United States with annual revenues already exceeding three billion dollars. These are expensive projects, where a consultant must be retained, workers must wear protective gear, and the worksite must be isolated with negative pressure.

The cost of such abatement at a national scale would likely run into hundreds of billions of dollars, for uncertain benefits. Asbestos is dangerous only when inhaled, and it cannot be inhaled except as airborne fibers that are released when asbestos is disturbed. Since abatement takes the form of ripping or scraping off asbestos from the places where it is found, it generates clouds of airborne fibers where there were none, and needs to be disposed of very carefully by abatement workers.

While the health consequences of removing asbestos are not yet fully understood, there are not currently reasons to be concerned. And natural sources of asbestos can confound data. For example, a large study using data across California found that the odds of developing mesothelioma declined by 6.3 percent for each ten kilometers of distance from the nearest source of environmental asbestos. If members of the ‘control group’ in a study, who are assumed to have no exposure to asbestos, actually had natural exposure to asbestos, researchers would underestimate the harms they face and the risks of further exposure to asbestos in occupational work.

How many lives did asbestos itself save in the final reckoning, net of the deaths it caused? It’s impossible to say. This is what we know: Fire deaths fell by over 90 percent in the United States over the twentieth century; asbestos was present in thousands of applications as a fire retardant; and without effective brake pads, the roads would have been much more dangerous. However, at the same time that asbestos became ubiquitous, fire codes matured, firefighting technology improved, and the insurance industry laid down stringent requirements for coverage.

There are common-sense compromises that sit between complete complacency and abatement regardless of cost. New York City Local Law 76/85 required asbestos to be removed in the cases of demolitions and renovations, but did not call for it to be removed proactively from all places where it existed. Theater remains an iconic industry in New York City, and many theaters continue to have asbestos curtains.

The same calculus features in global attitudes toward asbestos. Even as the developed world has abandoned asbestos, others have expanded their production. The two leading producers are Russia and Kazakhstan, which have built upon Soviet-era operations to account for over 83 percent of all exports. The market is similarly concentrated on the importers side as well – the three largest importers of asbestos account for over 65 percent of all imports, and the top ten are all in Asia. Russia is itself a major consumer, in third place behind China and India.

India, where asbestos is called ‘the poor man’s material’ and asbestos roofs are an alternative to safer, but more expensive, tin or fiberglass roofs, is also beginning to move away from asbestos. The country banned the domestic production of asbestos in 1986, but not its use, becoming the largest importer of asbestos in the world by 2003. In 2011, the Supreme Court of India denied a public interest filing to ban asbestos, favoring continued regulation by states instead. In 2018, the western state of Maharashtra forbade the inclusion of asbestos in regional development plans. The following year, the southern state of Kerala ordered the removal of asbestos roofing in schools.

The impact on trade figures has been slow but certain. The global trade in asbestos fell from over $500 million to under $300 million from 2012–2018, with India reducing imports by over $100 million, the most of any country. The next-largest importers, Indonesia and China, also cut down. As these countries grow richer, they too may soon decide that the costs of asbestos have come to outweigh its benefits.

https://worksinprogress.co/issue/the-as ... wtab-en-gb
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 29, 2023 4:12 am

England to get new national park

England will get a new national park as part of a government set of "nature pledges" to give greater access and protection to the countryside

Natural England will consider a list of possible sites, which could include the Chilterns, the Cotswolds and Dorset.

Some environmentalists gave the news a cautious welcome, as government funding for national parks has fallen in real terms, forcing service and staff cuts.

Funding worth £15m was also announced for a range of protected landscapes.

    That will be shared by England's 10 existing national parks and 34 National Landscapes, formerly known as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The package forms part of the government's final response to a 2019 review that criticised how such protected landscapes were managed and funded.

Dartmoor's chief executive, Kevin Bishop, said any new national park should not be created at the expense of others

Julian Glover, the author of the Landscapes Review, which had called for three new national parks to be created, in the Chilterns, Cotswolds and Dorset, said he was thrilled to have "real progress backed with some extra money to help our national landscapes and national parks do more for people and more for nature".

"They are beautiful places that lift our souls and should be full of life but we now need to find new and greater ambition to support a nation which needs them to thrive."

But Dr Rose O'Neill, chief executive of the Campaign for National Parks, said the existing parks had suffered a 40% cut in real terms funding since 2010 and were being "financially throttled".

"Today's investment will go some way to easing the burden in the short term but the next crisis could be just around the corner," she said.

Parks across the country have had to make cuts to staffing levels and visitor services as their core grant from government has fallen in real terms.

    Thirty-four new landscape recovery projects will also be created under the ELMs farm payments scheme
Kevin Bishop, chief executive of Dartmoor National Park, welcomed the news but with some reservations.

"A new national park is good news for Britain. It's brilliant for our economy, brilliant for our environment," he said. "I suppose the key thing for existing national parks is that the money for the new national park needs to be on top of what the existing national parks receive."

Although he welcomed the new £15m funding for larger projects, he said what was really needed was more money for day-to-day running costs.

"What we really need is revenue funding to pay for the salaries of the staff on the ground. Feet on the ground helps us deliver practical projects for nature and for people," he explained.

Setting up a new national park in England was a Conservative manifesto commitment and next year marks 75 years since the act of Parliament that allowed for their creation.

'Extraordinary landscapes'

The most recent national park to be created in England was the South Downs in 2010.

Wales and Scotland are also looking to create a new national park each.

Wednesday's announcement by the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Steve Barclay, is just the beginning of a process that could take up to five years.

He told the BBC: "They are a really important part of our way of life and that's why we're launching this competition for a new national park. And we're going further than that. We are putting in an extra £5m this year and an extra £10m next year."

He added that the government would deliver on its commitment "to halt the decline of nature and safeguard at least 30% of our extraordinary landscapes".

The government said the £15m announced was new funding, with £10m to be released next year and a £5m pot made available this financial year from which national park authorities could bid for funding to improve rivers, lakes and water quality.

Thirty-four new landscape recovery projects will also be created under the ELMs farm payments scheme which will see 200,000 hectares of land managed to benefit nature and sustainable food production.

Further funding of £2.5m will be used to help give disadvantaged young people access to the countryside while £750,000 will be set aside for research into protecting England's temperate rainforests.

Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary, Steve Reed, said it had been under the Conservatives that the UK had become "one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world".

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-67538625
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Dec 05, 2023 10:57 pm

Kurdistan’s trees lost to climate change

More than half of Kurdistan’s trees have died due to droughts caused by climate change, an advisor to the Region’s President Nechirvan Barzani revealed on Friday

“Drought has left a negative impact on the Kurdistan Region. Despite having numerous forests, now more than half of the trees are gone. Therefore, new trees have to be planted and the agriculture sector must be developed,” Bahram Khidir told Rudaw’s Fuad Rahimi on Friday.

Khidir is part of a Kurdistan Region delegation attending the United Nations’ COP28 climate change summit in Dubai.

    “Along with the surge in the population of the Kurdistan Region, the range of green land and amount of water - on the ground and underground - have dropped. We have to ensure international support for the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] to encounter climate change,” the presidential advisor stated
He added that Erbil and Baghdad have good cooperation on climate change, noting that the Iraqi delegation at COP28 has promised to support any project the KRG submits at the conference.

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani has met many world leaders on the sidelines of the event.

The Middle East is heating up almost twice as fast as the global average and Iraq is considered one of the nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, suffering with scorching temperatures, dwindling water resources, and desertification.

The KRG is looking to fill gaps in data on the impact of climate change as it takes steps to combat the global threat, a senior advisor to Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said on Friday.

“We are working on having better data on the Kurdistan Region. The data about the whole of Iraq says that it is really in danger - fifth among other countries,” Bayan Sami Abdulrahman, senior advisor to PM Barzani for foreign affairs and climate change, told Rudaw on the sidelines of the COP28 summit.

PM Barzani is also attending the conference with a KRG delegation

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/02122023
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Dec 09, 2023 11:05 pm

Livestock Farming = Amazon Deforestation

On Friday, the Amazon Socio-Environmental Geo-Referenced Information Network (RAISG) and the MapBiomas network presented a study revealing that three out of every four hectares deforested in the Amazon over the last four decades were allocated for livestock farming

The research indicates that approximately 86 million hectares of natural vegetation were deforested between 1985 and 2022 in the Amazon region.

At least 66.5 million hectares were converted into pastures, another 19.4 million hectares into agricultural lands, and a marginal portion was allocated to mining and other uses.

The study highlights an alarming growth in mining activity, which saw a 1,367 percent increase over the 38 years analyzed.

Between 1984 and 2022, Amazonian territories modified by human action increased by 169 percent. Primarily, the land-use change was directed towards grazing, with land occupation expanding from 51 to 85 million hectares.

The study is based on the analysis of land use across 844 million hectares of jungle located in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname.

Brazil bears the brunt of forest conversion to pastures, especially in what they have termed the "arc of deforestation," a zone spanning the entire southern border of the biome, now a thriving agricultural and livestock region. This country contains 61.9 percent of Amazonian territory within its borders, which decreased by 14 percent between 1985 and 2022.

Bolivia, with 8.4 percent of Amazonian forests, is the second-most affected country, experiencing a deforestation rate of 10 percent.

Although deforestation affects more than just forested areas, these regions were the most impacted. The Amazon is covered by 81.4 percent natural vegetation, of which 73.4 percent is forest, and only 6 million hectares of non-forest land were cleared during the period covered by the analysis.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Liv ... -0006.html
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Dec 13, 2023 11:20 pm

Turn Kurdistan’s villages green

A Halabja-based youth volunteer group is spearheading a project to make the villages of the Kurdistan Region greener and clean up water resources with the financial support of local NGO Rwanga Foundation

The first phase of the project consisted of organizing clean-ups of various villages in the Kurdistan Region and help promote a culture of volunteerism and service in the region.

“Volunteering with organizations is not about earning financial compensation, but about leaving a footprint, and serving the different classes in society,” Rojin Mansour, a volunteer, told Rudaw’s Sazgar Salah on Wednesday.

“I think volunteering can send a beautiful message that everyone can live humanely anywhere,” Mansour added.

Darbast Adib, another volunteer, voiced happiness about participating in the project, stressing that “with the support of the Rwanga Foundation, we have planted these trees to make our village greener.”

The Halabja-based Hawar group, consisting of seven volunteers, is financially supported in this project by the Rwanga Foundation.

“Fortunately, these projects were supported by the Rwanga Foundation, which always supports the youth,” said Sozan Faraj, the project supervisor.

“The project aims to revive the wells and water resources in the village, increase the green area, and most importantly, promote volunteerism among people,” she continued.

Abdulsalam Madani, CEO of the organization, told Rudaw that Rwanga Foundation has implemented 296 projects since its foundation in 2013, adding that said projects provided services in the fields of education, youth, and environment and served vulnerable people.

The organization’s mission, according to its website, is to “provide services, build capacities, and design policies to ensure easy access to education for all and improve the overall educational standards in [the Kurdistan Region of Iraq] KRI, Iraq, and the greater global community.”

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/12122023
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Dec 14, 2023 10:50 pm

Campaign to Plant 1M Trees in Zakho

Under the direction of Prime Minister Masrour Barzani to enhance green life in the Kurdistan city officials in Zakho on Thursday embarked on a campaign to plant one million tree saplings

As a first step, city officials along with environmental activists began planting 100,000 trees in and around the town of Zakho, Kurdistan 24 reported today, quoting city officials.

The entire campaign is said to last months, and is estimated to complete during spring time.

Under the current cabinet of the Kurdistan Government led by Prime Minister Barzani, multiple tree plantation campaigns have been announced as part of a broader governmental plan to counter climate change and global warming.

In late November, as many as 47,000 tree saplings were planted in the city of Erbil as part of government plans to increase green fields in the capital. The saplings were donated by Turkey's Ministry of Agriculture and Turkish Consulate General in Erbil as part of a collaborative endeavor to protect the environment and enhance green life in Kurdistan.

https://www.basnews.com/en/babat/833383
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Dec 17, 2023 9:57 pm

Fukushima under focus

Thousands of tons of dead fish washed up on Japan's shore due to an unknown phenomenon that left authorities confused

According to officials, around 1,200 tons of dead sardines and mackerels washed up along a kilometer of the Japanese island Hokkaido's shore. They warned against consumption, as the cause of death is yet to be determined.

A couple of days earlier, Nakiri, a town miles away from Hokkaido, witnessed a similar phenomenon when around 40 tons of dead sardines washed up on its shore. “I’ve never seen anything like this before. It was only around last year that we began to catch sappa in Nakiri. It makes me wonder if the marine ecosystem is changing,” a fisherman told Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun Daily.

Some experts speculated that the fish had been chased to exhaustion by amberjacks and bigger predatory fish, but the official reason remains unknown. The authorities plan to sample the waters to get a headstart on the case.

The Daily Mail hypothesized a connection between the phenomenon of dead fish and the contamination of Japan's waters by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a theory firmly objected to by the Japanese government

“There have been no abnormalities found in the results of water-monitoring surveys,” the Fisheries Agency said in response to the report by the British journal. “We are concerned about the proliferation of information that is not based on scientific evidence.”

This comes after fishermen have complained and opposed the dumping of wastewater from the plant into Japanese seas that began in August.
Japan begins dump of Fukushima wastewater into ocean

Back in October, Japan started releasing the second load of treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant (NPP) into the ocean.

The NPP's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), started releasing part of the 1.34 million tons of the treated wastewater back in August, which prompted local and international condemnation.

In March 2011, Fukushima suffered one of the world's worst nuclear disasters since Chornobyl after a tsunami rocked the islands.

About 1.33 million cubic meters of groundwater, rainwater, and water that was used for cooling the three damaged reactors at the Fukushima site are now being released.

To remove the radioactive elements, plant operator TEPCO treated the water using its ALPS processing systems, which several neighboring countries have expressed skepticism regarding the system's reliability.

https://english.almayadeen.net/news/env ... p-on-japan
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jan 30, 2024 8:24 pm

Venezuela Removed Waste From Lake

On Monday, Environmental Minister Josue Lorca announced that Venezuela has extracted more than 140,000 tons of waste from Lake Maracaibo

In July 2023, President Nicolas Maduro launched a plan to decontaminate the estuary, which has been affected by oil leaks and the proliferation of toxic cyanobacteria and blue–green algae.

"We have collected over 140,000 tons of solid waste from Lake Maracaibo," Lorca said and explained that these wastes are impregnated with oil.

With the help of the company Petrolium of Venezuela (PDVSA), however, the waste was sent to management centers where it is disposed of according to strict environmental parameters.

The plan also carried out over 150 inspections of plants and industrial areas near the lake to prevent discharges into the water that could favor the growth of bacteria or any type of algae.

Last year, President Maduro announced the decontamination plan for Lake Maracaibo and indicated that it would include several ministries and at least a thousand officials.

In the affected area, the authorities have activated operations such as "Fish for Your Plastic", an intervention that has allowed the population to extract tons of solid waste from the waters. Kilometers of oil pipelines have also been replaced to minimize crude leaks into the lake.

In 2023, environmental organizations such as Mapache Ecoaventura and Fitlosophy rescued a couple of dozen animals from the contaminated areas of Lake Maracaibo.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Ven ... -0011.html
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Feb 03, 2024 12:02 pm

Japan to release Fukushima water

The release is anticipated to occur in seven stages into the ocean

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, reportedly intends to discharge approximately 54,600 tonnes of treated water from the facility during the fiscal year 2024.

The fiscal year spans from April 1, 2024, to March 31, 2025, according to Thursday's report by Japanese news agency Kyodo. The release is anticipated to occur in seven stages into the ocean.

Simultaneously, the operator has opted to adjust the timetable for sampling nuclear fuel that melted from the second reactor of the plant during the accident. The decision was attributed to the necessity of revising technical plans, as per the report.

Originally scheduled for completion by the end of March 2024, the sampling and analysis will now be conducted at a later date, with the latest deadline set for October 2024.

The postponement of sample collection marks the third instance of rescheduling. In the initial plans, the collection was originally slated for 2021.

1,200 tons of dead fish washed up on Japan's shores

Thousands of dead fish washed up on Japan's shores, on December 16, due to an unknown phenomenon that left authorities confused.

According to officials, around 1,200 tons of dead sardines and mackerels washed up along a kilometer of the Japanese island of Hokkaido's shore. Authorities warned against consumption, as the cause of death is yet to be determined.

A couple of days earlier, Nakiri, a town miles away from Hokkaido, witnessed a similar phenomenon when around 40 tons of dead sardines washed up on its shore.

The Daily Mail hypothesized a connection between the phenomenon of dead fish and the contamination of Japan's waters by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a theory firmly rejected by the Japanese government.

This came after fishermen complained and opposed the dumping of wastewater from the plant into Japanese seas that began in August.

A flashback

Back in October, Japan started releasing the second load of treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant (NPP) into the ocean.

    The NPP's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), started releasing part of the 1.34 million tons of the treated wastewater back in August, which prompted local and international condemnation
In March 2011, Fukushima suffered one of the world's worst nuclear disasters since Chornobyl after a tsunami rocked the islands.

About 1.33 million cubic meters of groundwater, rainwater, and water that was used for cooling the three damaged reactors at the Fukushima site are now being released.

To remove the radioactive elements, plant operator TEPCO treated the water using its ALPS processing systems, which several neighboring countries have expressed skepticism regarding the system's reliability.

https://english.almayadeen.net/news/env ... -in-spring
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Feb 03, 2024 12:26 pm

The fight over vaping

Paris, France (AFP) – Does vaping offer an opportunity for smokers to kick their deadly tobacco habit, or pose a vast new health threat to the world's young people?

This long-smouldering question has again come to the forefront in the run-up to a tobacco summit being held by the World Health Organization next week.

It will likely be the scene of a familiar fight pitting proponents of e-cigarettes -- including some lobbyists for the tobacco industry -- against anti-smoking campaigners.

Vaping and other recent smoking innovations are expected to be high on the agenda as country representatives gather in Panama City on Monday, tasked with revising a WHO treaty on tobacco control.

E-cigarette devices do not contain tobacco. Instead, they are loaded with a liquid usually containing nicotine that is inhaled as vapour.

The process does not involve tar or carbon monoxide, the main drivers of the countless cancers and heart diseases linked to tobacco, suggesting that vaping should be less harmful than smoking.

However, the WHO has declined to acknowledge that vaping is any less dangerous than cigarettes.

This position, shared by many anti-smoking campaigners, is based on the precaution principle.

Because there is very little research on vaping dating back more than a decade, it is impossible to rule out that it could pose an unknown, long-term threat to people's health.

This lack of clarity has led to very different national policies. More than 30 countries have banned vaping, but it is largely unregulated in others.

Big Tobacco influence

Outraged pro-vaping groups say these bans deprive smokers of a crucial way to quit tobacco, which is confirmed to be a massive threat to public health.

This pro-movement is partly led by the traditional tobacco industry, which was initially slow to join the vaping revolution, but has now heavily invested in e-cigarettes and new tobacco products.

In October, the Guardian revealed that a senior vice-president at tobacco giant Philip Morris International told staff to fight back against the WHO's "prohibitionist attack on smoke-free products".

Philip Morris International told AFP that it is "committed to presenting to governments and the media the value of innovation for reducing smoking rates more rapidly".

Tobacco Tactics, a group linked to the UK's University of Bath, documented a large number of interactions between the tobacco industry and British legislators between 2021 and 2023, according to researcher Tom Gatehouse.

The "vast majority" of these interactions were about "vaping and newer products and the regulation of them," he told AFP.

Gatehouse accused Big Tobacco of trying to regain influence by falsely posing as fighters against cigarettes, which are still the industry's biggest source of income.

He admitted that "it's a very complex scenario," because some pro-vaping lobbying is conducted by other e-cigarettes producers, whose interests sometimes diverge from the tobacco industry.

And other independent groups "really do believe that vaping is a solution to smoking," said Amelie Eschenbrenner, spokeswoman for France's National Committee Against Smoking.

She said that one way to spot of the influence of the tobacco industry is that it has deliberately sown confusion about the difference between e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, which use tobacco and are considered probably more harmful than vaping.

But even sincere defenders have a habit of speaking about vaping in ways not backed by scientific evidence, Eschenbrenner said.

This was particularly the case when opposing measures aiming to stem teenage vaping, such as prohibitions on youth-focused flavours or recent bans on disposable e-cigarettes in the UK and France, she added.

What does the research say?

A Cochrane review -- considered the gold standard for analysing the available knowledge -- found there was strong evidence that e-cigarettes are more effective for quitting smoking than nicotine patches.

But another question lingers: Do the young people who have taken up vaping in huge numbers eventually move on to cigarettes?

Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, who has led several Cochrane reviews on vaping, told AFP that "there is clear evidence that young people who vape are more likely to go on to smoke".

But it is not clear that this is driving more young people to smoke who would not have anyway, she added. If that were the case, youth smoking would be rising overall -- instead it is declining in most countries.

Many medical researchers have called for vaping to remain legal as a tool for quitting smoking, while doing everything possible to stop young people from taking up either habit.

"If people switch completely from smoking to vaping they substantially reduce their risk of premature death and disability," Nicholas Hopkinson, professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London, told AFP.

"But people who do this should be encouraged to quit vaping as well in the long run."

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/story/33 ... ore-summit
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