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Climate, Health and Equity

Doctors Speaks Out, Youth v. Us, and Sustainable Surgeries

Written By: Matt James and Traci Siegel

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Climate, Health and Equity

DATE POSTED

November 22, 2019


Doctors Speaks Out, Youth v. Us, and Sustainable Surgeries

Hot Topic: The EPA.  Two studies out this week point to the ways the EPA is falling short on protecting our health.  First, experts reported that US air pollution rules could be ‘hugely insufficient’ in preventing deaths from PM 2.5—tiny, inhalable particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or smaller—most of which results from the emissions of power plants, industries, and automobiles. The study links PM 2.5 with nine causes of death—from heart and lung ailments to kidney disease and dementia—and finds that nearly all deaths resulted from PM exposure below current EPA guidelines.

Another report out this week found that climate impacts threaten 945 toxic waste sites overseen by the EPA.  The Government Accountability Office says hazardous waste from the sites will put nearby communities and water supplies at risk unless the EPA takes steps to fortify them against the increased flooding, wildfires and extreme weather that are virtually guaranteed as climate change intensifies.  The Trump Administration has rejected the warnings, saying current processes and resources at the sites are adequate.

Thankfully, many leaders are fighting back. This week, 22 states and three cities joined California in a lawsuit against the EPA over its efforts to deny states the right to set tailpipe emissions standards higher than those of the federal government, which California has done in an effort to combat air pollution and fight climate change. Governor Gavin Newsom also announced that the California government would stop buying vehicles from General Motors, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and other automakers who have sided with Trump on the issue, introducing a new tool in the arsenal to protect the environment.

—Matt & Traci, GMMB

The Brief will be on hiatus next week in celebration of Thanksgiving.  Be sure to read the kicker this week for resources for talking climate with friends and family over Turkey dinner. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday!

Health
A new report reveals that 99 percent of people who die from diseases linked to one type of air pollutant are exposed to levels below current EPA guidelines. (The Guardian)

A new study found that more than 900 U.S. toxic waste sites are at risk from increased flooding, forest fires, and other climate-fueled natural disasters that would contaminate groundwater and put human health at risk. (The Washington Post)

Deriving a majority of our energy from solar and wind power could reduce the adverse health effects of electricity production by 80 percent, according to experts. (Phys.org)

Politics & Economy
Extreme rainfall fueled by climate change made 2019 the wettest year on record in the U.S. and had disastrous impacts on Midwest farms that could last through next spring. (The New York Times)

A newly released brief finds that climate change could result in global economic losses of more than $23 trillion per year and an eventual collapse of the global financial system. (Center for American Progress)

Equity
Policymakers in Portland, Oregon have announced measures to ensure that people of color and low-income residents hit hardest by climate change will benefit from city investments in climate-friendly programs, policies, and infrastructure. (Fast Company)

Black church leaders in St. Louis are taking environmental justice action following their participation in the sixth annual Green the Church Summit, which aims to promote environmental justice and sustainability among black communities. (Religion & Politics)

Action 
Twenty-three states and three cities in the U.S. filed a new lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for the right to set stronger fuel-efficiency standards than the federal government. (The Los Angeles Times)

California announced a new vehicle purchasing policy that will ban automakers, including General Motors and Toyota, that do not meet State greenhouse gas and zero-emission goals. (Nasdaq)

The European Investment Bank announced plans last Thursday to end the funding of oil and coal projects by 2021. (EcoWatch)

Kicker 
Bracing yourself for a side of climate denial this Thanksgiving? Here are 10 resources to help you prepare for that conversation. (The New York Times)
“There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.” – Marshall McLuhan