Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers.

GR:  Trump’s head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is a corporate shill who’s been placed in charge of limiting corporate excesses. Of course, people, wildlife, and natural ecosystems will suffer.

Pgian/iStock

“On May 5, more than 50 farmworkers outside of Bakersfield, California, were exposed to a highly toxic pesticide that apparently drifted from a nearby field—at a high enough level that “twelve people reported symptoms of vomiting [and] nausea and one person fainted,” reports the television news station Kern Golden Empire. “An additional twelve workers did not show signs of any symptoms,” the station reported. “However more than half of the farm workers left before medical aide arrived.”

“Public health authorities took the poisoning quite seriously. “Anybody that was exposed, that was here today, we encourage them to seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait. Particularly if you’re suffering from any symptoms. Whether it’s nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,” Michelle Corson, public relations officer at Kern County Public Health, said in an announcement to the TV station.

“According to the news report, the poisoning was caused by a chemical called chlorpyrifos. A spokeswoman for the Kern County Department of Public Health said the department assumes chlorpyrifos was the active ingredient in the pesticide in question, but the matter is still under investigation by the Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards. A spokesman for that office said test results pinpointing the chemical are pending but would not be done for at least a week. Dow AgroSciences, one of the main makers of the chemical, did not respond to phone calls and emails.

“Many public health experts, scientists, and environmentalists have for years been pushing for a ban on chlorpyrifos, and last year it was looking like the Environmental Protection Agency intended to instate one. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, exposure to the chemical through inhalation can cause initial symptoms like “tearing of the eyes, runny nose, increased saliva and sweat production, nausea, dizziness and headache,” followed by possible “muscle twitching, weakness or tremors, lack of coordination, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and pupil constriction with blurred or darkened vision.” Chlorpyrifos is an endocrine disrupter, and major studies (here, here, and here) have found strong evidence to suggest that even at very low doses, the chemical triggers effects among children ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism. More here.

“But in March, the EPA abruptly changed its stance on chlorpyrifos, greenlighting it instead of banning it. The decision, among the first major ones made by Scott Pruitt in his tenure as EPA chief, caused outrage in public health circles. Dow AgroSciences applauded the decision. “Dow AgroSciences remains confident that authorized uses of chlorpyrifos products offer wide margins of protection for human health and safety,” the company declared in a press release.” –Tom Philpott (More: Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers. | Mother Jones.)

Paul Hawken: “Game on” for global warming

GR:  What can we do to reverse global warming? Lots. The list of proposals contained in this work is by far the most comprehensive I’ve seen (Project Drawdown). Recommended. The rest of this blog post is an interview of the project’s leader.

“In this interview, environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author Paul Hawken discusses Project Drawdown, “the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.” Hawken, who leads the project and edited the just-published book Drawdown, explains why his team felt it necessary to create a master list of the most substantive current solutions to global warming, and how they went about their extensive research. Surprisingly, many of the top solutions they identified and modeled do not involve energy systems, but instead focus on changes in food, land use, and other categories. Hawken speaks about global warming in positive terms, describing it as useful “feedback” that enables humans to take responsibility for what they have done – and to devote themselves to fixing the problem rather than to laying blame.

“If you had asked the thousands of experts at the Paris climate talks to make a list of the top five or 10 solutions to global warming, in any order, I don’t think anybody could have done it. We don’t know. And isn’t that odd? A sixth grader can tell you the five biggest states, but we can’t name the five biggest solutions to the biggest problem humanity has ever faced?” –Paul Hawken.

“They call it “the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.” It’s a set of 80 solutions that already exist, and 20 “Coming Attractions” that are still emerging. The solutions include the obvious, such as wind and solar power, but the plan doesn’t focus exclusively on renewable energy or even on energy sources in general. The solutions also involve food, buildings and cities, land use, transport, materials, and initiatives aimed specifically at women and girls. Two of the solutions – family planning and educating girls – would be at the top of the list if combined.” –Dawn Stover (Continue: Paul Hawken: “Game on” for global warming: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Vol 73, No 3.)

Learn more about Project Drawdown here.

Farm Policy in Age of Climate Change Creating Another Dust Bowl, Critics Say | InsideClimate News

GR: Most farmers and ranchers don’t preserve the land. They sacrifice soil and long-term productivity for profit or food. We have to give up the common belief that those closest to the land give high priority to the land’s health. Farmers and ranchers may understand the harm they cause, but opportunities and pressures keep them from sustainable use of the land. Examples from huge corporate farms and the small fields of indigenous people indicate irresponsible behavior dominates across a spectrum of objectives and imperatives. In general, the ‘grow or die’ mentality of contemporary businesses dictates corporate behavior, and social competition and the pressure of the growing population’s need for food dictate indigenous behavior.

The story below shows how desire for profit is destroying the land in America.

Farm policy critics say the latest Farm Bill is helping turn widespread drought into another Dust Bowl. Credit: Getty Images

“The last Farm Bill contained incentives for farmers to keep planting on degraded land, setting up potential environmental catastrophe.

“Over the past decade, farmers in the Great Southern Plains have suffered the worst drought conditions since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. They’ve battled heat, dust storms and in recent weeks, fires that devoured more than 900,000 acres and killed thousands of cattle.

“These extreme conditions are being fueled by climate change. But a new report from an environmental advocacy group says they’re also being driven by federal crop insurance policy that encourages farmers to continue planting crops on compromised land, year after year.

“Dust bowl conditions are coming back. Drought is back. Dust storms are back. All the climate models show the weather getting worse,” said Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which released the report Wednesday. “You’d think the imperative would be on adaptation, so we don’t make the same mistakes we did back in the 1930s.” –Inside Climate News (Continue reading: Farm Policy in Age of Climate Change Creating Another Dust Bowl, Critics Say | InsideClimate News.)

Political Platform for Nature-Conservation

Nature Conservation Platform

We must apply much more effort to conservation if we want to keep the benefits we derive from natural ecosystems. We need leaders that can promote activities that improve living conditions and guarantee long-term benefits from nature.

Children playing outdoors.

Children playing outdoors.

Political platforms usually emphasize human social and economic equality. The Justice Democrats platform is an example that lays out a set of goals for leaders focused on human society. It includes climate change. Here are the nature-conservation goals I recommend we add to political platforms.

I’ve listed subjects and actions in rough order of priority. I don’t think the first items are more important than the ones that follow. They are first because the emergency conditions we’ve created require that we act on them immediately.

  1. Global warming. Make an immediate switch to renewable energy. This is part of the Justice Democrats platform, but the best statement is in the Our Revolution platform. I’m repeating the item because it deserves emphasis (climate-change*).
  2. Population. Make knowledge and technology for family planning free or inexpensive worldwide (population).
  3. Habitat Loss. Stop ecosystem destruction resulting from these human activities: construction, farming, spreading invasive species, mining, releasing toxic wastes, and water diversion (construction, farming, invasive species, mining, pollution, water).
  4. Sustainability. End fishing, grazing, and logging harvests that take more than natural processes produce (deforestation, desertification, fishing, forestry, hunting, livestock grazing, logging, soil erosion).
  5. Equality. Respect the right of sentient beings to live wild and free according to their natural instincts (animal cruelty, animal rights, sentient beings, wildlife)
  6. Restore. Restore and set aside half the Earth’s lands and seas for wild plants and animals (ecological restoration, half for nature).
    *Search terms for information and discussions on this website. The most recent search results will appear at the top of the list.
ea090e6c-3765-4e6a-be9a-2a1ffc4d54a6

Destroying the land for material that will destroy the air.

Conservationists, land managers, wildlife biologists, and educators will see nothing new here. We have years of observations, research, and experimentation on each of these topics. It is time to start full-scale application of what we’ve learned. For this, we need dedicated leaders that understand the value of watersheds, soils, pollinators, and ecosystems. We need leaders who recognize that we are in the midst of both a climate and an extinction crisis. We need leaders who are convinced that humanity cannot survive without healthy ecosystems.

Conditions are in flux. I would be delighted to have your suggestions and questions.  Thanks.