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Does your government represent your best interests?


     
 
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



POLITICAL ART GALLERY



IMPORTANT TOPICS

1. U.S. NEWS MEDIA CAN LEGALLY LIE TO YOU
There is no law preventing the U.S. news media from intentionally lying to the public. Whistle blowers and honest reporters are fired for telling the truth.

2. FLUORIDE IS A TOXIN/POISON
Read the Poison Warning label on your toothpaste, then call the 800# and ask;
"Why do you put poison in my toothpaste?"

3. NEW FLU VACCINE IS LOADED WITH MERCURY
by Dr. Joseph Mercola

4. PEDOPHILES IN HIGH PLACES
Also: Conspiracy of Silence Video

5. ASPARTAME IS HARMFUL
Equal, Nutra-Sweet and over 6000 food and beverage products contain Aspartame

6. On September 10, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld held a press conference to disclose that over $2,000,000,000,000 (2 Trillion) in Pentagon funds could not be accounted for.
Such a disclosure normally would have sparked a huge scandal. However, the commencement of the [9/11] attack on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon the following morning would assure that the story remained buried.


http://drinkingwaterlosangeles.com
Serving the greater Los Angeles area,
Los Angeles Drinking Water is proud to offer Reverse Osmosis filtration systems
that remove trace elements such as arsenic, mercury, lead and fluoride
which are known to be in Los Angeles tap water according to
the 2013 DWP Water Quality report.
POLITICAL ART GALLERY









"If our nation is ever taken over, it will be taken over from within."
~ James Madison, President of the United States

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> PLANET UNDER PRESSURE, BBC News Online series


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Posted: Nov 28 2004, 01:36 PM
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QUOTE
Planet under pressure is a six-part BBC News Online series looking at some of the most pressing environmental issues facing the human race today.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3686106.stm

We are a successful breed. Our advance from our hominid origins has brought us near-dominance of the world, and a rapidly accelerating understanding of it.

Scientists now say we are in a new stage of the Earth's history, the Anthropocene Epoch, when we ourselves have become the globe's principal force.

But several eminent scientists are concerned that we have become too successful - that the unprecedented human pressure on the Earth's ecosystems threatens our future as a species.

We confront problems more intractable than any previous generation, some of them at the moment apparently insoluble

BBC News Online's Planet under Pressure series takes a detailed look at six areas where most experts agree that a crisis is brewing:

Part 1: Biodiversity
Many scientists think the Earth is now entering its sixth great extinction phase.

Part 2: Water
By 2025, two-thirds of the world's people are likely to be living in areas of acute water stress.

Part 3: Energy:
Oil production could peak and supplies start to decline by 2010


Food:
An estimated 1 in 6 people suffer from hunger and malnutrition while attempts to grow food are damaging swathes of productive land.

Climate change:
The world's greatest environmental challenge, according to the UK prime minister Tony Blair, with increased storms, floods, drought and species losses predicted.

Pollution:
Hazardous chemicals are now found in the bodies of all new-born babies, and an estimated one in four people worldwide are exposed to unhealthy concentrations of air pollutants.

All six problems are linked and urgent, so a list of priorities is little help.

And underlying all these pressures is a seventh -
human population.

Planet under pressure is more about questions than answers.

What sort of lifestyle can the Earth sustain?

How many of us can live at northern consumption levels, and what level should everyone else be expected to settle for?

How can we expect poor people to respect the environment when they need to use it to survive?

Are eco-friendly lives a luxury for the rich or a necessity for everyone?

And how can we act when sizeable and sincere parts of society say we are already overcoming the problems, not being overwhelmed by them?


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Posted: Nov 28 2004, 01:38 PM
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PART 1 (Oct 1 2004) - Biodiversity: The sixth great wave
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3667300.stm
QUOTE
All the creatures we share the Earth with are important in some way, however unprepossessing or insignificant they may appear. They and we are all part of the web of life.

From the dawn of time, extinction has usually progressed at what scientists call a natural or background rate. Today the tempo is far faster.

Many scientists believe this is the sixth great wave - the sixth mass extinction to affect life on Earth.

We were not here for any of the previous mass extinctions, but this time our sheer preponderance is driving the slide to oblivion.

We have more than doubled our numbers in half a century, and that is the most obvious reason why there is less room for any other species.

We are taking their living room to grow our food, their food to feed ourselves. We are exploiting them, trading in them, squeezing them to the margins of existence - and beyond.

Often the choice is hard: conserve a species or feed a community, tourists' dollars or turtles' nests.

In 2003 the World Conservation Union's Red List said more than 12,000 species (out of 40,000 assessed) faced some extinction risk, including:
one bird in eight 13% of the world's flowering plants a quarter of all mammals.

That gives you a ballpark figure. Science has described 1.75 million species, some experts estimate that there may be 13 or 14 million in the world in total - but until they are catalogued, nobody knows.

Our pillage of the natural world has been likened to burning down the medieval libraries of Europe, before we had even bothered to catalogue their contents.
Many species keep us alive, purifying water, fixing nitrogen, recycling nutrients and waste, and pollinating crops.

Plants and bacteria carry out photosynthesis, which produces the oxygen we breathe. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas given off by human activities.

Pandas and microbes
Some years ago, when the global annual gross product was about $18 trillion, US researchers calculated the value of the goods and services provided by the Earth to the world economy: $33 trillion.

Tropical cone snails contain toxins which show promise for treating some forms of cancer and heart irregularities. One toxin may be a thousand times more potent than morphine for pain relief.

But millions of cone snails are now killed annually for their shells, and their habitats are under pressure.

That is the argument for utility. But the creatures we can see, and those we can use directly, are just the start of the story.

Lord May, president of the Royal Society (the UK's national academy of sciences), has said: "Most conservation effort goes into birds and mammals - creatures like the panda, a dim, dead-end animal that was probably on the way out anyway.

"Yet arguably it's the little things that run the world, things like soil microbes. They're the least-known species of all."

Complex network
And we continue to tug at the loose threads of the web of life, thinking we can split it into its separate parts.

Brazil nuts are a lucrative harvest in the Amazon. But an experiment to produce them in plantations failed, because the trees bear a good crop in the forest, but are barren in isolation.

We are not removing individual species from the Amazon: we are destroying the entire forest. US researchers estimate that by 2020 less than 5% of it will remain in pristine condition.

Within 15 years, about a fifth of central Africa's forests will have gone, by one estimate. And the forests of Indonesia are in headlong retreat.

Some species are bucking the trend towards extinction. In 1953 there were about 2.5bn people: today there are 6bn.

Ensuring other species keep their living space is not sentimental. It is the only way we shall survive.

Extinction, whatever Steven Spielberg says, really is for ever. The web is unravelling.

More about this:
BBC News Online looks at range of biodiversity hotspots.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3707888.stm
Viewpoints: Saving species
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3706668.stm
'Noah's Ark' forest clings on in Brazil
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3703704.stm
Endangered species: Are we doing enough?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/3700350.stm


PART 2 (Oct 19 2004) - Water scarcity: A looming crisis?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3747724.stm
QUOTE
The world's water crisis is simple to understand, if not to solve.
The amount of water in the world is finite. The number of us is growing fast and our water use is growing even faster.

A third of the world's population lives in water-stressed countries now. By 2025, this is expected to rise to two-thirds.

There is more than enough water available, in total, for everyone's basic needs.
The UN recommends that people need a minimum of 50 litres of water a day for drinking, washing, cooking and sanitation.

In 1990, over a billion people did not have even that.

Providing universal access to that basic minimum worldwide by 2015 would take less than 1% of the amount of water we use today. But we're a long way from achieving that.

Pollution and disease
Global water consumption rose sixfold between 1900 and 1995 - more than double the rate of population growth - and goes on growing as farming, industry and domestic demand all increase.

As important as quantity is quality - with pollution increasing in some areas, the amount of useable water declines.

More than five million people die from waterborne diseases each year - 10 times the number killed in wars around the globe.

And the wider effects of water shortages are just as chilling as the prospect of having too little to drink.

Seventy percent of the water used worldwide is used for agriculture.
Much more will be needed if we are to feed the world's growing population - predicted to rise from about six billion today to 8.9 billion by 2050.

And consumption will soar further as more people expect Western-style lifestyles and diets - one kilogram of grain-fed beef needs at least 15 cubic metres of water, while a kilo of cereals needs only up to three cubic metres.

Poverty and water
The poor are the ones who suffer most. Water shortages can mean long walks to fetch water, high prices to buy it, food insecurity and disease from drinking dirty water.

But the very thing needed to raise funds to tackle water problems in poor countries - economic development - requires yet more water to supply the agriculture and industries which drive it.

The UN-backed World Commission on Water estimated in 2000 that an additional $100bn a year would be needed to tackle water scarcity worldwide.

This dwarfs the $20bn which will be needed annually by 2007 to tackle HIV and Aids, and, according to the Commission, it is so much it could only be raised from the private sector.

Even if the money can be found, spending it wisely is a further challenge. Dams and other large-scale projects now affect 60% of the world's largest rivers and provide millions with water.

But in many cases the costs in terms of population displacement and irreversible changes in the nearby ecosystems have been considerable.

Using underground supplies is another widely used solution, but it means living on capital accumulated over millennia, and depleting it faster than the interest can top it up.

As groundwater is exploited, water tables in parts of China, India, West Asia, the former Soviet Union and the western United States are dropping - in India by as much as 3m a year in 1999.

Technical solutions
New technology can help, however, especially by cleaning up pollution and so making more water useable, and in agriculture, where water use can be made far more efficient. Drought-resistant plants can also help.

Drip irrigation drastically cuts the amount of water needed, low-pressure sprinklers are an improvement, and even building simple earth walls to trap rainfall is helpful.
Some countries are now treating waste water so that it can be used - and drunk - several times over.

Desalinisation makes sea water available, but takes huge quantities of energy and leaves vast amounts of brine.

The optimists say "virtual water" may save the day - the water contained in crops which can be exported from water-rich countries to arid ones.

But the amounts involved would be immense, and the energy needed to transport them gargantuan. And affordable, useable energy will probably soon be a bigger problem than water itself.

Climate change
In any case, it is not just us who need water, but every other species that shares the planet with us - as well all the ecosystems on which we, and they, rely.

Climate change will also have an impact. Some areas will probably benefit from increased rainfall, but others are likely to be losers.

We have to rethink how much water we really need if we are to learn how to share the Earth's supply.

While dams and other large-scale schemes play a big role worldwide, there is also a growing recognition of the value of using the water we already have more efficiently rather than harvesting ever more from our rivers and aquifers.

For millions of people around the world, getting it right is a matter of life and death.

More about this:
Marble trade sucks Indian villages dry
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3755780.stm
Map: The world's water hotspots
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3754520.stm
Viewpoints: The water debate
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3752590.stm


PART 3 (Nov 9 2004) – Energy: Meeting soaring demand
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3995135.stm
QUOTE
The first problem with energy is that we are running short of traditional sources of supply.

The International Energy Agency says the world will need almost 60% more energy in 2030 than in 2002, and fossil fuels will still meet most of its needs.
We depend on oil for 90% of our transport, and for food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and the entire bedrock of modern life.

But oil industry experts estimate that current reserves will only last for about 40 years.

Views vary about how much more will be found or made economically viable to use.

Pessimists predict production will start declining within 15 years, while optimists say we won't have to worry for a century - though rising prices are likely to push us towards alternative energy sources anyway.

Gas, often a suitable replacement for oil, won't last indefinitely either.

There's plenty of coal, but it's still usually hard to use without causing high pollution.

Worrying signs
Not everyone depends on the fossil trio, though. Nearly a third of today's world population (6.1bn people) have no electricity or other modern energy supplies, and another third have only limited access.

About 2.5 billion people have only wood or other biomass for energy - often bad for the environment, almost always bad for their health.

That's the second problem - understandably, they want the better life that cheap and accessible energy offers.

But if everyone in developing countries used the same amount of energy as the average consumer in high income countries does, the developing world's energy use would increase more than eightfold between 2000 and 2050.

The signs are already there. In the first half of 2003 China's car sales rose by 82% compared with the same period in 2002.

Its demand for oil is expected to double in 20 years.

In India sales of fuel-guzzling sports utility vehicles account for 10% of all vehicle purchases, and could soon overtake car sales. And the developed world is not standing still.

In the last decade, US oil use has increased by almost 2.7 million barrels a day - more oil than India and Pakistan use daily altogether.

Crossing continents
Where our energy comes from is a third problem - energy sources are often long distances from the point of consumption.

Centralised energy generation and distribution systems are fairly new.

A couple of centuries ago virtually everyone would have depended on the fuel they could find within a short distance of home.

Now, the energy for our fuel, heat and light travel vast distances to reach us, sometimes crossing not only continents but political and cultural watersheds on the way.

These distances create a whole host of challenges from oil-related political instability to the environmental risks of long-distance pipelines.

But even if we could somehow indefinitely conjure up enough energy for everyone who wants it, without risking conflict and mayhem in bringing it back home, there would still be an enormous problem - how to use the energy without causing unacceptably high levels of damage to the natural world.

Counting cost
The most obvious threat is the prospect that burning fossil fuels is intensifying natural climate change and heating the Earth to dangerous levels.

But forget the greenhouse effect if you want. There are still real costs that go with the quest for and use of energy: air and water pollution, impaired health, acid rain, deforestation, the destruction of traditional ways of life.

It's one of the most vicious circles the planetary crisis entails.

Cheap, available energy is essential for ending poverty: ending poverty is key to easing the pressures on the planet from the abjectly poor who have no choice but to eat the seed corn. But the tank is running dry.

It doesn't have to be like this. Our energy use is unsustainable, but we already know what a benign alternative would look like.

All we have to do is decide that we will get there, and how.

It will make vastly more use of renewable energy, from inexhaustible natural sources like the Sun and the seas.

Nuclear power?
One key fuel may well be hydrogen, which is a clean alternative for vehicles and is in abundant supply as it is a chemical component of water.

But large amounts of energy are needed to produce hydrogen from water, so it will not come into its own as a clean alternative until renewable energy is widely available for the process.

Some analysts suggest that nuclear power will be needed to bridge the gap between now and the renewable future.

Many environmentalists (but not all) are deeply unhappy with the idea - fission technology has been in use for a generation, but concerns remain about radioactive waste disposal and the risk of accidents.

Nuclear fusion - a new form of nuclear power which combines atoms rather than splitting them apart - could be ready by around 2040, but that is too long to wait.

However, we can also get energy to do several jobs at once, as combined heat and power plants do. And we can use less of it by becoming energy-efficient.

The British government estimates that 56% of energy used in UK homes could be cut using currently available technologies - yet the original Model T Ford did more miles to the gallon than the average Ford vehicle produced today in the US.

We can install power stations on our roofs by covering our houses with solar tiles, or buying miniature wind turbines the size of a satellite dish.

Practically, the energy crisis is soluble. But reaching the broad sunlit uplands will mean a drastic mental gear change for policy-makers and consumers alike.

More about this:
Viewpoints: Powering the planet
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4000225.stm
China's dirty energy takes its toll
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3996855.stm



PART 4 ---> not yet online.


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Posted: Feb 1 2005, 01:31 AM
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PART 4 - FOOD (24.nov 2004)

Can the planet feed us?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4038205.stm
QUOTE
More of us are eating more and better than ever before.
World cereal consumption has more than doubled since 1970, and meat consumption has tripled since 1961.
The global fish catch grew more than six times from 1950 to 1997.
None of this happened by magic, though, but only by giving Nature a massive helping hand.

The World Resources Institute said in 1999 that half of all the commercial fertiliser ever produced had been applied since 1984.
So one question is whether the world can go on increasing its harvests at this rate -or even faster, to cater as well for the extra 75 million people born annually.

Crop increases
Our recent achievements are impressive - while global population doubled to 6 billion people in the 40 years from 1960, global food production more than kept up.The proportion of malnourished people fell in the three decades to the mid-1990s from 37% to 18%. But we may not be able to go on at this rate.

For a start, much of the world's best cropland is already in use, and farmers are having to turn to increasingly marginal land. And the good land is often taking a battering - soil degradation has already reduced global agricultural productivity by 13% in the last half-century.


Many of the pesticides on which the crop increases have depended are losing their effectiveness, as the pests acquire more resistance.

A key constraint is water. The 17% of cropland that is irrigated produces an estimated 30-40% of all crops, but in many countries there will be progressively less water available for agriculture.

Many of these are poor countries, where irrigation can boost crop yields by up to 400%. There are ways to improve irrigation and to use water more effectively, but it's not clear these can bridge the gap.
Biotechnology, in principle, may offer the world a second Green Revolution, for example by producing drought-resistant plants or varieties that withstand pest attacks.

But it arouses deep unease, not least because of fears it may erode the genetic resources in thousands of traditional varieties grown in small communities across the world.

Nobody knows what the probable impacts of climate change will be on food supplies.
Modest temperature increases may actually benefit rich temperate countries, but make harvests even more precarious across much of the tropics.

Too little space
Another question concerns the huge cost to other forms of life of all the progress we've made in securing our own food supply.
The amount of nitrogen available for uptake by plants is much higher than the natural level, and has more than doubled since the 1940s.

The excess comes from fertilisers running off farmland, from livestock manure, and from other human activities. It is changing the composition of species in ecosystems, reducing soil fertility, depleting the ozone layer, intensifying climate change, and creating dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and other near-coastal seas.

The sheer amount of the Earth we need to produce our food is having an enormous impact.

Globally, we have taken over about 26% of the planet's land area (roughly 3.3 billion hectares) for cropland and pasture, replacing a third of temperate and tropical forests and a quarter of natural grasslands.

Another 0.5 billion ha has gone for urban and built-up areas. Habitat loss from the conversion of natural ecosystems is the main reason why other species are being pushed closer to the brink of extinction.

Food security comes at a high price. In any case, it is a security many can only envy.

Increasing hunger
At the moment we are not on course to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving world hunger by 2015.  Although the proportion of hungry people is coming down, population increase means the actual number continues to rise.

In the 1990s global poverty fell by 20%, but the number of hungry people rose by 18 million. In 2003, 842 million people did not have enough to eat, a third of them in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Hunger and malnutrition killed 10 million people a year, 25,000 a day - one life extinguished every five seconds.

The world does produce enough to feed everyone. But the food is often in the wrong place, or unaffordable, or can't be stored long enough. So making sure everyone has enough to eat is more about politics than science.

But whether we can go on eating the sort of diet we've grown used to in developed countries is far from clear.

Much of it travels a long way to reach us, with the transport costs adding hugely to the "embodied energy" it contains. There's a lot to be said for eating local, seasonal food where we can.

And meat usually demands far more than grain - water, land, grain itself (34% of world grain supplies are fed to livestock reared for meat). Yet, worldwide, the richer we grow the more we turn to meat.

Something's got to give - and not only our waistbands.


Related stories:

Viewpoints: Food for all?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4038189.stm

Quiz: How green is your food?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4038399.stm

Polish factory farms cause a stink
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4035081.stm


PART 5 - CLIMATE CHANGE (3.dec 2004)
Climate change: Uncharted waters? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4061871.stm
QUOTE
Climate change is our biggest environmental challenge, says the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. His chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, calls it a far greater global threat than international terrorism.

There is wide though not unanimous agreement from scientists that they are right.
It is certainly possible that warming temperatures could take the Earth into uncharted waters, even though nobody can say exactly how fast it may happen and who will be most affected.

Life on Earth exists only because of the natural greenhouse effect, the ability of the atmosphere to retain enough heat for species to thrive (and no more).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a consortium of several thousand independent scientists, says rising levels of industrial pollution are unnaturally enhancing this effect, with increasing amounts of heat trapped near the Earth instead of escaping into space.
The main culprits, it says, are the burning of fossil fuels - oil, coal and gas - and changes in land use.

The chief greenhouse gas from human activities is carbon dioxide (CO2).
Before the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were about 270-280 parts per million (ppm).  They now stand at almost 380ppm, and have been rising at about 1.5ppm annually.

Rising temperatures
The consequence of increasing CO2 and other pollutant levels, the IPCC says, will be higher average global temperatures, meaning unpredictable weather, rising sea levels, and perhaps runaway heating as the whole climate system slips out of gear.

The IPCC predicts that if we go on as we are, by 2100 global sea levels will probably have risen by 9 to 88cm and average temperatures will be between 1.5 and 5.5C higher than now.

That may not sound very much - but the last Ice Age was only 4-5C colder than today.


The sceptics are unmoved. Some say the human influence on the climate is negligible, and that isolating one small variable, CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels, in an immensely complex natural system is meaningless.

Others insist the IPCC's measurements are flawed and its predictions unreliable. Yet others believe a warmer world would be better for most of us.

They are entirely right to argue that there are still many uncertainties about the climate and any influence we may have on it.

Sobering facts
But many who were once sceptics now accept that enhanced climate change is happening, and that we have to respond - not necessarily by trying to reduce its extent but by adapting to its effects.

Part of the problem is that climate change is now part of the stuff of science fiction, with Hollywood and some campaign groups alike feeding scare stories that owe little, if anything, to scientific fact.

But the facts are sobering enough. We know that average global surface temperatures have risen by 0.6C in the last 140 years.
All of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 1990, including each year since 1997.

The possibilities are sobering too.
Many water-scarce regions now will probably become thirstier.
Some countries may be able to produce bigger harvests, but in others yields will drop. Sea level rise may make many coastal areas uninhabitable.

Weather patterns may change, producing more heat waves, droughts, floods and violent storms.

Aid agencies are warning that these combined effects could seriously jeopardise attempts to lift the world's poorest people out of poverty.

Furthermore, there is also the possibility of "positive feedbacks"- for example, higher temperatures may release more methane from the Arctic tundra and CO2 from peat bogs, which will themselves speed up the warming process.

Then there is the inertia of the atmosphere and the oceans.

Delayed effect
If somehow we could halt all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow, the heating would continue for decades or centuries.

What we do today may literally determine how long the Greenland icecap survives - even though, at fastest, it will still take a good few centuries to disappear.

And wildlife, less equipped to adapt than humans, could be hit hard. One estimate suggests hundreds of thousands of species may be at risk of extinction by 2050 because of climate change.
Creating worldwide consensus on this global problem is difficult, not least because of the economic cost of cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol, which commits rich countries to reducing emissions, is a small but necessary start on building an international system for tackling climate change, its proponents believe.

But the country responsible for about a quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, the US, has refused to sign up to it.

The protocol does not require developing countries to cut their emissions, although fast-industrialising countries like China will soon be significant contributors as those in poor nations increasingly demand rich world lifestyles.

For them, emissions cuts could have significant social costs in slowing the growth that feeds economic development, creates jobs and helps lift the poor out of poverty.

A prudent look at the evidence, preliminary though it is, suggests we shall be wise to err on the side of caution.

Dr Geoff Jenkins, of the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, said recently: "Over the last few decades there's been much more evidence for the human influence on climate.

"We've reached the point where it's only by including human activity that we can explain what's happening."

And what's happening now could lead to a world beyond our experience.


Related stories:
Flooded future looms for Bangladesh
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4056755.stm

Viewpoints: Tackling climate change
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4074911.stm

Q&A: The Kyoto Protocol
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3927813.stm

Warming world - the evidence
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3927813.stm#


PART 6 -POLLUTION (31.jan 2005)
A life and death issue
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4086809.stmOne of the main themes of Planet
QUOTE
Under Pressure is the way many of the Earth's environmental crises reinforce one another.

Pollution is an obvious example - we do not have the option of growing food, or finding enough water, on a squeaky-clean planet, but on one increasingly tarnished and trashed by the way we have used it so far.

Cutting waste and clearing up pollution costs money. Yet time and again it is the quest for wealth that generates much of the mess in the first place.

Living in a way that is less damaging to the Earth is not easy, but it is vital, because pollution is pervasive and often life-threatening.


Air: The World Health Organization (WHO) says 3 million people are killed worldwide by outdoor air pollution annually from vehicles and industrial emissions, and 1.6 million indoors through using solid fuel. Most are in poor countries.

Water: Diseases carried in water are responsible for 80% of illnesses and deaths in developing countries, killing a child every eight seconds. Each year 2.1 million people die from diarrhoeal diseases associated with poor water.

Soil: Contaminated land is a problem in industrialised countries, where former factories and power stations can leave waste like heavy metals in the soil. It can also occur in developing countries, sometimes used for dumping pesticides. Agriculture can pollute land with pesticides, nitrate-rich fertilisers and slurry from livestock. And when the contamination reaches rivers it damages life there, and can even create dead zones off the coast, as in the Gulf of Mexico.
Chronic problem

Chemicals are a frequent pollutant. When we think of chemical contamination it is often images of events like Bhopal that come to mind.

But the problem is widespread. One study says 7-20% of cancers are attributable to poor air and pollution in homes and workplaces.

The WHO, concerned about chemicals that persist and build up in the body, especially in the young, says we may "be conducting a large-scale experiment with children's health".

Some man-made chemicals, endocrine disruptors like phthalates and nonylphenol - a breakdown product of spermicides, cosmetics and detergents - are blamed for causing changes in the genitals of some animals.

Affected species include polar bears - so not even the Arctic is immune. And the chemicals climb the food chain, from fish to mammals - and to us.

About 70,000 chemicals are on the market, with around 1,500 new ones appearing annually. At least 30,000 are thought never to have been comprehensively tested for their possible risks to people.

Trade-off
But the snag is that modern society demands many of them, and some are essential for survival.

So while we invoke the precautionary principle, which always recommends erring on the side of caution, we have to recognise there will be trade-offs to be made
The pesticide DDT does great damage to wildlife and can affect the human nervous system, but can also be effective against malaria. Where does the priority lie?

The industrialised world has not yet cleaned up the mess it created, but it is reaping the benefits of the pollution it has caused. It can hardly tell the developing countries that they have no right to follow suit.

Another complication in tackling pollution is that it does not respect political frontiers. There is a UN convention on transboundary air pollution, but that cannot cover every problem that can arise between neighbours, or between states which do not share a border.

Perhaps the best example is climate change - the countries of the world share one atmosphere, and what one does can affect everyone.

For one and all

One of the principles that is supposed to apply here is simple - the polluter pays.


A recent study detailed the plastic litter that pollutes the marine environment
Sometimes it is obvious who is to blame and who must pay the price. But it is not always straightforward to work out just who is the polluter, or whether the rest of us would be happy to pay the price of stopping the pollution.

One way of cleaning up after ourselves would be to throw less away, designing products to be recycled or even just to last longer.

Previous generations worked on the assumption that discarding our waste was a proper way to be rid of it, so we used to dump nuclear materials and other potential hazards at sea, confident they would be dispersed in the depths.

We now think that is too risky because, as one author wrote, "there's no such place as 'away' - and there's no such person as the 'other'".

Ask not for whom the bell tolls - it tolls for thee, and for me.


Related stories:
Durban's poor fight for clean air
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4091535.stm

Map: Pollution hotspots
Pollution is a worldwide problem which does not respect national boundaries and is likely to intensify as the spread of industrial development continues. BBC News looks at some of the places around the world which are hardest hit by pollution.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4083331.stm

Environmental pressures are not just global - they can also be felt keenly on a local level.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4215197.stm

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A lot of good read here!
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Posted: Feb 1 2005, 03:04 PM
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Hi waving.gif Blue Eyed, thanks so much for taking the time and posting this here.

I believe it is one of the MOST IMPORTANT things on the board.

What really makes me sad and upset is we have all you can eat buffets here in America while thousands of children go to bed hungry every night around the world, as well as here in America.

I'm not suggesting Communism, but I desire to see a more common sense approach to the distribution of food, resources and the consumption of energy.

It makes NO SENSE to pollute and destroy your planet..... unless of course, it's not really your planet.
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"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
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