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China's Mounting Cancer Crisis

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 08:59

Their proper name is PM2.5 and they embed themselves deep into lung tissue. They're a real bugger.  And, once again, small particulate pollution in northern China has hit 20-times the World Health Organization maximum healthy threshhold.

The WHO says particulate levels should not exceed 25 micrograms per cubic metre of air.  Beijing is currently at 300 with neighbouring areas hitting upwards of 500.

From Wiki:

The IARC and WHO designate airborne particulates a Group 1 carcinogen. Particulates are the deadliest form of air pollutiondue to their ability to penetrate deep into the lungs and blood streams unfiltered, causing permanent DNA mutationsheart attacks, and premature death.[4] In 2013, a study involving 312,944 people in nine European countries revealed that there was no safe level of particulates and that for every increase of 10 μg/m3 in PM10, the lung cancer rate rose 22%. The smaller PM2.5 were particularly deadly, with a 36% increase in lung cancer per 10 μg/m3 as it can penetrate deeper into the lungs.

Some bright light thought this would be an ideal time to host a cycling race, the Tour of Beijing.  Yeah, right.

In preparation for next months' APEC leaders summit, Beijing is planning to sharply restrict vehicle use and to get neighbouring areas to shut down polluting facilities.

...most locals were not wearing protection Friday, and several people said they believed Beijing was being hit by natural haze, rather than pollution.

Even so, sitting in a Beijing park 82-year-old Liu Shuying said: "There are too many cars.  I don't wear a mask because I'm not afraid of death."

If you have an area in which tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of people are exposed, year after year, to massive levels of atmospheric carcinogens that are embedded in lung tissue you have a mass cancer problem on your hands.


Something To Be Thankful For This Weekend

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 08:28


The National Energy Board inspires little confidence in many of us, often appearing less an independent regulator of the energy industry and more an extension of the Harper regime's tarsands' agenda.

It is therefore both a surprise and a delight to read that they are actually showing a bit of backbone when it comes to Enbridge's Plan 9 line reversal to bring tarsands crude to the East for refining:
The National Energy Board has slammed the brakes on Enbridge Inc.’s plan to start shipping western oil to Montreal this fall through its reversed Line 9 pipeline, saying the company failed to install shut-off valves around some major waterways.

In a sharply worded letter to Enbridge this week, NEB secretary Sheri Young said the board is not convinced the company has met the safety conditions which the regulator set when it approved the plan to reverse the pipeline’s direction of flow last March, and that Enbridge cannot begin shipping crude until it addresses those concerns.
Infamous for the Michigan spill four years ago that saw 3.3 million litres of diluted bitumen go into the Kalamazoo River, a spill whose repercussions are still being felt, Enbridge has proven itself less than a sterling protector of the public good, and appears to have learned little from the disaster, as evidenced by the Line 9 concerns:
At issue is the company’s approach to safety when the pipeline crosses “major water crossings.” Once it designated a river or stream as a major water crossing, Enbridge was required to install valves on both banks so the flow of crude could be quickly shut off in the event of a pipeline break.

The regulator said Enbridge had failed to provide clear justification for why it designated some streams as major water crossings but not others. It must now go back to identify which waterways involve major crossings, based on whether a spill would pose significant risk to the public or the environment.And here is a sobering statistic:
Currently, only six of the 104 major water crossings it has identified have valves within a kilometre of the banks on both sides, the regulator noted.
Adam Scott, project manager with Toronto-based Environmental Defence, appears to have taken an accurate measure of the company's integrity:
“They clearly just figured they could get this thing rubber-stamped, and push through without actually improving the safety of the pipeline. So we’re happy to see the NEB has said no.”

Mr. Scott said it appears from the NEB letter that Enbridge will be required to reopen construction on the line to install valves at all the major water crossings that it identifies.
A small victory in the overall scheme of things, perhaps, but one sufficiently sweet to savor.Recommend this Post

Gazette Calls Out Harper on Climate Change

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 08:19
It's one of the grand old English-language papers in Canada, the Montreal Gazette, and its editorial board has had enough of waiting for the Harper regime to act on the threats Canada faces from climate change.

Many of the arguments the government employed in favour of sending war planes to northern Iraq also apply to the necessity of acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: climate change is a growing threat to global peace and security; only through international cooperation will the emergency be brought under control; Canada would be an freeloader if it failed to do its part in the global effort.
But since taking office, the Harper government has ignored these compelling reasons for fighting climate change. Time and again, it has buried its head in the sand.
This lack of action was underscored again this week when Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development issued a report documenting the federal government’s lamentable record. Among the findings are that the government did in fact draft regulations for emissions in the oil and gas sector that were initially promised in 2006, but has never made them public or to implemented them. While Environment Canada has taken steps to monitor the impact of oilsands exploitation on air, water and biodiversity, plans for continuing this crucial work after 2015 are unclear. Rules for conducting environmental assessments are applied haphazardly. The ground rules for public input in environmental-assessment processes are onerous and viewed as a barrier by many participants.
An audit of Environment Canada found regulations to cut emissions have been delayed, best practices have not been followed, the department is not evaluating the effectiveness of regulations in place, there is a lack of coordination with the provinces and there is no plan for meeting reduction targets. As a result, Canada will miss its emissions reductions targets for 2020, agreed to at Copenhagen in 2009.
Add to this the Conservative government’s track record of villainizing environmental activists, cutting departments and agencies that safeguard Canada’s natural resources and curtailing the right of federal scientists to speak to journalists — the latter transgression decried in a separate study this week by Simon Fraser University and Evidence for Democracy.
It is noteworthy that the federal environment commissioner is not an environmental group or think tank ideologically opposed to the Conservatives and their drive to exploit Canada’s oil riches. Julie Gelfand is a federally appointed watchdog who has a background in the mining industry, conservation and government. This is criticism from an insider — a knowledgeable one.
...The Harper government has shown it views environmental regulation as a threat to its ambitions to transform Canada into a global energy superpower. 
...Harper spoke in the House of Commons this week about Canada losing credibility on the international stage if it failed to contribute to the mission against IS. If only he would apply his own logic to the fight against climate change, Canada and Canadians would be much better off.



When Journalism Fails

Northern Reflections - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 06:57

                                                        http://www.today.com/

 Apparently, many journalists -- including Andrew Coyne -- believe that Stephen Harper's decision to join the bombing brigades in Iraq is justified. Michael Harris believes that Harper's decision is folly and that the reaction to it illustrates "the slow collapse" of Canadian journalism. After all, when it comes to war in the Middle East, Harper has a record. That record includes not only his full throated campaign to join George Bush's invasion of Iraq, but also his support for military action in Libya:

Harper helped bomb Moammar Gadhafi out of power, even though regime change was expressly excluded from the UN mandate. The prime minister had his million dollar fly-over of the Parliament buildings to celebrate his ‘mission accomplished’ moment. It was all downhill from there. The dictator was not replaced by nation-building democrats, but by the armed thugs of the Misrata militias. Since 2013, their accomplishments have included ethnic cleansing and torture.

Libya is now so dangerous that not even the United Nations nor the U.S. maintain a presence there. Harper never talks about Libya anymore — a place he proudly bombed — except to say we’re not responsible for the current chaos. But with the dust of the Libyan fiasco not yet settled, Harper buys into a mission that is eerily like it. Canada will help bomb another evildoer into the dust and save the day. Like we did in Libya — for a cool $100 million.
You would think that, when journalists looked at the record, they would smell a rat. But Canadian journalists have endured the same fate as journalists everywhere  -- and the ignorance which is a consequence of their fate:

Writing in The Guardian, reporter Anjan Sundaram offers a theory to explain our shrinking knowledge, explaining along the way how genocide in the Congo never quite got on the radar of Western editors:

“The Western news media are in crisis and are turning their back on their world. We hardly ever notice. Where correspondents were once assigned to a place for years or months, reporters now handle 20 countries each … As the news has receded, so have our minds.”
Harper thrives because, in his world, Ignorance is Strength. But in the real world, Harris writes, Harper is "a thundering bozo." When journalism fails, that's what we get for leaders -- thundering bozos.

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